Hempel's paradox redux

From: Ben Goertzel (ben@goertzel.org)
Date: Wed Sep 14 2005 - 20:33:50 MDT


This is not narrowly an SL4 topic and I don't want to bore everyone, but I
spent another hour today mulling over this amusing Hempel paradox about
black ravens, and figured a few folks on this list could be interested.

Everyone who is bored by this topic should stop reading now ;-)

But, since there is so much general pontification about the divine wonders
of probability theory on this list, I figure a little more actual elementary
probability theory can't hurt that badly!

Anyway, if anyone feels like checking some interesting elementary
probability theory calculations, see:


What I seem to have done there is to construct a simple case where there
seems to be no Hempel paradox according to elementary probability theory.
That is, I define a population of N entities containing at least one raven,
but where drawing a random nonblack entity from the population and observing
it to be a nonraven does not change one's rational estimate of
P(black|raven). Unless I made a calculational error, in which case I would
be curious to discover what it is ;-)

-- Ben

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