Respecting Evidence: Belief Functions not Imprecise Probabilities

Synthese 200 (475):1-30 (2022)
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Abstract

The received model of degrees of belief represents them as probabilities. Over the last half century, many philosophers have been convinced that this model fails because it cannot make room for the idea that an agent’s degrees of belief should respect the available evidence. In its place they have advocated a model that represents degrees of belief using imprecise probabilities (sets of probability functions). This paper presents a model of degrees of belief based on Dempster–Shafer belief functions and then presents arguments for belief functions over imprecise probabilities as a model of evidence-respecting degrees of belief. The arguments cover three kinds of issue: theoretical virtues (simplicity, interpretability and flexibility); motivations; and problem cases (dilation and belief inertia).

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Author's Profile

Nicholas J. J. Smith
University of Sydney

Citations of this work

Acting on belief functions.Nicholas J. J. Smith - 2023 - Theory and Decision 95 (4):575-621.

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References found in this work

Probabilistic Knowledge.Sarah Moss - 2018 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl Popper - 1959 - Studia Logica 9:262-265.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.K. Popper - 1959 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10 (37):55-57.

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