Branden Fitelson

Branden Fitelson
Northeastern University | NEU · Department of Philosophy and Religion

PhD

About

96
Publications
14,062
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1,949
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Introduction
Before teaching at Northeastern, LMU, and UvA, Branden held teaching positions at Rutgers, UC-Berkeley, San José State, and Stanford. Branden got his MA & PhD in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. Before entering philosophy, Branden studied math & physics at Wisconsin, and he worked as a research scientist at Argonne National Lab and a NASA contractor.
Additional affiliations
June 2014 - present
University of Amsterdam
Position
  • Professor
July 2013 - March 2016
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Position
  • Professor
April 2013 - present
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Position
  • Professor
Education
September 1992 - May 1997
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Field of study
  • Philosophy
September 1992 - May 2001
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Field of study
  • Philosophy
September 1988 - May 1992
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Field of study
  • Mathematics & Physics

Publications

Publications (96)
Research
Full-text available
In this paper we compare and contrast AGM revision and naive Bayesian (EUT) revision.
Article
The primary purpose of this paper is to shed light on the structure of four varieties of normative theories of supposition by systematically explicating the relationships between canonical representatives of each. These include qualitative and quantitative theories of indicative and subjunctive supposition. We approach this project by treating supp...
Presentation
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In this talk, I will try to home in on conceptions of truth/ought which make the title of the talk unsatisfiable (by any p, S). This will involve looking at different putative examples which have been claimed to satisfy (some precisification of) the talk's title. Some of these are easily dismissed, as they clearly involve moral, pragmatic, or subje...
Article
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In this paper, I review some recent treatments of Simpson's Paradox, and I propose a new rationalizing explanation of its (apparent) paradoxicality.
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Charles Stein discovered a paradox in 1955 that many statisticians think is of fundamental importance. Here we explore its philosophical implications. We outline the nature of Stein’s result and of subsequent work on shrinkage estimators; then we describe how these results are related to Bayesianism and to model selection criteria like AIC. We also...
Research
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In this note, I solve the open problems given in Slaney's (2002) reply to our 2001 paper on distributivity in sentential logics.
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In this discussion note, we explain how to relax some of the standard assumptions made in Garber-style solutions to the Problem of Old Evidence. The result is a more general and explanatory Bayesian approach. © 2015 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.
Research
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In this talk, I examine the recent dialectic in analytic epistemology surrounding the question in the title.
Research
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A new talk on EEE principles and their discontents.
Research
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Charles Stein discovered a paradox in 1955 that many statisticians think is of fundamental importance. Here we explore its philosophical implications. We outline the nature of Stein’s result and of subsequent work on shrinkage estimators; then we describe how these results are related to Bayesianism and to model selection criteria like the Akaike I...
Article
The strongest possible Lewisian triviality result for the indicative conditional is proven.
Research
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We present a new way of applying Garber's strategy for handling the old evidence problem.
Research
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My take on the recent dialectic concerning counter-closure and inferential knowledge.
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Taking Joyce's (1998; 2009) recent argument(s) for probabilism as our point of departure, we propose a new way of grounding formal, synchronic, epistemic coherence requirements for (opinionated) full belief. Our approach yields principled alternatives to deductive consistency, sheds new light on the preface and lottery paradoxes, and reveals novel...
Article
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In this paper, we compare and contrast two methods for revising qualitative (viz., " full ") beliefs. The first method is a naïve Bayesian one, which operates via conditionalization and the minimization of expected inaccuracy. The second method is the AGM approach to belief revision. Our aim here is to provide the most straightforward explanation o...
Article
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According to orthodox (Kolmogorovian) probability theory, conditional probabilities are by definition certain ratios of unconditional probabilities. As a result, orthodox conditional probabilities are regarded as undefined whenever their antecedents have zero unconditional probability. This has important ramifications for the notion of probabilisti...
