Toricelli's Trumpet

We are a Working Group devoted to the discussion of historical and philosophical issues in symbolic logic, mathematics, and science. We meet on occasional Wednesday evenings for a talk and a lively discussion. The group is funded by the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities and the Department of Philosophy.

All members of the academic community are welcome to attend. We have regular participants in many different fields, including philosophy, mathematics, history of science, and psychology.

The group organizers are Lara Buchak (Philosophy), Wesley Holliday (Philosophy), John MacFarlane (Philosophy), Paolo Mancosu (Philosophy), Sherrilyn Roush (Philosophy), and Seth Yalcin (Philosophy).

Our next event

April 30, 2014, 6-7:30 PM in 234 Moses Hall

Richard Pettigrew (University of Bristol)

Accuracy-first Epistemology

An agent’s degrees of belief should satisfy the axioms of probability. She should update her degrees of belief in the light of new evidence in line with the Bayesian rule of conditionalization. If she learns the objective chances, her degrees of belief ought to match them. In the absence of any evidence, she ought to distribute her degrees of belief equally over all possibilities. These are norms that govern epistemic agents when we represent them as having degrees of belief in the propositions they entertain. What establishes these norms? Pragmatic arguments have been given for some; evidentialist arguments for others. In this talk, I want to describe an alternative sort of argument. It begins with the claim that the sole fundamental virtue of degrees of belief is their accuracy, or proximity to the truth, and it provides a way of measuring this accuracy. Finally, it derives the consequences of this assumption. Amongst those consequences are the four norms just listed.