Knowledge-First Evidentialism about Rationality

In Fabian Dorsch & Julien Dutant (eds.), The New Evil Demon Problem. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Knowledge-first evidentialism combines the view that it is rational to believe what is supported by one's evidence with the view that one's evidence is what one knows. While there is much to be said for the view, it is widely perceived to fail in the face of cases of reasonable error—particularly extreme ones like new Evil Demon scenarios (Wedgwood, 2002). One reply has been to say that even in such cases what one knows supports the target rational belief (Lord, 201x, this volume). I spell out two versions of the strategy. The direct one uses what one knows as the input to principles of rationality such as conditionalization, dominance avoidance, etc. I argue that it fails in hybrid cases that are Good with respect to one belief and Bad with respect to another. The indirect strategy uses what one knows to determine a body of supported propositions that is in turn the input to principles of rationality. I sketch a simple formal implementation of the indirect strategy and show that it avoids the difficulty. I conclude that the indirect strategy offers the most promising way for knowledge-first evidentialists to deal with the New Evil Demon problem.
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