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This special issue of Erkenntnis collects a selection of papers from participants of the 9th Formal Epistemology Workshop (FEW), held at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, May 29–June 1, 2012. We would like to express our gratitude to all the people who contributed in making the workshop a great event on all accounts: Hannes Leitgeb, al...
Article
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1 Background: Gibbard's (Informal) Argument Gibbard [2] presents an argument to the effect that any conditional satisfying certain principles must be equivalent to the material (viz., classical) conditional. Here is one rendition of Gibbard's (informal) argument. Let be the classical material conditional, and let be the indicative conditional. Supp...
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Paradoxes of individual coherence (e.g., the preface paradox) and group coher-ence (e.g., the doctrinal paradox) typically presuppose that deductive consistency is a coherence requirement for both individual and group judgment. In this paper, we introduce a new coherence requirement for (individual) full belief, and we explain how this new approach...
Article
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Bayesianism provides a rich theoretical framework, which lends itself rather naturally to the explication of various "contrastive" and "non-contrastive" concepts. In this (brief) discussion, I will focus on issues involving "contrastivism", as they arise in some of the recent philosophy of science, epistemology, and cog-nitive science literature su...
Article
Joyce () argues that for any credence function that doesn't satisfy the probability axioms, there is another function that dominates it in terms of accuracy. But if some potential credence functions are ruled out as violations of the Principal Principle, then some non-probabilistic credence functions fail to be dominated. We argue that to fix Joyce...
Article
Bayesian orthodoxy posits a tight relationship between conditional probability and updating. Namely, the probability of an event A after learning B should equal the conditional probability of A given B prior to learning B. We examine whether ordinary judgment conforms to the orthodox view. In three experiments we found substantial differences betwe...
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In this note, we show that classical statistical tests for randomness are language dependent.
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In this article, I explain how a variant of David Miller's argument concerning the language dependence of the accuracy of predictions can be applied to Joyce's notion of the accuracy of "estimates of numerical truth-values" (i.e., Joycean credences). This leads to a potential problem for Joyce's accuracy-dominance-based argument for the conclusion...
Article
In Chapter 1 of Evidence and Evolution, Sober (2008) defends a Likelihodist account of favouring. The main tenet of Likelihoodism is the so-called Law of Likelihood. In this note, I explain why the Law of Likelihood fails to undergrid an adequate explication of favoring.
Article
The (recent, Bayesian) cognitive science literature on the Wason Task (WT) has been modeled largely after the (not-so-recent, Bayesian) philosophy of science literature on the Paradox of Confirmation (POC). In this paper, I try to apply some insights from more recent Bayesian approaches to the (POC) to anal- ogous models of (WT). This involves, fir...
Article
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Branden Fitelson Evidence of evidence is not (necessarily) evidence 1 3 Naïve (EEE) Principles Other Notions of "Support"? Intended Applications Reflections References Richard Feldman [3, 4] has been defending a principle whose slogan is: "evidence of evidence is evidence." More precisely, initially, the principle was articulated as "evidence that...
Article
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In Thinking and Acting John Pollock offers some criticisms of Bayesian epistemology, and he defends an alternative understanding of the role of probability in epistemology. Here, I defend the Bayesian against some of Pollock's criticisms, and I discuss a potential problem for Pollock's alternative account. KeywordsPollock–Probability–Logic–Bayesia...
Chapter
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The Paradox of the Ravens (aka, The Paradox of Confirmation) is indeed an old chestnut. A great many things have been written and said about this paradox and its implications for the logic of evidential support. The first part of this paper will provide a brief survey of the early history of the paradox. This will include the original formulation o...
Article
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A number of theories of causation posit that causes raise the probability of their effects. This chapter surveys a number of proposals for analysing causal strength in terms of probabilities. The chapter attempts to characterize just what each one measures, discuss the relationships between the measures, and discuss a number of properties of each m...
Article
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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 pro...
Article
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First, a brief historical trace of the developments in confirmation theory leading up to Goodman’s infamous “grue” paradox is presented. Then, Goodman’s argument is analyzed from both Hempelian and Bayesian perspectives. A guiding analogy is drawn between certain arguments against classical deductive logic, and Goodman’s “grue” argument against cla...
