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Evidential support, transitivity, and screeningoff
Review of Symbolic Logic 8 (4):785806 (2015)
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Bayes' Theorem is a simple mathematical formula used for calculating conditional probabilities. It figures prominently in subjectivist or Bayesian approaches to epistemology, statistics, and inductive logic. Subjectivists, who maintain that rational belief is governed by the laws of probability, lean heavily on conditional probabilities in their theories of evidence and their models of empirical learning. Bayes' Theorem is central to these enterprises both because it simplifies the calculation of conditional probabilities and because it clarifies significant features of subjectivist position. Indeed, (...) 

I argue that coherence is truthconducive in that coherence implies an increase in the probability of truth. Central to my argument is a certain principle for transitivity in probabilistic support. I then address a question concerning the truthconduciveness of coherence as it relates to (something else I argue for) the truthconduciveness of consistency, and consider how the truthconduciveness of coherence bears on coherentist theories of justification. 

Several forms of symmetry in degrees of evidential support areconsidered. Some of these symmetries are shown not to hold in general. This has implications for the adequacy of many measures of degree ofevidential support that have been proposed and defended in the philosophical literature. 

According to socalled epistemic theories of conditionals, the assertability/acceptability/acceptance of a conditional requires the existence of an epistemically significant relation between the conditional’s antecedent and its consequent. This paper points to some linguistic data that our current best theories of the foregoing type appear unable to explain. Further, it presents a new theory of the same type that does not have that shortcoming. The theory is then defended against some seemingly obvious objections. 

Among Bayesian confirmation theorists, several quantitative measures of the degree to which an evidential proposition E confirms a hypothesis H have been proposed. According to one popular recent measure, s, the degree to which E confirms H is a function of the equation P(HE) − P(H~E). A consequence of s is that when we have two evidential propositions, E1 and E2, such that P(HE1) = P(HE2), and P(H~E1) ≠ P(H~E2), the confirmation afforded to H by E1 does not equal the (...) 

Probabilistic support is not transitive. There are cases in which x probabilistically supports y , i.e., Pr( y  x ) > Pr( y ), y , in turn, probabilistically supports z , and yet it is not the case that x probabilistically supports z . Tomoji Shogenji, though, establishes a condition for transitivity in probabilistic support, that is, a condition such that, for any x , y , and z , if Pr( y  x ) > Pr( y (...) 

“Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” is a slogan that is popular among scientists and nonscientists alike. This article assesses its truth by using a probabilistic tool, the Law of Likelihood. Qualitative questions (“Is E evidence about H ?”) and quantitative questions (“How much evidence does E provide about H ?”) are both considered. The article discusses the example of fossil intermediates. If finding a fossil that is phenotypically intermediate between two extant species provides evidence that those species have (...) 

This book defends the view that any adequate account of rational decision making must take a decision maker's beliefs about causal relations into account. The early chapters of the book introduce the nonspecialist to the rudiments of expected utility theory. The major technical advance offered by the book is a 'representation theorem' that shows that both causal decision theory and its main rival, Richard Jeffrey's logic of decision, are both instances of a more general conditional decision theory. The book solves (...) 

Nozick analyzes fundamental issues, such as the identity of the self, knowledge and skepticism, free will, the foundations of ethics, and the meaning of life. 



Contemporary Bayesian confirmation theorists measure degree of (incremental) confirmation using a variety of nonequivalent relevance measures. As a result, a great many of the arguments surrounding quantitative Bayesian confirmation theory are implicitly sensitive to choice of measure of confirmation. Such arguments are enthymematic, since they tacitly presuppose that certain relevance measures should be used (for various purposes) rather than other relevance measures that have been proposed and defended in the philosophical literature. I present a survey of this pervasive class of (...) 





Confirmation theory is intended to codify the evidential bearing of observations on hypotheses, characterizing relations of inductive “support” and “countersupport” in full generality. The central task is to understand what it means to say that datum E confirms or supports a hypothesis H when E does not logically entail H. 

Conditionals are sentences of the form 'If A, then B', and they play a central role in scientific, logical, and everyday reasoning. They have been in the philosophical limelight for centuries, and more recently, they have been receiving attention from psychologists, linguists, and computer scientists. In spite of this, many key questions concerning conditionals remain unanswered. While most of the work on conditionals has addressed semantical questions  questions about the truth conditions of conditionals  this book focuses on the (...) 

Probability ratio and likelihood ratio measures of inductive support and related notions have appeared as theoretical tools for probabilistic approaches in the philosophy of science, the psychology of reasoning, and artificial intelligence. In an effort of conceptual clarification, several authors have pursued axiomatic foundations for these two families of measures. Such results have been criticized, however, as relying on unduly demanding or poorly motivated mathematical assumptions. We provide two novel theorems showing that probability ratio and likelihood ratio measures can be (...) 



It is well known that probabilistic support is not transitive. But it can be shown that probabilistic support is transitive provided the intermediary proposition screens off the original evidence with respect to the hypothesis in question. This has the consequence that probabilistic support is transitive when the original evidence is testimonial, memorial or perceptual (i.e., to the effect that such and such was testified to, remembered, or perceived), and the intermediary proposition is its representational content (i.e., to the effect that (...) 

Naive deductivist accounts of confirmation have the undesirable consequence that if E confirms H, then E also confirms the conjunction H·X, for any X—even if X is completely irrelevant to E and H. Bayesian accounts of confirmation may appear to have the same problem. In a recent article in this journal Fitelson (2002) argued that existing Bayesian attempts to resolve of this problem are inadequate in several important respects. Fitelson then proposes a new‐and‐improved Bayesian account that overcomes the problem of (...) 

