Best Laid Plans: Idealization and the Rationality–Accuracy Bridge

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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Hilary Greaves and David Wallace argue that conditionalization maximizes expected accuracy and so is a rational requirement, but their argument presupposes a particular picture of the bridge between rationality and accuracy: the Best-Plan-to-Follow picture. And theorists such as Miriam Schoenfield and Robert Steel argue that it's possible to motivate an alternative picture—the Best-Plan-to-Make picture—that does not vindicate conditionalization. I show that these theorists are mistaken: it turns out that, if an update procedure maximizes expected accuracy on the Best-Plan-to-Follow picture, it's guaranteed to maximize expected accuracy on the Best-Plan-to-Make picture as well, in which case moving from the former to the latter can't help us avoid the conclusion that conditionalization is a rational requirement. If there's a problem with Greaves and Wallace’s argument, it must lie elsewhere.

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Brett Topey
University of Salzburg


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