Question about Large Utilities and Low Probabilities

by sark1 min read24th Jun 20119 comments

4

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Advanced apologies if this has been discussed before.

Question: Philosophy and Mathematics are fields in which we employ abstract reasoning to arrive at conclusions. Can the relative success of philosophy versus mathematics provide empirical evidence for how robust our arguments must be before we can even hope to have a non-negligible chance of arriving at correct conclusions? Considering how bad philosophy has been at arriving at correct conclusions, must they not be essentially as robust as mathematical proof, or correct virtually with probability 1? If so, should this not cast severe doubt on arguments showing how, in expected utility calculations, outcomes with vast sums of utility can easily swamp a low probability of their coming to pass? Won't our estimates of such probabilities be severely inflated?

Related: http://lesswrong.com/lw/673/model_uncertainty_pascalian_reasoning_and/