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How uncertain do we need to be?

By Jon Williamson


Expert probability forecasts can be useful for decision making (§1). But levels of uncertainty escalate: however the forecaster expresses the uncertainty that attaches to a forecast, there are good reasons for her to express a further level of uncertainty, in the shape of either imprecision or higher order uncertainty (§2). Bayesian epistemology provides the means to halt this escalator, by tying expressions of uncertainty to the propositions expressible in an agent’s language (§3). But Bayesian epistemology comes in three main varieties. Strictly subjective Bayesianism and empirically-based subjective Bayesianism have difficulty in justifying the use of a forecaster’s probabilities for decision making (§4). On the other hand, objective Bayesianism can justify the use of these probabilities, at least when the probabilities are consistent with the agent’s evidence (§5). Hence objective Bayesianism offers the most promise overall for explaining how testimony of uncertainty can be useful for decision making. Interestingly, the objective Bayesian analysis provided in §5 can also be use

Year: 2013
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