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Profile: Branden Fitelson (Northeastern University)
  1.  88
    Bayesians Sometimes Cannot Ignore Even Very Implausible Theories.Branden Fitelson & Neil Thomason - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Logic 6 (3):25-36.
    In applying Bayes’s theorem to the history of science, Bayesians sometimes assume – often without argument – that they can safely ignore very implausible theories. This assumption is false, both in that it can seriously distort the history of science as well as the mathematics and the applicability of Bayes’s theorem. There are intuitively very plausible counter-examples. In fact, one can ignore very implausible or unknown theories only if at least one of two conditions is satisfied: one is certain that (...)
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  2.  79
    The Plurality of Bayesian Measures of Confirmation and the Problem of Measure Sensitivity.Branden Fitelson - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):378.
    Contemporary Bayesian confirmation theorists measure degree of (incremental) confirmation using a variety of non-equivalent relevance measures. As a result, a great many of the arguments surrounding quantitative Bayesian confirmation theory are implicitly sensitive to choice of measure of confirmation. Such arguments are enthymematic, since they tacitly presuppose that certain relevance measures should be used (for various purposes) rather than other relevance measures that have been proposed and defended in the philosophical literature. I present a survey of this pervasive class of (...)
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  3. A Probabilistic Theory of Coherence.Branden Fitelson - 2003 - Analysis 63 (3):194–199.
    Let E be a set of n propositions E1, ..., En. We seek a probabilistic measure C(E) of the ‘degree of coherence’ of E. Intuitively, we want C to be a quantitative, probabilistic generalization of the (deductive) logical coherence of E. So, in particular, we require C to satisfy the following..
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  4. Strengthening the Case for Knowledge From Falsehood.Branden Fitelson - 2010 - Analysis 70 (4):666-669.
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  5.  82
    Studies in Bayesian Confirmation Theory.Branden Fitelson - 2001 - Dissertation, University of Wisconsin, Madison
    According to Bayesian confirmation theory, evidence E (incrementally) confirms (or supports) a hypothesis H (roughly) just in case E and H are positively probabilistically correlated (under an appropriate probability function Pr). There are many logically equivalent ways of saying that E and H are correlated under Pr. Surprisingly, this leads to a plethora of non-equivalent quantitative measures of the degree to which E confirms H (under Pr). In fact, many non-equivalent Bayesian measures of the degree to which E confirms (or (...)
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  6.  88
    Accuracy, Coherence and Evidence.Branden Fitelson & Kenny Easwaran - unknown
    Taking Joyce’s (1998; 2009) recent argument(s) for probabilism as our point of departure, we propose a new way of grounding formal, synchronic, epistemic coherence requirements for (opinionated) full belief. Our approach yields principled alternatives to deductive consistency, sheds new light on the preface and lottery paradoxes, and reveals novel conceptual connections between alethic and evidential epistemic norms.
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  7.  69
    Symmetries and Asymmetries in Evidential Support.Ellery Eells & Branden Fitelson - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 107 (2):129 - 142.
    Several forms of symmetry in degrees of evidential support areconsidered. Some of these symmetries are shown not to hold in general. This has implications for the adequacy of many measures of degree ofevidential support that have been proposed and defended in the philosophical literature.
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  8. An 'Evidentialist' Worry About Joyce's Argument for Probabilism.Kenny Easwaran & Branden Fitelson - 2012 - Dialetica 66 (3):425-433.
    To the extent that we have reasons to avoid these “bad B -properties”, these arguments provide reasons not to have an incoherent credence function b — and perhaps even reasons to have a coherent one. But, note that these two traditional arguments for probabilism involve what might be called “pragmatic” reasons (not) to be (in)coherent. In the case of the Dutch Book argument, the “bad” property is pragmatically bad (to the extent that one values money). But, it is not clear (...)
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  9. Likelihoodism, Bayesianism, and Relational Confirmation.Branden Fitelson - 2007 - Synthese 156 (3):473-489.
    Likelihoodists and Bayesians seem to have a fundamental disagreement about the proper probabilistic explication of relational (or contrastive) conceptions of evidential support (or confirmation). In this paper, I will survey some recent arguments and results in this area, with an eye toward pinpointing the nexus of the dispute. This will lead, first, to an important shift in the way the debate has been couched, and, second, to an alternative explication of relational support, which is in some sense a "middle way" (...)
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  10. What is the “Equal Weight View'?Branden Fitelson & David Jehle - 2009 - Episteme 6 (3):280-293.
