Good guesses as accuracy-specificity tradeoffs

Philosophical Studies 180 (7):2025-2050 (2023)
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Guessing is a familiar activity, one we engage in when we are uncertain of the answer to a question under discussion. It is also an activity that lends itself to normative evaluation: some guesses are better than others. The question that interests me here is what makes for a good guess. In recent work, Dorst and Mandelkern have argued that good guesses are distinguished from bad ones by how well they optimize a tradeoff between accuracy and specificity. Here I argue that Dorst and Mandelkern’s implementation of this idea fails to satisfy some plausible constraints on good guesses, and I develop an alternative implementation that satisfies the relevant constraints. The result is a new account of good guesses which retains the positive aspects of Dorst and Mandelkern’s proposal, but without the drawbacks.

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Mattias Skipper
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

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References found in this work

Thinking, Guessing, and Believing.Ben Holguin - 2022 - Philosophers' Imprint 22 (1):1-34.
Belief is weak.John Hawthorne, Daniel Rothschild & Levi Spectre - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1393-1404.
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A Mathematical Theory of Communication.Claude Elwood Shannon - 1948 - Bell System Technical Journal 27 (April 1924):379–423.
Internal consistency of choice.Amartya Sen - 1993 - Econometrica 61:495–521.

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