Book

The Laws of Belief

Wolfgang Spohn

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199697502
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739323 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697502.001.0001
The Laws of Belief

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Ranking theory will be claimed to deliver the first full account of the dynamics of belief and to be the legitimate sister of probability theory. This entails its deep significance for fundamental issues in epistemology and the philosophy of science. Therefore this book motivates and introduces the basic notion of a ranking function, which provides a new kind of degrees ob belief that at same time accounts for belief simpliciter. It develops ranking theory in ample detail, up to algorithms of inductive reasoning. It provides a measurement theory for ranking functions. It accounts for auto-epistemology in ranking-theoretic terms. It explicates the basic notion of a (deductive or non-deductive) reason, which is the entry to its rich philosophical applications. Among these are: a new account of lawlikeness, an account of ceteris paribus laws, a new perspective on dispositions, a rich and detailed theory of deterministic causation, an understanding of natural modalities as an objectification of epistemic modalities, an account of the experiential basis of belief, and thus a restructuring of the debate on foundationalism and coherentism (and externalism and contextualism), and finally a revival of fundamental a priori principles of reason fathoming the basics of empiricism and the relation between reason and truth and concluding in a proof of a weak principle of causality. All this is accompanied by thorough-going comparative discussions, on a general level as well as within each topic, and in particular with respect to probability theory that proves to be the major guideline of this book.

Keywords: ranking theory; probability theory; belief; belief change; reason; lawlikeness; ceteris paribus laws; disposition; causation; foundationalism; coherentism; apriority

Book.  625 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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Table of Contents

 Introduction in The Laws of Belief

Chapter

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 Belief and its Objects in The Laws of Belief

Chapter

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 The Probabilistic Way in The Laws of Belief

Chapter

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 Ranking Functions in The Laws of Belief

Chapter

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 Reasons and Apriority in The Laws of Belief

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 The Measurement of Ranks in The Laws of Belief

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 Ranks and Probabilities in The Laws of Belief

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