Bridging Ranking Theory and the Stability Theory of Belief


DOI: 10.1007/s10992-016-9411-0

Cite this article as:
Raidl, E. & Skovgaard-Olsen, N. J Philos Logic (2016). doi:10.1007/s10992-016-9411-0


In this paper we compare Leitgeb’s stability theory of belief (Annals of Pure and Applied Logic, 164:1338-1389, 2013; The Philosophical Review, 123:131-171, [2014]) and Spohn’s ranking-theoretic account of belief (Spohn, 1988, 2012). We discuss the two theories as solutions to the lottery paradox. To compare the two theories, we introduce a novel translation between ranking (mass) functions and probability (mass) functions. We draw some crucial consequences from this translation, in particular a new probabilistic belief notion. Based on this, we explore the logical relation between the two belief theories, showing that models of Leitgeb’s theory correspond to certain models of Spohn’s theory. The reverse is not true (or holds only under special constraints on the parameter of the translation). Finally, we discuss how these results raise new questions in belief theory. In particular, we raise the question whether stability (a key ingredient of Leitgeb’s theory) is rightly thought of as a property pertaining to belief (rather than to knowledge).


Belief Probability Lottery paradox Stability theory Ranking theory Knowledge Lockean thesis Odds-threshold 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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