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Epistemic Modesty Defended

In David Christensen & Jennifer Lackey (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 77 (2013)

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  1. Akratic (epistemic) modesty.David Christensen - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (7):2191-2214.
    Abstract: Theories of epistemic rationality that take disagreement (or other higher-order evidence) seriously tend to be “modest” in a certain sense: they say that there are circumstances in which it is rational to doubt their correctness. Modest views have been criticized on the grounds that they undermine themselves—they’re self-defeating. The standard Self-Defeat Objections depend on principles forbidding epistemically akratic beliefs; but there are good reasons to doubt these principles—even New Rational Reflection, which was designed to allow for certain special cases (...)
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  • Being Pessimistic About the Objective Present.Derek Lam - 2020 - Synthese:1-16.
    Some philosophers argue that non-presentist A-theories problematically imply that we cannot know that this moment is present. The problem is usually presented as arising from the combination of the A-theoretic ideology of a privileged presentness and a non-presentist ontology. The goal of this essay is to show that the epistemic problem can be rephrased as a pessimistic induction. By doing so, I will show that the epistemic problem, in fact, stems from the A-theoretic ideology alone. Hence, once it is properly (...)
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  • Misleading Higher-Order Evidence, Conflicting Ideals, and Defeasible Logic.Aleks Knoks - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    Thinking about misleading higher-order evidence naturally leads to a puzzle about epistemic rationality: If one’s total evidence can be radically misleading regarding itself, then two widely-accepted requirements of rationality come into conflict, suggesting that there are rational dilemmas. This paper focuses on an often misunderstood and underexplored response to this (and similar) puzzles, the so-called conflicting-ideals view. Drawing on work from defeasible logic, I propose understanding this view as a move away from the default metaepistemological position according to which rationality (...)
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  • Peer Disagreement and the Bridge Principle.Marc-Kevin Daoust - forthcoming - Topoi:1-11.
    One explanation of rational peer disagreement is that agents find themselves in an epistemically permissive situation. In fact, some authors have suggested that, while evidence could be impermissive at the intrapersonal level, it is permissive at the interpersonal level. In this paper, I challenge such a claim. I will argue that, at least in cases of rational disagreement under full disclosure, there cannot be more interpersonal epistemically permissive situations than there are intrapersonal epistemically permissive situations. In other words, with respect (...)
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  • Should We Be Dogmatically Conciliatory?Clayton Littlejohn - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1381-1398.
    A familiar complaint about conciliatory approaches to disagreement is that they are self-defeating or incoherent because they ‘call for their own rejection’. This complaint seems to be influential but it isn’t clear whether conciliatory views call for their own rejection or what, if anything, this tells us about the coherence of such views. We shall look at two ways of developing this self-defeat objection and we shall see that conciliatory views emerge unscathed. A simple version of the self-defeat objection leaves (...)
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  • Epistemic Consequentialism, Veritism, and Scoring Rules.Marc-Kevin Daoust & Charles Côté-Bouchard - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-25.
    We argue that there is a tension between two monistic claims that are the core of recent work in epistemic consequentialism. The first is a form of monism about epistemic value, commonly known as veritism: accuracy is the sole final objective to be promoted in the epistemic domain. The other is a form of monism about a class of epistemic scoring rules: that is, strictly proper scoring rules are the only legitimate measures of inaccuracy. These two monisms, we argue, are (...)
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  • Higher-Order Defeat is Object-Independent.Joshua DiPaolo - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (2):248-269.
    Higher-order defeat occurs when one loses justification for one's beliefs as a result of receiving evidence that those beliefs resulted from a cognitive malfunction. Several philosophers have identified features of higher-order defeat that distinguish it from familiar types of defeat. If higher-order defeat has these features, they are data an account of rational belief must capture. In this article, I identify a new distinguishing feature of higher-order defeat, and I argue that on its own, and in conjunction with the other (...)
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  • Are There Indefeasible Epistemic Rules?Darren Bradley - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    What if your peers tell you that you should disregard your perceptions? Worse, what if your peers tell you to disregard the testimony of your peers? How should we respond if we get evidence that seems to undermine our epistemic rules? Several philosophers have argued that some epistemic rules are indefeasible. I will argue that all epistemic rules are defeasible. The result is a kind of epistemic particularism, according to which there are no simple rules connecting descriptive and normative facts. (...)
