Direct Inference, Reichenbach's Principle, and the Sleeping Beauty Problem

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Abstract

A group of philosophers led by the late John Pollock has applied a method of reasoning about probability, known as direct inference and governed by a constraint known as Reichenbach's principle, to argue in support of 'thirdism' concerning the Sleeping Beauty Problem. A subsequent debate has ensued about whether their argument constitutes a legitimate application of direct inference. Here I defend the argument against two extant objections charging illegitimacy. One objection can be overcome via a natural and plausible definition, given here, of the binary relation 'logically stronger than' between two properties that can obtain even when the respective properties differ from one another in 'arity'; given this definition, the Pollock group's argument conforms to Reichenbach's principle. Another objection prompts a certain refinement of Reichenbach's principle that is independently well-motivated. My defense of the Pollock group's argument has epistemological import beyond the Sleeping Beauty problem, because it both widens and sharpens the applicability of direct inference as a method for inferring single-case epistemic probabilities on the basis of general information of a probabilistic or statistical nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-653
Number of pages14
JournalEpisteme
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 11 2021

Keywords

  • direct inference
  • probability
  • Reichenbach's principle
  • Sleeping Beauty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science

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