A Bayesian account of independent evidential support is outlined. This account is partly inspired by the work of C. S. Peirce. I show that a large class of quantitative Bayesian measures of confirmation satisfy some basic desiderata suggested by Peirce for adequate accounts of independent evidence. I argue that, by considering further natural constraints on a probabilistic account of independent evidence, all but a very small class of Bayesian measures of confirmation can be ruled out. In closing, another application of (...) 

Confirmation of a hypothesis by evidence can be measured by one of the so far known incremental measures of confirmation. As we show, incremental measures can be formally defined as the measures of confirmation satisfying a certain small set of basic conditions. Moreover, several kinds of incremental measure may be characterized on the basis of appropriate structural properties. In particular, we focus on the socalled Matthew properties: we introduce a family of six Matthew properties including the reverse Matthew effect; we (...) 



Epistemologists and philosophers of science have often attempted to express formally the impact of a piece of evidence on the credibility of a hypothesis. In this paper we will focus on the Bayesian approach to evidential support. We will propose a new formal treatment of the notion of degree of confirmation and we will argue that it overcomes some limitations of the currently available approaches on two grounds: (i) a theoretical analysis of the confirmation relation seen as an extension of (...) 

Fitelson (1999) demonstrates that the validity of various arguments within Bayesian confirmation theory depends on which confirmation measure is adopted. The present paper adds to the results set out in Fitelson (1999), expanding on them in two principal respects. First, it considers more confirmation measures. Second, it shows that there are important arguments within Bayesian confirmation theory and that there is no confirmation measure that renders them all valid. Finally, the paper reviews the ramifications that this "strengthened problem of measure (...) 



It is well known that the probabilistic relation of confirmation is not transitive in that even if E confirms H1 and H1 confirms H2, E may not confirm H2. In this paper we distinguish four senses of confirmation and examine additional conditions under which confirmation in different senses becomes transitive. We conduct this examination both in the general case where H1 confirms H2 and in the special case where H1 also logically entails H2. Based on these analyses, we argue that (...) 

We show that as a chain of confirmation becomes longer, confirmation dwindles under screeningoff. For example, if E confirms H1, H1 confirms H2, and H1 screens off E from H2, then the degree to which E confirms H2 is less than the degree to which E confirms H1. Although there are many measures of confirmation, our result holds on any measure that satisfies the Weak Law of Likelihood. We apply our result to testimony cases, relate it to the DataProcessing Inequality (...) 

An important question in the current debate on the epistemic significance of peer disagreement is whether evidence of evidence is evidence. Fitelson argues that, at least on some renderings of the thesis that evidence of evidence is evidence, there are cases where evidence of evidence is not evidence. I introduce a condition and show that under this condition evidence of evidence is evidence. 

In the recent literature on confirmation there are two leading approaches to the provision of a probabilistic measure of the degree to which a hypothesis is confirmed by evidence. The first is to construe the degree to which evidence E confirms hypothesis H as a function that is directly proportional to p and inversely proportional to p . I shall refer to this as the probability approach. The second approach construes the notion as a function that is directly proportional to (...) 

Can some evidence confirm a conjunction of two hypotheses more than it confirms either of the hypotheses separately? We show that it can, moreover under conditions that are the same for ten different measures of confirmation. Further we demonstrate that it is even possible for the conjunction of two disconfirmed hypotheses to be confirmed by the same evidence. 

This article shows that a slight variation of the argument in Milne 1996 yields the log‐likelihood ratio l rather than the log‐ratio measure r as “the one true measure of confirmation. ” *Received December 2006; revised December 2007. †To contact the author, please write to: Formal Epistemology Research Group, Zukunftskolleg and Department of Philosophy, University of Konstanz, P.O. Box X906, 78457 Konstanz, Germany; e‐mail: franz.huber@uni‐konstanz.de. 

outlined. This account is partly inspired by the work of C.S. Peirce. When we want to consider how degree of confirmation varies with changing I show that a large class of quantitative Bayesian measures of con. 





It is well known that the probabilistic relation of confirmation is not transitive in that even if E confirms H1 and H1 confirms H2, E may not confirm H2. In this paper we distinguish four senses of confirmation and examine additional conditions under which confirmation in different senses becomes transitive. We conduct this examination both in the general case where H1 confirms H2 and in the special case where H1 also logically entails H2. Based on these analyses, we argue that (...) 

Igor Douven establishes several new intransitivity results concerning evidential support. I add to Douven’s very instructive discussion by establishing two further intransitivity results and a transitivity result. 

There is a plethora of confirmation measures in the literature. Zalabardo considers four such measures: PD, PR, LD, and LR. He argues for LR and against each of PD, PR, and LD. First, he argues that PR is the better of the two probability measures. Next, he argues that LR is the better of the two likelihood measures. Finally, he argues that LR is superior to PR. I set aside LD and focus on the trio of PD, PR, and LR. (...) 

It is known that evidential support, on the Bayesian definition of this notion, is intransitive. According to some, however, the Bayesian definition is too weak to be materially adequate. This paper investigates whether evidential support is transitive on some plausible probabilistic strengthening of that definition. It is shown that the answer is negative. In fact, it will appear that even under conditions under which the Bayesian notion of evidential support is transitive, the most plausible candidate strengthenings are not. 

The notion of probabilistic support is beset by wellknown problems. In this paper we add a new one to the list: the problem of transitivity. Tomoji Shogenji has shown that positive probabilistic support, or confirmation, is transitive under the condition of screening off. However, under that same condition negative probabilistic support, or disconfirmation, is intransitive. Since there are many situations in which disconfirmation is transitive, this illustrates, but now in a different way, that the screeningoff condition is too restrictive. We (...) 





