Jeffrey conditionalization: proceed with caution

  • Borut TrpinEmail author


It has been argued that if the rigidity condition is satisfied, a rational agent operating with uncertain evidence should update her subjective probabilities by Jeffrey conditionalization (JC) or else a series of bets resulting in a sure loss could be made against her (the Dynamic Dutch Book Argument). We show, however, that even if the rigidity condition is satisfied, it is not always safe to update probability distributions by JC because there exist such sequences of non-misleading uncertain observations where it may be foreseen that an agent who updates her subjective probabilities by JC will end up nearly certain that a false hypothesis is true. We analyze the features of JC that lead to this problem, specify the conditions in which it arises and respond to potential objections.


Jeffrey conditionalization Belief updating Uncertain evidence Epistemic inaccuracy Formal epistemology 



Thanks to Kristijan Armeni, Riccardo Baratella, Mariangela Zoe Cocchiaro, Anton Donchev, Branden Fitelson, Mario Günther, Ben Levinstein, Max Pellert, Vlasta Sikimić, Reuben Stern, anonymous reviewers, and especially Jan Sprenger for their comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper. I also want to thank for the feedback from the audiences of the 10th Arché Graduate Conference in St Andrews, UK (2017), the Workshop in Philosophy of Science at the University of Turin, Italy (2018), EENPS 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia, and Formal Epistemology Workshop in Turin, Italy (2019), where I presented the paper in its various stages. Finally, I want to thank Robbie Hopper for her help with proof-reading. I am also grateful that the research was (in parts) supported by Ernst Mach Grant, Ernst Mach Worldwide (ICM-2018-10093) and by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fakultät für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Religionswissenschaft Munich Center for Mathematical PhilosophyLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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