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Principles of Indifference

Eva, Benjamin (2019) Principles of Indifference. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The principle of indifference (PI) states that in the absence of any relevant evidence, a rational agent will distribute their credence (or `degrees of belief') equally amongst all the possible outcomes under consideration. Despite its intuitive plausibility, PI famously falls prey to paradox, and so is widely rejected as a principle of ideal rationality. Some authors have attempted to show that by conceiving of the epistemic states of agents in terms of imprecise credences, it is possible to overcome these paradoxes and thus to achieve a consistent rehabilitation of PI. In this article, I present an alternative rehabilitation of PI in terms of the epistemology of comparative confidence judgements of the form `I am more confident in the truth of p than I am in the truth q' or `I am equally confident in the truth of p and q'. In particular, I consider two natural comparative reformulations of PI, and argue that while one of them prescribes the adoption of patently irrational epistemic states, the other (which is only available when we drop the standard but controversial `Opinionation' assumption from the comparative confidence framework) provides a consistent formulation of PI that overcomes the fundamental limitations of all existing formulations.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Eva, Benjaminbenedgareva@icloud.com
Keywords: Principle of Indifference, Comparative Confidence Judgements, Epistemology
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Evidence
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: Dr Benjamin Eva
Date Deposited: 23 May 2019 11:40
Last Modified: 23 May 2019 11:40
Item ID: 16041
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Evidence
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: 30 April 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16041

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