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  • Towards a Pluralistic View of Formal Methods.Ko-Hung Kuan - 2020 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    This thesis is a collection of three self-contained papers on related themes in the area of formal and social epistemology. The first paper explores the possibility of measuring the coherence of a set with multiplicative averaging. It has been pointed out that all the existing probabilistic measures of coherence are flawed for taking the relevance between a set of propositions as the primary factor which determines the coherence of the set. What I show in this paper is that a group (...)
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  • De-Idealizing Disagreement, Rethinking Relativism.Katherina Kinzel & Martin Kusch - 2018 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 26 (1):40-71.
    Relativism is often motivated in terms of certain types of disagreement. In this paper, we survey the philosophical debates over two such types: faultless disagreement in the case of gustatory conflict, and fundamental disagreement in the case of epistemic conflict. Each of the two discussions makes use of a implicit conception of judgement: brute judgement in the case of faultless disagreement, and rule-governed judgement in the case of fundamental disagreement. We show that the prevalent accounts work with unreasonably high levels (...)
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  • Second Best Epistemology: Fallibility and Normativity.Joshua DiPaolo - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2043-2066.
    The Fallibility Norm—the claim that we ought to take our fallibility into account when managing our beliefs—appears to conflict with several other compelling epistemic norms. To shed light on these apparent conflicts, I distinguish two kinds of norms: norms of perfection and norms of compensation. Roughly, norms of perfection tell us how agents ought to behave if they’re to be perfect; norms of compensation tell us how imperfect agents ought to behave in order to compensate for their imperfections. I argue (...)
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  • Overcoming Disagreement Through Ordering: Building an Epistemic Hierarchy.Martin Hinton - 2018 - Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 55 (1):77-91.
    This paper begins with an assessment of the origin of the term ‘deep disagreement’ to reflect fundamental differences in argument procedure and suggests an alternative explanation of such stalemates that may apply in many cases and does lead to a possible resolution strategy, through discussion of the ordering of certain principles, rather than their acceptance or rejection. Similarities are then drawn with disputes which are supported by conflicting expert opinions and I lay out the advantages of seeking to resolve them (...)
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  • Disagreement and Easy Bootstrapping.Eyal Tal - 2021 - Episteme 18 (1):46-65.
    ABSTRACTShould conciliating with disagreeing peers be considered sufficient for reaching rational beliefs? Thomas Kelly argues that when taken this way, Conciliationism lets those who enter into a disagreement with an irrational belief reach a rational belief all too easily. Three kinds of responses defending Conciliationism are found in the literature. One response has it that conciliation is required only of agents who have a rational belief as they enter into a disagreement. This response yields a requirement that no one should (...)
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  • Philosophy’s Other Climate Problem.Michael Brownstein & Neil Levy - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • Do Great Minds Really Think Alike?Christopher Willard-Kyle - 2017 - Synthese 194 (3).
    Recently, a number of epistemologists (notably Feldman [2007], [2009] and White [2005], [2013]) have argued for the rational uniqueness thesis, the principle that any set of evidence permits only one rationally acceptable attitude toward a given proposition. In contrast, this paper argues for extreme rational permissivism, the view that two agents with the same evidence may sometimes arrive at contradictory beliefs rationally. This paper identifies different versions of uniqueness and permissivism that vary in strength and range, argues that evidential peers (...)
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  • The Epistemic Benefits of Disagreement.Kirk Lougheed - 2020 - Springer Verlag.
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  • The Self-Undermining Arguments From Disagreement.Eric Sampson - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 14:23-46.
    Arguments from disagreement against moral realism begin by calling attention to widespread, fundamental moral disagreement among a certain group of people. Then, some skeptical or anti-realist-friendly conclusion is drawn. Chapter 2 proposes that arguments from disagreement share a structure that makes them vulnerable to a single, powerful objection: they self-undermine. For each formulation of the argument from disagreement, at least one of its premises casts doubt either on itself or on one of the other premises. On reflection, this shouldn’t be (...)
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  • Should Agents Be Immodest?Marc-Kevin Daoust - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    Epistemically immodest agents take their own epistemic standards to be among the most truth-conducive ones available to them. Many philosophers have argued that immodesty is epistemically required of agents, notably because being modest entails a problematic kind of incoherence or self-distrust. In this paper, I argue that modesty is epistemically permitted in some social contexts. I focus on social contexts where agents with limited cognitive capacities cooperate with each other (like juries).
