Article/Publication Details

Paradox of Ravens as an Ontological Problem

(Original title: Paradox havranů jako ontologický problém)
Filozofia, 2019, vol. 74, No 7, pp. 571-581.
Language: Czech
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Abstract

The text focuses on the so called “paradox of ravens” formulated in the 1940s by C. G. Hempel, which challenges the possibility of confirming general hypotheses by observation of particular instances of these hypotheses. After a brief presentation of the paradox and some of the possible solutions of the paradox based on the works of C. G. Hempel, K. R. Popper and W. V. O. Quine, the author presents his own analysis of the paradox that is based on understanding hypotheses challenged by the paradox not as describing general natural laws, but as concerning merely actual instances of such hypotheses. The author claims that on this interpretation of the paradox it is possible to avoid the problematic conclusion if we abandon ontological position known as “metaphysical realism”, because refusing this position will disqualify the terms like “non-black” or “non-raven” from being applicable in the process of confirmation – and without these terms the paradox cannot even arise in the first place.

Keywords

C. G. Hempel, K. R. Popper, Paradox of ravens, Problem of induction, Realism, Relativism, W. V. O. Quine