Probabilistic and Non-Monotonic Inference
Henry Kyburg Jr.
(l) I have enough evidence to render the sentence S probable. (la) So, relative to what I know, it is rational of me to believe S. (2) Now that I have more evidence, S may no longer be probable. (2a) So now, relative to what I know, it is not rational of me to believe S. These seem a perfectly ordinary, common sense, pair of situations. Generally and vaguely, I take them to embody what I shall call probabilistic inference. This form of inference is clearly non-monotonic. Relatively few people have taken this form of inference, based on high probability, to serve as a foundation for non-monotonic logic or for a logical or defeasible inference. There are exceptions: Jane Nutter  thinks that sometimes probability has something to do with non-monotonic reasoning. Judea Pearl [ 17] has recently been exploring the possibility. There are any number of people whom one might call probability enthusiasts who feel that probability provides all the answers by itself, with no need of help from logic. Cheeseman , Henrion  and others think it useful to look at a distribution of probabilities over a whole algebra of statements, to update that distribution in the light of new evidence, and to use the latest updated distribution of probability over the algebra as a basis for planning and decision making. A slightly weaker form of this approach is captured by Nilsson , where one assumes certain probabilities for certain statements, and infers the probabilities, or constraints on the probabilities of other statement. None of this corresponds to what I call probabilistic inference. All of the inference that is taking place, either in Bayesian updating, or in probabilistic logic, is strictly deductive. Deductive inference, particularly that concerned with the distribution of classical probabilities or chances, is of great importance. But this is not to say that there is no important role for what earlier logicians have called “ampliative” or “inductive” or “scientific” inference, in which the conclusion goes beyond the premises, asserts more than do the premises. This depends on what David Israel  has called “real rules of inference”. It is characteristic of any such logic or inference procedure that it can go wrong: that statements accepted at one point may be rejected at a later point. Research underlying the results reported here has been partially supported by the Signals Warfare Center of the United States Army.
PDF Link: /papers/88/p229-kyburg.pdf
AUTHOR = "Henry Kyburg Jr.
TITLE = "Probabilistic and Non-Monotonic Inference",
BOOKTITLE = "Proceedings of the Fourth Conference Annual Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI-88)",
PUBLISHER = "AUAI Press",
ADDRESS = "Corvallis, Oregon",
YEAR = "1988",
PAGES = "229--236"