Inference rules

From Testiwiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Inference rules are guidance for deciding what to believe in open assessments. For a discussion about how to organise the things to believe, see open assessment and information object.


What is the minimum set of rules that are required to know what to believe in open assessments? Believe means that a person thinks that a statement about reality is actually true.


These rules are based on several axioms or concepts.

  • Axioms of open assessment define the things that cannot be verified by observation, so there is no other way to know but just to believe.
  • Statement is a presentation of opinion or position about something that is (ie., a scientific statement) or something that should be (ie., a moral statement).
  • A group in open assessment means one or more individuals who participate in some activity, e.g. performing or reading an assessment.
  • A belief system is a collection of statements that are considered valid by a person or group.
  • A belief system that is considered valid by a group is called a shared belief system.

The rules should not need the concept expert (i.e. a person who should be trusted over a non-expert).


  1. Anyone can promote a statement about anything (promote = claim that the statement is true).
  2. A promoted statement is considered valid unless it is invalidated (i.e., convincingly shown not to be true).
  3. The validity of a statement is always conditional to a particular group (which is or is not convinced). In other words, a statement that one group considers valid may be considered invalid by another group. The groups don't have to agree. (But it is naturally more effective to operate with statements that are widely accepted.) By default, the group for scientific statements is the whole mankind. If the group differs from the default, it must be explicitly described.
  4. A statement always has a field in which it can be applied. By default, a scientific statement applies in the whole universe and a moral statement applies within a group that considers it valid. If the field of applicability of a statement differs from the default, it must be explicitly described.
  5. Two moral statements by a single group may be conflicting only if the fields of application do not overlap. For example, the Finnish law may have different rules for a police and a doctor about physical integrity of another person.
  6. There may be uncertainty about whether a statement is true (or whether it should be true, in case of moral statements). This can be quantitatively measured with subjective probabilities. However, uncertainty does not mean ambiguity. Statements should be expressed in a way that, given enough information, it would be possible to unambiguously tell whether it is true or not. This is called a clairvoyant test. To be precise, the subjective probability answers this question: "If I knew the truth, what is the probability that I would consider the statement valid?"
  7. There can be other rules than these inference rules for deciding what a group should believe. Rules are also statements and they are validated or invalidated just like any statements. For example, logic and laws of physics are sets of rules that are widely accepted, but a group may agree to use also more disputed rules.
  8. If two people within a group promote conflicting statements, the a priori belief is that each statement is equally likely to be true.
  9. A priori beliefs are updated into a posteriori beliefs based on observations (in case of scientific statements) or opinions (in case of moral statements) and open criticism that is based on shared rules. In practice, this means the use of scientific method. Opinions of each person are given equal weight.

See also


Open assessment, deduction, statement, discussion, open participation, inference, scientific method, value judgement.


Related files


Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination
Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination