Bayes and Popper

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 115)


There has been little direct confrontation between Bayesians and Popperians. No doubt Popper views the Bayesian approach as a species of inductivism and therefore not to be countenanced. But while Bayesians evaluate hypotheses primarily in terms of their probability, their position rests on no obscure ‘principle of induction’, but on Bayes’ rule. For a Bayesian, ‘learning from experience’ can only mean modifying prior probabilities by conditionalizing on observed experimental outcomes. On the other hand, the implications of Bayes’ rule for scientific method often have a distinctly Popperian ring, fostering the suspicion that many of the differences between the two schools are, at worst, merely verbal, and, at best, but differences of emphasis. We shall have something to say about this, but, in a more positive vein, we wish to explore here the extent to which Bayesian and Popperian viewpoints can be reconciled.


Prior Probability Sample Coverage Auxiliary Hypothesis Bayesian Point Bayesian Confirmation Theory 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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