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  • Epistemic Peer Disagreement.Filippo Ferrari & Nikolaj J. L. L. Pedersen - forthcoming - In Miranda Fricker, Peter Graham, David Henderson, Nikolaj J. L. L. Pedersen & Jeremy Wyatt (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Social Epistemology. London, UK:
    We offer a critical survey of the most discussed accounts of epistemic peer disagreement that are found in the recent literature. We also sketch an alternative approach in line with a pluralist understanding of epistemic rationality.
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  • Recent Work on Higher-Order Evidence.Daniel Whiting - forthcoming - Analysis.
    A critical survey of recent work in epistemology on higher-order evidence. It discusses the nature of higher-order evidence, some puzzles it raises, responses to those puzzles, and problems facing them. It concludes by indicating connections between debates concerning higher-order evidence in epistemology and parallel debates in ethics and aesthetics.
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  • Suspiciously Convenient Belief.Neil Levy - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (5):899-913.
    Moral judgments entail or consist in claims that certain ways of behaving are called for. These actions have expectable consequences. I will argue that these consequences are suspiciously benign: on controversial issues, each side assesses these consequences, measured in dispute-independent goods, as significantly better than the consequences of behaving in the ways their opponents recommend. This remains the case even when we have not formed our moral judgment by assessing consequences. I will suggest that the evidence indicates that our perception (...)
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  • Philosophy Without Belief.Zach Barnett - 2019 - Mind 128 (509):109-138.
    Should we believe our controversial philosophical views? Recently, several authors have argued from broadly conciliationist premises that we should not. If they are right, we philosophers face a dilemma: If we believe our views, we are irrational. If we do not, we are not sincere in holding them. This paper offers a way out, proposing an attitude we can rationally take toward our views that can support sincerity of the appropriate sort. We should arrive at our views via a certain (...)
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  • Is Higher-Order Evidence Evidence?Eyal Tal - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Suppose we learn that we have a poor track record in forming beliefs rationally, or that a brilliant colleague thinks that we believe P irrationally. Does such input require us to revise those beliefs whose rationality is in question? When we gain information suggesting that our beliefs are irrational, we are in one of two general cases. In the first case we made no error, and our beliefs are rational. In that case the input to the contrary is misleading. In (...)
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  • A Neo-Pyrrhonian Response to the Disagreeing About Disagreement Argument.Diego E. Machuca - 2017 - Synthese 194 (5):1663-1680.
    An objection that has been raised to the conciliatory stance on the epistemic significance of peer disagreement known as the Equal Weight View is that it is self-defeating, self-undermining, or self-refuting. The proponent of that view claims that equal weight should be given to all the parties to a peer dispute. Hence, if one of his epistemic peers defends the opposite view, he is required to give equal weight to the two rival views, thereby undermining his confidence in the correctness (...)
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  • Epistemic Akrasia and Higher-Order Beliefs.Timothy Kearl - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2501-2515.
    According to the Fragmentation Analysis, epistemic akrasia is a state of conflict between beliefs formed by the linguistic and non-linguistic belief-formation systems, and epistemic akrasia is irrational because it is a state of conflict between beliefs so formed. I argue that there are cases of higher-order epistemic akrasia, where both beliefs are formed by the linguistic belief-formation system. Because the Fragmentation Analysis cannot accommodate this possibility, the Fragmentation Analysis is incorrect. I consider three objections to the possibility of higher-order epistemic (...)
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  • Self-Exempting Conciliationism is Arbitrary.Simon Blessenohl - 2015 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 29 (3):1-22.
    Self-exempting conciliationism is the view that it is rational to give weight to the opinions of peers in disagreement, except in disagreements about how to respond to disagreement. The special treatment of disagreements about disagreement, which is important to avoid self-undermining, seems arbitrary. Two arguments against this objection were put forward. Elga [3] aims to show that there is an independent motivation for conciliationism to be self-exempting. Pittard [5] argues that the special treatment is not arbitrary because the concern for (...)
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  • Resolute Conciliationism.John Pittard - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):442-463.
    ‘Conciliationism’ is the view that disagreement with qualified disputants gives us a powerful reason for doubting our disputed views, a reason that will often be sufficient to defeat what would otherwise be strong evidential justification for our position. Conciliationism is disputed by many qualified philosophers, a fact that has led many to conclude that conciliationism is self-defeating. After examining one prominent response to this challenge and finding it wanting, I develop a fresh approach to the problem. I identify two levels (...)
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  • Conciliation and Self-Incrimination.Jason Decker - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (5):1099-1134.
