Epistemic utility theory’s difficult future

Synthese 199 (3-4):7401-7421 (2021)
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Abstract

According to epistemic utility theory, epistemic rationality is teleological: epistemic norms are instrumental norms that have the aim of acquiring accuracy. What’s definitive of these norms is that they can be expected to lead to the acquisition of accuracy when followed. While there’s much to be said in favor of this approach, it turns out that it faces a couple of worrisome extensional problems involving the future. The first problem involves credences about the future, and the second problem involves future credences. Examining prominent solutions to a different extensional problem for this approach reinforces the severity of the two problems involving the future. Reflecting on these problems reveals the source: the teleological assumption that epistemic rationality aims at acquiring accuracy.

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Chad Marxen
Brown University

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