Confidence as crucial for rational belief and decision

The standard, Bayesian account of rational belief and decision in terms of probability is often argued to be unable to cope properly with severe uncertainty, of the sort ubiquitous in some areas of policy making. Confidence in Beliefs and Rational Decision Making (to appear in the JUly 2019 issue of the journal Economics and Philosophy; pre-print available here) asks what should replace it as a guide for rational decision making. It provides the most comprehensive defense to date of an account of rational belief and decision that reserves a role for the decision maker’s confidence in beliefs (previously endorsed here and here). Beyond being able to cope with severe uncertainty, the account has strong normative credentials on the main fronts typically evoked as relevant for rational belief and decision. It fares particularly well in comparison to other prominent non-Bayesian models.

More consistent assessment of uncertainties by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Reports by the IPCC employ an evolving framework of calibrated language for assessing and communicating degrees of certainty in scientific findings. One challenge for this framework has been ambiguity in the relationship between multiple degree-of-certainty metrics. A new paper in the journal Climatic Change aims to better systematize the interrelation between the IPCC’s probability language and their confidence language, with benefits for consistency among findings and for usability in downstream modeling and decision analysis. [link to the article]