Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (2):395-414 (2021)

Michael Nielsen
University of Sydney
Must probabilities be countably additive? On the one hand, arguably, requiring countable additivity is too restrictive. As de Finetti pointed out, there are situations in which it is reasonable to use merely finitely additive probabilities. On the other hand, countable additivity is fruitful. It can be used to prove deep mathematical theorems that do not follow from finite additivity alone. One of the most philosophically important examples of such a result is the Bayesian convergence to the truth theorem, which says that conditional probabilities converge to 1 for true hypotheses and to 0 for false hypotheses. In view of the long-standing debate about countable additivity, it is natural to ask in what circumstances finitely additive theories deliver the same results as the countably additive theory. This paper addresses that question and initiates a systematic study of convergence to the truth in a finitely additive setting. There is also some discussion of how the formal results can be applied to ongoing debates in epistemology and the philosophy of science.
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DOI 10.1007/s10992-020-09569-2
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