Betting on Theories

Betting on Theories

This book is a major new contribution to decision theory, focusing on the question of when it is rational to accept scientific theories. The author examines both Bayesian decision theory and confirmation theory, refining and elaborating the views of Ramsey and Savage. He argues that the most solid foundation for confirmation theory is to be found in decision theory, and he provides a decision-theoretic derivation of principles for how many probabilities should be revised over time. Professor Maher defines a notion of accepting a hypothesis, and then shows that it is not reducible to probability and that it is needed to deal with some important questions in the philosophy of science. A Bayesian decision-theoretic account of rational acceptance is provided together with a proof of the foundations for this theory. A final chapter shows how this account can be used to cast light on such vexing issues as verisimilitude and scientific realism.


"Maher's book is wonderfully clear and accessible to readers with little mathematical sophistication. ...his proof of his representation theorem is more accessible than those written by and for mathematicians." Canadian Philosophical Reviews

"By developing a concept of rational cognitive decision making, Betting on Theories opens promising and exciting research programs for both decision making theory and the philosophy of science." Journal of Economic Literature

"...The arguments purporting this position are interesting and worth discussing." Reinhard Suck, Mathematical Reviews

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