Believing the unlikely

We often want to know how likely something is. There seems to be close link between likelihood and belief – if something is likely, you would be justified in believing it, and if something is
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We often want to know how likely something is. I might want to know how likely it is that it will rain tomorrow morning; according to the Met Office website, at time of writing, this is 90% likely. If I’m playing poker, I might want to know how likely it is that my opponent has been dealt a “high card” hand. With no other information available, we can calculate the probability of this to be about 50%. There seems to be close link between likelihood and belief; if something is likely, you would be justified in believing it, and if something is unlikely, you would not be justified in believing it. That might seem obvious, and the second part might seem especially obvious – surely you can’t be justified in believing something that’s unlikely to be true? I will suggest here that, sometimes, you can. Some philosophers and psychologists have argued that it can sometimes be a good thing for people to hold irrational beliefs. That may be right, but it’s not the point I want to make. I think. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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