The structure of epistemic probabilities

Journal article


Climenhaga, Nevin. (2020). The structure of epistemic probabilities. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition. 177(11), pp. 3213-3242. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-019-01367-0
AuthorsClimenhaga, Nevin
Abstract

The epistemic probability of A given B is the degree to which B evidentially supports A, or makes A plausible. This paper is a first step in answering the question of what determines the values of epistemic probabilities. I break this question into two parts: the structural question and the substantive question. Just as an object’s weight is determined by its mass and gravitational acceleration, some probabilities are determined by other, more basic ones. The structural question asks what probabilities are not determined in this way—these are the basic probabilities which determine values for all other probabilities. The substantive question asks how the values of these basic probabilities are determined. I defend an answer to the structural question on which basic probabilities are the probabilities of atomic propositions conditional on potential direct explanations. I defend this against the view, implicit in orthodox mathematical treatments of probability, that basic probabilities are the unconditional probabilities of complete worlds. I then apply my answer to the structural question to clear up common confusions in expositions of Bayesianism and shed light on the “problem of the priors.”

Keywordsbayesian epistemology; bayesian networks; explanation; probability inference to the best explanation
Year2020
JournalPhilosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Journal citation177 (11), pp. 3213-3242
PublisherSpringer
ISSN0031-8116
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-019-01367-0
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85076570810
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range3213-3242
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online12 Dec 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Jan 2022
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