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The Argument from Bayes' Theorem
A. The theorem enables to calculate the posterior probability of a hypothesis, given some new
piece of evidence: P(h/e).
P(h/e) = P(h)P(e/h)/P(e)
B. We need three inputs: (1) the prior probability of h, P(h), (2) the likelihood of the evidence,
assuming the truth of the hypothesis, P(e/h), (3) the prior probability of the evidence. For P(h/e)
to be high, we want P(h) and P(e/h) to be fairly high, and P(e) to be very low.
C. We can compute the probability of P(e) by the formula:
P(e) = P(e/h)P(h) + P(e/h)P(h)
Since we want P(e/h) to be high, P(e/h) must be very low. That is, the evidence e must be
something that would be very unlikely (surprising) if the hypothesis were false.
D. If P(e/h) > P(e/h), and P(h) ’ 0, then we say that the evidence e confirms hypothesis h. That
is, e raises the probability of h: P(h/e) > P(h), the posterior probability of h is higher than the
prior probability of h.
E. Swinburne's h = the existence of the God of classical theism (an infinite, uncaused, perfectly
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course PHI PHI2010 taught by Professor Jorgerigol during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.
 Fall '09
 JorgeRigol

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