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Knowledge Centered Epistemic Utility Theory

Julien Dutant, Branden Fitelson
Conference From Reasonable Doubt to Undue Scepticism, London, May 2017

Abstract

The standard assumption made by contemporary epistemic utility theorists is (Veritism) that truth/accuracy (of belief) is the only thing of positive epistemic value. We look at what happens when knowledge (rather than mere true belief) is given pride of place in epistemic utility theory. Some interesting new rational requirements for belief may be derived. We explain how, and we also look at some applications.

When Confirmation Transmits

Stephen Yablo, Branden Fitelson
Other MIT Philosophy, April 2017

Abstract

In this talk, we discuss various necessary, sufficient, and necessary & sufficient conditions for the transmission of confirmation via deductive entailment.

Comments on Khoo & Mandelkern

Branden Fitelson
Conference Pacific APA, Seattle, April 2017

Abstract

Khoo & Mandelkern (2017) provide an illuminating discussion of my recent triviality results for indicative conditionals. In these brief comments, I discuss two putative probabilistic counterexamples to some Import-Export principles they discuss in their paper. This brings out some interesting connections between confirmation, Simpson's Paradox, import-export, and indicative conditionals.

Two Approaches to Belief Revision

Ted Shear, Branden Fitelson, Jonathan Weisberg
Other Rutgers Philosophy, February 2017

Abstract

In this talk, we compare and contrast two approaches for revising qualitative (viz., “full”) beliefs. The first approach is a naïve Bayesian (viz., Lockean) one, which operates via conditionalization and a Lockean thesis. The second approach is AGM (the classical, logical approach to revision). Our aim here is to provide the most straightforward explanation of the ways in which these two approaches agree and disagree with each other.

Two Approaches to Doxastic Representation

Branden Fitelson
Conference Eastern APA, Baltimore, January 2017

Abstract

In this talk, I compare and contrast two approaches to the representation of the doxastic states of rational agents. First, I outline a (broadly) Bayesian (or "imprecise probability") approach. Then, I describe Spohn's Ranking Theory approach (as outlined in his recent book The Laws of Belief). Some new results (and conjectures) regarding the relationship between these two paradigms (as well as a decision procedure for Ranking Theory) are presented.

Epistemic Utility Theory

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium Arizona State University, October 2016

Abstract

In this talk I will explain the basics of epistemic utility theory and how it can be used to ground coherence requirements for various sorts of judgments (e.g., both degree of belief and full belief). The main idea is that, while belief (and degree of belief) aims at truth (i.e., minimizing inaccuracy), epistemic rationality only requires that one's judgments minimize expected inaccuracy. This fact about the nature of epistemic rationality allows us to resolve various problems and puzzles in contemporary epistemology (e.g., lottery paradoxes, preface paradoxes, etc.).

Confirmation, Causation, and Simpson's Paradox

Branden Fitelson
Other MIT Philosophy, October 2016

Abstract

In this talk, I offer a purely confirmation-theoretic explanation of the (seeming) paradoxicality of Simpson's Paradox. I also (briefly) contrast my approach with a recent (causal) explanation due to Judea Pearl.

Probability, Confirmation, and the "Conjunction Fallacy"

Vincenzo Crupi, Katya Tentori, Branden Fitelson
Other UMASS Boston Baby Lab, April 2016

Abstract

Here, we elaborate the suggestion (first discussed by Sides et al., 2001) that in standard conjunction problems the fallacious probability judgments experimentally observed are typically guided by sound assessments of confirmation relations, meant in terms of contemporary Bayesian confirmation theory. Our main formal result is a confirmation-theoretic account of the conjunction fallacy which is proven robust (i.e., not depending on various alternative ways of measuring degrees of confirmation).

