Friday, October 26, 2007

Degrees of Confidence in Belief

I've come to believe that it is important to state your degree of confidence, or at least be aware of it, in any assertions you make. The reason is that there are many things of which we are uncertain, and that fact itself has a lot of implications.
Here's an example I've found myself running into a lot: given the existence of a market failure, you can implement a government solutions or allow the market to provide a solution. Both solutions are not sure to succeed. If we're not completely confident in either approach working, what can we do? I think the answer is to first weigh your confidence in both outcomes, and which ever you think is more likely to succeed, you choose. (This example is actually more complicated, because government intervention tends to creates certain institutions which has effects outside of the issue at hand.)
I think this point is pretty obvious, but intellectual discourse, especially in philosophy, often simply presents arguments consisting of various premises, which are assumed to be true, and a conclusion. But what if you are uncertain about what the facts are?

No comments: