01 Nov 2010-Synthese (Springer Netherlands)-Vol. 177, Iss: 1, pp 41-66

TL;DR: A strategy for representing epistemic states and epistemic changes that seeks to be sensitive to the difference between voluntary and involuntary aspects of the authors' epistemic life, as well as to the role of pragmatic factors in epistemology is developed.

Abstract: I develop a strategy for representing epistemic states and epistemic changes that seeks to be sensitive to the difference between voluntary and involuntary aspects of our epistemic life, as well as to the role of pragmatic factors in epistemology. The model relies on a particular understanding of the distinction between full belief and acceptance, which makes room for the idea that our reasoning on both practical and theoretical matters typically proceeds in a contextual way. Within this framework, I discuss how agents can rationally shift their credal probability functions so as to consciously modify some of their contextual acceptances; the present account also allows us to represent how the very set of contexts evolves. Voluntary credal shifts, in turn, might provoke changes in the agent’s beliefs, but I show that this is actually a side effect of performing multiple adjustments in the total lot of the agent’s acceptance sets. In this way we obtain a model that preserves many pre-theoretical intuitions about what counts as adequate rationality constraints on our actual practices—and hence about what counts as an adequate, normative epistemological perspective.

TL;DR: The non-success which has thus far attended the efforts or pleadings of politicians is not only fast breeding a general distrust of their policies but also a disposition to consider far-reaching changes in the structure of society.

Abstract: THE disproportion between poverty and unemployment and the abundance made possible by power production is leading men everywhere to question the basis of a political and economic system which permits the existence of such a paradox of maldistribution. It is no longer merely a question whether effective measures could be taken if those in authority possessed sufficient knowledge and understanding of the situation, but whether the present system permits them to take any effective action without the whole system being radically reformed. The non-success which has thus far attended the efforts or pleadings of politicians is not only fast breeding a general distrust of their policies but also a disposition to consider far-reaching changes in the structure of society.

Abstract: This paper extends earlier work by its authors on formal aspects of the processes of contracting a theory to eliminate a proposition and revising a theory to introduce a proposition. In the course of the earlier work, Gardenfors developed general postulates of a more or less equational nature for such processes, whilst Alchourron and Makinson studied the particular case of contraction functions that are maximal, in the sense of yielding a maximal subset of the theory (or alternatively, of one of its axiomatic bases), that fails to imply the proposition being eliminated. In the present paper, the authors study a broader class, including contraction functions that may be less than maximal. Specifically, they investigate “partial meet contraction functions”, which are defined to yield the intersection of some nonempty family of maximal subsets of the theory that fail to imply the proposition being eliminated. Basic properties of these functions are established: it is shown in particular that they satisfy the Gardenfors postulates, and moreover that they are sufficiently general to provide a representation theorem for those postulates. Some special classes of partial meet contraction functions, notably those that are “relational” and “transitively relational”, are studied in detail, and their connections with certain “supplementary postulates” of Gardenfors investigated, with a further representation theorem established.

Abstract: Introduction Part I: Are there laws of nature? What are the laws of nature? Ideal science: David Lewis's account of laws Necessity, worlds, and chance Universals: Laws grounded in nature Part II: Belief as rational but lawless: Inference to the best explanation: Salvation by Laws? Towards a new epistemology What if there are no laws? A manifesto Part III: Symmetry as guide to theory: Introduction to the Semantic approach Symmetry arguments in science and metaphysics Symmetries guiding modern science Part IV: Symmetry and the illusion of logical probability: Indifference: The symmetries of probability Symmetries of probability kinematics Notes Bibliography Index

1,379 citations

"Belief and contextual acceptance" refers background in this paper

...27 For example, the existence of dilation leads Van Fraassen (2006) to advocate for the need to constrain opinions by means of 'hidden variables* that would ensure the stability of prior graduate beliefs, whereas Elga (mn) and White (2008) take dilation to support the claim that probabilities should be sharp....

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...Consider, for example, van Fraassen's procedure in (1995). In that paper van Fraassen suggests a primitive notion of conditional probability, which is meant to take care of cases in which the condition has measure 0; in van Fraassen's work, probabilities are applied to propositions as sets of points....

Abstract: This is an updated, revised and enlarged edition of Howson and Urbach's account of scientific method from the Bayesian standpoint. The book offers both an introduction to probability theory and a philosophical commentary on scientific inference. This new edition includes chapter exercises and extended material on topics such as regression analysis, distributions densities, randomisation and conditionalisation.