Two New(ish) Triviality Results for the Indicative Conditional

Branden Fitelson
Other MIT Philosophy, April 2016

Abstract

In this talk, I describe generalizations/strengthenings of the triviality results of Gibbard and Lewis regarding the indicative conditional. More precisely, I aim to do two things in this talk: (1) present an axiomatic generalization of Gibbard's (logical) triviality result for indicative conditionals, and (2) present an algebraic strengthening of Lewis's (probabilistic) triviality result for indicative conditionals. Both results start from a very weak background theory (either logical or probabilistic) of the indicative conditional, and (relative to these weak backgrounds) both results will rely only on the so-called Import-Export Law. So, these results can be viewed as (general, and strong) "odd consequences" of Import-Export.

When is Evidence of Evidence Evidence?

Branden Fitelson
Conference Northwestern University, August 2015

Abstract

In this talk, I investigate several interpretations of Richard Feldman's "Evidence of Evidence is Evidence" (EEE) principle. My talk draws heavily on recent work by Tal & Comesaña.

Convergent vs. Linked Arguments and Independent Evidence: A Bayesian Approach

Branden Fitelson
Conference University of San Diego, July 2015

Abstract

In this talk, I explain how the distinction between convergent and linked premises (in argumentation/argument diagramming theory) can be given an elegant Bayesian explication.

Closure, Counter-Closure, and Inferential Knowledge

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium VU University Amsterdam, May 2015

Abstract

After some general remarks about closure and counter-closure, I (a) review some (alleged) counterexamples to counter-closure, (b) discuss a popular strategy for responding to such cases, and (c) pose a dilemma for this popular strategy.

Belief and Credence: The view from naïve epistemic utility theory

Branden Fitelson
Conference Tilburg Center for Logic, Ethics, and Philosophy of Science, October 2014

Abstract

I use naive epistemic utility theory to ground a synchronic (Lockean) coherence requirement for full belief. Then, I compare and contrast this approach with Leitgeb's "Stability Theory".

Accuracy, Coherence, and Evidence

Kenny Easwaran, Branden Fitelson
Colloquium Notre Dame, October 2014

Abstract

Taking Joyce’s (1998; 2009) recent argument(s) for probabilism as our point of departure, we propose a new way of grounding formal, synchronic, epistemic coherence requirements for (opinionated) full belief. Our approach yields principled alternatives to deductive consistency, sheds new light on the preface and lottery paradoxes, and reveals novel conceptual connections between alethic and evidential epistemic norms.

Toward an Epistemic Foundation for Comparative Confidence

Branden Fitelson. David McCarthy
Conference University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 2014

Abstract

A generalization of Joyce’s (2009) argumentative strategy for establishing probabilism as a coherence requirement for numerical degrees of confidence (credences) is developed and applied to comparative confidence judgments.

Individual Coherence and Group Coherence

Rachael Briggs, Fabrizio Cariani, Kenny Easwaran, Branden Fitelson
Colloquium University of Michigan, February 2013

Abstract

Paradoxes of individual coherence(e.g., the preface paradox) and group coherence (e.g., the doctrinal paradox for judgment aggregation) typically presuppose that deductive consistency is a coherence requirement for both individual and group judgment. In this paper, we introduce a new coherence requirement for (individual) full belief, and we explain how this new approach to individual coherence leads to an amelioration of the traditional paradoxes. In particular, we explain why our new coherence requirement gets around the standard doctrinal paradox. However, we also prove a new impossibility result, which reveals that (more complex) varieties of the doctrinal paradox can arise even for our new notion of coherence.

A Dilemma for "Epistemic Arguments" Against Classical (Deductive & Inductive) Logic

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium New York University, December 2011

Abstract

I sketch an argument for the claim that any epistemic argument against classical logic (either deductive or inductive) will have to rely on bridge principle(s), which are either (a) implausible, or (b) too weak to yield classically valid arguments. [Recently, Florian Steinberger has convincingly filled-in my argument sketch for this dilemma.]

