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Web of Belief. Forming New Beliefs. Immediate observations. Inferred beliefs “Hypotheses” Conjectures that go beyond observations. What makes for a good conjecture? Six “Virtues” of hypotheses. Choosing a College. “Virtues” of colleges. What you are looking for in a college.

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Presentation Transcript
forming new beliefs
Forming New Beliefs
  • Immediate observations.
  • Inferred beliefs
  • “Hypotheses”
  • Conjectures that go beyond observations.
  • What makes for a good conjecture?
  • Six “Virtues” of hypotheses.
choosing a college
Choosing a College
  • “Virtues” of colleges.
  • What you are looking for in a college.
choosing a college4
Choosing a College
  • Inexpensive, good academic reputation, right major/variety of majors, good sports teams, beautiful campus, good location, friendly environment, right size, interesting social scene, etc.
  • Can you “have it all”?
  • Probably not!
choosing a college5
Choosing a College
  • Inexpensive vs. Good academic reputation.
  • Friendly environment vs. large variety of majors?
  • Right size vs. good location?
  • Trade-offs
  • Most virtues, or most important virtues.
choosing a college6
Choosing a College
  • Why did you end up at Virginia Tech?
forming new beliefs7
Forming New Beliefs
  • “Choosing” a spouse.
  • “Virtues” of spouses:
  • Physically attractive, intelligent, trust-worthy, fun-loving, nice, focused, spontaneous, etc.
  • Can you “have it all”?
  • Trade-offs
forming new beliefs8
Forming New Beliefs
  • “Choosing” a hypothesis:
  • What are we looking for in a hypothesis?
  • Fits well with what we know.
  • Helps make sense of what we know.
conservatism
Conservatism

Blue is a good

hypothesis.

Green is a

questionable

hypothesis.

Pressure

Temperature

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses11
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism: Don’t deviate from

your established evidence or beliefs

unnecessarily.

modesty
Modesty

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses14
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty: Don’t get carried away

too much beyond the evidence you

have to work with.

Extrapolate carefully.

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses15
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty

Simplicity

simplicity
Simplicity

slide17

“I have no need of

that hypothesis!”

Pierre LaPlace (1749-1827)

French mathematician

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses18
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty

Simplicity: Don’t add things beyond

what’s necessary to account for the

evidence you are working with.

Interpolate carefully.

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses19
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty

Simplicity

Generality

generality
Generality

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses21
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty

Simplicity

Generality: Don’t make hypotheses

so specific that they only cover the

evidence at hand.

Avoid “ad hoc” hypotheses.

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses22
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty

Simplicity

Generality

Testability

= Refutability

testability
Testability

testability24
Testability
  • Testability is more a matter of how the hypothesis is treated by the person who holds the hypothesis.
  • Is the person willing to consider contrary evidence, or is potentially contrary evidence alwaysexplained away?
  • Article of Faith, rather than hypothesis.
testability26
Testability
  • Religion: Problem of Evil
  • Santa Claus brings us presents.
  • Horoscopes: “You can make progress if you deal with the right individuals.” “Hidden assets can be doubled if you play your cards right.”
  • Psychics: If it didn’t happen, it’s because other factors intervened.
quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses27
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty

Simplicity

Generality

Testability: Don’t be dogmatic.

Take contrary evidence seriously.

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses28
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty

Simplicity

Generality

Testability

Precision

(p. 98.)

precision
Precision

precision30
Precision
  • Horoscopes:
  • “Love can be yours if you get out today.”
  • “Observe and you will learn.”
  • “Pleasure trips will promote romance.”
quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses31
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

Conservatism

Modesty

Simplicity

Generality

Testability

Precision: Don’t be excessively vague.

quine s 6 virtues of hypotheses32
Quine’s 6 Virtues of Hypotheses

A good hypothesis is one that does

well in light of the six virtues of

hypotheses.

God exists?

All my experiences are part of a dream?

Computer-robots could think?