Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Probable and The Provable$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

L. Jonathan Cohen

Print publication date: 1977

Print ISBN-13: 9780198244127

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198244127.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 25 April 2019

Statistical Explanation

Statistical Explanation

(p.295) 21 Statistical Explanation
The Probable and The Provable

L. Jonathan Cohen

Oxford University Press

This chapter starts by presenting Hempel's account of statistical explanation. Hempel proposed to deal with the problem of epistemic ambiguity in statistical explanation by a requirement of maximal specificity in the reference-class. But, as Salmon has shown, the reference-class needs to be narrowed only in statistically relevant ways. Also, it needs to be homogeneous. In effect, both requirements seek to maximize inductive probability. So, successful statistical explanations do not need to invoke high statistical probabilities, but favourably relevant ones that have high inductive probability. Additionally, Salmon's arguments for saying that even favourable relevance is unnecessary rest on a failure to distinguish between explanations how a certain event was possible and explanations why it occurred. Finally, the mathematical probabilities involved in statistical explanation are not amenable to interpretation as relative frequencies, and must be given a propensity interpretation.

Keywords:   statistical explanation, Hempel, epistemic ambiguity, Salmon, reference-class, inductive probability

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .