Comparative Possibility in Set Contraction

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Journal Article
Journal of Philosophical Logic, 2012, 41 (1), pp. 53 - 75
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In a recent article, Zhang and Foo generalized the AGM postulates for contraction to include infinite epistemic input. The new type of belief change is called set contraction. Zhang and Foo also introduced a constructive model for set contraction, called nicely ordered partition, as a generalization of epistemic entrenchment. It was shown however that the functions induced from nicely ordered partitions do not quite match the postulates for set contraction. The mismatch was fixed with the introduction of an extra condition called the limit postulate. The limit postulate establishes a connection between contraction by infinite epistemic input and contraction by finite epistemic input (reducing the former to the latter) and it is appealing both on mathematical and on conceptual grounds. It is debatable however whether the limit postulate can be adopted as a general feature of rationality in set contraction. Instead we propose that the limit postulate is viewed as a condition characterizing an important special case of set contraction functions. With this reading in mind, in this article we introduce an alternative generalization of epistemic entrenchment, based on the notion of comparative possibility. We prove that the functions induced from comparative possibility preorders precisely match those satisfying the postulates for set contraction (without the limit postulate). The relationship between comparative possibility and epistemic entrenchment is also investigated. Finally, we formulate necessary and sufficient conditions under which the functions induced from comparative possibility preorders coincide with the special class of contraction functions characterized by the limit postulate.
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