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The logic and pragmatics of the representation and alteration of beliefs.

Schulz, Armin Walter (2006) The logic and pragmatics of the representation and alteration of beliefs. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

In this thesis, I show the extent to which the distinction between logical rationality (the consistency with a set of assumptions) and pragmatic rationality (the strong tendency of providing benefits to actual agents) helps to make sense of probabilistic accounts of the representation and alteration of beliefs. In order to do this, I first show how the probabilistic representations of beliefs can be seen to follow on from the failure of the cogency of the Logical Theories of probability. I then move on to discuss the four classic theories of probabilistic representations of belief in the literature (those of Ramsey, de Finetti, Savage and Jeffrey) and a key modern treatment (that of Howson & Urbach). Thirdly, I continue the argument by discussing the two key justifications for the core account of the probabilistic alteration of beliefs - Bayesian Conditionalisation - to show that these arguments - if anything - only show the logical rationality of this way of altering beliefs, but not its pragmatic rationality. In a fourth step, I provide a novel justification of this sort by basing it on the tendency of Bayesian Conditionalisation to structure an agent's thoughts and decisions in a way that lowers her decision-making costs. I also discuss some of the consequences of such a justification for Bayesian Conditionalisation, in particular with a view to other conditionalisation principles like Jeffrey Conditionalisation. Finally, I point out some connections of this discussion to contemporary and traditional philosophy of science.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy, Logic
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2693

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