
1629Monty hall, doomsday and confirmationAnalysis 63 (1). 2003.We give an analysis of the Monty Hall problem purely in terms of confirmation, without making any lottery assumptions about priors. Along the way, we show the Monty Hall problem is structurally identical to the Doomsday Argument.

1189Four Approaches to SuppositionErgo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8 (26): 5898. 2022.Suppositions can be introduced in either the indicative or subjunctive mood. The introduction of either type of supposition initiates judgments that may be either qualitative, binary judgments about whether a given proposition is acceptable or quantitative, numerical ones about how acceptable it is. As such, accounts of qualitative/quantitative judgment under indicative/subjunctive supposition have been developed in the literature. We explore these four different types of theories by systematica…Read more

856Deference Done BetterPhilosophical Perspectives 35 (1): 99150. 2021.There are many things—call them ‘experts’—that you should defer to in forming your opinions. The trouble is, many experts are modest: they’re less than certain that they are worthy of deference. When this happens, the standard theories of deference break down: the most popular (“Reflection”style) principles collapse to inconsistency, while their most popular (“NewReflection”style) variants allow you to defer to someone while regarding them as an antiexpert. We propose a middle way: deferring…Read more

696Evidence of evidence is not (necessarily) evidenceAnalysis 72 (1): 8588. 2012.In this note, I consider various precisifications of the slogan ‘evidence of evidence is evidence’. I provide counterexamples to each of these precisifications (assuming an epistemic probabilistic relevance notion of ‘evidential support’)

644An 'evidentialist' worry about Joyce's argument for ProbabilismDialetica 66 (3): 425433. 2012.To the extent that we have reasons to avoid these “bad B properties”, these arguments provide reasons not to have an incoherent credence function b — and perhaps even reasons to have a coherent one. But, note that these two traditional arguments for probabilism involve what might be called “pragmatic” reasons (not) to be (in)coherent. In the case of the Dutch Book argument, the “bad” property is pragmatically bad (to the extent that one values money). But, it is not clear whether the DBA pinpoi…Read more

599Plantinga’s Probability Arguments Against Evolutionary NaturalismPacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (2). 1998.In Chapter 12 of Warrant and Proper Function, Alvin Plantinga constructs two arguments against evolutionary naturalism, which he construes as a conjunction E&N .The hypothesis E says that “human cognitive faculties arose by way of the mechanisms to which contemporary evolutionary thought directs our attention (p.220).”1 With respect to proposition N , Plantinga (p. 270) says “it isn’t easy to say precisely what naturalism is,” but then adds that “crucial to metaphysical naturalism, of course, is…Read more

441What is the “Equal Weight View'?Episteme 6 (3): 280293. 2009.In this paper, we investigate various possible (Bayesian) precisifications of the (somewhat vague) statements of “the equal weight view” (EWV) that have appeared in the recent literature on disagreement. We will show that the renditions of (EWV) that immediately suggest themselves are untenable from a Bayesian point of view. In the end, we will propose some tenable (but not necessarily desirable) interpretations of (EWV). Our aim here will not be to defend any particular Bayesian precisification…Read more

408Goodman’s “New Riddle‘Journal of Philosophical Logic 37 (6): 613643. 2008.First, a brief historical trace of the developments in confirmation theory leading up to Goodman's infamous "grue" paradox is presented. Then, Goodman's argument is analyzed from both Hempelian and Bayesian perspectives. A guiding analogy is drawn between certain arguments against classical deductive logic, and Goodman's "grue" argument against classical inductive logic. The upshot of this analogy is that the "New Riddle" is not as vexing as many commentators have claimed. Specifically, the anal…Read more

385How Bayesian Confirmation Theory Handles the Paradox of the RavensIn Ellery Eells & James Fetzer (eds.), The Place of Probability in Science, Springer. pp. 247275. 2010.The Paradox of the Ravens (a.k.a,, The Paradox of Confirmation) is indeed an old chestnut. A great many things have been written and said about this paradox and its implications for the logic of evidential support. The first part of this paper will provide a brief survey of the early history of the paradox. This will include the original formulation of the paradox and the early responses of Hempel, Goodman, and Quine. The second part of the paper will describe attempts to resolve the paradox wit…Read more

