Journal Article

Commutativity or Holism? A Dilemma for Conditionalizers

Jonathan Weisberg

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 60, issue 4, pages 793-812
Published in print December 2009 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online February 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Commutativity or Holism? A Dilemma for Conditionalizers

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Science and Mathematics


Show Summary Details


Conditionalization and Jeffrey Conditionalization cannot simultaneously satisfy two widely held desiderata on rules for empirical learning. The first desideratum is confirmational holism, which says that the evidential import of an experience is always sensitive to our background assumptions. The second desideratum is commutativity, which says that the order in which one acquires evidence shouldn't affect what conclusions one draws, provided the same total evidence is gathered in the end. (Jeffrey) Conditionalization cannot satisfy either of these desiderata without violating the other. This is a surprising problem, and I offer a diagnosis of its source. I argue that (Jeffrey) Conditionalization is inherently anti-holistic in a way that is just exacerbated by the requirement of commutativity. The dilemma is thus a superficial manifestation of (Jeffrey) Conditionalization's fundamentally anti-holistic nature. 1



Clarifying Commutativity and Holism


The Dilemma for Strict Conditionalization


The Dilemma for Jeffrey Conditionalization 4.1

Jeffrey conditionalization and commutativity


The tension with holism


Loose ends and technical worries




Morals and Connections

Journal Article.  7563 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.