Bayesian coherentism

Synthese 198 (10):9563-9590 (2020)
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Abstract

This paper considers a problem for Bayesian epistemology and proposes a solution to it. On the traditional Bayesian framework, an agent updates her beliefs by Bayesian conditioning, a rule that tells her how to revise her beliefs whenever she gets evidence that she holds with certainty. In order to extend the framework to a wider range of cases, Jeffrey (1965) proposed a more liberal version of this rule that has Bayesian conditioning as a special case. Jeffrey conditioning is a rule that tells the agent how to revise her beliefs whenever she gets evidence that she holds with any degree of confidence. The problem? While Bayesian conditioning has a foundationalist structure, this foundationalism disappears once we move to Jeffrey conditioning. If Bayesian conditioning is a special case of Jeffrey conditioning, then they should have the same normative structure. The solution? To reinterpret Bayesian updating as a form of diachronic coherentism.

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Lisa Cassell
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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