Article
The early twentieth century witnessed a shift in the way philosophers of science thought about traditional ‘problems of induction’. Keynes championed the idea that Hume's Problem was not a problem about causation (which had been the traditional reading of Hume) but rather a problem about induction. Moreover, Keynes (and later Nicod) viewed such pro...
Article
In applying Bayes’s theorem to the history of science, Bayesians sometimes assume – often without argument – that they can safely ignore very implausible theories. This assumption is false, both in that it can seriously distort the history of science as well as the mathematics and the applicability of Bayes’s theorem. There are intuitively very pla...
Article
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A decision procedure (PrSAT) for classical (Kolmogorov) probability calculus is presented. This decision procedure is based on an existing decision procedure for the theory of real closed fields, which has recently been implemented in Mathematica. A Mathematica implementation of PrSAT is also described, along with several applications to various no...
Article
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The “conjunction fallacy” has been a key topic in discussions and debates on the rationality of human reasoning and its limitations. Yet the attempt of providing a satisfactory account of the phenomenon has proven challenging. Here we propose a new analysis. We suggest that in standard conjunction problems the fallacious probability judgments exper...
Chapter
The Cutting EdgeAutomated Reasoning, Principles and ElementsSignificant SuccessesMyths, Mechanization, and Mystique
Article
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In applying Bayes's theorem to the history of science, Bayesians sometimes assume – often without argument – that they can safely ignore very implausible theories. This assump-tion is false, both in that it can seriously distort the history of sci-ence as well as the mathematics and the applicability of Bayes's theorem. There are intuitively very p...
Article
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Likelihoodists and Bayesians seem to have a fundamental disagreement about the proper probabilistic explication of relational (or contrastive) conceptions of evidential support (or confirmation). In this paper, I will survey some recent arguments and results in this area, with an eye toward pinpointing the nexus of the dispute. This will lead, firs...
Article
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By and large, we think (Strevens's [2005]) is a useful reply to our original critique (Fitelson and Waterman [2005]) of his article on the Quine–Duhem (QD) problem (Strevens [2001]). But, we remain unsatisfied with several aspects of his reply (and his original article). Ultimately, we do not think he properly addresses our most important worries....
Article
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In this paper, the authors describe their initial investigations in computational metaphysics. Our method is to implement axiomatic metaphysics in an automated reasoning system. In this paper, we describe what we have discovered when the theory of abstract objects is implemented in prover9 (a first-order automated reasoning system which is the succ...
Article
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Carnap's inductive logic (or confirmation) project is revisited from an "in- crease in firmness" (or probabilistic relevance) point of view. It is argued that Carnap's main desiderata can be satisfied in this setting, without the need for a theory of "logical probability". The emphasis here will be on ex- plaining how Carnap's epistemological desid...
Article
Hempel first introduced the paradox of confirmation in 1937. Since then, a very extensive literature on the paradox has evolved (Vranas 2004). Much of this literature can be seen as responding to Hempel's subsequent discussions and analyses of the paradox (Hempel 1945). Recently, it was noted that Hempel's intuitive (and plausible) resolution of th...
Article
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Michael Strevens ([2001]) has proposed an interesting and novel Bayesian analysis of the Quine-Duhem (Q-D) problem (i.e., the problem of auxiliary hypotheses). Strevens's analysis involves the use of a simplifying idealization concerning the original Q-D problem. We will show that this idealization is far stronger than it might appear. Indeed, we a...
Article
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Naive deductivist accounts of confirmation have the undesirable consequence that if E confirms H, then E also confirms the conjunction H7X, for any X—even if X is completely irrelevant to E and H. Bayesian accounts of confirmation may appear to have the same problem. In a recent article in this journal Fitelson (2002) argued that existing Bayesian...
Article
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In Bayes or Bust? John Earman quickly dismisses a possible resolution (or avoidance) of the problem of old evidence. In this note, I argue that his dismissal is premature, and that the proposed resolution (when charitably reconstructed) is reasonable. †Thanks to Stephan Hartmann and Hannes Leitgeb for useful comments on previous drafts of this pape...
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In these brief remarks, I try to bolster Jim Franklin's discussion about the contextuality of Bayesian probability by describing examples illustrating the contextuality of non-Bayesian probability. The moral is that all kinds of probabilities are contextual.
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With the inclusion of an effective methodology, this article answers in detail a question that, for a quarter of a century, remained open despite intense study byvarious researchers. Is the formula XCB = e(x# e(e(e(x# y)#e(z#y))#z)) a single axiom for the classical equivalential calculus when the rules of inference consist of detachment(modus ponen...
Article
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It has long been an open question whether the formula XCB = EpEEEpqErqr is, with the rules of substitution and detachment, a single axiom for the classical equivalential calculus. This paper answers that question affirmatively, thus completing a search for all such eleven-symbol single axioms that began seventy years ago.
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In 'Corroborating Testimony, Probability and Surprise', Erik J. Olsson ascribes to L. Jonathan Cohen the claims that if two witnesses provide us with the same information, then the less probable the information is, the more confident we may be that the information is true (C), and the stronger the information is corroborated (C*). We question wheth...
Article
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Naive deductive accounts of confirmation have the undesirable consequence that if E confirms H, then E also confirms the conjunction H & X, for any X - even if X is utterly irrelevant to H (and E). Bayesian accounts of confirmation also have this property (in the case of deductive evidence). Several Bayesians have attempted to soften the impact of...
Article
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Contemporary Bayesian confirmation theorists measure degree of confirmation using a variety of non-equivalent relevance measures. As a result, a great many of the arguments surrounding quantitative Bayesian confirmation theory are implicitly sensitive to choice of measure of confirmation. Strictly speaking, such arguments are enthymematic, since th...
Article
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Shortest possible axiomatizations for the implicational fragments of the modal logics S4 and S5 are reported. Among these axiomatizations is included a shortest single axiom for implicational S4 (which is unprecedented in the literature), and several new shortest single axioms for implicational S5. A variety of automated reasoning techniques were e...
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Several forms of symmetry in degrees of evidential support areconsidered. Some of these symmetries are shown not to hold in general. This has implications for the adequacy of many measures of degree ofevidential support that have been proposed and defended in the philosophical literature.
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We present short single equational axioms for Boolean algebra in terms of disjunction and negation and in terms of the Sheffer stroke. Previously known single axioms for these theories are much longer than the ones we present. We show that there is no shorter axiom in terms of the Sheffer stroke than the ones we present. Automated deduction techniq...
Article
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A Bayesian account of independent evidential support is outlined. This account is partly inspired by the work of C. S. Peirce. I show that a large class of quantitative Bayesian measures of confirmation satisfy some basic desiderata suggested by Peirce for adequate accounts of independent evidence. I argue that, by considering further natural const...
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This article features long-sought proofs with intriguing properties (such as the absence of double negation and the avoidance of lemmas that appeared to be indispensable), and it features the automated methods for finding them. The theorems of concern are taken from various areas of logic that include two-valued sentential (or propositional) calcul...
Article
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Certain distributivity results for Łukasiewicz's infinite-valued logic Łℵ0 are proved axiomatically (for the first time) with the help of the automated reasoning program OTTER. In addition, non distributivity results are established for a wide variety of positive substructural logics by the use of logical matrices discovered with the automated mode...
Article
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Urquhart and Mndez and Salto claim to establish completeness theorems for the system C and two of its negation extensions. In this note, we do the following three things: (1) provide a counterexample to all of these alleged completeness theorems, (2) attempt to diagnose the mistakes in the reported completeness proofs, and (3) provide complete axio...
