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Commutativity, Normativity, and Holism: Lange Revisited

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2019

Lisa Cassell*
Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA


Lange (2000) famously argues that although Jeffrey Conditionalization is non-commutative over evidence, it’s not defective in virtue of this feature. Since reversing the order of the evidence in a sequence of updates that don’t commute does not reverse the order of the experiences that underwrite these revisions, the conditions required to generate commutativity failure at the level of experience will fail to hold in cases where we get commutativity failure at the level of evidence. If our interest in commutativity is, fundamentally, an interest in the order-invariance of information, an updating sequence that does not violate such a principle at the more fundamental level of experiential information should not be deemed defective. This paper claims that Lange’s argument fails as a general defense of the Jeffrey framework. Lange’s argument entails that the inputs to the Jeffrey framework differ from those of classical Bayesian Conditionalization in a way that makes them defective. Therefore, either the Jeffrey framework is defective in virtue of not commuting its inputs, or else it is defective in virtue of commuting the wrong kinds of ones.

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Canadian Journal of Philosophy

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