Graduate studies at Western
Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):139–151 (2005)
|Abstract||The Dutch Book argument, like Route 66, is about to turn 80. It is arguably the most celebrated argument for subjective Bayesianism. Start by rejecting the Cartesian idea that doxastic attitudes are ‘all-or-nothing’; rather, they are far more nuanced degrees of belief, for short credences, susceptible to fine-grained numerical measurement. Add a coherentist assumption that the rationality of a doxastic state consists in its internal consistency. The remaining problem is to determine what consistency of credences amounts to. The Dutch Book argument, in a nutshell, says that if your credences do not obey the probability calculus, you are ‘incoherent’—susceptible to sure losses at the hands of a ‘Dutch Bookie’—and thus irrational. Conclusion: rationality requires your credences to obey the probability calculus. And like Route 66, the fortunes of the Dutch Book argument have been mixed. Opinions on the argument are sharply divided. The list of its proponents is quite a ‘who’s who’ of philosophers of probability; they include de Finetti (1937, 1980), Carnap (1950, 1962, and more fully, 1955), Kemeny (1955), Lehman (1955), Shimony (1955), Adams (1962), Mellor (1971), Rosenkrantz (1981), van Fraassen (1989), Jeffrey (1983, 1992)|
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