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Full Belief and Probability: Comments on Van Fraassen

William Harpera1 and Alan Hajeka2

a1 University of Westen Ontario

a2 California Institute of Technology

As van Fraassen pointed out in his opening remarks, Henry Kyburg's lottery paradox has long been known to raise difficulties in attempts to represent full belief as a probability greater than or equal to p, where p is some number less than 1. Recently, Patrick Maher has pointed out that to identify full belief with probability equal to 1 presents similar difficulties. In his paper, van Fraassen investigates ways of representing full belief by personal probability which avoid the difficulties raised by Maher's measure-theoretic version of the lottery paradox. Van Fraassen's more subtle representation dissolves the simple identification of full belief with maximal personal probability. His investigation exploits the richer resources for representing opinion provided by taking conditional, rather than unconditional, personal probability as fundamental. It has interesting implications for equivalent alternative approaches based on non-Archimedean probability, as well as for equivalent approaches in which assumption contexts representing full belief relative to suppositions are taken as fundamental.