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The Laws of BeliefRanking Theory and Its Philosophical Applications$
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Wolfgang Spohn

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199697502

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697502.001.0001

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 Laws and their Confirmation

 Laws and their Confirmation

(p.271) 12 Laws and their Confirmation
The Laws of Belief

Wolfgang Spohn

Oxford University Press

The remaining chapters are devoted to various philosophical applications of ranking theory. The first goal is to understand natural modalities as covertly epistemological modalities by a kind of projectivistic strategy on the basis of ranking theory, which has already proved how well it accounts for epistemological modalities. The first of those natural modalities, lawlikeness, is treated in this chapter. A review of the difficulties with that notion concludes that laws are best understood via their inductive behavior. The study of that behavior arrives, after thorough argument, at the notion of a subjective (deterministic) law that is simply the ranking-theoretic analogue of the notion of a Bernoulli measure or statistical law. It turns out then that de Finetti’s philosophy of probability, incarnated in his representation theorem, can be fully carried over to the deterministic side. Thus, the confirmation of deterministic laws works in essentially the same way as that of statistical laws. The chapter concludes with some observations about the apriority of the belief in lawfulness, i.e., in the uniformity of nature.

Keywords:   lawlikeness, deterministic law, symmetry, falsification, inference licence view of laws, de Finetti’s representation theorem, uniformity of nature

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