How should we change our beliefs in the light of new information? This is one of the central questions of epistemology, and has great practical importance. For example, consider a doctor who has a patient who is concerned he might have cancer. The doctor has certain beliefs: for example, she may think that her patient… Continue reading Paper Review: Why Conditionalize?
The MIT Technology Review recently published an article entitled "A quantum experiment suggests there’s no such thing as objective reality". This sounds rather spicy: if this were true, and there were no objective reality, what would that mean? Would the postmodernists be right? Would it all be purely subjective? How about claims like "there is… Continue reading Paper Review: Experimental Rejection of Observer-independence in the Quantum World
What has become of our dreams of space travel? Not long ago, merely a few decades, humanity took its first few steps in space. There was great hope for humanity to become a space-faring species. We would enjoy a family weekend and the best views of Earth from the moon, take a hike on Europa,… Continue reading Paper Review: Toward an Ecological and Cosmonautical Philosophy
Last week we explored a proposed solution to Hume's problem of induction --- Schurz's meta-inductor. The idea was this: suppose we have a bunch of predictors, and we are predicting something like the next symbol in a sequence. For example, we might have seen this sequence so far: 100100100100100 and our goal is to predict… Continue reading Paper Review: Can the Best-Alternative Justification Solve Hume’s Problem? On the Limits of a Promising Approach
The infamous no free lunch theorem (NFL theorem) asserts that all computable prediction methods have equal expected success. Computer scientists, and occasionally philosophers, often describe this result as a computer-science cousin of Hume's problem of induction. Given this theorem, one might think that trying to design a better or worse prediction algorithm for general prediction tasks is pointless:… Continue reading Paper Review: No Free Lunch Theorem, Inductive Skepticism, and the Optimality of Meta-induction
From climate change to vaccinations to the shape of the Earth (???!?!), scientific claims are often in dispute. Indeed, when encountering people who hold views against the (scientific) norm, we often think of them as "anti-scientific." Of course, the people who hold these views don't think they are being irrational. They think their position is… Continue reading Paper Review: “Antiscience Zealotry”? Values, Epistemic Risk, and the GMO Debate
Why should one expect the future to resemble the past? This is one formulation of Hume's problem of induction. Consider the claim that the sun will rise tomorrow. Why should we expect this? It is true that it has risen every day we've been alive, and every day for a few billion years before that.… Continue reading Paper Review: Symmetry and its Discontents