Reliable credence and the foundations of statistics

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If the goal of statistical analysis is to form justified credences based on data, then an account of the foundations of statistics should explain what makes credences justified. I present a new account called statistical reliabilism (SR), on which credences resulting from a statistical analysis are justified (relative to alternatives) when they are in a sense closest, on average, to the corresponding objective probabilities. This places (SR) in the same vein as recent work on the reliabilist justification of credences generally [Dunn, 2015, Tang, 2016, Pettigrew, 2018], but it has the advantage of being action-guiding in that knowledge of objective probabilities is not required to identify the best-justified available credences. The price is that justification is relativized to a specific class of candidate objective probabilities, and to a particular choice of reliability measure. On the other hand, I show that (SR) has welcome implications for frequentist-Bayesian reconciliation, including a clarification of the use of priors; complemen- tarity between probabilist and fallibilist [Gelman and Shalizi, 2013, Mayo, 2018] approaches towards statistical foundations; and the justification of credences outside of formal statistical settings. Regarding the latter, I demonstrate how the insights of statistics may be used to amend other reliabilist accounts so as to render them action-guiding. I close by discussing new possible research directions for epistemologists and statisticians (and other applied users of probability) raised by the (SR) framework.
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First archival date: 2019-07-10
Latest version: 1 (2019-07-11)
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