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Journal Articles European Journal for Philosophy of Science Year : 2021

On the principal principle and imprecise subjective Bayesianism


Whilst Bayesian epistemology is widely regarded nowadays as our best theory of knowledge, there are still a relatively large number of incompatible and competing approaches falling under that umbrella. Very recently, Wallmann and Williamson wrote an interesting article that aims at showing that a subjective Bayesian who accepts the principal principle and uses a known physical chance as her degree of belief for an event A could end up having incoherent or very implausible beliefs if she subjectively chooses the probability of an event F for which she has much poorer evidence. They also argued that their own version of objective Bayesianism is completely immune to that challenge. In this article, after having presented the strongest version of Wallmann’s and Williamson’s argument, I will show that if successful, it has far-reaching consequences and would not only invalidate moderate subjective Bayesianism and imprecise probalism but also a form of objective Bayesianism that relies on conditionalisation, the principal principle, reference classes, and the principle of indifference applied to the most basic partitions. I then argue that their argument can be defeated by adding the rule that it is always irrational to choose a probability that can be computed from the known probabilities associated to one’s other beliefs. I finally argue that the authors’ main intuition that probabilities have different degrees of reliability favours imprecise Bayesianism over precise Bayesianism.
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emse-03265847 , version 1 (21-06-2021)



Marc Fischer. On the principal principle and imprecise subjective Bayesianism: A reply to Christian Wallmann and Jon Williamson. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 2021, 11 (2), pp.47. ⟨10.1007/s13194-021-00356-7⟩. ⟨emse-03265847⟩
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