Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Curve Fitting!

Gordon Belot

Professor of Philosophy

University of Michigan


  • Location: Fowler 202
  • Time: 5:30 PM - 7:15 PM
  • Sponsor: Philosophy

Some philosophers maintain that rational disagreement is impossible: that two people faced with exactly the same evidence should have exactly the same beliefs. We will consider some arguments that have been given in support of this view These are variations on the following thought: if there can be different rational responses to the same body of evidence, then two jurors could reach opposite views about the guilt of a defendant without either being irrational---but then why should I vote to find the defendant guilty if I recognize that it would also be rational to find the defendant innocent?

We will also consider an objection to this approach. If there is a unique rational response to each body of evidence, then there must exist an optimal inductive method. But one can show that there can be no optimal methods for certain problems that provide idealized models of scientific inquiry. Finally, we will evaluate the damage done by this objection.