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The Laws of Belief


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Table of Contents

Preface 1: Introduction 2: Belief and Its Objects 3: The Probabilistic Way 4: The Representation of Belief: Some Standard Moves 5: Ranking Functions 6: Reasons and Apriority 7: Conditional Independence and Ranking Nets 8: The Measurement of Ranks 9: Supposing, Updating, and Reflection 10: Ranks and Probabilities 11: Comparisons 12: Laws and Their Confirmation 13: Ceteris Paribus Conditions and Dispositions 14: Causation 15: Objectification 16: Justification, Perception, and Consciousness 17: The A Priori Structure of Reasons Bibliography Name Index Subject Index

About the Author

Wolfgang Spohn studied philosophy, logic/philosophy of science, and mathematics at the University of Munich. He has held positions at the University of Regensburg (1986-91) and the University of Bielefeld (1991-96), and has held a chair in philosophy and philosophy of science at the University of Konstanz since 1996. He is author of three books and over eighty papers, and editor of the journal Erkenntnis.


`The book is an apt demonstration of how clear theoretical commitments, significant formal ability, and sheer tenacity bring forth insights with great precision that fruitfully contributes to extant issues in philosophy and the sciences at large. The deserving winner of the '2012 Lakatos Award for an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science', Wolfgang Spohn has succeeded in making a strong case for speculative formal philosophy.' The Philosophical Quarterly `This is not just another treatise on belief; it is all one needs to know about belief, belief change, belief revision, causation, decisions and their intricate interrelationships ... Despite being a comprehensive study in formal epistemology, Spohn's new book reads like a detective story, sprinkled with humor and poetry throughout. A delightful book and a must for anyone who cares about the dynamics of this illusive notion we call belief.' Judea Pearl, University of California, Los Angeles `Wolfgang Spohn's ranking theory is an innovative and influential contribution to the formal representation of belief revision. This ambitious book sets the theory in a wider philosophical context, connecting it with more general issues in epistemology and with explanation and causal structure. It is an important book, in which fruitful new ideas are worked out rigorously and in detail.' Robert Stalnaker, Massachusetts Institute of Technology `Spohn has produced a remarkable synthesis of diverse currents in the theory of belief, and offers a fully explicit account of Baconian probability. His book throws fresh light on belief, conditional belief, and belief dynamics; it will no doubt frame discussion of these topics for years to come.' Daniel Osherson, Princeton University

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