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    James is polite and punctual (and useless): a Bayesian formalisation of faint praise

    Harris, A.J.L. and Corner, A.J. and Hahn, Ulrike (2013) James is polite and punctual (and useless): a Bayesian formalisation of faint praise. Thinking & Reasoning 19 (3-4), pp. 414-429. ISSN 1354-6783.

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    “Damned by faint praise” is the phenomenon whereby weak positive information leads to a negative change in belief. This seemingly conflicts with normative Bayesian predictions, which prescribe that positive information should only exert a positive change in belief. We argue that the negative belief change is due to an inference from critical missing evidence; that is, an implicit argument from ignorance. Such an inference is readily incorporated within a version of Bayes’ theorem incorporating the concept of epistemic closure. This reformalisation provides a general theoretical framework for the phenomenon that clearly outlines those conditions under which it should be observed, and its conceptual relationship with other argumentation phenomena.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): belief revision, Bayesian probability, argumentation, persuasion, testimony, pragmatics
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Birkbeck Knowledge Lab
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2015 08:43
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:16


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