Synthese

, Volume 192, Issue 5, pp 1527–1542 | Cite as

The Bayesian who knew too much

Article

Abstract

In several papers, John Norton has argued that Bayesianism cannot handle ignorance adequately due to its inability to distinguish between neutral and disconfirming evidence. He argued that this inability sows confusion in, e.g., anthropic reasoning in cosmology or the Doomsday argument, by allowing one to draw unwarranted conclusions from a lack of knowledge. Norton has suggested criteria for a candidate for representation of neutral support. Imprecise credences (families of credal probability functions) constitute a Bayesian-friendly framework that allows us to avoid inadequate neutral priors and better handle ignorance. The imprecise model generally agrees with Norton’s representation of ignorance but requires that his criterion of self-duality be reformulated or abandoned.

Keywords

Bayesian confirmation theory Imprecise credence Ignorance Indifference Principle of indifference Doomsday argument Anthropic reasoning 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Wayne Myrvold for initial discussions, Jim Joyce and John Norton for stimulating exchanges. I am indebted to Chris Smeenk for many comments and suggestions. I also thank an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Rotman Institute of PhilosophyWestern UniversityLondonCanada

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