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After some interesting discussions with some people here that allowed me to flesh out exactly how I think beliefs are represented in my mind, I was trying to find out if there is mention of it in the philosophical literature. As per the SEP, “Standard approaches equate degree of belief with the maximum amount the subject would, or alternatively should, be willing to wager on a bet that pays nothing if the proposition is false and 1 unit if the proposition is true.”

Now personally, I can think of examples where I would not bet more on a belief vs. another. Yet, if I knew in advance that one of those beliefs were true, or rather, if I was forced to choose between one of them, there would be a winner, and not for arbitrary reasons. What is this representation of belief called in philosophy?

For example, suppose we have two beliefs. Belief A = my mother is my biological mother. Belief B = the earth is a sphere.

Personally, I would bet the same amount of money on both: and in this case it would be any amount. Since I fully believe in both of them. So by the above definition, I would have equal credence. Yet if I had to pick between one of them being true, and I knew in advance that only one was, I would pick belief B. Is there a term for this representation or “method” of belief?

P.S. note that one may argue that this system is irrational if one were to bet this way multiple times. Surely, not every person would win if they bet their entire livelihood on the earth not being a sphere vs. their mother not being their real one. The latter is demonstrably proven to be possible. However, there are no repeatable experiments here. I would bet an infinite amount of money on just MY mother being real, NOT on no one in the world having a mother that isn’t their biological one. I wanted to write this out since I was anticipating this as a response that I believe misses the point

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    No there is no model for your beliefs since you claim two inconsistent things: that your credence in the mother statement is identical to your credence in the earth statement, and also that, under certain circumstances, you favor the earth statement over the mother statement.
    – Dave
    Jun 27, 2023 at 21:18
  • Why is that inconsistent? Secondly, you are assuming the existence of differing credence
    – user62907
    Jun 28, 2023 at 3:23
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    The issue of how much you would be willing to bet is a separate question. What matters to the degree of credence is the odds at which you would be willing to bet. Odds are convertible into probabilities. Degrees of credence can be represented to a rough approximation as a number between 0 and 1 and handled using probability calculus. This is the basis of a great deal of decision theory. There are at least two ways of justifying this: one using Dutch book arguments and another using a calculus of probable inference.
    – Bumble
    Jun 28, 2023 at 3:50
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    Beliefs in the mind are not represented anything like that. It's the biology if the brain that determines how beliefs are stored, not philosophic plausibility. Any attempt to model human belief systems based on some simple probability model is flawed from the inception.
    – tkruse
    Jun 28, 2023 at 5:54
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For example, suppose we have two beliefs. Belief A = my mother is my biological mother. Belief B = the earth is a sphere.

Personally, I would bet the same amount of money on both: and in this case it would be any amount. Since I fully believe in both of them. So by the above definition, I would have equal credence. Yet if I had to pick between one of them being true, and I knew in advance that only one was, I would pick belief B. Is there a term for this representation or “method” of belief?

Your question creates a neat little conundrum.

Thinkingman believes the earth is a sphere based on prior knowledge and therefore choice A must be false.

Steve believes his mother is his biological mother (based on birth certificate and bloodtests and other prior knowledge) and therefore choice B must be false.

If the earth is a sphere, then either his birth certificate and DNA tests are fraud or the original assertion that only one of the statements is true is a fraud.

A similar conundrum exists for Thinkingman.

In this instance, comparative credence leads to paradox.

The process is very similar to the process used to created an educated guess.

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