Self-location and Causal Context

in Grazer Philosophische Studien
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The paper proposes a novel principle of rational self-locating belief that refers to the epistemic agent’s causal context. The principle is motivated and applied to some of the most-discussed problems of self-locating belief including the Doomsday Argument, the Serpent’s Advice scenario, the Presumptuous Philosopher problem, the Sleeping Beauty problem, and the problem of confirmation in the Everett interpretation. It is shown to yield plausible verdicts in all these cases.

Self-location and Causal Context

in Grazer Philosophische Studien



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  • 2

     See however Olum (2002) for a defence of the sia against the presumptuous philosopher challenge and Bostrom and Ćirković (2003) for a (to my mind convincing) rebuttal. Leitgeb (2010) offers an illuminating alternative version of the Presumptuous Philosopher scenario that compares hypotheses which differ on the number of observers by virtue of differing on the temporal extent of the universe (more specifically on the number of expansion/contraction processes that the universe goes through).

  • 3

     See for instance Bradley (2011) for good reasons not to abandon Bayesian conditionalisation in self-locating contexts.

  • 9

     See Kierland and Monton (2005) for supporting considerations using two competing criteria of expected inaccuracy that the temporal and the fission versions might best be assessed differently and Wilson (2014) for support based on principled considerations about the relation between chance and rational credence. Some diachronic approaches (Meacham 2010 Schwarz 2012 2015) arrive at the conclusion that the temporal and fission versions require different treatments along entirely independent lines.

  • 12

    According to Vaidman 1998this is an instance of the more general basic (not further justifiable) Everettian principle that rational credences should be assigned in conformity with the Born weights conceived of as measures of existence. According to Wallace 2012 (Part ii in particular) in contrast decision-theoretic considerations can be used to provide deeper justifications of this use of the Born weights.

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