Belief, Credence and Statistical Evidence

Theoria 86 (4):500-527 (2020)
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According to the Rational Threshold View, a rational agent believes p if and only if her credence in p is equal to or greater than a certain threshold. One of the most serious challenges for this view is the problem of statistical evidence: statistical evidence is often not sufficient to make an outright belief rational, no matter how probable the target proposition is given such evidence. This indicates that rational belief is not as sensitive to statistical evidence as rational credence. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we argue that, in addition to playing a decisive role in rationalizing outright belief, non-statistical evidence also plays a preponderant role in rationalizing credence. More precisely, when both types of evidence are present in a context, non-statistical evidence should receive a heavier weight than statistical evidence in determining rational credence. Second, based on this result, we argue that a modified version of the Rational Threshold View can avoid the problem of statistical evidence. We conclude by suggesting a possible explanation of the varying sensitivity to different types of evidence for belief and credence based on the respective aims of these attitudes.
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