Character Matching and the Locke Pocket of Belief

  • Gregory WheelerEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 369)


The Lockean thesis of full belief maintains that an individual believes a proposition just when he has a high enough level of confidence. The trouble with the Lockean thesis, according to probabilists like Richard Jeffrey, is that it licenses throwing away perfectly good information. Some proponents of the Lockean thesis—call them Harmonious Lockeans—maintain that reconciling qualitative and quantitative belief will need to occur on Jeffrey’s terms. To this end, Scott Sturgeon has advanced a normative principle for Harmonious Lockeanism called Character Matching, which this essay criticizes through means of a counterexample and, with the help of a model of Henry Kyburg’s, an alternative model for Harmonious Lockean belief that turns the Principle of Character Matching inside out. The upshot is that the character of evidence provides no corresponding normative constraint on the character of belief. A further consequence is that the disposition to fully believe, while dependent on a subject’s practical interests, does not depend upon the total magnitude of the stake put at risk.


Full belief Probabilism Character matching Practical interests Risk 



This work was supported by award LogiCCC/0001/2007 from the European Science Foundation. A version of this paper was presented at the 2010 APA Pacific Division Meeting in San Francisco. Thanks to Franck Lihoreau, Jonathan Weisberg and Sarah Wright for their comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Munich Center for Mathematical PhilosophyLMU MunichMünchenGermany

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