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Description and the Problem of Priors

Barrett, Jeffrey A. (2014) Description and the Problem of Priors. Erkenntins, 79 (6). pp. 1343-1353.

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Abstract

Belief-revision models of knowledge describe how to update one's degrees of belief associated with hypotheses as one considers new evidence, but they typically do not say how probabilities become associated with meaningful
hypotheses in the frst place. Here we consider a variety of Skyrms-Lewis signaling game [Lewis (1969)] [Skyrms (2010)] where simple descriptive language and predictive practice and associated basic expectations coevolve. Rather
than assigning prior probabilities to hypotheses in a fxed language then conditioning on new evidence, the agents begin with no meaningful language or expectations then evolve to have expectations conditional on their descriptions as they evolve to have meaningful descriptions for the purpose of successful prediction. The model, then, provides a simple but concrete example of how the process of evolving a descriptive language suitable for inquiry might also provide agents with conditional expectations that reflect the type and degree of predictive success in fact afforded by their evolved predictive practice. This
illustrates one way in which the traditional problem priors may simply fail to apply to one's model of evolving inquiry.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Barrett, Jeffrey A.j.barrett@uci.edu
Keywords: problem of priors evolution of language evolution of probability prior probability belief-revision models of knowledge
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Jeffrey Barrett
Date Deposited: 17 May 2016 14:43
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2016 20:35
Item ID: 12097
Journal or Publication Title: Erkenntins
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2014
Page Range: pp. 1343-1353
Volume: 79
Number: 6
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12097

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