Nicod's Criterion

Discipline: Philosophy

A criterion offered by French philosopher Jean Nicod (1893-1924) for when one proposition confirms another.

A hypothesis of the form 'All A are B' is confirmed by objects that are A and B, and discontinued by objects that are A and not B, objects that are not A being irrelevant.

An advantage of this last clause is that it avoids certain paradoxes raised by Carl Gustav Hempel (1905-1997); but a disadvantage (apart from its being limited in scope) is that a hypothesis will need different evidence to confirm or disconfirm it, according to the terms in which it is formulated.

C G Hempel, 'Studies in the Logic of Confirmation', Mind (1945); reprinted with additions in C G Hempel Aspects of Scientific Explanation (1965)


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