Article

Bayesianism

James M. Joyce

in The Oxford Handbook of Rationality

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780195145397
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780198614128 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195145397.003.0008
 Bayesianism

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This article is concerned with Bayesian epistemology. Bayesianism claims to provide a unified theory of epistemic and practical rationality based on the principle of mathematical expectation. In its epistemic guise, it requires believers to obey the laws of probability. In its practical guise, it asks agents to maximize their subjective expected utility. This article explains the five pillars of Bayesian epistemology, each of which claims and evaluates some of the justifications that have been offered for them. It also addresses some common objections to Bayesianism, in particular the “problem of old evidence” and the complaint that the view degenerates into an untenable subjectivism. It closes by painting a picture of Bayesianism as an “internalist” theory of reasons for action and belief that can be fruitfully augmented with “externalist” principles of practical and epistemic rationality.

Keywords: Bayesian epistemology; Bayesianism; rationality; laws of probability; subjectivism

Article.  11067 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Epistemology ; Philosophy of Science

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