There are currently two robust traditions in philosophy dealing with doxastic attitudes: the tradition that is concerned primarily with all-or-nothing belief, and the tradition that is concerned primarily with degree of belief or credence. This paper concerns the relationship between belief and credence for a rational agent, and is directed at those who may have hoped that the notion of belief can either be reduced to credence or eliminated altogether when characterizing the norms governing ideally rational agents. (...) It presents a puzzle which lends support to two theses. First, that there is no formal reduction of a rational agent’s beliefs to her credences, because belief and credence are each responsive to different features of a body of evidence. Second, that if our traditional understanding of our practices of holding each other responsible is correct, then belief has a distinctive role to play, even for ideally rational agents, that cannot be played by credence. The question of which avenues remain for the credence-only theorist is considered. (shrink)
I argue that psychology and epistemology should posit distinct cognitive attitudes of religious credence and factual belief, which have different etiologies and different cognitive and behavioral effects. I support this claim by presenting a range of empirical evidence that religious cognitive attitudes tend to lack properties characteristic of factual belief, just as attitudes like hypothesis, fictional imagining, and assumption for the sake of argument generally lack such properties. Furthermore, religious credences have distinctive properties of their own. To summarize: factual (...) beliefs are practical setting independent, cognitively govern other attitudes, and are evidentially vulnerable. By way of contrast, religious credences have perceived normative orientation, are susceptible to free elaboration, and are vulnerable to special authority. This theory provides a framework for future research in the epistemology and psychology of religious credence. (shrink)
This paper compares two alternative explanations of pragmatic encroachment on knowledge (i.e., the claim that whether an agent knows that p can depend on pragmatic factors). After reviewing the evidence for such pragmatic encroachment, we ask how it is best explained, assuming it obtains. Several authors have recently argued that the best explanation is provided by a particular account of belief, which we call pragmatic credal reductivism. On this view, what it is for an agent to believe a proposition is (...) for her credence in this proposition to be above a certain threshold, a threshold that varies depending on pragmatic factors. We show that while this account of belief can provide an elegant explanation of pragmatic encroachment on knowledge, it is not alone in doing so, for an alternative account of belief, which we call the reasoning disposition account, can do so as well. And the latter account, we argue, is far more plausible than pragmatic credal reductivism, since it accords far better with a number of claims about belief that are very hard to deny. (shrink)
I explore how rational belief and rational credence relate to evidence. I begin by looking at three cases where rational belief and credence seem to respond differently to evidence: cases of naked statistical evidence, lotteries, and hedged assertions. I consider an explanation for these cases, namely, that one ought not form beliefs on the basis of statistical evidence alone, and raise worries for this view. Then, I suggest another view that explains how belief and credence relate to (...) evidence. My view focuses on the possibilities that the evidence makes salient. I argue that this makes better sense of the difference between rational credence and rational belief than other accounts. (shrink)
This paper explains and defends a belief-first view of the relationship between belief and credence. On this view, credences are a species of beliefs, and the degree of credence is determined by the content of what is believed. We begin by developing what we take to be the most plausible belief-first view. Then, we offer several arguments for it. Finally, we show how it can resist objections that have been raised to belief-first views. We conclude that the belief-first (...) view is more plausible than many have previously supposed. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that faith’s going beyond the evidence need not compromise faith’s epistemic rationality. First, I explain how some of the recent literature on belief and credence points to a distinction between what I call B-evidence and C-evidence. Then, I apply this distinction to rational faith. I argue that if faith is more sensitive to B-evidence than to C-evidence, faith can go beyond the evidence and still be epistemically rational.
