Changing the theory of theory change: Towards a computational approach

The Theory of theory change has contraction and revision as its central notions. Of these, contraction is the more fundamental. The best-known theory, due to Alchourrón, Gärdenfors, and Makinson, is based on a few central postulates. The most fundamental of these is the principle of recovery: if one contracts a theory with respect to a sentence, and then adds that sentence back again, one recovers the whole theory. Recovery is demonstrably false. This paper shows why, and investigates how one can nevertheless characterize contraction in a theoretically fruitful way. The theory proposed lends itself to implementation, which in turn could yield new theoretical insights. The Main proposal is a ‘staining algorithm’ which identifies which sentences to reject when contracting a theory. The algorithm requires one to be clear about the structure of reasons one has for including sentences within one's theory.
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