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De se beliefs and centred uncertainty

Milano, Silvia (2018) De se beliefs and centred uncertainty. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.b2wsi6xbghk6


What kind of thing do you believe when you believe that you are in a certain place, that it is a certain time, and that you are a certain individual? What happens if you get lost, or lose track of the time? Can you ever be unsure of your own identity? These are the kind of questions considered in my thesis. Beliefs about where, when and who you are are what are called in the literature de se, or self-locating beliefs. This thesis examines how we can represent de se beliefs, and how we can reason about de se uncertainty. In the first part of the thesis, I present and motivate a specific account of the content of de se belief, based on the one given by David Lewis. On this account, the content of de se beliefs are centred propositions. I defend this view against a rival account, put forward by Robert Stalnaker, according to whom the content of de se beliefs are ordinary (non-centred) propositions. In the second part of the thesis, I explore how we can reason probabilistically about de se uncertainty. I start by defining probabilities over centred propositions, and investigate what probabilities mean in this context. As it turns out, all the main interpretations of probability can be extended to centred propositions. The only trouble seems to arise for the Bayesian principle of updating via conditionalization. After giving a diagnosis of the problem, I offer a solution by formulating a natural extension of conditionalization, which I argue preserves the essential features of Bayesian reasoning. In the final chapter, I apply my view and show that it leads to a natural resolution of a puzzle (known as the Sleeping Beauty problem) that is generally taken to be a test case for any account of centred updating

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Silvia Milano
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Sets: Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Supervisor: List, Christian

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