Jeffrey Meets Kolmogorov: A General Theory of Conditioning

Journal of Philosophical Logic 49 (5):941-979 (2020)
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Jeffrey conditionalization is a rule for updating degrees of belief in light of uncertain evidence. It is usually assumed that the partitions involved in Jeffrey conditionalization are finite and only contain positive-credence elements. But there are interesting examples, involving continuous quantities, in which this is not the case. Q1 Can Jeffrey conditionalization be generalized to accommodate continuous cases? Meanwhile, several authors, such as Kenny Easwaran and Michael Rescorla, have been interested in Kolmogorov’s theory of regular conditional distributions as a possible framework for conditional probability which handles probability-zero events. However the theory faces a major shortcoming: it seems messy and ad hoc. Q2 Is there some axiomatic theory which would justify and constrain the use of rcds, thus serving as a possible foundation for conditional probability? These two questions appear unrelated, but they are not, and this paper answers both. We show that when one appropriately generalizes Jeffrey conditionalization as in Q1, one obtains a framework which necessitates the use of rcds. It is then a short step to develop a general theory which addresses Q2, which we call the theory of extensions. The theory is a formal model of conditioning which recovers Bayesian conditionalization, Jeffrey conditionalization, and conditionalization via rcds as special cases.



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Author Profiles

Snow Zhang
New York University
Alexander Meehan
Yale University

Citations of this work

Kolmogorov Conditionalizers Can Be Dutch Booked.Alexander Meehan & Snow Zhang - forthcoming - Review of Symbolic Logic:1-36.

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References found in this work

The Logic of Decision.Richard C. Jeffrey - 1965 - New York, NY, USA: University of Chicago Press.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.K. Popper - 1959 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10 (37):55-57.
Updating Subjective Probability.Persi Diaconis & Sandy L. Zabell - 1982 - Journal of the American Statistical Association 77 (380):822-830.
Declarations of Independence.Branden Fitelson & Alan Hájek - 2017 - Synthese 194 (10):3979-3995.

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