Partial Belief

  • Jaakko Hintikka
  • Robert S. Cohen
  • Donald Davidson
  • Gabriël Nuchelmans
  • Wesley C. Salmon
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 104)


Hume’s account of partial belief is an extension in a quite natural way of his account of non-partial belief.1 Partial belief is a consequence, on his view, of the mind’s capacity to divide its force equally among distinct alternatives. This is most simply applicable to conditional partial beliefs, of the form ’B will be consequent upon A’. The strength of such a belief will, he says, be m/k just when:
  1. (i)

    The lively conception (belief in A) is followed in the mind by the lively conceptions of some distinct C1,. . .,Ck.

  2. (ii)

    Just m of these cases are seen to be B. Hume’s account assumes the principle of indifference. The alternatives in which B obtains are supposed to contribute equally to the strength of the belief in B. It is quite clear that this account is intended to be probabilistic, that is to conform to the laws.

  3. (iii)

    If B is a necessary consequence of A, then the strength of belief in B given A is 1.

  4. (iv)

    If B1 and B2 are incompatible in the presence of A, then (assuming conditional belief is defined in B1 given A and in B2 given A) the strength of belief in B1 or B2 given A is the sum of the strength of the beliefs in B1 given A and in B2 given A.



Probability Judgment Propositional Theory Conditional Belief Mentalistic Account Partial Belief 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaakko Hintikka
    • 1
  • Robert S. Cohen
    • 2
  • Donald Davidson
    • 3
  • Gabriël Nuchelmans
    • 4
  • Wesley C. Salmon
    • 5
  1. 1.Academy of Finland and Stanford UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Boston UniversityUSA
  3. 3.University of ChicagoUSA
  4. 4.University of LeydenUSA
  5. 5.University of ArizonaUSA

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