Information, possible worlds and the cooptation of scepticism

Synthese 175 (1):63 - 88 (2010)
Abstract
The article investigates the sceptical challenge from an informationtheoretic perspective. Its main goal is to articulate and defend the view that either informational scepticism is radical, but then it is epistemologically innocuous because redundant; or it is moderate, but then epistemologically beneficial because useful. In order to pursue this cooptation strategy, the article is divided into seven sections. Section 1 sets up the problem. Section 2 introduces Borei numbers as a convenient way to refer uniformly to (the data that individuate) different possible worlds. Section 3 adopts the Hamming distance between Borei numbers as a metric to calculate the distance between possible worlds. In Sects. 4 and 5, radical and moderate informational scepticism are analysed using Borei numbers and Hamming distances, and shown to be either harmless (extreme form) or actually fruitful (moderate form). Section 6 further clarifies the approach by replying to some potential objections. In the conclusion, the Peircean nature of the overall approach is briefly discussed
Keywords Borel numbers  Hamming distance  Informational scepticism  David Lewis  Levenshtein distance  Modal metrics  Philosophy of information  Possible worlds  Scepticism  Semantic information
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