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Knowledge and Skepticism$
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Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke, and Harry S. Silverstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014083

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014083.001.0001

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Reasoning Defeasibly about Probabilities

Reasoning Defeasibly about Probabilities

(p.219) 10 Reasoning Defeasibly about Probabilities
Knowledge and Skepticism

John L. Pollock

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses the often-acknowledged notion that, for practical decision-making, definite probabilities are required instead of indefinite ones. Theories that take indefinite probabilities as basic need a way of deriving definite probabilities from them. Theories of how to do this are theories of direct inference. Theories of objective indefinite probability propose that statistical inference gives us knowledge of indefinite probabilities, and then direct inference gives us knowledge of definite probabilities. Reichenbach pioneered the theory of direct inference. Kyburg was the first to attempt to provide firm logical foundations for direct inference, and Pollock took this as a starting point, constructing a modified theory with a more epistemological orientation. The chapter builds upon some of the basic ideas of this latter theory.

Keywords:   practical decision-making, definite probabilities, indefinite probabilities, direct inference, statistical inference, Reichenbach, Kyburg, Pollock, epistemological orientation

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