On having no reason: Dogmatism and Bayesian confirmation

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14 Scopus citations


Recently in epistemology a number of authors have mounted Bayesian objections to dogmatism. These objections depend on a Bayesian principle of evidential confirmation: Evidence E confirms hypothesis H just in case Pr(H{pipe}E) > Pr(H). I argue using Keynes' and Knight's distinction between risk and uncertainty that the Bayesian principle fails to accommodate the intuitive notion of having no reason to believe. Consider as an example an unfamiliar card game: at first, since you're unfamiliar with the game, you assign credences based on the indifference principle. Later you learn how the game works and discover that the odds dictate you assign the very same credences. Examples like this show that if you initially have no reason to believe H, then intuitively E can give you reason to believe H even though Pr(H{pipe}E) ≤ Pr(H). I show that without the principle, the objections to dogmatism fail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesianism
  • Confirmation
  • Dogmatism
  • Epistemology
  • Evidence
  • Foundationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences(all)


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