Degree-of-belief and degree-of-support: Why bayesians need both notions

Mind 114 (454):277-320 (2005)

James Hawthorne
University of Oklahoma
I argue that Bayesians need two distinct notions of probability. We need the usual degree-of-belief notion that is central to the Bayesian account of rational decision. But Bayesians also need a separate notion of probability that represents the degree to which evidence supports hypotheses. Although degree-of-belief is well suited to the theory of rational decision, Bayesians have tried to apply it to the realm of hypothesis confirmation as well. This double duty leads to the problem of old evidence, a problem that, we will see, is much more extensive than usually recognized. I will argue that degree-of-support is distinct from degree-of-belief, that it is not just a kind of counterfactual degree-of-belief, and that it supplements degree-of-belief in a way that resolves the problems of old evidence and provides a richer account of the logic of scientific inference and belief.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzi277
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