Back to Basics: Belief Revision Through Direct Selection

  • Sven Ove HanssonEmail author
Open Access


Traditionally, belief change is modelled as the construction of a belief set that satisfies a success condition. The success condition is usually that a specified sentence should be believed (revision) or not believed (contraction). Furthermore, most models of belief change employ a select-and-intersect strategy. This means that a selection is made among primary objects that satisfy the success condition, and the intersection of the selected objects is taken as outcome of the operation. However, the select-and-intersect method is difficult to justify, in particular since the primary objects (usually possible worlds or remainders) are not themselves plausible outcome candidates. Some of the most controversial features of belief change theory, such as recovery and the impossibility of Ramsey test conditionals, are closely connected with the select-and-intersect method. It is proposed that a selection mechanism should instead operate directly on the potential outcomes, and select only one of them. In this way many of the problems that are associated with the select-and-intersect method can be avoided. This model is simpler than previous models in the important Ockhamist sense of doing away with intermediate, cognitively inaccessible objects. However, the role of simplicity as a choice criterion in the direct selection among potential outcomes is left as an open issue.


Belief change Select-and-intersect Recovery Expansion property Finiteness Ramsey test Direct selection Simplicity Choice function Selection function Support function General input assimilation Descriptor revision 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)StockholmSweden

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