I show that van Fraassen's empiricism leads to mutually incompatible claims with regard to empirical theories. He is committed to the claim that reasons for accepting a theory and believing it are always identical, insofar as the theory in question is an empirical theory. He also makes a general claim that reasons for accepting a theory are not always reasons for believing it irrespective of whether the theory is an empirical theory.
We introduce a distinction, unnoticed in the literature, between four varieties of objective Bayesianism. What we call ' strong objective Bayesianism' is characterized by two claims, that all scientific inference is 'logical' and that, given the same background information two agents will ascribe a unique probability to their priors. We think that neither of these claims can be sustained; in this sense, they are 'dogmatic'. The first fails to recognize that some scientific inference, in particular that concerning evidential relations, is (...) not (in the appropriate sense) logical, the second fails to provide a non-question-begging account of 'same background information'. We urge that a suitably objective Bayesian account of scientific inference does not require either of the claims. Finally, we argue that Bayesianism needs to be fine-grained in the same way that Bayesians fine-grain their beliefs. (shrink)
We consider the role of preferences in the assessment of an agent's freedom, visualized as the opportunity for choice. After discussing several possible intuitive approaches to the problem, we explore an approach based on the notion of preference orderings that a reasonable person may possibly have. Using different sets of axioms, we characterize the rules for ranking opportunity sets in terms of freedom. We also show that certain axioms for ranking opportunity sets are incompatible.
The notion of a severe test has played an important methodological role in the history of science. But it has not until recently been analyzed in any detail. We develop a generally Bayesian analysis of the notion, compare it with Deborah Mayo’s error-statistical approach by way of sample diagnostic tests in the medical sciences, and consider various objections to both. At the core of our analysis is a distinction between evidence and confirmation or belief. These notions must be kept separate (...) if mistakes are to be avoided; combined in the right way, they provide an adequate understanding of severity. Those who think that the weight of the evidence always enables you to choose between hypotheses “ignore one of the factors (the prior probability) altogether, and treat the other (the likelihood) as though it ...meant something other than it actually does. This is the same mistake as is made by someone who has scruples about measuring the arms of a balance (having only a tape measure at his disposal ...), but is willing to assert that the heavier load will always tilt the balance (thereby implicitly assuming, although without admitting it, that the arms are of equal length!). (Bruno de Finetti, Theory of Probability)2. (shrink)
In the curve fitting problem two conflicting desiderata, simplicity and goodness-of-fit, pull in opposite directions. To this problem, we propose a solution that strikes a balance between simplicity and goodness-of-fit. Using Bayes' theorem we argue that the notion of prior probability represents a measurement of simplicity of a theory, whereas the notion of likelihood represents the theory's goodness-of-fit. We justify the use of prior probability and show how to calculate the likelihood of a family of curves. We diagnose the relationship (...) between simplicity of a theory and its predictive accuracy. (shrink)
In the curve fitting problem two conflicting desiderata, simplicity and goodness-of-fit pull in opposite directions. To solve this problem, two proposals, the first one based on Bayes's theorem criterion (BTC) and the second one advocated by Forster and Sober based on Akaike's Information Criterion (AIC) are discussed. We show that AIC, which is frequentist in spirit, is logically equivalent to BTC, provided that a suitable choice of priors is made. We evaluate the charges against Bayesianism and contend that AIC approach (...) has shortcomings. We also discuss the relationship between Schwarz's Bayesian Information Criterion and BTC. (shrink)
Amartya Sen has made deep and lasting contributions to the academic disciplines of economics, philosophy, and the social sciences more broadly. He has engaged in policy dialogue and public debate, advancing the cause of a human development focused policy agenda, and a tolerant and democratic polity. This argumentative Indian has made the case for the poorest of the poor, and for plurality in cultural perspective. It is not surprising that he has won the highest awards, ranging from the Nobel Prize (...) in Economics to the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor. This public recognition has gone hand in hand with the affection and admiration that Amartya's friends and students hold for him. -/- This volume of essays, written in honor of his 75th birthday by his students and peers, covers the range of contributions that Sen has made to knowledge. They are written by some of the world's leading economists, philosophers and social scientists, and address topics such as ethics, welfare economics, poverty, gender, human development, society and politics. This first volume covers the topics of Ethics, Normative Economics and Welfare; Agency, Aggregation and Social Choice; Poverty, Capabilities and Measurement; and Identity, Collective Action and Public Economics. It is a fitting tribute to Sen's own contributions to the discourse on Ethics, Welfare and Measurement. -/- Contributors include: Sabina Alkire, Paul Anand, Sudhir Anand, Kwame Anthony Appiah, A. B. Atkinson, Walter Bossert, Francois Bourguignon, John Broome, Satya R. Chakravarty, Rajat Deb, Bhaskar Dutta, James E. Foster, Wulf Gaertner, Indranil K. Ghosh, Peter Hammond, Christopher Handy, Christopher Harris, Satish K. Jain, Isaac Levi, Oliver Linton, S. R. Osmani, Prasanta K. Pattanaik, Edmund S. Phelps, Mozaffar Qizilbash, Martin Ravallion, Kevin Roberts, Ingrid Robeyns, Maurice Salles, Cristina Santos, T. M. Scanlon, Arjun Sengupta, Tae Kun Seo, Anthony Shorrocks , Ron Smith, Joseph E. Stiglitz, S. Subramanian, Kotaro Suzumura, Alain Trannoy, Guanghua Wan, John A. Weymark, and Yongsheng Xu. (shrink)
