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Bayesian Philosophy of Science$
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Jan Sprenger and Stephan Hartmann

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199672110

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199672110.001.0001

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Models, Idealizations and Objective Chance

Models, Idealizations and Objective Chance

(p.311) Variation 12: Models, Idealizations and Objective Chance
Bayesian Philosophy of Science

Jan Sprenger

Stephan Hartmann

Oxford University Press

How does Bayesian inference handle the highly idealized nature of many (statistical) models in science? The standard interpretation of probability as degree of belief in the truth of a model does not seem to apply in such cases since all candidate models are most probably wrong. Similarly, it is not clear how chance-credence coordination works for the probabilities generated by a statistical model. We solve these problems by developing a suppositional account of degree of belief where probabilities in scientific modeling are decoupled from our actual (unconditional) degrees of belief. This explains the normative pull of chance-credence coordination in Bayesian inference, uncovers the essentially counterfactual nature of reasoning with Bayesian models, and squares well with our intuitive judgment that statistical models provide “objective” probabilities.

Keywords:   statistical models, idealizations, Bayesian inference, chance-credence coordination, Principal Principle, suppositional account of degrees of belief

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