In this paper, I highlight an interesting difference between belief on the one hand, and suspended judgment and credence on the other hand. This difference is the following: credences and suspended judgments are suitable to serve as transitional as well as terminal attitudes in our reasoning, whereas beliefs are only appropriate as terminal attitudes. The notion of a transitional attitude is not an established one in the literature, but I argue that introducing it helps us better understand the different (...) roles suspended judgments and credences can play in our reasoning. Transitional and terminal attitudes have interestingly different descriptive and normative properties. I also compare my account of transitional attitudes to other inquiry-guiding attitudes that have recently been characterized in the literature and explain why they are different. (shrink)
Radical moral encroachment is the view that belief itself is morally evaluable, and that some moral properties of belief itself make a difference to epistemic rationality. To date, almost all proponents of radical moral encroachment hold to an asymmetry thesis: the moral encroaches on rational belief, but not on rational credence. In this paper, we argue against the asymmetry thesis; we show that, insofar as one accepts the most prominent arguments for radical moral encroachment on belief, one should likewise (...) accept radical moral encroachment on credence. We outline and reject potential attempts to establish a basis for asymmetry between the attitude types. Then, we explore the merits and demerits of the two available responses to our symmetry claim: (i) embracing moral encroachment on credence and (ii) denying moral encroachment on belief. (shrink)
After presenting a simple expressivist account of reports of probabilistic judgements, I explore a classic problem for it, namely the Frege-Geach problem. I argue that it is a problem not just for expressivism but for any reasonable account of ascriptions of graded judgements. I suggest that the problem can be resolved by appropriately modelling imprecise credences.
Whereas Bayesians have proposed norms such as probabilism, which requires immediate and permanent certainty in all logical truths, I propose a framework on which credences, including credences in logical truths, are rational because they are based on reasoning that follows plausible rules for the adoption of credences. I argue that my proposed framework has many virtues. In particular, it resolves the problem of logical omniscience.
ABSTRACTMany discussions of the ‘preface paradox’ assume that it is more troubling for deductive closure constraints on rational belief if outright belief is reducible to credence. I show that this is an error: we can generate the problem without assuming such reducibility. All that we need are some very weak normative assumptions about rational relationships between belief and credence. The only view that escapes my way of formulating the problem for the deductive closure constraint is in fact itself (...) a reductive view: namely, the view that outright belief is credence 1. However, I argue that this view is unsustainable. Moreover, my version of the problem turns on no particular theory of evidence or evidential probability, and so cannot be avoided by adopting some revisionary such theory. In sum, deductive closure is in more serious, and more general, trouble than some have thought. (shrink)
This paper argues for two theses: that degrees of belief are context sensitive; that outright belief is belief to degree 1. The latter thesis is rejected quickly in most discussions of the relationship between credence and belief, but the former thesis undermines the usual reasons for doing so. Furthermore, identifying belief with credence 1 allows nice solutions to a number of problems for the most widely-held view of the relationship between credence and belief, the threshold view. I (...) provide a sketch of a formal framework on which both theses are true. This is a modified Bayesian framework; I argue that despite making credences context-sensitive, the framework lets Bayesians hold on to their signature explanatory successes. The sort of context-sensitivity claimed for credences here mirrors the sort of context-sensitivity I have elsewhere claimed for outright belief: one's credences depend, in part, on the space of alternative possibilities one takes seriously in a context. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the relationship between belief and credence is a central question in epistemology. This is because the belief-credence relationship has significant implications for a number of current epistemological issues. I focus on five controversies: permissivism, disagreement, pragmatic encroachment, doxastic voluntarism, and the relationship between doxastic attitudes and prudential rationality. I argue that each debate is constrained in particular ways, depending on whether the relevant attitude is belief or credence. This means that epistemologists (...) should pay attention to whether they are framing questions in terms of belief or in terms of credence and the success or failure of a reductionist project in the belief-credence realm has significant implications for epistemology generally. (shrink)