Article
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A new axiomatization for the implicational fragment of Dunn's system RM is given. The new axiomatization is considerably more concise than the axiomatization that was previously known. Specifically, we show that the two axioms CCpCpqCpq and CCCCCpqqprCCCCCqppqrr may be replaced with either CCCpCCCqprqrr or CCCCCpqrCqprr. Because the implicational f...
Article
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Abstract According to Bayesian confirmation theory, evidence E (incrementally) confirms (or supports) a hypothesis H (roughly) just in case E and H are positively prob- abilistically correlated (under an appropriate probability function Pr). There are many logically equivalent ways of saying that E and H are correlated under Pr. Surprisingly, this...
Article
Full-text available
A new axiomatization for the implicational fragment of Dunn's system RM is given. The new axiomatization is considerably more concise than the axioma-tization that was previously known. Specifically, we show that the two axioms CCpCpqCpq and CCCCCpqqprCCCCCqppqrr may be replaced with either CC-CpCCCqprqrr or CCCCCpqrCqprr. Because the implicational...
Conference Paper
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This article provides evidence for the arrival of automated reasoning. Indeed, one of its primary goals of the early 1960s has been reached: The use of an automated reasoning program frequently leads to significant contributions to mathematics and to logic. In addition, although not clearly an original objective, the use of such a program now plays...
Article
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For close to a century, despite the efforts of fine minds that include Hilbert and Ackermann, Lukasiewicz, and Rose and Rosser, various proofs of a number of significant theorems have remained missing---at least not reported in the literature---amply demonstrating the depth of the corresponding problems. The types of such missing proofs are indeed...
Article
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A search of the seminal papers and significant books devoted to the study of various types of logic reveals that many proofs are missing. Indeed, if one seeks an axiomatic proof (of the type that Hilbert enjoyed) relying solely on, say, condensed detachment, in many cases one finds that none is offered by the literature. In part prompted by this di...
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ears on this highly charged topic. In what follows, we will show that Dembski's account of design inference is deeply flawed. Sometimes he is too hard on hypotheses of intelligent design; at other times he is too lenient. Neither creationists nor evolutionists nor people who are trying to detect design in nontheological contexts should adopt Dembsk...
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Critique de l'ouvrage de W. A. Dembsky intitule «L'inference du dessein» (198) qui examine les contextes non-theologiques de l'argument philosophique du dessein. L'A. rejette la methode epistemologique de Dembsky, fondee sur la hasard et la probabilite, qui ne rend pas compte de la these creationniste ni de la theorie evolutionniste de l'univers.
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In Chapter 12 of Warrant and Proper Function, Alvin Plantinga constructs two arguments against evolutionary naturalism, which he construes as a conjunction E&N. The hypothesis E says that “human cognitive faculties arose by way of the mechanisms to which contemporary evolutionary thought directs our attention” (p. 220). With respect to proposition...
Article
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In a recent article, Wayne (1995) offers a critique of Horwich's (1982) Bayesian explication of the confirmational significance of evidential diversity. Presently, I argue that Wayne's reconstruction of Horwich's account is not faithful to Horwich's original presentation. Because Wayne's reconstruction is uncharitable, his criticisms turn out to be...
Article
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1 Popper's Qualitative Definition of Verisimilitude Popper [3] offers a qualitative definition of the relation "p q" = "p is (strictly) closer to the truth than (i.e., strictly more verisimilar than) q", using the notions of truth (in the actual world) and classical logical consequence (as follows: Definition. p q if and only if the following three...
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Various formulations of (and various objections to) the Principle of Indifference (PI) have been floated over the years. This note has a negative part and a positive part. In the negative part, it is argued that one "classical" rendition of (PI) rests on a mistaken explication of "evidence E favors hypothesis H 1 over hypothesis H 2 ." In the posit...
Article
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Here is a (naïve) "reductio" of classical deductive logic: (1) For all sets of statements X and all statements p, if X is inconsistent, then p is a logical consequence of X. (2) If an agent S's belief set B entails p (and S knows B p), then it would be reasonable for S to infer/believe p. (3) Even if S knows their belief set B is inconsistent (and,...