Original Article


, 75:165

First online:

Revising Beliefs Towards the Truth

  • Ilkka NiiniluotoAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki Email author 

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Belief revision (BR) and truthlikeness (TL) emerged independently as two research programmes in formal methodology in the 1970s. A natural way of connecting BR and TL is to ask under what conditions the revision of a belief system by new input information leads the system towards the truth. It turns out that, for the AGM model of belief revision, the only safe case is the expansion of true beliefs by true input, but this is not very interesting or realistic as a model of theory change in science. The new accounts of non-prioritized belief revision do not seem more promising in this respect, and the alternative BR account of updating by imaging leads to other problems. Still, positive results about increasing truthlikeness by belief revision may be sought by restricting attention to special kinds of theories. Another approach is to link truthlikeness to epistemic matters by an estimation function which calculates expected degrees of truthlikeness relative to evidence. Then we can study how the expected truthlikeness of a theory changes when probabilities are revised by conditionalization or imaging. Again, we can ask under what conditions such changes lead our best theories towards the truth.