I’m heading to the Gold Coast December 7-9 for Bayes on the Beach
Can coherence solve prior probabilities for Bayesianism?
Coherence between propositions promises to fix the vexing circumstance of prior probabilities for subjective Bayesians. This paper examines the role of coherence as a source of justification for Bayesian agents, particularly the argument that all propositions must cohere within an agent’s ‘web of belief’, aka confirmational holism. Unfortunately, Confirmational holism runs across a potentially devastating argument that a more coherent set of beliefs resulting from the addition of a belief to a less coherent set of beliefs is less likely to be true than the less coherent set of beliefs. In response, I propose confirmational chorism (CC) to avoid this troubling outcome. CC posits that coherence adds epistemic justification by limited, logically consistent sets of beliefs exhibiting a satisficing degree of strength, inferential and explanatory connection. Limited coherence may resolve the above argument, but raises the need for another kind of justification: coordination (integration across sets of beliefs). Belief coordination requires suppressing some beliefs and communicating other beliefs to ensure convergence on the right action for performance success. Thus, a Bayesian formed belief in any particular context is justified not just because it is reliably formed and coherent, but also because of how it is coordinated between local and holistic goals.