Justifying conditionalization: Conditionalization maximizes expected epistemic utility

Mind 115 (459):607-632 (2006)
According to Bayesian epistemology, the epistemically rational agent updates her beliefs by conditionalization: that is, her posterior subjective probability after taking account of evidence X, pnew, is to be set equal to her prior conditional probability pold(·|X). Bayesians can be challenged to provide a justification for their claim that conditionalization is recommended by rationality—whence the normative force of the injunction to conditionalize? There are several existing justifications for conditionalization, but none directly addresses the idea that conditionalization will be epistemically rational if and only if it can reasonably be expected to lead to epistemically good outcomes. We apply the approach of cognitive decision theory to provide a justification for conditionalization using precisely that idea. We assign epistemic utility functions to epistemically rational agents; an agent’s epistemic utility is to depend both upon the actual state of the world and on the agent’s credence distribution over possible states. We prove that, under independently motivated conditions, conditionalization is the unique updating rule that maximizes expected epistemic utility.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/mind/fzl607
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,831
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Hannes Leitgeb (2015). I—The Humean Thesis on Belief. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 89 (1):143-185.

View all 30 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

97 ( #26,613 of 1,724,748 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

15 ( #48,565 of 1,724,748 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.