Normativity, Epistemic Rationality, and Noisy Statistical Evidence

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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Many philosophers have argued that statistical evidence regarding group char- acteristics (particularly stereotypical ones) can create normative conflicts between the requirements of epistemic rationality and our moral obligations to each other. In a recent paper, Johnson-King and Babic argue that such conflicts can usually be avoided: what ordinary morality requires, they argue, epistemic rationality permits. In this paper, we show that as data gets large, Johnson-King and Babic’s approach becomes less plausible. More constructively, we build on their project and develop a generalized model of reasoning about stereotypes under which one can indeed avoid normative conflicts, even in a big data world, when data contain some noise. In doing so, we also articulate a general approach to rational belief updating for noisy data.

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Boris Babic
University of Toronto, St. George Campus


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