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The Laws of Belief: Ranking Theory and Its Philosophical Applications (Hardback)
  • The Laws of Belief: Ranking Theory and Its Philosophical Applications (Hardback)
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The Laws of Belief: Ranking Theory and Its Philosophical Applications (Hardback)

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£100.00
Hardback 616 Pages / Published: 29/03/2012
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Wolfgang Spohn presents the first full account of the dynamic laws of belief, by means of ranking theory. This book is his long-awaited presentation of ranking theory and its ramifications. He motivates and introduces the basic notion of a ranking function, which recognises degrees of belief and at the same time accounts for belief simpliciter. He provides a measurement theory for ranking functions, accounts for auto-epistemology in ranking-theoretic terms, and explicates the basic notion of a (deductive or non-deductive) reason. The rich philosophical applications of Spohn's theory include: a new account of lawlikeness, an account of ceteris paribus laws, a new perspective on dispositions, a rich and detailed theory of deterministic causation, an understanding of natural modalities as an objectification of epistemic modalities, an account of the experiential basis of belief-and thus a restructuring of the debate on foundationalism and coherentism (and externalism and contextualism)-and, finally, a revival of fundamental a priori principles of reason fathoming the basics of empiricism and the relation between reason and truth, and concluding in a proof of a weak principle of causality. All this is accompanied by thorough comparative discussions, on a general level as well as within each topic, and in particular with respect to probability theory.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199697502
Number of pages: 616
Weight: 1102 g
Dimensions: 237 x 159 x 39 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
In The Laws of Belief, Wolfgang Spohn develops ranking theory in detail and applies it to a host of philosophical problems. The book has an extraordinary sweep, taking in many areas of metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of science and even the philosophy of language. ... it is an extraordinary synthesis of decades of research and ... represents an important contribution to formal epistemology. * A. C. Paseau, Mind *
Well written and carefully edited, the book is overall a rewarding and pleasurable read. Most importantly, perhaps, Spohns work conveys not doctrines but a refined theoretical framework that invites further application. * Frank Zenker, Lund University, Sweden, The Philosophical Quarterly *
This is not just another treatise on belief; it is all one needs to know about belief, belief change, belief revision, causation, decisions and their intricate interrelationships. Spohn's ranking theory captures elegantly the dual nature of beliefs which, like probabilities, vary in degree, and change with new evidence and, like logical truths, take on 'yes' or 'no' valyes; we either believe or not in any given proposition. Despite being a comprehensive study in formal epistemology, Spohn's new book reads like a detective story, sprinkled with humor and poetry throughout. A delightful book and a must for anyone who cares about the dynamics of this illusive notion we call belief. * Judea Pearl, University of California, Los Angeles *
Wolfgang Spohn's ranking theory is an innovative and influential contributions to the formal representation of belief revision. This ambitious book sets the theory in a wider philosophical context, connecting it with more general issues in epistemology and with explanation and causal structure. It is an important book, in which fruitful new ideas are worked out rigorously and in detail. * Robert Stalnaker, Massachusetts Institute of Technology *
Spohn has produced a remarkable synthesis of diverse currents in the theory of belief, and offers a fully explicit account of Baconian probability. His book throws fresh light on belief, conditional belief, and belief dynamics; it will no doubt frame discussion of these topics for years to come. * Daniel Osherson, Princeton University *

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