Updating, Undermining, & Independence

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 2015, 66(1): 121–59

Sometimes appearances provide epistemic support that gets undercut later. In an earlier paper I argued that standard Bayesian update rules are at odds with this phenomenon because they are “rigid”. Here I generalize and bolster that argument. I first show that the update rules of Dempster–Shafer theory and ranking theory are rigid too, hence also at odds with the defeasibility of appearances. I then rebut three Bayesian attempts to solve the problem. I conclude that defeasible appearances pose a more difficult and pervasive challenge for formal epistemology than is currently thought.