Luc Bovens: Bayesian Epistemology
Probabilistic models have much to offer to philosophy. We continually receive information from a variety of sources: from our senses, from witnesses, from scientific instruments. When considering whether we should believe this information, we assess whether the sources are independent, how reliable they are, and how plausible and coherent the information is. We provide a systematic Bayesian account of these features of reasoning.
Simple Bayesian Networks allow to model alternative assumptions about the nature of the information sources. Measurement of the coherence of information is a controversial matter: arguably, the more coherent a set of information is, the more confident we may be that its content is true, other things being equal. This offers a new treatment of coherence which respects this claim and shows its relevance to scientific theory choice.
The methodology applies to a wide range of much discussed issues regarding evidence, testimony, scientific theories, and voting. Bayesian Epistemology is an essential tool for anyone working on probabilistic methods in philosophy, and has broad implications for many other disciplines.
- Bayesian Epistemology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003 (with Stephan Hartmann)
- Bayesian Epistemology. Special Issue of Synthese (2007) (Edited with Stephan Hartmann)
Luc Bovens is Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics (LSE). He is the coordinator of the MSc Philosophy and Public Policy.