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Types of uncertainty

Bradley, Richard ORCID: 0000-0003-2184-7844 and Drechsler, Mareile (2013) Types of uncertainty. Erkenntnis, 79 (6). pp. 1225-1248. ISSN 0165-0106

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s10670-013-9518-4


We distinguish three qualitatively different types of uncertainty-ethical, option and state space uncertainty-that are distinct from state uncertainty, the empirical uncertainty that is typically measured by a probability function on states of the world. Ethical uncertainty arises if the agent cannot assign precise utilities to consequences. Option uncertainty arises when the agent does not know what precise consequence an act has at every state. Finally, state space uncertainty exists when the agent is unsure how to construct an exhaustive state space. These types of uncertainty are characterised along three dimensions-nature, object and severity-and the relationship between them is examined. We conclude that these different forms of uncertainty cannot be reduced to empirical uncertainty about the state of the world without inducing an increase in its severity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2013 09:50
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2024 23:36
Projects: AH/J006033/1
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council

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