Journal Article

Discussion. How to weight scientists' probabilities is not a big problem: comment on Barnes

PE Meehl

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 50, issue 2, pages 283-295
Published in print June 1999 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 1999 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/50.2.283
Discussion. How to weight scientists' probabilities is not a big problem: comment on Barnes

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Assuming it rational to treat other persons' probabilities as epistemically significant, how shall their judgements be weighted (Barnes [1998])? Several plausible methods exist, but theorems in classical psychometrics greatly reduce the importance of the problem. If scientists' judgements tend to be positively correlated, the difference between two randomly weighted composites shrinks as the number of judges rises. Since, for reasons such as representative coverage, minimizing bias, and avoiding elitism, we would rarely employ small numbers of judges (e.g. less than 10), the difference between two weighting systems becomes negligible. Suggestions are made for quantifying verisimilitude, identifying 'types' of scientists or theories (taxometrics), inferring latent factors, and estimating reliability of pooled judgements.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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