A defense of the principle of indifference

Journal of Philosophical Logic 39 (6):655-678 (2010)
Abstract
The principle of indifference (hereafter ‘Poi’) says that if one has no more reason to believe A than B (and vice versa ), then one ought not to believe A more than B (nor vice versa ). Many think it’s demonstrably false despite its intuitive plausibility, because of a particular style of thought experiment that generates counterexamples. Roger White ( 2008 ) defends Poi by arguing that its antecedent is false in these thought experiments. Like White I believe Poi, but I find his defense unsatisfactory for two reasons: it appeals to false premises, and it saves Poi only at the expense of something that Poi’s believers likely find just as important. So in this essay I defend Poi by arguing that its antecedent does hold in the relevant thought experiments, and that the further propositions needed to reject Poi are false. I play only defense in this essay; I don’t argue that Poi is true (even though I think it is), but rather that one popular refutation is faulty. In showing this, I also note something that has to my knowledge gone unnoticed: given some innocuous-looking assumptions the denial of Poi is equivalent to a version of epistemic permissivism , and Poi itself is equivalent to a version of epistemic uniqueness
Keywords Principle of indifference  Belief  Evidence  Uniqueness  Permissivism
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References found in this work BETA
John Norton (2008). Ignorance and Indifference. Philosophy of Science 75 (1):45-68.
Roger White (2005). Epistemic Permissiveness. Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):445–459.
Roger White (2009). Evidential Symmetry and Mushy Credence. In T. Szabo Gendler & J. Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology. Oxford University Press. 161-186.
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