An "Evidentialist" Worry About Joyce's Argument for Probabilism

Kenny Easwaran, Branden Fitelson
Conference LMU Munich, September 2011

Abstract

Joyce (1998) argues that for any credence function that doesn't satisfy the probability axioms, there is another function that dominates it in terms of accuracy. But if some potential credence functions are ruled out as violations of the Principal Principle, then some non-probabilistic credence functions fail to be dominated. We argue that to fix Joyce’s argument, one must show that all epistemic values for credence functions derive from accuracy.

Goodman's 'Grue' Argument in Historical Perspective

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium MCMP @ LMU Munich, June 2011

Abstract

First, a brief historical trace of the developments in confirmation theory leading up to Goodman’s infamous “grue” paradox is presented. Then, Goodman’s argument is analyzed from both Hempelian and Bayesian perspectives. A guiding analogy is drawn between certain arguments against classical deductive logic, and Goodman’s “grue” argument against classical inductive logic. The upshot of this analogy is that the “New Riddle” is not as vexing as many commentators have claimed (especially, from a Bayesian inductive-logical point of view). This talk is based (at this point, somewhat loosely) on my "grue" paper.

A PrSAT Tutorial

Branden Fitelson
Other MCMP @ LMU Munich, June 2011

Abstract

I give a tutorial for PrSAT, my Mathematica-based decision procedure for probability calculus. There is also a Mathematica notebook that goes along with this tutorial. And, here is a PDF format version of that notebook.

The Wason Task(s) and the Paradox of Confirmation

Branden Fitelson, Jim Hawthorne
Colloquium MCMP @ LMU Munich, June 2011

Abstract

The (recent, Bayesian) cognitive science literature on the Wason Task (WT) has been modeled largely after the (not-so-recent, Bayesian) philosophy of science literature on the Paradox of Confirmation (POC). In this paper, we apply some insights from more recent Bayesian approaches to the (POC) to analogous models of (WT). This involves, first, retracing the history of the (POC), and, then, re-examining the (WT) with these historico-philosophical insights in mind. This talk is based on our Wason paper.

Judgment Under Uncertainty Revisited: Probability vs Confirmation

Branden Fitelson
Other Princeton, April 2011

Abstract

First, I discuss the (philosophical) distinction between probability and confirmation. This distinction dates back to a dispute between Popper and Carnap. More recently, cognitive scientists have been investigating the ways in which confirmation judgment and probability judgment interact. I close the talk with some recent empirical results along these lines.

Favoring, Likelihoodism, and Bayesianism

Branden Fitelson
Conference Minneapolis, April 2011

Abstract

In Chapter 1 of Evidence and Evolution, Sober (2008) defends a Likelihodist account of favoring. The main tenet of Likelihoodism is the so-called Law of Likelihood. In this talk, I explain why the Law of Likelihood fails to undergird an adequate explication of favoring. This talk was subsequently published.

The Problem of Irrelevant Conjunction -- Revisited

Branden Fitelson. Jim Hawthorne
Conference CMU, June 2010

Abstract

Naive deductivist accounts of confirmation have the undesirable consequence that if E confirms H, then E also confirms the conjunction H & X, for any X—even if X is completely irrelevant to E and H. Bayesian accounts of confirmation may appear to have the same problem. We show how to simplify and improve upon Fitelson’s original solution to the irrelevant conjunction problem.

What is the 'Equal Weight View'?

David Jehle, Branden Fitelson
Conference Northwestern, June 2010

Abstract

In this talk, we investigate various possible (Bayesian) precisifications of the (somewhat vague) statements of “the equal weight view” (EWV) that have appeared in the recent literature on disagreement. We will show that the renditions of (EWV) that immediately suggest themselves are untenable from a Bayesian point of view. In the end, we will propose some tenable (but not necessarily desirable) interpretations of (EWV). Our aim here will not be to defend any particular Bayesian precisification of (EWV), but rather to raise awareness about some of the difficulties inherent in formulating such precisifications.

Separabilty Assumptions in Scoring-Rule-Based Arguments for Probabilism

Lara Buchak, Branden Fitelson
Conference University of Michigan, May 2009

Abstract

We examine some of the consequences of the separability assumption (for scoring rules) -- specifically, we discuss some potential weaknesses in scoring-rule-based arguments for probabilism that may be caused by the separability assumption.

