Attitudes toward epistemic risk and the value of experiments

Don Fallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Several different Bayesian models of epistemic utilities (see, e.g., [37], [24], [40], [46]) have been used to explain why it is rational for scientists to perform experiments. In this paper, I argue that a model-suggested independently by Patrick Maher [40] and Graham Oddie [46]-that assigns epistemic utility to degrees of belief in hypotheses provides the most comprehensive explanation. This is because this proper scoring rule (PSR) model captures a wider range of scientifically acceptable attitudes toward epistemic risk than the other Bayesian models that have been proposed. I also argue, however, that even the PSR model places unreasonably tight restrictions on a scientist's attitude toward epistemic risk. As a result, such Bayesian models of epistemic utilities fail as normative accounts-not just as descriptive accounts (see, e.g., [31], [14])-of scientific inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-246
Number of pages32
JournalStudia Logica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Bayesianism
  • Categorical belief
  • Degrees of belief
  • Epistemic risk
  • Epistemic utility
  • Proper scoring rule
  • Scientific experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Logic
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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