The Brier Rule Is not a Good Measure of Epistemic Utility (and Other Useful Facts about Epistemic Betterness)

Don Fallis, Peter J. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Measures of epistemic utility are used by formal epistemologists to make determinations of epistemic betterness among cognitive states. The Brier rule is the most popular choice (by far) among formal epistemologists for such a measure. In this paper, however, we show that the Brier rule is sometimes seriously wrong about whether one cognitive state is epistemically better than another. In particular, there are cases where an agent gets evidence that definitively eliminates a false hypothesis (and the probabilities assigned to the other hypotheses stay in the same ratios), but where the Brier rule says that things have become epistemically worse. Along the way to this ‘elimination experiment’ counter-example to the Brier rule as a measure of epistemic utility, we identify several useful monotonicity principles for epistemic betterness. We also reply to several potential objections to this counter-example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-590
Number of pages15
JournalAustralasian Journal of Philosophy
Volume94
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2 2016

Keywords

  • Bayesianism
  • Brier score
  • epistemic utility
  • formal epistemology
  • law of likelihoods
  • proper scoring rules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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