    Conciliationism is a view—well, a family of views—in the epistemology of disagreement. The idea, simply put, is that, in a wide range of cases where you find yourself in disagreement with another reasoner about the truth of some proposition, you are rationally obliged to adjust your credence in the direction of hers. Conciliationism enjoys a fair bit of prima facie plausibility. Most versions of it, however, suffer from a common (and rather obvious) problem: self-incrimination. Although there is some recognition in (...)
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  • Is There a Problem With Cognitive Outsourcing?Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij - 2016 - Philosophical Issues 26 (1):7-24.
    To what extent can we rely on others for information without such reliance becoming epistemically problematic? In this paper, this question is addressed in terms of a specific form of reliance: cognitive outsourcing. Cognitive outsourcing involves handing over (outsourcing) one’s information collection and processing (the cognitive) to others. The specific question that will be asked about such outsourcing is if there is an epistemic problem about cognitive outsourcing as such. To ask if there is an epistemic problem with x for (...)
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  • Nietzsche on the Significance of Disagreement in the History of Philosophy.Jessica N. Berry - 2019 - The Monist 102 (3):298-315.
    A growing literature in recent epistemology leverages the fact of persistent, systematic disagreement among philosophers to reach deeply skeptical conclusions, not just about philosophical propositions, but about the practice of philosophy itself. This article argues that a version of this argument is implicit in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, and that Nietzsche is best read as occupying a stance that would be called “conciliationist” today. The only sincere effort to date to attribute to Nietzsche a skeptical position on the basis (...)
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  • Rational Uniqueness and Religious Disagreement.Christopher Willard-Kyle - manuscript
    This paper argues for extreme rational permissivism—the view that agents with identical evidence can rationally believe contradictory hypotheses—and a mild version of steadfastness. Agents can rationally come to different conclusions on the basis of the same evidence because their way of weighing the theoretic virtues may differ substantially. Nevertheless, in the face of disagreement, agents face considerable pressure to reduce their confidence. Indeed, I argue that agents often ought to reduce their confidence in the higher-order propositions that they know or (...)
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  • The Obligation to Diversify One's Sources: Against Epistemic Partisanship in the Consumption of News Media.Alex Worsnip - 2019 - In Carl Fox & Joe Saunders (eds.), Media Ethics: Free Speech and the Requirements of Democracy. London: Routledge. pp. 240-264.
    In this paper, I defend the view that it is wrong for us to consume only, or overwhelmingly, media that broadly aligns with our own political viewpoints: that is, it is wrong to be politically “partisan” in our decisions about what media to consume. We are obligated to consume media that aligns with political viewpoints other than our own – to “diversify our sources”. This is so even if our own views are, as a matter of fact, substantively correct.
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  • Living on the Edge: Against Epistemic Permissivism.Ginger Schultheis - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):863-879.
    Epistemic Permissivists face a special problem about the relationship between our first- and higher-order attitudes. They claim that rationality often permits a range of doxastic responses to the evidence. Given plausible assumptions about the relationship between your first- and higher-order attitudes, it can't be rational to adopt a credence on the edge of that range. But Permissivism says that, for some such range, any credence in that range is rational. Permissivism, in its traditional form, cannot be right. I consider some (...)
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  • Disagreement, Peerhood, and Three Paradoxes of Conciliationism.Thomas Mulligan - 2015 - Synthese 192 (1):67-78.
    Conciliatory theories of disagreement require that one lower one’s confidence in a belief in the face of disagreement from an epistemic peer. One question about which people might disagree is who should qualify as an epistemic peer and who should not. But when putative epistemic peers disagree about epistemic peerhood itself, then Conciliationism makes contradictory demands and paradoxes arise.
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  • Christianity, Epistemic Peer Disagreement, and the Abortion Debate.Michael S. Jones & John B. Molinari Jr - 2018 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 17 (49):32-45.
    The question of the morality of abortion has long been the subject of intense, sometimes acrimonious debate. Even people within the same religious or philosophical tradition often disagree on the issue. For example, there are Christians who are “pro- choice” and there are Christians who are “pro-life.” Both sides marshal biblical, theological, and philosophical arguments in support of their positions. The substance of the abortion debate seems to reduce to one tricky question: when does personhood begin? Christian experts in various (...)
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  • Explaining Enkratic Asymmetries: Knowledge-First Style.Paul Silva - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (11):2907-2930.
