Deference and Uniqueness

Philosophical Studies 176 (3):709-732 (2019)
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Deference principles are principles that describe when, and to what extent, it’s rational to defer to others. Recently, some authors have used such principles to argue for Evidential Uniqueness, the claim that for every batch of evidence, there’s a unique doxastic state that it’s permissible for subjects with that total evidence to have. This paper has two aims. The first aim is to assess these deference-based arguments for Evidential Uniqueness. I’ll show that these arguments only work given a particular kind of deference principle, and I’ll argue that there are reasons to reject these kinds of principles. The second aim of this paper is to spell out what a plausible generalized deference principle looks like. I’ll start by offering a principled rationale for taking deference to constrain rational belief. Then I’ll flesh out the kind of deference principle suggested by this rationale. Finally, I’ll show that this principle is both more plausible and more general than the principles used in the deference-based arguments for Evidential Uniqueness.

Author's Profile

Christopher J. G. Meacham
University of Massachusetts, Amherst


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