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Philosophy Speakers Program: Kenny Easwaran (Southern California) "Dr. Truthlove"

Date & Time:
December 6, 2013 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Philosophy Speakers Program presents

Kenny Easwaran on "Dr. Truthlove, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bayesian Probabilities"

Location: Social Sciences Building, Room 1253


About the Talk

Bayesian theorists have argued that the best way to explain seemingly rational but contradictory beliefs (like those in the Preface Paradox) is to say that they are not really full beliefs, but are instead just high "credences". For those who want to insist on the primacy of belief over credence, this move is unavailable.  However, I use William James's idea that belief has the twin goals of seeking the truth and avoiding falsity, to argue that the rational constraint on belief is not consistency, but rather a slightly weaker notion I call "coherence".  Interestingly, if an agent has coherent beliefs, there is often a probability function that can be used to demonstrate this coherence.  I suggest that credence can be thought of not as a psychologically real notion, but rather as this sort of tool of the mathematical theorist, which allows us to avoid many of the unpalatable consequences of the actual Bayesian view.  

About the Speaker

Kenny Eswaran received his PhD in Logic and Methodology of Science at UC Berkeley and is now an Assistant Professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California.  Easwaran works in the areas of epistemology and the philosophy of mathematics.  His work in epistemology focuses on the mathematical notions of probability theory and how they can help clarify the pre-theoretic notions of belief, justification, knowledge, and the like.  In the philosophy of mathematics he is particularly interested in set theory and its foundations.  

Easwaran's home page at USC


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