Description and the Problem of Priors

Citation data:

Erkenntins, Vol: 79, Issue: 6, Page: 1343-1353

Publication Year:
Usage 75
Downloads 75
Social Media 2
Tweets 2
Repository URL:
Barrett, Jeffrey A.
Most Recent Tweet View All Tweets
article description
Belief-revision models of knowledge describe how to update one's degrees of belief associated with hypotheses as one considers new evidence, but they typically do not say how probabilities become associated with meaningful hypotheses in the frst place. Here we consider a variety of Skyrms-Lewis signaling game [Lewis (1969)] [Skyrms (2010)] where simple descriptive language and predictive practice and associated basic expectations coevolve. Rather than assigning prior probabilities to hypotheses in a fxed language then conditioning on new evidence, the agents begin with no meaningful language or expectations then evolve to have expectations conditional on their descriptions as they evolve to have meaningful descriptions for the purpose of successful prediction. The model, then, provides a simple but concrete example of how the process of evolving a descriptive language suitable for inquiry might also provide agents with conditional expectations that reflect the type and degree of predictive success in fact afforded by their evolved predictive practice. This illustrates one way in which the traditional problem priors may simply fail to apply to one's model of evolving inquiry.