The structure of epistemic probabilities

Philosophical Studies:1-30 (2019)

Authors
Nevin Climenhaga
Australian Catholic University
Abstract
The epistemic probability of A given B is the degree to which B evidentially supports A, or makes A plausible. This paper is a first step in answering the question of what determines the values of epistemic probabilities. I break this question into two parts: the structural question and the substantive question. Just as an object’s weight is determined by its mass and gravitational acceleration, some probabilities are determined by other, more basic ones. The structural question asks what probabilities are not determined in this way—these are the basic probabilities which determine values for all other probabilities. The substantive question asks how the values of these basic probabilities are determined. I defend an answer to the structural question on which basic probabilities are the probabilities of atomic propositions conditional on potential direct explanations. I defend this against the view, implicit in orthodox mathematical treatments of probability, that basic probabilities are the unconditional probabilities of complete worlds. I then apply my answer to the structural question to clear up common confusions in expositions of Bayesianism and shed light on the “problem of the priors.”
Keywords Bayesian epistemology  Bayesian networks  Explanation  Probability  Inference to the best explanation
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-019-01367-0
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References found in this work BETA

Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
Causation, Prediction, and Search.Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour & Richard Scheines - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):113-123.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):201-202.
What Conditional Probability Could Not Be.Alan Hájek - 2003 - Synthese 137 (3):273--323.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):452-458.

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Citations of this work BETA

How Explanation Guides Confirmation.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):359-68.
Inference to the Best Explanation Made Incoherent.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (5):251-273.
The Intrinsic Probability of Theism.Calum Miller - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (10):e12523.

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