Belief-credence dualism is the view that we have both beliefs and credences and neither attitude is reducible to the other. Pragmatic encroachment is the view that stakes alone can affect the epistemic rationality of states like knowledge or justified belief. In this paper, I argue that dualism offers a unique explanation of pragmatic encroachment cases. First, I explain pragmatic encroachment and what motivates it. Then, I explain dualism and outline a particular argument for dualism. Finally, I show how dualism (...) can explain the intuitions that underlie pragmatic encroachment. My basic proposal is that in high-stake cases, it is not that one cannot rationally believe that p; instead, one ought not to rely on one's belief that p. One should rather rely on one's credence in p. I conclude that we need not commit ourselves to pragmatic encroachment in order to explain the intuitiveness of the cases that motivate it. (shrink)
It is natural to think of precise probabilities as being special cases of imprecise probabilities, the special case being when one’s lower and upper probabilities are equal. I argue, however, that it is better to think of the two models as representing two different aspects of our credences, which are often vague to some degree. I show that by combining the two models into one model, and understanding that model as a model of vague credence, a natural interpretation arises (...) that suggests a hypothesis concerning how we can improve the accuracy of aggregate credences. I present empirical results in support of this hypothesis. I also discuss how this modeling interpretation of imprecise probabilities bears upon a philosophical objection that has been raised against them, the so-called inductive learning problem. (shrink)
Credal reductivism is the view that outright belief is reducible to degrees of confidence or ‘credence’. The most popular versions of credal reductivism all have the consequence that if you are near-maximally confident that p in a low-stakes situation, then you outright believe p. This paper addresses a recent objection to this consequence—the Correctness Objection— introduced by Jeremy Fantl and Matthew McGrath and further developed by Jacob Ross and Mark Schroeder. The objection is that near-maximal confidence cannot entail outright (...) belief because when you believe a false proposition, you are wrong or incorrect, whereas you can be highly confident of a false proposition in a low-stakes situation without being incorrect. Both Fantl and McGrath’s and Ross and Schoeder’s versions of the Correctness Objection admit of multiple interpretations. But it is argued that even on the most charitable interpretations the objection fails. (shrink)
According to the Rational Threshold View, a rational agent believes p if and only if her credence in p is equal to or greater than a certain threshold. One of the most serious challenges for this view is the problem of statistical evidence: statistical evidence is often not sufficient to make an outright belief rational, no matter how probable the target proposition is given such evidence. This indicates that rational belief is not as sensitive to statistical evidence as rational (...)credence. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we argue that, in addition to playing a decisive role in rationalizing outright belief, non-statistical evidence also plays a preponderant role in rationalizing credence. More precisely, when both types of evidence are present in a context, non-statistical evidence should receive a heavier weight than statistical evidence in determining rational credence. Second, based on this result, we argue that a modified version of the Rational Threshold View can avoid the problem of statistical evidence. We conclude by suggesting a possible explanation of the varying sensitivity to different types of evidence for belief and credence based on the respective aims of these attitudes. (shrink)
A plea: If you're going to propose a Bayesian framework for updating self-locating degrees of belief, please read this piece first. I've tried to survey all the extant formalisms, group them by their general approach, then describe challenges faced by every formalism employing a given approach. Hopefully this survey will prevent further instances of authors' re-inventing updating rules already proposed elsewhere in the literature.
This paper argues that several leading theories of subjunctive conditionals are incompatible with ordinary intuitions about what credences we ought to have in subjunctive conditionals. In short, our theory of subjunctives should intuitively display semantic humility, i.e. our semantic theory should deliver the truth conditions of sentences without pronouncing on whether those conditions actually obtain. In addition to describing intuitions about subjunctive conditionals, I argue that we can derive these ordinary intuitions from justified premises, and I answer a possible worry (...) for my derivation by refuting a subjunctive triviality result modeled on (Lewis 1976). I conclude that the debate over the correct theory of subjunctive conditionals requires settling meta-philosophical questions about the relative value of various virtues of first-order theories of subjunctive conditionals. (shrink)
