Attitudes Toward Epistemic Risk and the Value of Experiments
Studia Logica, Vol. 86, No. 2, pp. 215-246, 2007
43 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2009
Date Written: December 14, 2005
Several different Bayesian models of epistemic utilities (e.g., Levi 1962, Horwich 1982, Maher 1990, Oddie 1997) have been used to explain why it is rational for scientists to perform experiments. In this paper, I argue that a model - suggested independently by Patrick Maher (1990) and Graham Oddie (1997) - that assigns epistemic utility to degrees of belief in hypotheses provides the most comprehensive explanation. This is because this proper scoring rule (PSR) model captures a wider range of scientifically acceptable attitudes toward epistemic risk than the other Bayesian models that have been proposed. I also argue, however, that even the PSR model places unreasonably tight restrictions on a scientist's attitude toward epistemic risk. As a result, such Bayesian models of epistemic utilities fail as normative accounts - not just as descriptive accounts (see, e.g., Kahneman and Tversky 1972, Giere 1988) - of scientific inquiry.
Keywords: Bayesianism, Categorical Belief, Degree of Belief, Epistemic Risk, Epistemic Utility, Epistemic Value, Logarithmic Rule, Proper Scoring Rule, Scientific Experiment
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