383Accuracy, Coherence and EvidenceOxford Studies in Epistemology 5 6196. 2015.Taking Joyce’s (1998; 2009) recent argument(s) for probabilism as our point of departure, we propose a new way of grounding formal, synchronic, epistemic coherence requirements for (opinionated) full belief. Our approach yields principled alternatives to deductive consistency, sheds new light on the preface and lottery paradoxes, and reveals novel conceptual connections between alethic and evidential epistemic norms

329How Not to Detect DesignThe Design Inference. William A. DembskiPhilosophy of Science 66 (3): 472488. 1999.As every philosopher knows, “the design argument” concludes that God exists from premisses that cite the adaptive complexity of organisms or the lawfulness and orderliness of the whole universe. Since 1859, it has formed the intellectual heart of creationist opposition to the Darwinian hypothesis that organisms evolved their adaptive features by the mindless process of natural selection. Although the design argument developed as a defense of theism, the logic of the argument in fact encompasses …Read more

320Probability, confirmation, and the conjunction fallacyThinking and Reasoning 14 (2). 2007.The conjunction fallacy has been a key topic in debates on the rationality of human reasoning and its limitations. Despite extensive inquiry, however, the attempt to provide a satisfactory account of the phenomenon has proved challenging. Here we elaborate the suggestion (first discussed by Sides, Osherson, Bonini, & Viale, 2002) that in standard conjunction problems the fallacious probability judgements observed experimentally are typically guided by sound assessments of _confirmation_ relation…Read more

316The paradox of confirmationPhilosophy Compass 1 (1). 2006.Hempel first introduced the paradox of confirmation in (Hempel 1937). Since then, a very extensive literature on the paradox has evolved (Vranas 2004). Much of this literature can be seen as responding to Hempel’s subsequent discussions and analyses of the paradox in (Hempel 1945). Recently, it was noted that Hempel’s intuitive (and plausible) resolution of the paradox was inconsistent with his official theory of confirmation (Fitelson & Hawthorne 2006). In this article, we will try to explain h…Read more

289Declarations of independenceSynthese 194 (10): 39793995. 2017.According to orthodox (Kolmogorovian) probability theory, conditional probabilities are by definition certain ratios of unconditional probabilities. As a result, orthodox conditional probabilities are undefined whenever their antecedents have zero unconditional probability. This has important ramifications for the notion of probabilistic independence. Traditionally, independence is defined in terms of unconditional probabilities (the factorization of the relevant joint unconditional probabilitie…Read more

285ProbabilityIn Sahotra Sarkar & Jessica Pfeifer (eds.), The Philosophy of Science: An Encyclopedia, Routledge. 2005.There are two central questions concerning probability. First, what are its formal features? That is a mathematical question, to which there is a standard, widely (though not universally) agreed upon answer. This answer is reviewed in the next section. Second, what sorts of things are probabilitieswhat, that is, is the subject matter of probability theory? This is a philosophical question, and while the mathematical theory of probability certainly bears on it, the answer must come from elsewh…Read more

283Bayesian confirmation and auxiliary hypotheses revisited: A reply to StrevensBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (2): 293302. 2005.has proposed an interesting and novel Bayesian analysis of the QuineDuhem (Q–D) problem (i.e., the problem of auxiliary hypotheses). Strevens's analysis involves the use of a simplifying idealization concerning the original Q–D problem. We will show that this idealization is far stronger than it might appear. Indeed, we argue that Strevens's idealization oversimplifies the Q–D problem, and we propose a diagnosis of the source(s) of the oversimplification. Some background on Quine–Duhem Strevens…Read more

268Logical Foundations of Evidential SupportPhilosophy of Science 73 (5): 500512. 2006.Carnap's inductive logic (or confirmation) project is revisited from an "increase in firmness" (or probabilistic relevance) point of view. It is argued that Carnap's main desiderata can be satisfied in this setting, without the need for a theory of "logical probability." The emphasis here will be on explaining how Carnap's epistemological desiderata for inductive logic will need to be modified in this new setting. The key move is to abandon Carnap's goal of bridging confirmation and credence, in…Read more

251A probabilistic theory of coherenceAnalysis 63 (3). 2003.Let E be a set of n propositions E1, ..., En. We seek a probabilistic measure C(E) of the ‘degree of coherence’ of E. Intuitively, we want C to be a quantitative, probabilistic generalization of the (deductive) logical coherence of E. So, in particular, we require C to satisfy the following..

