Variety of Evidence

Erkenntnis 85 (1):183-223 (2020)
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Abstract

Varied evidence confirms more strongly than less varied evidence, ceteris paribus. This epistemological Variety of Evidence Thesis enjoys widespread intuitive support. We put forward a novel explication of one notion of varied evidence and the Variety of Evidence Thesis within Bayesian models of scientific inference by appealing to measures of entropy. Our explication of the Variety of Evidence Thesis holds in many of our models which also pronounce on disconfirmatory and discordant evidence. We argue that our models pronounce rightly. Against a backdrop of failures of the Variety of Evidence Thesis, the intuitive case for the Variety of Evidence Thesis emerges strengthened. Our models do however not support the general case for the thesis since our explication of it fails to hold in certain cases. The parameter space of this failure is explored and an explanation for the failure is offered.

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Jürgen Landes
Università degli Studi di Milano