Scientific discovery on positive data via belief revision

Eric Martin, Daniel Osherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A model of inductive inquiry is defined within a first-order context. Intuitively, the model pictures inquiry as a game between Nature and a scientist. To begin the game, a nonlogical vocabulary is agreed upon by the two players along with a partition of a class of structures for that vocabulary. Next, Nature secretly chooses one structure ("the real world") from some cell of the partition. She then presents the scientist with a sequence of atomic facts about the chosen structure. With each new datum the scientist announces a guess about the cell to which the chosen structure belongs. To succeed in his inquiry, the scientist's successive conjectures must be correct all but finitely often, that is, the conjectures must converge in the limit to the correct cell. A special kind of scientist selects his hypotheses on the basis of a belief revision operator. We show that reliance on belief revision allows scientists to solve a wide class of problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-506
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Philosophical Logic
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


  • Belief revision
  • Inductive logic
  • Scientific inquiry


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