233The plurality of bayesian measures of confirmation and the problem of measure sensitivityPhilosophy of Science 66 (3): 378. 1999.Contemporary Bayesian confirmation theorists measure degree of (incremental) confirmation using a variety of nonequivalent relevance measures. As a result, a great many of the arguments surrounding quantitative Bayesian confirmation theory are implicitly sensitive to choice of measure of confirmation. Such arguments are enthymematic, since they tacitly presuppose that certain relevance measures should be used (for various purposes) rather than other relevance measures that have been proposed an…Read more

222Probabilistic measures of causal strengthIn Phyllis McKay Illari Federica Russo (ed.), Causality in the Sciences, Oxford University Press. pp. 600627. 2011.

216Too Odd (Not) to Be True? A Reply to OlssonBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (4): 539563. 2002.Corroborating Testimony, Probability and Surprise’, Erik J. Olsson ascribes to L. Jonathan Cohen the claims that if two witnesses provide us with the same information, then the less probable the information is, the more confident we may be that the information is true (C), and the stronger the information is corroborated (C*). We question whether Cohen intends anything like claims (C) and (C*). Furthermore, he discusses the concurrence of witness reports within a context of independent witnesses…Read more

208Likelihoodism, Bayesianism, and relational confirmationSynthese 156 (3): 473489. 2007.Likelihoodists and Bayesians seem to have a fundamental disagreement about the proper probabilistic explication of relational (or contrastive) conceptions of evidential support (or confirmation). In this paper, I will survey some recent arguments and results in this area, with an eye toward pinpointing the nexus of the dispute. This will lead, first, to an important shift in the way the debate has been couched, and, second, to an alternative explication of relational support, which is in some se…Read more

206Arguments for probabilism aim to undergird/motivate a synchronic probabilistic coherence norm for partial beliefs. Standard arguments for probabilism are all of the form: An agent S has a nonprobabilistic partial belief function b iff (⇐⇒) S has some “bad” property B (in virtue of the fact that their p.b.f. b has a certain kind of formal property F). These arguments rest on Theorems (⇒) and Converse Theorems (⇐): b is nonPr ⇐⇒ b has formal property F.

205Dutch Book Arguments. B is susceptibility to sure monetary loss (in a certain betting setup), and F is the formal role played by nonPr b’s in the DBT and the Converse DBT. Representation Theorem Arguments. B is having preferences that violate some of Savage’s axioms (and/or being unrepresentable as an expected utility maximizer), and F is the formal role played by nonPr b’s in the RT.

196Two Approaches to Belief RevisionErkenntnis 84 (3): 487518. 2019.In this paper, we compare and contrast two methods for the revision of qualitative beliefs. The first method is generated by a simplistic diachronic Lockean thesis requiring coherence with the agent’s posterior credences after conditionalization. The second method is the orthodox AGM approach to belief revision. Our primary aim is to determine when the two methods may disagree in their recommendations and when they must agree. We establish a number of novel results about their relative behavior.…Read more

188Symmetries and asymmetries in evidential supportPhilosophical Studies 107 (2). 2002.Several forms of symmetry in degrees of evidential support areconsidered. Some of these symmetries are shown not to hold in general. This has implications for the adequacy of many measures of degree ofevidential support that have been proposed and defended in the philosophical literature.

186 In decision theory, an agent is deciding how to value a gamble that results in different outcomes in different states. Each outcome gets a utility value for the agent.
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Areas of Specialization
Metaphysics and Epistemology 
Science, Logic, and Mathematics 
Formal Epistemology 