    There are two different kinds of enkratic principles for belief: evidential enkratic principles and normative enkratic principles. It’s frequently taken for granted that there’s not an important difference between them. But evidential enkratic principles are undermined by considerations that gain no traction at all against their normative counterparts. The idea that such an asymmetry exists between evidential and normative enkratic principles is surprising all on its own. It is also something that calls out for explanation. Similarly, the considerations that undermine (...)
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  • Religious Disagreement: An Empirical Study Among Academic Philosophers.Helen De Cruz - 2017 - Episteme 14 (1).
    Religious disagreement is an emerging topic of interest in social epistemology. Little is known about how philosophers react to religious disagreements in a professional context, or how they think one should respond to disagreement. This paper presents results of an empirical study on religious disagreement among philosophers. Results indicate that personal religious beliefs, philosophical training, and recent changes in religious outlook have a significant impact on philosophers' assessments of religious disagreement. They regard peer disagreement about religion as common, and most (...)
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  • Epistemic Self-Trust and Doxastic Disagreements.Fabienne Peter - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (6):1189-1205.
    The recent literature on the epistemology of disagreement focuses on the rational response question: how are you rationally required to respond to a doxastic disagreement with someone, especially with someone you take to be your epistemic peer? A doxastic disagreement with someone also confronts you with a slightly different question. This question, call it the epistemic trust question, is: how much should you trust our own epistemic faculties relative to the epistemic faculties of others? Answering the epistemic trust question is (...)
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  • Fallibility and Normativity.DiPaolo Joshua - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
    We are fallible, and knowledge of our fallibility has normative implications. But these normative implications appear to conflict with other compelling epistemic norms. We therefore appear to face a choice: reject fallibility-based norms or reject these other epistemic norms. I argue that there is a plausible third option: reconcile these two sets of norms. Once we properly understand the nature of each of these norms, we aren’t forced to reject either.
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  • Disagreement and Skepticism.Guy Longworth - 2014 - Philosophical Quarterly 64 (254):188-191.
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  • Counterfactual Philosophers.Nathan Ballantyne - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):368-387.
    I argue that reflection on philosophers who could have been working among us but aren’t can lead us to give up our philosophical beliefs.
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  • Permissible Epistemic Trade-Offs.Daniel J. Singer - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):281-293.
    ABSTRACTRecent rejections of epistemic consequentialism, like those from Firth, Jenkins, Berker, and Greaves, have argued that consequentialism is committed to objectionable trade-offs and suggest...
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  • Belief, Credence, and the Preface Paradox.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):549-562.
    ABSTRACTMany discussions of the ‘preface paradox’ assume that it is more troubling for deductive closure constraints on rational belief if outright belief is reducible to credence. I show that this is an error: we can generate the problem without assuming such reducibility. All that we need are some very weak normative assumptions about rational relationships between belief and credence. The only view that escapes my way of formulating the problem for the deductive closure constraint is in fact itself a reductive (...)
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  • The Conflict of Evidence and Coherence.Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (1):3-44.
    For many epistemologists, and for many philosophers more broadly, it is axiomatic that rationality requires you to take the doxastic attitudes that your evidence supports. Yet there is also another current in our talk about rationality. On this usage, rationality is a matter of the right kind of coherence between one's mental attitudes. Surprisingly little work in epistemology is explicitly devoted to answering the question of how these two currents of talk are related. But many implicitly assume that evidence -responsiveness (...)
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  • Consensus Building and Its Epistemic Conditions.Michael H. G. Hoffmann - forthcoming - Topoi:1-14.
    Most of the epistemological debate on disagreement tries to develop standards that describe which actions or beliefs would be rational under specific circumstances in a controversy. To build things on a firm foundation, much work starts from certain idealizations—for example the assumption that parties in a disagreement share all the evidence that is relevant and are equal with regard to their abilities and dispositions. This contribution, by contrast, focuses on a different question and takes a different route. The question is: (...)
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  • How Doxastic Justification Helps Us Solve the Puzzle of Misleading Higher-Order Evidence.Paul Silva - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):308-328.
    Certain plausible evidential requirements and coherence requirements on rationality seem to yield dilemmas of rationality (in a specific, objectionable sense) when put together with the possibility of misleading higher-order evidence. Epistemologists have often taken such dilemmas to be evidence that we’re working with some false principle. In what follows I show how one can jointly endorse an evidential requirement, a coherence requirement, and the possibility of misleading higher-order evidence without running afoul of dilemmas of rationality. The trick lies in observing (...)
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