Evidence: A Guide for the Uncertain

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):586-632 (2020)
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Abstract

Assume that it is your evidence that determines what opinions you should have. I argue that since you should take peer disagreement seriously, evidence must have two features. (1) It must sometimes warrant being modest: uncertain what your evidence warrants, and (thus) uncertain whether you’re rational. (2) But it must always warrant being guided: disposed to treat your evidence as a guide. Surprisingly, it is very difficult to vindicate both (1) and (2). But diagnosing why this is so leads to a proposal—Trust—that is weak enough to allow modesty but strong enough to yield many guiding features. In fact, I claim that Trust is the Goldilocks principle—for it is necessary and sufficient to vindicate the claim that you should always prefer to use free evidence. Upshot: Trust lays the foundations for a theory of disagreement and, more generally, an epistemology that permits self-doubt—a modest epistemology.

Author's Profile

Kevin Dorst
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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