    In this paper, we investigate various possible (Bayesian) precisifications of the (somewhat vague) statements of “the equal weight view” (EWV) that have appeared in the recent literature on disagreement. We will show that the renditions of (EWV) that immediately suggest themselves are untenable from a Bayesian point of view. In the end, we will propose some tenable (but not necessarily desirable) interpretations of (EWV). Our aim here will not be to defend any particular Bayesian precisification of (EWV), but rather to (...)
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  11. Probability, Confirmation, and the Conjunction Fallacy.Vincenzo Crupi, Branden Fitelson & Katya Tentori - 2008 - Thinking and Reasoning 14 (2):182 – 199.
    The conjunction fallacy has been a key topic in debates on the rationality of human reasoning and its limitations. Despite extensive inquiry, however, the attempt to provide a satisfactory account of the phenomenon has proved challenging. Here we elaborate the suggestion (first discussed by Sides, Osherson, Bonini, & Viale, 2002) that in standard conjunction problems the fallacious probability judgements observed experimentally are typically guided by sound assessments of _confirmation_ relations, meant in terms of contemporary Bayesian confirmation theory. Our main formal (...)
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  12.  24
    Two Technical Corrections to My Coherence Measure.Branden Fitelson - unknown
    Note: This is not an ad hoc change at all. It’s simply the natural thing say here – if one thinks of F as a generalization of classical logical entailment. The extra complexity I had in my original (incorrect) definition of F was there because I was foolishly trying to encode some non-classical, or “relavant” logical structure in F. I now think this is a mistake, and that I should go with the above, classical account of F. Arguments about relevance (...)
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  13. Goodman’s “New Riddle”.Branden Fitelson - 2008 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 37 (6):613-643.
    First, a brief historical trace of the developments in confirmation theory leading up to Goodman's infamous "grue" paradox is presented. Then, Goodman's argument is analyzed from both Hempelian and Bayesian perspectives. A guiding analogy is drawn between certain arguments against classical deductive logic, and Goodman's "grue" argument against classical inductive logic. The upshot of this analogy is that the "New Riddle" is not as vexing as many commentators have claimed. Specifically, the analogy reveals an intimate connection between Goodman's problem, and (...)
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  14. Evidence of Evidence is Not (Necessarily) Evidence.Branden Fitelson - 2012 - Analysis 72 (1):85-88.
    In this note, I consider various precisifications of the slogan ‘evidence of evidence is evidence’. I provide counter-examples to each of these precisifications (assuming an epistemic probabilistic relevance notion of ‘evidential support’).
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  15. Monty Hall, Doomsday and Confirmation.Darren Bradley & Branden Fitelson - 2003 - Analysis 63 (1):23–31.
    We give an analysis of the Monty Hall problem purely in terms of confirmation, without making any lottery assumptions about priors. Along the way, we show the Monty Hall problem is structurally identical to the Doomsday Argument.
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  16. Measuring Confirmation and Evidence.Ellery Eells & Branden Fitelson - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (12):663-672.
  17. How Bayesian Confirmation Theory Handles the Paradox of the Ravens.Branden Fitelson & James Hawthorne - 2010 - In Ellery Eells & James Fetzer (eds.), The Place of Probability in Science. Springer. pp. 247--275.
    The Paradox of the Ravens (a.k.a,, The Paradox of Confirmation) is indeed an old chestnut. A great many things have been written and said about this paradox and its implications for the logic of evidential support. The first part of this paper will provide a brief survey of the early history of the paradox. This will include the original formulation of the paradox and the early responses of Hempel, Goodman, and Quine. The second part of the paper will describe attempts (...)
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  18.  48
    A Bayesian Account of Independent Evidence with Applications.Branden Fitelson - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S123-.
    outlined. This account is partly inspired by the work of C.S. Peirce. When we want to consider how degree of confirmation varies with changing I show that a large class of quantitative Bayesian measures of con-.
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  19.  9
    Two Approaches to Belief Revision.Ted Shear & Branden Fitelson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-32.
    In this paper, we compare and contrast two methods for the revision of qualitative beliefs. The first method is generated by a simplistic diachronic Lockean thesis requiring coherence with the agent’s posterior credences after conditionalization. The second method is the orthodox AGM approach to belief revision. Our primary aim is to determine when the two methods may disagree in their recommendations and when they must agree. We establish a number of novel results about their relative behavior. Our most notable finding (...)
