Belief revision and uncertain reasoning

Thinking and Reasoning 7 (3):217 – 234 (2001)
When a new piece of information contradicts a currently held belief, one has to modify the set of beliefs in order to restore its consistency. In the case where it is necessary to give up a belief, some of them are less likely to be abandoned than others. The concept of epistemic entrenchment is used by some AI approaches to explain this fact based on formal properties of the belief set (e.g., transitivity). Two experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that contrary to such views, (i) belief is naturally represented by degrees rather than in an all-or-nothing manner, (ii) entrenchment is primarily a matter of content and not only a matter of form, and (iii) consequently prior degree of belief is a powerful factor of change. The two experiments used Elio and Pelletier's (1997) paradigm in which participants were presented with full simple deductive arguments whose conclusion was denied, following which they were asked to decide which premise to revise.
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