Credal sensitivism: threshold vs. credence-one

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

According to an increasingly popular view in epistemology and philosophy of mind, beliefs are sensitive to contextual factors such as practical factors and salient error possibilities. A prominent version of this view, called credal sensitivism, holds that the context-sensitivity of belief is due to the context-sensitivity of degrees of belief or credence. Credal sensitivism comes in two variants: while credence-one sensitivism (COS) holds that maximal confidence (credence one) is necessary for belief, threshold credal sensitivism (TCS) holds that belief consists in having credence above some threshold, where this threshold doesn’t require maximal confidence. In this paper, I argue that COS has difficulties in accounting for three important features about belief: i) the compatibility between believing p and assigning non-zero credence to certain error possibilities that one takes to entail not-p, ii) the fact that outright beliefs can occur in different strengths, and iii) beliefs held by unconscious subjects. I also argue that TCS can easily avoid these problems. Finally, I consider an alleged advantage of COS over TCS in terms of explaining beliefs about lotteries. I argue that lottery cases are rather more problematic for COS than TCS. In conclusion, TCS is the most plausible version of credal sensitivitism.

Author's Profile

Jie Gao
Zhejiang University

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