In decision-making involving multiple criteria or attributes, a decision maker first identifies all relevant evaluative attributes in making decisions. Then, a dominance principle is often invoked whenever applicable: whenever an option x is better than an option y in terms of some attribute and no worse than y in terms of any other attributes, x is judged to be better than y. If, however, this dominance principle is not applicable, then the decision maker determines the relative importance between the identified (...) evaluative attributes, consults with contextual features of the options under consideration, and makes a decision. It is shown that the combination of these principles runs into problems in the presence of rationality properties, such as transitivity, and a weak continuity requirement on decisions. The paper gives examples from welfare economics, and theories of individual and group decisions. (shrink)
I advance a decision principle called the "weak dominance principle" (WDP) based on the interval notion of probability to deal with the Ellsberg type paradox (ETP). Given ETP, I explain three things: (i) Why WDP is a better principle than many principles e.g. Kyburg's principle and Gardenfors and Sahlin's principle, (ii) Why one should not, contrary to many principles, expect a unique solution in ETP, and (iii) What is the relationship between WDP and the principles mentioned above. I prove also (...) that WDP induces a strict partial ordering on the intervals to which it is applied. (shrink)
There are three distinct questions associated with Simpson's paradox, (i) Why or in what sense is Simpson's paradox a paradox? (ii) What is the proper analysis of the paradox? (iii) How one should proceed when confronted with a typical case of the paradox? We propose a "formar" answer to the first two questions which, among other things, includes deductive proofs for important theorems regarding Simpson's paradox. Our account contrasts sharply with Pearl's causal (and questionable) account of the first two questions. (...) We argue that the "how to proceed question?" does not have a unique response, and that it depends on the context of the problem. We evaluate an objection to our account by comparing ours with Blyth's account of the paradox. Our research on the paradox suggests that the "how to proceed question" needs to be divorced from what makes Simpson's paradox "paradoxical.". (shrink)
The various paradoxes of social choice uncovered by Arrow , Sen  and others See Murakami  for an exhaustive discussion of many of these paradoxes. have led some writers to question the basic assumption of a binary social choice function underlying most of these paradoxes. Schwartz , for example, proves an important theorem which may be considered to be a generalization of the famous paradox of Arrow,In a strictly formal sense, Schwartz's  theorem is not a generalization of Arrow's (...) paradox in so far as Schwartz replaces some of Arrow's conditions by stronger conditions which cannot be deduced from any consistent subset of the set of Arrow conditions. The essence of Schwartz's theorem does, however, represent an extension of the paradox of Arrow. Also note that Schwartz  interprets his theorem not only in terms of collective decision-making but also in terms of individual decision-making. In this note we are concerned only with collective decision-making. and then lays the blame for this paradox on the assumption of a binary social choice function.Another writer who discusses the condition of a binary choice function from a somewhat similar angle is A. Gibbard. In an unpublished paper he proves an important extension of Arrow's theorem and argues against the simultaneous insistence on a binary choice function and on Arrow's  condition of the independence of irrelevant alternatives. In this paper, however, we are not concerned with the condition of the independence of irrelevant alternatives. He then proceeds to define a type of choice functions which, like binary choice functions, define the best elements in sets of more than two alternatives on the basis of binary comparisons, but which, as he claims, have an advantage over binary choice functions, in so far as they always ensure the existence of best elements for sets of more than two alternatives irrespective of the results of binary comparisons.It is, of course, being assumed that the best elements are defined for two-element sets. The purpose of this paper is to show that even a considerable weakening of the assumption of a binary social choice function does not go very far towards solving some of the paradoxes under consideration, and that if replacing the requirement of a binary social choice function by a Schwartz type social choice function solves these paradoxes, it does so only by violating the universally acceptable value judgment that in choosing from a set of alternatives, society should never choose an alternative which is Pareto inoptimal in that set (i.e., the socially best alternatives in a set should always be Pareto optimal). This argument is substantiated with the help of an extended version of Sen's  paradox of a Paretian liberal, and thus a by-product of our analysis is a generalization of the theorem of Sen . The argument itself, however, is more general and applies also to the impossibility result proved by Schwartz . (shrink)
The classical theory of rational choice is built on several important internal consistency conditions. In recent years, the reasonableness of those internal consistency conditions has been questioned and criticized, and several responses to accommodate such criticisms have been proposed in the literature. This paper develops a general framework to accommodate the issues raised by the criticisms of classical rational choice theory, and examines the broad impact of these criticisms from both normative and positive points of view.
