Confirmational holism and bayesian epistemology

Philosophy of Science 59 (4):540-557 (1992)
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Much contemporary epistemology is informed by a kind of confirmational holism, and a consequent rejection of the assumption that all confirmation rests on experiential certainties. Another prominent theme is that belief comes in degrees, and that rationality requires apportioning one's degrees of belief reasonably. Bayesian confirmation models based on Jeffrey Conditionalization attempt to bring together these two appealing strands. I argue, however, that these models cannot account for a certain aspect of confirmation that would be accounted for in any adequate holistic confirmation theory. I then survey the prospects for constructing a formal epistemology that better accommodates holistic insights

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David Christensen
Brown University


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