Supposition and Belief Change

Isaac Levi

in Mild Contraction

Published in print June 2004 | ISBN: 9780199270705
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601774 | DOI:
Supposition and Belief Change

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It is argued, with Peirce and against Descartes, that current beliefs do not require justification; justification is only required when change in belief is on offer. Parmenidean epistemology is discussed in defence of the view that commitment to full belief cannot be escaped by a move to judgements of probability or some other index of uncertainty, and that full belief is corrigible. Types of change in states of full belief are distinguished, and it is maintained that without an account of justified expansions and, particularly, contractions there can be no justifiable changes in belief that take into account the desideratum of avoiding error at the next step (the AGM approach developed by Alchourrón, Gärdenfors and Makinson). The pragmatic theory to be defended, in which the justification of a change of belief attempts to show that the proposed change best promotes the goal of the enquiry in question, is set out. It is explained that the focus of the book will be on rationalizing choices between competing contraction strategies once the decision to contract – to relinquish old beliefs – has been made.

Keywords: AGM revisions; contraction; corrigibility; Descartes; full belief; Parmenidean epistemology; Peirce; pragmatism; probability

Chapter.  16212 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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