Resurrecting logical probability

Erkenntnis 55 (2):277-305 (2001)
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The logical interpretation of probability, or "objective Bayesianism'' – the theory that (some) probabilities are strictly logical degrees of partial implication – is defended. The main argument against it is that it requires the assignment of prior probabilities, and that any attempt to determine them by symmetry via a "principle of insufficient reason" inevitably leads to paradox. Three replies are advanced: that priors are imprecise or of little weight, so that disagreement about them does not matter, within limits; that it is possible to distinguish reasonable from unreasonable priors on logical grounds; and that in real cases disagreement about priors can usually be explained by differences in the background information. It is argued also that proponents of alternative conceptions of probability, such as frequentists, Bayesians and Popperians, are unable to avoid committing themselves to the basic principles of logical probability.

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James Franklin
University of New South Wales


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