Closure, credence and rationality: a problem for non-belief hinge epistemology

Synthese (Suppl 15):1-11 (2019)
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Abstract

Duncan Pritchard’s Epistemic Angst promises a novel solution to the closure-based sceptical problem that, unlike more traditional solutions, does not entail revising our fundamental epistemological commitments. In order to do this, it appeals to a Wittgensteinian account of rational evaluation, the overarching theme of which is that it neither makes sense to doubt nor to believe in our anti-sceptical hinge commitments. The purpose of this paper is to show that the argument for the claim that there can be no rational basis to believe our anti-sceptical hinge commitments relies upon an implicit assumption about rational support that I label The Pritchensteinian Rational Grounds Principle. I argue that, insofar as this principle is intended to apply to closure-style inferences, it leads to irrational doxastic attitudes. I consider a seemingly plausible modification of the principle that would avoid this result but show that this modified principle faces serious problems of its own.

Author's Profile

Matthew Jope
University of Edinburgh

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