This paper addresses the ongoing debate over the relation between belief and credence. A proposal is made to reverse the currently predominant order of analysis, by taking belief as conceptually basic and credence as the phenomenon to be clarified. In brief, the proposal is to explicate an agent’s credence in a proposition P as the agent’s tendency toward believing P. Platitudinous as this reduction may seem, it runs counter to all of the major positions in the debate, (...) including the Threshold View, the Certainty View as conventionally understood, Dualism, Eliminativism, as well as Credence Primitivism. Section 1 gives an overview on the current state of the debate. Section 2 considers unsuccessful predecessors of the proposed belief-first approach to credence. Section 3 motivates and lays out the basics of a conceptual framework for thinking about doxastic states that characterizes such states in terms of two formally independent dimensions, one pertaining to the agent’s tendency toward believing P, the other to the level of resilience with which the agent manifests that tendency. Against this backdrop, it is argued in Sect. 4 that the present reduction satisfies a set of standard, theoretically neutral criteria of adequacy for theories of credence, at least once they are purged of a quite common conflation of tendency and resilience. Section 5 argues against all of the above competing accounts. (shrink)
All parties to the Sleeping Beauty debate agree that it shows that some cherished principle of rationality has to go. Thirders think that it is Conditionalization and Reflection that must be given up or modified; halfers think that it is the Principal Principle. I offer an analysis of the Sleeping Beauty puzzle that allows us to retain all three principles. In brief, I argue that Sleeping Beauty’s credence in the uncentered proposition that the coin came up heads should be (...) 1/2, but her credence in the centered proposition that the coin came up heads and it is Monday should be 1/3. I trace the source of the earlier mistakes to an unquestioned assumption in the debate, namely that an uncentered proposition is just a special kind of centered proposition. I argue that the falsity of this assumption is the real lesson of the Sleeping Beauty case. (shrink)
In this paper, we seek a reliabilist account of justified credence. Reliabilism about justified beliefs comes in two varieties: process reliabilism (Goldman, 1979, 2008) and indicator reliabilism (Alston, 1988, 2005). Existing accounts of reliabilism about justified credence comes in the same two varieties: Jeff Dunn (2015) proposes a version of process reliabilism, while Weng Hong Tang (2016) offers a version of indicator reliabilism. As we will see, both face the same objection. If they are right about what justification (...) is, it is mysterious why we care about justification, for neither of the accounts explains how justification is connected to anything of epistemic value. We will call this the Connection Problem. I begin by describing Dunn’s process reliabilism and Tang’s indicator reliabilism. I argue that, understood correctly, they are, in fact, extensionally equivalent. That is, Dunn and Tang reach the top of the same mountain, albeit by different routes. However, I argue that both face the Connection Problem. In response, I offer my own version of reliabilism, which is both process and indicator, and I argue that it solves that problem. Furthermore, I show that it is also extensionally equivalent to Dunn’s reliabilism and Tang’s. Thus, I reach the top of the same mountain as well. (shrink)
Duncan Pritchard’s Epistemic Angst promises a novel solution to the closure-based sceptical problem that, unlike more traditional solutions, does not entail revising our fundamental epistemological commitments. In order to do this, it appeals to a Wittgensteinian account of rational evaluation, the overarching theme of which is that it neither makes sense to doubt nor to believe in our anti-sceptical hinge commitments. The purpose of this paper is to show that the argument for the claim that there can be no rational (...) basis to believe our anti-sceptical hinge commitments relies upon an implicit assumption about rational support that I label The Pritchensteinian Rational Grounds Principle. I argue that, insofar as this principle is intended to apply to closure-style inferences, it leads to irrational doxastic attitudes. I consider a seemingly plausible modification of the principle that would avoid this result but show that this modified principle faces serious problems of its own. -/- . (shrink)
In addition to full beliefs, agents have attitudes of varying confidence, or credences. For instance, I do not believe that the Boston Red Sox will win the American League East this year, but I am at least a little bit confident that they will – i.e. I have a positive credence that they will. It is also common to think that agents have conditional credences. For instance, I am very confident – i.e. have a conditional credence of very-likely (...) strength – that the Red Sox will win the AL East this year given that their pitching staff stays healthy. There are good reasons to think that conditional credences are neither credences nor some combination of credences. In this paper, I show that similar reasons support thinking that agents have what we can call quantificational credences – attitudes like, thinking that each AL East team with a healthy pitching staff is at least a little bit likely to win the division – which are neither credences, conditional credences, nor some combination thereof. I provide a framework for assessing the rationality of credal states which involve quantificational credences. And I give a general picture of credal states that explains the similarities and differences between ordinary, conditional, and quantificational credences. (shrink)
