Minimal Rationality and the Web of Questions

In Dirk Kindermann, Peter van Elswyk, Andy Egan & Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini (eds.), Unstructured Content. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract

This paper proposes a new account of bounded or minimal doxastic rationality (in the sense of Cherniak 1986), based on the notion that beliefs are answers to questions (à la Yalcin 2018). The core idea is that minimally rational beliefs are linked through thematic connections, rather than entailment relations. Consequently, such beliefs are not deductively closed, but they are closed under parthood (where a part is an entailment that answers a smaller question). And instead of avoiding all inconsistency, minimally rational believers only avoid blatant inconsistencies (where some beliefs are blatantly inconsistent when they contradict one another on a particular question). Rather than cohering into a single overall world view, beliefs are more loosely connected in what is best described as a web of questions. This view of minimally rational belief naturally gives rise to an account of deductive inquiry on which deductive reasoning is a matter of posing new questions.

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Daniel Hoek
Virginia Tech

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