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Bias and Belief Part 6: Information-Gathering Behaviour

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 7 months ago

Information-Gathering Behaviour


Up: Book Index



  • Value of Information as a Scientific and Philosophical Problem
  • Two Attempts
  • Measuring Information
  • The Standard Account of the Value of Evidence
  • Information Aversion




  • Shannon’s proof uses consistency requirements to identify a mathematical measure of the information content of a proposition, just as the Cox proof mentioned in Part 1 uses consistency requirements to derive probability.


  • Bernardo showed that the ideally epistemically motivated Bernardo agent values tests of a proposition H exactly to the extent that they provide Shannonian information about H. Our ideally epistemically motivated agent with a finite number of cognitive acts provides a rough approximation to this utility function. One distinction between scientifically rational and scientifically irrational attitudes (about whether or not H) is that information about H has value for the former but not for the latter.


  • According to a well-established theorem of decision theory, information cannot have negative utility when the probabilities are act-independent.


  • In light of this theorem, the question arises of whether the human propensity to be averse to some information is explainable within descriptive Bayesianism (or indeed any intentional framework).


  • One possible way to include information aversion within descriptive Bayesianism is to invoke motivated inference; in particular, the motivated inference from receiving disconfirmatory information about H to the giving up of one’s opinion that H. If the opinion that H is motivated by a strong value bias, then the disconfirmatory information is aversive, in that the subject would greatly prefer not to receive it.


  • This provides a further distinction between scientifically rational and scientifically irrational attitudes: the latter is a necessary condition for information aversion, whereas a scientifically rational agent cannot be averse to information.


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