Sleeping Beauty: Awakenings, Chance, Secrets, and Video

In Alessandro Capone, Pietro Perconti & Roberto Graci (eds.), Philosophy, Cognition and Pragmatics. Springer Nature Switzerland. pp. 53-65 (2024)
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A new philosophical analysis is provided of the notorious Sleeping Beauty Problem. It is argued that the correct solution is one-third, but not in the way previous philosophers have typically meant this. A modified version of the Problem demonstrates that neither self-locating information nor amnesia is relevant to the core Problem, which is simply to evaluate the conditional chance of heads given an undated Monday-or-Tuesday awakening. Previous commentators have failed to appreciate the significance of the information that Beauty gains upon waking, and which is relevant to the conditional chance of heads: de re acquaintance with the awakening itself and the non-locating knowledge that it is an experimental awakening. David Lewis and company are committed to several unjustifiable and unacceptable probability assessments. Previous commentators have in effect confused the information that Beauty undergoes this particular experimental awakening for the information that she undergoes some experimental awakening or other. Lewis in particular thereby illegitimately tips the scales both in favor of heads and in favor of Monday. The Sleeping Beauty Problem is equivalent to a ball-in-urn word problem in elementary probability theory.

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Nathan Salmón
University of California at Santa Barbara


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