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  20. The Paradox of Confirmation.Branden Fitelson - 2006 - Philosophy Compass 1 (1):95–113.
    Hempel first introduced the paradox of confirmation in (Hempel 1937). Since then, a very extensive literature on the paradox has evolved (Vranas 2004). Much of this literature can be seen as responding to Hempel’s subsequent discussions and analyses of the paradox in (Hempel 1945). Recently, it was noted that Hempel’s intuitive (and plausible) resolution of the paradox was inconsistent with his official theory of confirmation (Fitelson & Hawthorne 2006). In this article, we will try to explain how this inconsistency affects (...)
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  21.  38
    A Decision Procedure for Probability Calculus with Applications.Branden Fitelson - 2008 - Review of Symbolic Logic 1 (1):111-125.
    (new version: 10/30/07). Click here to download the companion Mathematica 6 notebook that goes along with this paper.
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  22.  88
    Discussion: Re‐Solving Irrelevant Conjunction with Probabilistic Independence.James Hawthorne & Branden Fitelson - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (4):505-514.
    Naive deductivist accounts of confirmation have the undesirable consequence that if E confirms H, then E also confirms the conjunction H·X, for any X—even if X is completely irrelevant to E and H. Bayesian accounts of confirmation may appear to have the same problem. In a recent article in this journal Fitelson (2002) argued that existing Bayesian attempts to resolve of this problem are inadequate in several important respects. Fitelson then proposes a new‐and‐improved Bayesian account that overcomes the problem of (...)
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  23.  50
    Putting the Irrelevance Back Into the Problem of Irrelevant Conjunction.Branden Fitelson - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (4):611-622.
    Naive deductive accounts of confirmation have the undesirable consequence that if E confirms H, then E also confirms the conjunction H & X, for any X—even if X is utterly irrelevant to H (and E). Bayesian accounts of confirmation also have this property (in the case of deductive evidence). Several Bayesians have attempted to soften the impact of this fact by arguing that—according to Bayesian accounts of confirmation— E will confirm the conjunction H & X less strongly than E confirms (...)
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  24. Pollock on Probability in Epistemology. [REVIEW]Branden Fitelson - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (3):455 - 465.
    In Thinking and Acting John Pollock offers some criticisms of Bayesian epistemology, and he defends an alternative understanding of the role of probability in epistemology. Here, I defend the Bayesian against some of Pollock's criticisms, and I discuss a potential problem for Pollock's alternative account.
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  25. Too Odd (Not) to Be True? A Reply to Olsson.Luc Bovens, Branden Fitelson, Stephan Hartmann & Josh Snyder - 2002 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (4):539-563.
    Corroborating Testimony, Probability and Surprise’, Erik J. Olsson ascribes to L. Jonathan Cohen the claims that if two witnesses provide us with the same information, then the less probable the information is, the more confident we may be that the information is true (C), and the stronger the information is corroborated (C*). We question whether Cohen intends anything like claims (C) and (C*). Furthermore, he discusses the concurrence of witness reports within a context of independent witnesses, whereas the witnesses in (...)
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  26. Probabilistic Measures of Causal Strength.Branden Fitelson & Christopher Hitchcock - 2011 - In Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford University Press. pp. 600--627.
  27. Bayesian Confirmation and Auxiliary Hypotheses Revisited: A Reply to Strevens.Branden Fitelson & Andrew Waterman - 2005 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (2):293-302.
    has proposed an interesting and novel Bayesian analysis of the Quine-Duhem (Q–D) problem (i.e., the problem of auxiliary hypotheses). Strevens's analysis involves the use of a simplifying idealization concerning the original Q–D problem. We will show that this idealization is far stronger than it might appear. Indeed, we argue that Strevens's idealization oversimplifies the Q–D problem, and we propose a diagnosis of the source(s) of the oversimplification. Some background on Quine–Duhem Strevens's simplifying idealization Indications that (I) oversimplifies Q–D Strevens's argument (...)
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  28. Plantinga's Probability Arguments Against Evolutionary Naturalism.Branden Fitelson & Elliott Sober - 1998 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (2):115–129.
    In Chapter 12 of Warrant and Proper Function, Alvin Plantinga constructs two arguments against evolutionary naturalism, which he construes as a conjunction E&N .The hypothesis E says that “human cognitive faculties arose by way of the mechanisms to which contemporary evolutionary thought directs our attention (p.220).”1 With respect to proposition N , Plantinga (p. 270) says “it isn’t easy to say precisely what naturalism is,” but then adds that “crucial to metaphysical naturalism, of course, is the view that there is (...)