Amartya Sen has made deep and lasting contributions to the academic disciplines of economics, philosophy, and the social sciences more broadly. He has engaged in policy dialogue and public debate, advancing the cause of a human development focused policy agenda, and a tolerant and democratic polity. This argumentative Indian has made the case for the poorest of the poor, and for plurality in cultural perspective. It is not surprising that he has won the highest awards, ranging from the Nobel Prize (...) in Economics to the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor. This public recognition has gone hand in hand with the affection and admiration that Amartya's friends and students hold for him. -/- This volume of essays, written in honor of his 75th birthday by his students and peers, covers the range of contributions that Sen has made to knowledge. They are written by some of the world's leading economists, philosophers and social scientists, and address topics such as ethics, welfare economics, poverty, gender, human development, society and politics. -/- Contributors include: Bina Agarwal, Isher Ahluwalia, Montek S Ahluwalia, Ingela Alger, Sabina Alkire, Paul Anand, Sudhir Anand, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Muhammad Asali, Department of Economics, A. B. Atkinson, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Pranab Bardhan, Lourdes Benería, Francois Bourguignon, Sugata Bose, Walter Bossert, John Broome, Satya R. Chakravarty, Lincoln C. Chen, Martha Alter Chen, Kanchan Chopra, Rajat Deb, Simon Dietz, Bhaskar Dutta, James E. Foster, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Wulf Gaertner, Indranil K. Ghosh, Jonathan Glover, Peter Hammond, Christopher Handy, Christopher Harris, Cameron Hepburn, Jane Humphries, Rizwanul Islam, Satish K. Jain, Ayesha Jalal, Mary Kaldor, Sunil Khilnani, Stephan Klasen, Jocelyn Kynch, Isaac Levi, Oliver Linton, Enrica Chiappero Martinetti, Kirsty McNay, Martha C. Nussbaum, Siddiqur R. Osmani, Elinor Ostrom, Prasanta K. Pattanaik, Edmund S. Phelps, Mozaffar Qizilbash, Gustav Ranis, Martin Ravallion, Sanjay G. Reddy, Kevin Roberts, Ingrid Robeyns, Maurice Salles, Emma Samman, Cristina Santos, Thomas. M. Scanlon, Arjun Sengupta, Tae Kun Seo, Anthony Shorrocks, Ronald Smith, Rehman Sobhan, Robert M. Solow, Nicholas Stern, Frances Stewart, Joseph E. Stiglitz, S. Subramanian, Kotaro Suzumura, Alain Trannoy, Ashutosh Varshney, Sujata Visaria, Guanghua Wan, Jörgen W. Weibull, John A. Weymark, and Yongsheng Xu. (shrink)
This article tries to explore the shifts in contemporary urban Bengali cinema and map and historicize the main trends in relation to changes in the political fortunes of the city. In this context, the article tentatively wishes to accomplish two things: one, to show the main trends in urban Bengali film-making, post-1990s; and two, to read closely two recent Bengali films, in a search for ways of mapping this newness. The article first identifies three new possibilities in Bengali cinema: first, (...) the inward-looking, often apolitical sketches that celebrate liberal development and psychosomatic indulgences, second, the sentimental, community-based films that sometimes take political changes on board as well, and attempt to bridge the rural-urban divide; third, cult-ish films of a newer pedigree that show impatience with old Left and progressive values, and are also technically experimental and avant-garde. The second objective of the article is to discuss specifically two contemporary filmmakers – Moinak Biswas and Suman Mukhopadhay – and place their films within this ferment. (shrink)