Evidential support, transitivity, and screening-off

Review of Symbolic Logic 8 (4):785-806 (2015)
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Abstract

Is evidential support transitive? The answer is negative when evidential support is understood as confirmation so that X evidentially supports Y if and only if p(Y | X) > p(Y). I call evidential support so understood “support” (for short) and set out three alternative ways of understanding evidential support: support-t (support plus a sufficiently high probability), support-t* (support plus a substantial degree of support), and support-tt* (support plus both a sufficiently high probability and a substantial degree of support). I also set out two screening-off conditions (under which support is transitive): SOC1 and SOC2. It has already been shown that support-t is non-transitive in the general case (where it is not required that SOC1 holds and it is not required that SOC2 holds), in the special case where SOC1 holds, and in the special case where SOC2 holds. I introduce two rather weak adequacy conditions on support measures and argue that on any support measure meeting those conditions it follows that neither support-t* nor support-tt* is transitive in the general case, in the special case where SOC1 holds, or in the special case where SOC2 holds. I then relate some of the results to Douven’s evidential support theory of conditionals along with a few rival theories.

Author's Profile

William Roche
Texas Christian University

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