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Why Credences Cannot be Imprecise

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  • Borut Trpin

    () (Faculty of Arts - University of Ljubljana)

Abstract

Beliefs formed under uncertainty come in different grades, which are called credences or degrees of belief. The most common way of measuring the strength of credences is by ascribing probabilities to them. What kind of probabilities may be used remains an open question and divides the researchers in two camps: the sharpers who claim that credences can be measured by the standard single-valued precise probabilities. The non-sharpers, on the other hand, claim that credences are imprecise and can only be measured by imprecise probabilities. The latter view has recently gained in popularity. According to non-sharpers, credences must be imprecise when the evidence is essentially imprecise (ambiguous, vague, conflicting or scarce). This view is, however, misleading. Imprecise credences can lead to irrational behaviour and do not make much sense after a closer examination. I provide a coherence-based principle which enables me to demonstrate that there is no need for imprecise credences. This principle is then applied to three special cases, which are prima facie best explained by use of imprecise credences: the jellyfish guy case, Ellsberg paradox and the Sleeping Beauty problem. The jellyfish guy case deals with a strange situation, where the evidence is very ambiguous. Ellsberg Paradox demonstrates a problem that occurs when comparing precise and imprecise credences. The Sleeping Beauty problem demonstrates that imprecise credences are not useless, but rather misguided. They should be understood as sets of possible precise credences, of which only one can be selected at a given time.

Suggested Citation

  • Borut Trpin, 2014. "Why Credences Cannot be Imprecise," Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems - scientific journal, Croatian Interdisciplinary Society Provider Homepage: http://indecs.eu, vol. 12(4), pages 323-333.
  • Handle: RePEc:zna:indecs:v:12:y:2014:i:4:p:323-333
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    Keywords

    beliefs; credences; imprecise probability; uncertainty; epistemology;

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other

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