In previous work I’ve defended an interest-relative theory of belief. This paper continues the defence. It has four aims. -/- 1. To offer a new kind of reason for being unsatis ed with the simple Lockean reduction of belief to credence. 2. To defend the legitimacy of appealing to credences in a theory of belief. 3. To illustrate the importance of theoretical, as well as practical, interests in an interest-relative account of belief. 4. To revise my account to cover (...) propositions that are practically and theoretically irrelevant to the agent. (shrink)
David Lewis' "Principal Principle" is a purported principle of rationality connecting credence and objective chance. Almost all of the discussion of the Principal Principle in the philosophical literature assumes classical probability theory, which is unfortunate since the theory of modern physics that, arguably, speaks most clearly of objective chance is the quantum theory, and quantum probabilities are not classical probabilities. This paper develops an account of how chance works in quantum theory that reveals a connection between credence and (...) quantum chance quite unlike what is envisioned in the philosophical literature: as a theorem of quantum probability, updating a completely additive chance function on a knowledge of chance brings credence into line with chance. The account also suggests a way of construing the Humean supervenience of chance that has the virtue of dissolving some puzzles about the "undermining" of chances. A number of interpretative moves in quantum theory are needed to generate the account of quantum chance on offer here, and they can all be disputed. But engaging in these disputes is part and parcel of naturalized metaphysics, and as such it can be more productive than engaging in the battle of intuitions among analytical metaphysicians about how chance ought to work this and other possible worlds. -/- . (shrink)
Unspecific evidence calls for imprecise credence. My aim is to vindicate this thought. First, I will pin down what it is that makes one's imprecise credences more or less epistemically valuable. Then I will use this account of epistemic value to delineate a class of reasonable epistemic scoring rules for imprecise credences. Finally, I will show that if we plump for one of these scoring rules as our measure of epistemic value or utility, then a popular family of decision (...) rules recommends imprecise credences. In particular, a range of Hurwicz criteria, which generalise the Maximin decision rule, recommend imprecise credences. If correct, the moral is this: an agent who adopts precise credences, rather than imprecise ones, in the face of unspecific and incomplete evidence, goes wrong by gambling with the epistemic utility of her doxastic state in too risky a fashion. Precise credences represent an overly risky epistemic bet, according to the Hurwicz criteria. (shrink)
Does rationality require imprecise credences? Many hold that it does: imprecise evidence requires correspondingly imprecise credences. I argue that this is false. The imprecise view faces the same arbitrariness worries that were meant to motivate it in the first place. It faces these worries because it incorporates a certain idealization. But doing away with this idealization effectively collapses the imprecise view into a particular kind of precise view. On this alternative, our attitudes should reflect a kind of normative uncertainty: uncertainty (...) about what to believe. This view refutes the claim that precise credences are inappropriately informative or committal. Some argue that indeterminate evidential support requires imprecise credences; but I argue that indeterminate evidential support instead places indeterminate requirements on credences, and is compatible with the claim that rational credences may always be precise. (shrink)
Many recent theories of epistemic discourse exploit an informational notion of consequence, i.e. a notion that defines entailment as preservation of support by an information state. This paper investigates how informational consequence fits with probabilistic reasoning. I raise two problems. First, all informational inferences that are not also classical inferences are, intuitively, probabilistically invalid. Second, all these inferences can be exploited, in a systematic way, to generate triviality results. The informational theorist is left with two options, both of them radical: (...) they can either deny that epistemic modal claims have probability at all, or they can move to a nonstandard probability theory. (shrink)
This paper addresses a largely neglected question in ongoing debates over disagreement: what is the relation, if any, between disagreements involving credences and disagreements involving outright beliefs? The first part of the paper offers some desiderata for an adequate account of credal and full disagreement. The second part of the paper argues that both phenomena can be subsumed under a schematic definition which goes as follows: A and B disagree if and only if the accuracy conditions of A's doxastic attitude (...) are such that, if they were fulfilled, this would ipso facto make B's doxastic attitude inaccurate, or vice-versa. (shrink)
the symmetry of our evidential situation. If our confidence is best modeled by a standard probability function this means that we are to distribute our subjective probability or credence sharply and evenly over possibilities among which our evidence does not discriminate. Once thought to be the central principle of probabilistic reasoning by great..
