Formulating Independence

In Mattias Skipper & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (eds.), Higher-Order Evidence: New Essays. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 13-34 (2019)
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We often get evidence that bears on the reliability of some of our own first-order reasoning. The rational response to such “higher-order” evidence would seem to depend on a rational assessment of how reliable we can expect that reasoning to be, in light of the higher-order evidence. “Independence” principles are intended to constrain this reliability-assessment, so as to prevent question-begging reliance on the very reasoning being assessed. However, extant formulations of Independence principles tend to be vague or ambiguous, and coming up with a tolerably precise formulation turns out to be tricky. This paper aims to make some progress toward developing a more precise Independence principle, and also to highlight some of the difficulties the project entails. The hope is to take a step toward understanding how rational belief is informed by evidence bearing on agents’ cognitive reliability.

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David Christensen
Brown University


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