# An Overview of Formal Epistemology (links)

post by lukeprog · 2011-01-06T19:57:20.972Z · score: 49 (46 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 6 commentsThe branch of philosophy called formal epistemology has very similar interests to those of the Less Wrong community. Formal epistemologists mostly work on (1) mathematically formalizing concepts related to induction, belief, choice, and action, and (2) arguing about the foundations of probability, statistics, game theory, decision theory, and algorithmic learning theory.

Those who value the neglected virtue of scholarship may want to study for themselves the arguments that have lead scholars either toward or against the very *particular *positions on formalizing language, decision theory, explanation, and probability typically endorsed at Less Wrong. As such, here's a brief overview of the field by way of some helpful links:

*Wikipedia*, "Formal Epistemology" (contains an excellent list of today's leading formal epistemologists)- Hendricks,
*Mainstream and Formal Epistemology*(perhaps the best "introduction" to the subject, especially for those familiar with mainstream epistemology) *The Reasoner*, a free monthly digest of short articles and interviews on formal epistemology*Choice & Inference*, a group blog- Introduction to Formal Epistemology, a short Stanford course with lecture slides and some literature in PDF
*Hajek & Hartmann, "Bayesian Epistemology" and Talbott,*"Bayesian Epistemology" and Bovens & Hartmann,*Bayesian Epistemology*(an important sub-field of formal epistemology)- Jeffrey,
*Subjective Probability*(free introductory book on a Less Wrong-ish approach to probability.

## 6 comments

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Keep doing this kind of thing.

One more example of how the field of formal epistemology can be useful...

Here's a new book on Bayesian statistical inference and Bayesian networks: *Probabilistic Logics and Probabilistic Networks*.

I will be taking advantage of *some* of this material, but is there any chance you could write an old-fashioned top-level Less Wrong-style article on this? They are much more approachable, probably because they implicitly know the audience. This seems more like an entry for lesswrongwiki.

I admit that the idea might seem ill-founded. Perhaps you have better things to do (I would not doubt this at all), or maybe you don't see as much of a purpose as I do. However, wouldn't a relatively short Less Wrong article on formal epistemology, rather than a series of highly interconnected material (ignoring, for a moment, that that is exactly what Less Wrong is, though perhaps a more unified one than your links) allow some of us who are still getting the basics do scholarship more efficiently?

As I understand, that's the purpose of your systematic summarizing of textbooks. Which I find a highly useful and commendable endeavor, by the way.

How does language fit into the same category as epistemology?

I imagine because epistemology is, in some sense, the study of words insomuch as the epistemology makes use of the idea of 'concepts.'