Many philosophers have become worried about the use of standard real numbers for the probability function that represents an agent's credences. They point out that real numbers can't capture the distinction between certain extremely unlikely events and genuinely impossible ones—they are both represented by credence 0, which violates a principle known as “regularity.” Following Skyrms 1980 and Lewis 1980, they recommend that we should instead use a much richer set of numbers, called the “hyperreals.” This essay argues that this (...) popular view is the result of two mistakes. The first mistake, which this essay calls the “numerical fallacy,” is to assume that a distinction that isn't represented by different numbers isn't represented at all in a mathematical representation. In this case, the essay claims that although the real numbers do not make all relevant distinctions, the full mathematical structure of a probability function does. The second mistake is that the hyperreals make too many distinctions. They have a much more complex structure than credences in ordinary propositions can have, so they make distinctions that don't exist among credences. While they might be useful for generating certain mathematical models, they will not appear in a faithful mathematical representation of credences of ordinary propositions. (shrink)
Enjoying great popularity in decision theory, epistemology, and philosophy of science, Bayesianism as understood here is fundamentally concerned with epistemically ideal rationality. It assumes a tight connection between evidential probability and ideally rational credence, and usually interprets evidential probability in terms of such credence. Timothy Williamson challenges Bayesianism by arguing that evidential probabilities cannot be adequately interpreted as the credences of an ideal agent. From this and his assumption that evidential probabilities cannot be interpreted as the actual credences (...) of human agents either, he concludes that no interpretation of evidential probabilities in terms of credence is adequate. I argue to the contrary. My overarching aim is to show on behalf of Bayesians how one can still interpret evidential probabilities in terms of ideally rational credence and how one can maintain a tight connection between evidential probabilities and ideally rational credence even if the former cannot be interpreted in terms of the latter. By achieving this aim I illuminate the limits and prospects of Bayesianism. (shrink)
Traditional definitions of lying require that a speaker believe that what she asserts is false. Sam Fox Krauss seeks to jettison the traditional belief requirement in favour of a necessary condition given in a credence-accuracy framework, on which the liar expects to impose the risk of increased inaccuracy on the hearer. He argues that this necessary condition importantly captures nearby cases as lies which the traditional view neglects. I argue, however, that Krauss's own account suffers from an identical drawback (...) of being unable to explain nearby cases; and even worse, that account fails to distinguish cases of telling lies from cases of telling the truth. (shrink)
Richard Pettigrew offers an extended investigation into a particular way of justifying the rational principles that govern our credences. The main principles that he justifies are the central tenets of Bayesian epistemology, though many other related principles are discussed along the way. Pettigrew looks to decision theory in order to ground his argument. He treats an agent's credences as if they were a choice she makes between different options, gives an account of the purely epistemic utility enjoyed by different sets (...) of credences, and then appeals to the principles of decision theory to show that, when epistemic utility is measured in this way, the credences that violate the principles listed above are ruled out as irrational. The account of epistemic utility set out here is the veritist's: the sole fundamental source of epistemic utility for credences is their accuracy. Thus, Pettigrew conducts an investigation in the version of epistemic utility theory known as accuracy-first epistemology. (shrink)
In this article, I consider what sorts of chance credence norms can be justified by appeal to the idea that ideal credences should line up with the chances. I argue that the Principal Principle cannot be so justified but that an alternative norm, the Temporal Principle—which maintains that an agent’s credence in a proposition ϕ, conditional on the temporal proposition that says that the chance of ϕ is x, should be x—can be so justified.
Reliabilists hold that a belief is doxastically justified if and only if it is caused by a reliable process. But since such a process is one that tends to produce a high ratio of true to false beliefs, reliabilism is on the face of it applicable to binary beliefs, but not to degrees of confidence or credences. For while beliefs admit of truth or falsity, the same cannot be said of credences in general. A natural question now arises: Can reliability (...) theories of justified belief be extended or modified to account for justified credence? In this paper, I address this question. I begin by showing that, as it stands, reliabilism cannot account for justified credence. I then consider three ways in which the reliabilist may try to do so by extending or modifying her theory, but I argue that such attempts face certain problems. After that, I turn to a version of reliabilism that incorporates evidentialist elements and argue that it allows us to avoid the problems that the other theories face. If I am right, this gives reliabilists a reason, aside from those given recently by Comesaña and Goldman, to move towards such a kind of hybrid theory. (shrink)
Jim Joyce argues for two amendments to probabilism. The first is the doctrine that credences are rational, or not, in virtue of their accuracy or “closeness to the truth” (1998). The second is a shift from a numerically precise model of belief to an imprecise model represented by a set of probability functions (2010). We argue that both amendments cannot be satisfied simultaneously. To do so, we employ a (slightly-generalized) impossibility theorem of Seidenfeld, Schervish, and Kadane (2012), who show that (...) there is no strictly proper scoring rule for imprecise probabilities. -/- The question then is what should give way. Joyce, who is well aware of this no-go result, thinks that a quantifiability constraint on epistemic accuracy should be relaxed to accommodate imprecision. We argue instead that another Joycean assumption — called strict immodesty— should be rejected, and we prove a representation theorem that characterizes all “mildly” immodest measures of inaccuracy. (shrink)
Any adequate theory of chance must accommodate some version of David Lewis's ‘Principal Principle’, and Lewis has argued forcibly that believers in primitive propensities have a problem in explaining what makes the Principle true. But Lewis can only derive (a revised version of) the Principle from his own Humean theory by putting constraints on inductive rationality which cannot be given a Humean rationale.
