Research Article

What is the “Equal Weight View”?

David Jehle and Branden Fitelson*


In this paper, we investigate various possible (Bayesian) precisifications of the (somewhat vague) statements of “the equal weight view” (EWV) that have appeared in the recent literature on disagreement. We will show that the renditions of (EWV) that immediately suggest themselves are untenable from a Bayesian point of view. In the end, we will propose some tenable (but not necessarily desirable) interpretations of (EWV). Our aim here will not be to defend any particular Bayesian precisification of (EWV), but rather to raise awareness about some of the difficulties inherent in formulating such precisifications.

David Jehle completed his Ph.D. at Cornell University in January 2009. In his dissertation, he proved various results in Bayesian confirmation theory and applied those results to issues in contemporary epistemology, political science, and legaltheory. He is currently seeking employment in law enforcement.

Branden Fitelson is an Associate Professor in the philosophy department at UC-Berkeley. He also is a member of the Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science and the Cognitive Science Core Faculty at Berkeley. Branden has held non-teaching positions at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and (more recently) at Argonne National Laboratory. Before joining the philosophy department at Berkeley, Branden held teaching positions (in Philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, and San Jose State University. His current research interests include the philosophical foundations of induction and probability, automated reasoning (what used to be called automated theorem proving), and the psychology of inference.


* We thank the participants of the Sixth Annual Episteme Conference (especially Tomas Bogardus, Fabrizio Cariani, David Christensen, Stew Cohen, and Rich Feldman) for useful feedback on an earlier version of this paper.