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Philosophy Program and Dean of the College Present

Friday, December 14, 2018
Exploring by Believing
Olin, Room 204
5:00 pm – 6:15 pm
Sara Aronowitz, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Cognitive Science of Values, Princeton University
Sometimes, we face choices between actions most likely to lead to valuable outcomes, and actions that put us in a better position to learn. These choices exemplify what is called the exploration/exploitation trade-off. In computer science and statistics, this trade-off has fruitfully been applied to modulating the way agents make choices over time. In this talk, I argue that the trade-off also extends to belief. We can be torn between two ways of believing, one of which is expected to be more accurate, whereas the other looks like it will lead to more learning opportunity. Further, it is sometimes rationally permissible to choose the latter. I break down the features of action that give rise to the trade-off, and then argue that each feature applies equally well to belief. This result hangs on the connection between what we believe and how we imagine. I end by presenting some preliminary experimental work testing whether humans actually do believe in an exploratory way.

For more information, call 845-758-7270, or e-mail

Time: 5:00 pm – 6:15 pm

Location: Olin, Room 204