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  29. 10. Selection, Drift, and the “Forces” of Evolution Selection, Drift, and the “Forces” of Evolution (Pp. 550-570).Paul Teller, Stefano Gattei, Kent W. Staley, Eric Winsberg, James Hawthorne, Branden Fitelson, Patrick Maher, Peter Achinstein & Mathias Frisch - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (4).
  30.  4
    A Bayesian Account of Independent Evidence with Applications.Branden Fitelson - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (S3):S123-S140.
    A Bayesian account of independent evidential support is outlined. This account is partly inspired by the work of C. S. Peirce. I show that a large class of quantitative Bayesian measures of confirmation satisfy some basic desiderata suggested by Peirce for adequate accounts of independent evidence. I argue that, by considering further natural constraints on a probabilistic account of independent evidence, all but a very small class of Bayesian measures of confirmation can be ruled out. In closing, another application of (...)
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  31.  69
    Steps Toward a Computational Metaphysics.Branden Fitelson & Edward N. Zalta - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 36 (2):227-247.
    In this paper, the authors describe their initial investigations in computational metaphysics. Our method is to implement axiomatic metaphysics in an automated reasoning system. In this paper, we describe what we have discovered when the theory of abstract objects is implemented in PROVER9 (a first-order automated reasoning system which is the successor to OTTER). After reviewing the second-order, axiomatic theory of abstract objects, we show (1) how to represent a fragment of that theory in PROVER9's first-order syntax, and (2) how (...)
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  32. Probability.Branden Fitelson, Alan Hajek & Ned Hall - 2006 - In Jessica Pfeifer & Sahotra Sarkar (eds.), The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia. Routledge.
    There are two central questions concerning probability. First, what are its formal features? That is a mathematical question, to which there is a standard, widely (though not universally) agreed upon answer. This answer is reviewed in the next section. Second, what sorts of things are probabilities---what, that is, is the subject matter of probability theory? This is a philosophical question, and while the mathematical theory of probability certainly bears on it, the answer must come from elsewhere. To see why, observe (...)
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  33.  95
    The Wason Task(s) and the Paradox of Confirmation.Branden Fitelson - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):207-241.
    The (recent, Bayesian) cognitive science literature on the Wason Task (WT) has been modeled largely after the (not-so-recent, Bayesian) philosophy of science literature on the Paradox of Confirmation (POC). In this paper, we apply some insights from more recent Bayesian approaches to the (POC) to analogous models of (WT). This involves, first, retracing the history of the (POC), and, then, re-examining the (WT) with these historico-philosophical insights in mind.
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  34.  23
    Probabilistic Coherence From a Logical Point of View.Branden Fitelson - unknown
    – Foundation: Probabilistic Confirmation (c) from a Logical POV ∗ cph, eq as a “relevant” quantitative generalization of pe  hq ∗ cph, eq, so understood, is not Prpe  hq or Prph | eq, etc. ∗ cph, eq is something akin (ordinally) to the likelihood ratio..
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  35.  21
    A New Garber-Style Solution to the Problem of Old Evidence.Stephan Hartmann & Branden Fitelson - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (4):712-717.
    In this discussion note, we explain how to relax some of the standard assumptions made in Garber-style solutions to the Problem of Old Evidence. The result is a more general and explanatory Bayesian approach.
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  36.  52
    Accuracy, Language Dependence, and Joyce's Argument for Probabilism.Branden Fitelson - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (1):167-174.
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  37. Declarations of Independence.Branden Fitelson & Alan Hájek - 2017 - Synthese 194 (10):3979-3995.
    According to orthodox (Kolmogorovian) probability theory, conditional probabilities are by definition certain ratios of unconditional probabilities. As a result, orthodox conditional probabilities are undefined whenever their antecedents have zero unconditional probability. This has important ramifications for the notion of probabilistic independence. Traditionally, independence is defined in terms of unconditional probabilities (the factorization of the relevant joint unconditional probabilities). Various “equivalent” formulations of independence can be given using conditional probabilities. But these “equivalences” break down if conditional probabilities are permitted to have (...)
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  38.  73
    Favoring, Likelihoodism, and Bayesianism. [REVIEW]Branden Fitelson - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (3):666-672.
