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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262050463 | 288 pp. | 6.3 x 9 in | May 1992

Bayes or Bust?

A Critical Examination of Bayesian Confirmation Theory


There is currently no viable alternative to the Bayesian analysis of scientific inference, yet the available versions of Bayesianism fail to do justice to several aspects of the testing and confirmation of scientific hypotheses. Bayes or Bust? provides the first balanced treatment of the complex set of issues involved in this nagging conundrum in the philosophy of science. Both Bayesians and anti-Bayesians will find a wealth of new insights on topics ranging from Bayes's original paper to contemporary formal learning theory.In a paper published posthumously in 1763, the Reverend Thomas Bayes made a seminal contribution to the understanding of "analogical or inductive reasoning." Building on his insights, modem Bayesians have developed an account of scientific inference that has attracted numerous champions as well as numerous detractors. Earman argues that Bayesianism provides the best hope for a comprehensive and unified account of scientific inference, yet the presently available versions of Bayesianisin fail to do justice to several aspects of the testing and confirming of scientific theories and hypotheses. By focusing on the need for a resolution to this impasse, Earman sharpens the issues on which a resolution turns. John Earman is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.


“John Earman is one of the most thoughtful commentators on Bayesianism. This is a book well worth reading for anyone seriously interested in the philosophy of science.”
Allan Franklin, Professor, University of Colorado

“John Earman’s Bayes or Bust? is a fine analysis of many issues facing modern theoretical statistics and the enterprise of confirmation theory. It brings together technical results with great accuracy and appropriateness and will undoubtedly become a standard work among philosophers of science.”
Clark Glymour, Carnegie Mellon University

“John Earman’s Bayes or Bust? is a witty, terse, wide-ranging, novel survey of pros and cons, beginning with a historical chapter on Bayes’s original paper and ending with an up-to-the-minute chapter in which Bayesianism meets formal learning theory. It is an important addition to the ongoing controversy about Bayesianism.”
Richard Jeffrey, Professor, Princeton University

Bayes or Bust? offers what those who know John Earman’s work expect from him: deep and original insights conveyed with lucidity and grace. It is a brilliant book that should be read by anyone interested in scientific inference.”
Philip Kitcher, Professor of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego

“Are you interested in learning far more about both the strengths and weaknesses of Bayesianism than you ever imagined was developed in one place? Then take a look at this book.”
Paul Teller, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Davis