Comparativism and the Measurement of Partial Belief

Edward J. R. Elliott
University of Leeds
Comparativism is the view that comparative beliefs (e.g., believing p to be more likely than q) are more fundamental than partial beliefs (e.g., believing p to some degree x), with the latter explicable as theoretical constructs designed to facilitate reasoning about patterns within systems of comparative beliefs that exist under special conditions. In this paper, I fi rst outline several varieties of comparativism, including two `Ramseyan' varieties which generalise the standard `probabilistic' approaches. I then provide a general critique that applies to any and all comparativist views. Ultimately, there are too many things that we ought to be able to say about partial beliefs that comparativism renders unintelligible. Moreover, there are alternative ways to account for the measurement of belief that need not face the same expressive limitations.
Keywords Comparativism  degree of belief  partial belief  comparative probability  qualitative probability  Ramsey  measurement
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