    This (brief) note is about the (evidential) “favoring” relation. Pre-theoretically, favoring is a three-place (epistemic) relation, between an evidential proposition E and two hypotheses H1 and H2. Favoring relations are expressed via locutions of the form: E favors H1 over H2. Strictly speaking, favoring should really be thought of as a four-place relation, between E, H1, H2, and a corpus of background evidence K. But, for present purposes (which won't address issues involving K), I will suppress the background corpus, so (...)
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  39.  68
    How Not to Detect Design. [REVIEW]Branden Fitelson - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):472 - 488.
    As every philosopher knows, “the design argument” concludes that God exists from premisses that cite the adaptive complexity of organisms or the lawfulness and orderliness of the whole universe. Since 1859, it has formed the intellectual heart of creationist opposition to the Darwinian hypothesis that organisms evolved their adaptive features by the mindless process of natural selection. Although the design argument developed as a defense of theism, the logic of the argument in fact encompasses a larger set of issues. William (...)
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  40.  15
    Updating: Learning Versus Supposing.Jiaying Zhao, Vincenzo Crupi, Katya Tentori, Branden Fitelson & Daniel Osherson - 2012 - Cognition 124 (3):373-378.
  41.  3
    An ‘Evidentialist’ Worry About Joyce's Argument for Probabilism.Kenny Easwaran & Branden Fitelson - 2012 - Dialectica 66 (3):425-433.
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  42.  60
    Wason Task(s) and the Paradox of Confirmation.Branden Fitelson & James Hawthorne - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):207-241.
    The (recent, Bayesian) cognitive science literature on The Wason Task (WT) has been modeled largely after the (not-so-recent, Bayesian) philosophy of science literature on The Paradox of Confirmation (POC). In this paper, we apply some insights from more recent Bayesian approaches to the (POC) to analogous models of (WT). This involves, first, retracing the history of the (POC), and, then, reexamining the (WT) with these historico-philosophical insights in mind.
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  43.  41
    Comparative Bayesian Confirmation and the Quine-Duhem Problem: A Rejoinder to Strevens.Branden Fitelson & Andrew Waterman - 2007 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 58 (2):333-338.
    By and large, we think is a useful reply to our original critique of his article on the Quine–Duhem problem. But, we remain unsatisfied with several aspects of his reply. Ultimately, we do not think he properly addresses our most important worries. In this brief rejoinder, we explain our remaining worries, and we issue a revised challenge for Strevens's approach to QD.
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  44.  66
    Contrastive Bayesianism.Branden Fitelson - 2012 - In Martijn Blaauw (ed.), Contrastivism in Philosophy: New Perspectives. Routledge.
    Bayesianism provides a rich theoretical framework, which lends itself rather naturally to the explication of various “contrastive” and “non-contrastive” concepts. In this (brief) discussion, I will focus on issues involving “contrastivism”, as they arise in some of the recent philosophy of science, epistemology, and cognitive science literature surrounding Bayesian confirmation theory.
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  45.  59
    Comments and Criticism: Measuring Confirmation and Evidence.Ellery Eells & Branden Fitelson - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (12):663-672.
    Bayesian epistemology suggests various ways of measuring the support that a piece of evidence provides a hypothesis. Such measures are defined in terms of a subjective probability assignment, pr, over propositions entertained by an agent. The most standard measure (where “H” stands for “hypothesis” and “E” stands for “evidence”) is: the difference measure: d(H,E) = pr(H/E) - pr(H).0 This may be called a “positive (probabilistic) relevance measure” of confirmation, since, according to it, a piece of evidence E qualitatively confirms a (...)
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  46. 1. Preface Preface (Pp. I-Ii).Laura Ruetsche, Chris Smeenk, Branden Fitelson, Patrick Maher, Martin Thomson‐Jones, Bas C. van Fraassen, Steven French, Juha Saatsi, Stathis Psillos & Katherine Brading - 2006 - Philosophy of Science 73 (5).
     
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  47.  55
    The Strongest Possible Lewisian Triviality Result.Branden Fitelson - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):69-74.
    The strongest possible Lewisian triviality result for the indicative conditional is proven.
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  48. Review: The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory. [REVIEW]Branden Fitelson - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):545-551.
  49. Measuring Confirmation and Evidence.Branden Fitelson - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (12):663 - 672.
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  50. An Even Better Solution to the Paradox of the Ravens.James Hawthorne & Branden Fitelson - manuscript
    Think of confirmation in the context of the Ravens Paradox this way. The likelihood ratio measure of incremental confirmation gives us, for an observed Black Raven and for an observed non-Black non-Raven, respectively, the following “full” likelihood ratios.
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