Fragmentation and Old Evidence

Episteme 20 (3):542-567 (2023)
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Bayesian confirmation theory is our best formal framework for describing inductive reasoning. The problem of old evidence is a particularly difficult one for confirmation theory, because it suggests that this framework fails to account for central and important cases of inductive reasoning and scientific inference. I show that we can appeal to the fragmentation of doxastic states to solve this problem for confirmation theory. This fragmentation solution is independently well-motivated because of the success of fragmentation in solving other problems. I also argue that the fragmentation solution is preferable to other solutions to the problem of old evidence. These other solutions are already committed to something like fragmentation, but suffer from difficulties due to their additional commitments. If these arguments are successful, Bayesian confirmation theory is saved from the problem of old evidence, and the argument for fragmentation is bolstered by its ability to solve yet another problem.

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Will Fleisher
Georgetown University

Citations of this work

Epistemic Akrasia and Belief‐Credence Dualism.Elizabeth Jackson & Peter Tan - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (3):717–727.

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References found in this work

Accuracy and the Laws of Credence.Richard Pettigrew - 2016 - New York, NY.: Oxford University Press UK.
Scientific reasoning: the Bayesian approach.Peter Urbach & Colin Howson - 1993 - Chicago: Open Court. Edited by Peter Urbach.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.

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