Jeffrey conditioning, rigidity, and the defeasible red jelly bean
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- McGrew, L. Philos Stud (2014) 168: 569. doi:10.1007/s11098-013-0145-3
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Jonathan Weisberg has argued that Jeffrey Conditioning is inherently “anti-holistic” By this he means, inter alia, that JC does not allow us to take proper account of after-the-fact defeaters for our beliefs. His central example concerns the discovery that the lighting in a room is red-tinted and the relationship of that discovery to the belief that a jelly bean in the room is red. Weisberg’s argument that the rigidity required for JC blocks the defeating role of the red-tinted light rests on the strong assumption that all posteriors within the distribution in this example are rigid on a partition over the proposition that the jelly bean is actually red. But individual JC updates of propositions do not require such a broad rigidity assumption. Jeffrey conditionalizers should consider the advantages of a modest project of targeted updating focused on particular propositions rather than seeking to update the entire distribution using one obvious partition. Although Weisberg’s example fails to show JC to be irrelevant or useless, other problems he raises for JC (the commutativity and inputs problems) remain and actually become more pressing when we recognize the important role of background information.