Sometimes epistemologists theorize about belief, a tripartite attitude on which one can believe, withhold belief, or disbelieve a proposition. In other cases, epistemologists theorize about credence, a fine-grained attitude that represents one’s subjective probability or confidence level toward a proposition. How do these two attitudes relate to each other? This article explores the relationship between belief and credence in two categories: descriptive and normative. It then explains the broader significance of the belief-credence connection and concludes with general (...) lessons from the debate thus far. (shrink)
If an agent believes that the probability of E being true is 1/2, should she accept a bet on E at even odds or better? Yes, but only given certain conditions. This paper is about what those conditions are. In particular, we think that there is a condition that has been overlooked so far in the literature. We discovered it in response to a paper by Hitchcock (2004) in which he argues for the 1/3 answer to the Sleeping Beauty problem. (...) Hitchcock argues that this credence follows from calculating her fair betting odds, plus the assumption that Sleeping Beauty’s credences should track her fair betting odds. We will show that this last assumption is false. Sleeping Beauty’s credences should not follow her fair betting odds due to a peculiar feature of her epistemic situation. (shrink)
I defend belief-credence dualism, the view that we have both beliefs and credences and both attitudes are equally fundamental. First, I explain belief, credence, and three views on their relationship. Then, I argue for dualism. I do so first by painting a picture of the mind on which belief and credence are two cognitive tools that we use for different purposes. Finally, I respond to two objections to dualism. I conclude that dualism is a promising view, and (...) one that both epistemologists and philosophers of mind should take seriously. (shrink)
We introduce a family of rules for adjusting one's credences in response to learning the credences of others. These rules have a number of desirable features. 1. They yield the posterior credences that would result from updating by standard Bayesian conditionalization on one's peers' reported credences if one's likelihood function takes a particular simple form. 2. In the simplest form, they are symmetric among the agents in the group. 3. They map neatly onto the familiar Condorcet voting results. 4. They (...) preserve shared agreement about independence in a wide range of cases. 5. They commute with conditionalization and with multiple peer updates. Importantly, these rules have a surprising property that we call synergy - peer testimony of credences can provide mutually supporting evidence raising an individual's credence higher than any peer's initial prior report. At first, this may seem to be a strike against them. We argue, however, that synergy is actually a desirable feature and the failure of other updating rules to yield synergy is a strike against them. (shrink)
One of the deepest ideological divides in contemporary epistemology concerns the relative importance of belief versus credence. A prominent consideration in favor of credence-based epistemology is the ease with which it appears to account for rational action. In contrast, cases with risky payoff structures threaten to break the link between rational belief and rational action. This threat poses a challenge to traditional epistemology, which maintains the theoretical prominence of belief. The core problem, we suggest, is that belief may (...) not be enough to register all aspects of a subject’s epistemic position with respect to any given proposition. We claim this problem can be solved by introducing other doxastic attitudes—genuine representations—that differ in strength from belief. The resulting alternative picture, a kind of doxastic states pluralism, retains the central features of traditional epistemology—most saliently, an emphasis on truth as a kind of objective accuracy—while adequately accounting for rational action. (shrink)
Until recently, it seemed like no theory about the relationship between rational credence and rational outright belief could reconcile three independently plausible assumptions: that our beliefs should be logically consistent, that our degrees of belief should be probabilistic, and that a rational agent believes something just in case she is sufficiently confident in it. Recently a new formal framework has been proposed that can accommodate these three assumptions, which is known as “the stability theory of belief” or “high probability (...) cores.” In this paper, I examine whether the stability theory of belief can meet two further constraints that have been proposed in the literature: that it is irrational to outright believe lottery propositions, and that it is irrational to hold outright beliefs based on purely statistical evidence. I argue that these two further constraints create a dilemma for a proponent of the stability theory: she must either deny that her theory is meant to give an account of the common epistemic notion of outright belief, or supplement the theory with further constraints on rational belief that render the stability theory explanatorily idle. This result sheds light on the general prospects for a purely formal theory of the relationship between rational credence and belief, i.e. a theory that does not take into account belief content. I argue that it is doubtful that any such theory could properly account for these two constraints, and hence play an important role in characterizing our common epistemic notion of outright belief. (shrink)
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