, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 513–535

The kinematics of belief and desire

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11229-006-9136-7

Cite this article as:
Bradley, R. Synthese (2007) 156: 513. doi:10.1007/s11229-006-9136-7


Richard Jeffrey regarded the version of Bayesian decision theory he floated in ‘The Logic of Decision’ and the idea of a probability kinematics—a generalisation of Bayesian conditioning to contexts in which the evidence is ‘uncertain’—as his two most important contributions to philosophy. This paper aims to connect them by developing kinematical models for the study of preference change and practical deliberation. Preference change is treated in a manner analogous to Jeffrey’s handling of belief change: not as mechanical outputs of combinations of intrinsic desires plus information, but as a matter of judgement and of making up one’s mind. In the first section Jeffrey’s probability kinematics is motivated and extended to the treatment of changes in conditional belief. In the second, analogous kinematical models are developed for preference change and in particular belief-induced change that depends on an invariance condition for conditional preference. The two are the brought together in the last section in a tentative model of pratical deliberation.


Preference revisionBelief revisionKinematicsBayesian conditioning

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific MethodLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK