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Confirmation and the ordinal equivalence thesis

Vassend, Olav Benjamin (2017) Confirmation and the ordinal equivalence thesis. [Preprint]

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According to a widespread but implicit thesis in Bayesian confirmation theory, two confirmation measures are considered equivalent if they are ordinally equivalent --- call this the ``ordinal equivalence thesis'' (OET). I argue that adopting OET has significant costs. First, adopting OET renders one incapable of determining whether a piece of evidence substantially favors one hypothesis over another. Second, OET must be rejected if merely ordinal conclusions are to be drawn from the expected value of a confirmation measure. Furthermore, several arguments and applications of confirmation measures given in the literature already rely on a rejection of OET. I also contrast OET with stronger equivalence theses and show that they do not have the same costs as OET. On the other hand, adopting a thesis stronger than OET has costs of its own, since a rejection of OET ostensibly implies that people's epistemic states have a very fine-grained quantitative structure. However, I suggest that the normative upshot of the paper in fact has a conditional form, and that other Bayesian norms can also fruitfully be construed as having a similar conditional form.

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Item Type: Preprint
Vassend, Olav
Keywords: Bayesian confirmation; ordinal equivalence; confirmation measures; measurement theory; Bayesianism; scales of measurement
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: Olav Vassend
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2017 15:17
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2017 15:17
Item ID: 13300
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: 25 July 2017

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