Dr. Paul Thorn (Univ. Düsseldorf): Inheritance Inference from an Ecological Perspective

Date / Time:
15.01.19   /  18:30 - 20:00

Institut für Theoretische Philosophie

24.53.01 Raum 81



In this talk, I present results from a simulation-based study of inheritance inference. The study aims to ascertain which kinds of inheritance inferences are reliable, with attention to variations in reliability that are contingent upon the type of environment in which inferences are made. For example, the study addresses whether inheritance inference is reliable in the case of ‘exceptional subclasses’, and attends to variations in reliability that result from variations in the entropy level of the environment. A further goal of the study is to show that the reliability of inheritance inference depends crucially upon the criteria that are used in select-ing the classes that serve as the basis for inheritance inference. One approach to inheritance inference proceeds by treating any atomic property as determining an admissible class. A second approach identifies classes with the cells of a partition (of size k) of the domain of objects that maximizes the similarity of objects that are assigned to the same class. In addition to permitting more inferences, our study shows that the second approach results in inferences that are far more reliable. The difference in the performance of the two approaches is particu-larly great in the case of exceptional subclasses. 


Paul Thorn received his PhD at the University of Arizona in 2007. Since 2009, he has been a research fellow at the Chair of Theoretical Philosophy at HHU Duesseldorf. Paul’s main research interests are in Formal Epistemology, including the topics of rational probability judgment and the problem of induction. He has been an author or co-author of more than 20 peer reviewed articles, including articles in the Journal of Philosophical Logic, Analysis, Synthese, Erkenntnis, Minds and Machines, Philosophia, Theoria, Studia Logica, and the Review of Symbolic Logic.


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