Advice-Giving and Scoring-Rule-Based Arguments for Probabilism

Lara Buchak, Branden Fitelson
Conference University of Michigan, May 2009

Abstract

We argue that (in the context of scoring-rule based arguments for probabilism) evaluated sets of attitudes should always include entire Boolean algebras (and not merely partitions or subsets of them).

A Decision Procedure for the Probability Calculus with Applications

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium Indiana, February 2009

Abstract

A decision procedure (PrSAT) for classical (Kolmogorov) probability calculus is presented. This decision procedure is based on an existing decision procedure for the theory of real closed fields, which has recently been implemented in Mathematica. A Mathematica implementation of PrSAT is also described, along with several applications to various non-trivial problems in the probability calculus. Click here for the Mathematica notebook that goes with this talk (and here for a PDF version thereof).

Logic, Epistemology, and Old Evidence

Branden Fitelson
Conference Pittsburgh, November 2008

Abstract

In this talk, I discuss the role that "old evidence" plays in (my recent Bayesian inductive-logical reconstruction of) Goodman's "Grue" argument.

Likelihoods, Counterfactuals, and Tracking

Branden Fitelson
Conference Vancouver, November 2006

Abstract

In this discussion of Sherri Roush's book Tracking Truth, I explain some of the virtues of thinking about truth-tracking in terms of likelihoods rather than counterfactuals.

Comments on Jill North's "Symmetry and Probability"

Branden Fitelson
Conference Bellingham, July 2006

Abstract

I offer some comments on an early draft of Jill North's paper, which was later published under the title "An empirical approach to symmetry and probability".

Kim on the Unconfirmability of Disjunctive Laws

Branden Fitelson
Conference San Diego, May 2006

Abstract

In this talk, I offer some criticisms of an argument of Kim's for the claim that disjunctive laws are unconfirmable.

A Historical Introduction to Bayesian Confirmation Theory

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium University of Trento, May 2006

Abstract

I provide a historical survey of Bayesian Confirmation Theory.

Old Evidence, Logical Omniscience, and Bayesianism

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium University of Sydney, March 2006

Abstract

This talk explains how to model logical non-omniscience within a Bayesian framework (Garber-style).

The Paradox of Confirmation

Branden Fitelson
Other Stanford, February 2006

Abstract

This talk provides a historical survey of arguments surrounding the Paradox of Confirmation.

Automated Reasoning in Modal Logics: A Framework with Applications

Branden Fitelson
Conference Oregon State University, August 2005

Abstract

I describe some basic techniques for using automated reasoning tools to solve problems in in various modal logics.

Logical Foundations of Evidential Support

Branden Fitelson
Conference Austin, November 2004

Abstract

Carnap’s inductive logic (or confirmation) project is revisited from an “in- crease in firmness” (or probabilistic relevance) point of view. It is argued that Carnap’s main desiderata can be satisfied in this setting, without the need for a theory of “logical probability”. The emphasis here will be on ex- plaining how Carnap’s epistemological desiderata for inductive logic will need to be modified in this new setting. The key move is to abandon Carnap’s goal of bridging confirmation and credence, in favor of bridging confirmation and evidential support.

Relational and non-Relational Conceptions of Evidential Support

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium University of Konstanz, July 2004

Abstract

In this talk, I explain the debate between Likelihoodists and Bayesians over the so-called "Law of Likelihood". There is also a color plot and a Mathematica notebook (also available in PDF format) that goes with the discussion of the Monty Hall Problem at the end of this talk. This talk is based on a paper of mine.

Probabilistic Coherence from a Logical Point of View

Branden Fitelson
Conference London School of Economics, June 2004

Abstract

In this talk, I describe some refinements to my probabilistic account of coherence. There are three background files that accompany this talk. There is a note explaining two technical corrections to my original coherence measure, and there is a Mathematica notebook which works through the results in that note. The Mathematica notebook is also available in PDF format here.

