Commentary on Kyburg


Israel, D. J. Commentary on Kyburg. Computational Intelligence, vol. 10, no. 1, Feb 1994.


In his target article, “Believing on the Basis of the Evidence” Kyburg presents and defends a view for which he has been arguing for nearly 3 decades. Indeed, Kyburg’s consistency of view over time is simultaneously an illustration of and an indirect argument for that very view. 

A central tenet of the view is that the best theory or rational reconstruction of our mental lives will find a central and ineliminable goal for the attitude of full or flat out belief. For the moment, let us pretend that this attitude is identical to what Kyburg (and others) call acceptance. Further, though Kyburg himself does not stress this, one aspect of a functional or design oriented argument for the importance of this attitude is the role that beliefs play and allowing us to ignore some of the mini opportunities for changing our minds that life Fords and in guiding our further cognitive and practical activities along relatively stable paths. In some, beliefs have a function analogous to that theorized for intentions in Bratman (1987) and Bratman et al.(1991). In any event, Kyburg’s acceptance of the doctrine of acceptance seems certainly to have played that role in his cognitive life –– and a good thing too.

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