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Bayesianism from a philosophical perspective and its application to medicine

Williamson, Jon (2022) Bayesianism from a philosophical perspective and its application to medicine. International Journal of Biostatistics, . pp. 1-13. ISSN 1557-4679. (doi:10.1515/ijb-2022-0043) (KAR id:99017)


Bayesian philosophy and Bayesian statistics have diverged in recent years, because Bayesian philoso�phers have become more interested in philosophical problems other than the foundations of statistics and Bayesian statisticians have become less concerned with philosophical foundations. One way in which this divergence manifests itself is through the use of direct inference principles: Bayesian philosophers routinely advocate principles that require calibration of degrees of belief to available non-epistemic probabilities, while Bayesian statisticians rarely invoke such principles. As I explain, however, the standard Bayesian framework cannot coherently employ direct inference principles. Direct inference requires a shift towards a non-standard Bayesian framework, which further increases the gap between Bayesian philosophy and Bayesian statistics. This divergence does not preclude the application of Bayesian philosophical methods to real-world problems. Data consolidation is a key challenge for present-day systems medicine and other systems sciences. I show that data consolidation requires direct inference and that the non-standard Bayesian methods outlined here are well suited to this task.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1515/ijb-2022-0043
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author(s) has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Uncontrolled keywords: Bayesian networks; Bayesianism; direct inference; formal epistemology; objective Bayesianism; systems medicine.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
Q Science > QA Mathematics (inc Computing science) > QA273 Probabilities
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Department of Philosophy
Funders: Leverhulme Trust (
Depositing User: Jon Williamson
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2022 16:38 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 12:29 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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