Comments on the Role of Base Rates in Probabilistic Reasoning

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium UC-Berkeley, October 2003

Abstract

In this talk, I explain how the probability/confirmation distinction can be used to explain both the 'base rate fallacy' and the 'conjunction fallacy'. Here is a podcast in which I discuss both 'fallacies' in the style of this talk.

Steps Toward a Computational Metaphysics

Branden Fitelson, Ed Zalta
Conference Oregon State University, August 2003

Abstract

In this talk, we describe how to use automated reasoning tools to solve problems in axiomatic metaphysics. Here is a link to a video of this talk. And, here is a link to the website for this project.

Comments on James Franklin's "The Representation of Context: Ideas from Artificial Intelligence"

Branden Fitelson
Conference Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, April, 2003, April 2003

Abstract

Here, I offer comments on a paper of James Franklin's. Papers presented at this conference later appeared in a special issue of the journal Law, Probability, and Risk.

Comments on Kenneth Presting’s "Computability and Newcomb’s Problem"

Branden Fitelson
Conference San Francisco, March 2003

Abstract

Here, I offer comments on a paper by Kenneth Presting. Some of the ideas advanced by Presting have since gained traction in the 'Less Wrong' community (but Presting doesn't seem to receive credit for them, and as far as I know his paper was never published)..

Some Recent Results in Algebra & Logical Calculi Obtained Using Automated Reasoning

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium UC-Berkeley, March 2003

Abstract

In this talk, I summarize some (then) new results in algebra and sentential logic that were discovered via automated reasoning. Here is a webpage which complements this talk.

Studies in Bayesian Confirmation Theory

Branden Fitelson
Other UC-Berkeley, October 2002

Abstract

In this talk, I describe my dissertation research on the foundations of Bayesian confirmation theory. Here is a link to my thesis.

Some Remarks on the Philosophy of Statistics

Branden Fitelson
Other Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, August 2002

Abstract

In this talk, I provide a historical overview of some controversies in the philosophy of statistics.

Automated Reasoning in Modal Logics

Branden Fitelson
Other Stanford University, May 2002

Abstract

Here I present some (general purpose) techniques for using automated reasoning to solve problems in modal logics. Here is a webpage with various files related to this lecture.

Rethinking the Problem of Old Evidence

Branden Fitelson
Conference Fresno State University, April 2002

Abstract

In this talk, I discuss various proposed solutions to the problem of old evidence, and I sketch a new approach. Here is an unpublished paper that describes the proposed solution..

Comments on Tomoji Shogenji’s "The Problem of Independence in Justification by Coherence"

Branden Fitelson
Conference Seattle, March 2002

Abstract

Here, I give some comments on a paper by Tomoji Shogenji. His paper was laster published under the same title in the volume Perspectives on Coherentism.

Putting the Irrelevance Back Into the Problem of Irrelevant Conjunction

Branden Fitelson
Colloquium University of Colorado, Boulder, November 2001

Abstract

In this talk, I explain my original approach to the irrelevant conjunction problem. This has since been superseded by my joint work with Jim Hawthorne.

A Bayesian Account of Independent Evidence with Applications

Branden Fitelson
Conference Vancouver, November 2000

Abstract

In this talk, I explain my Bayesian account of independent evidence. This paper was later published in the proceedings of PSA 2000.

The Plurality of Bayesian Measures of Confirmation and the Problem of Measure Sensitivity

Branden Fitelson
Conference Kansas City, October 1998

Abstract

In this talk, I describe the problem of measure sensitivity for Bayesian confirmation theory. This paper was later published in the proceedings of PSA 1998.

Using Mathematica to Understand the Computer Proof of the Robbins Conjecture

Branden Fitelson
Conference Champaign, Illinois, October 1997

Abstract

In this talk, I explain how to use Mathematica to make Bill McCune's proof of the Robbins Conjecture more 'human readable'. Here is a webpage which contains my notebooks as well as the published version of this paper.