Evidentialism, Inertia, and Imprecise Probability

The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:1-23 (forthcoming)
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Evidentialists say that a necessary condition of sound epistemic reasoning is that our beliefs reflect only our evidence. This thesis arguably conflicts with standard Bayesianism, due to the importance of prior probabilities in the latter. Some evidentialists have responded by modelling belief-states using imprecise probabilities (Joyce 2005). However, Roger White (2010) and Aron Vallinder (2018) argue that this Imprecise Bayesianism is incompatible with evidentialism due to “inertia”, where Imprecise Bayesian agents become stuck in a state of ambivalence towards hypotheses. Additionally, escapes from inertia apparently only create further conflicts with evidentialism. This dilemma gives a reason for evidentialist imprecise probabilists to look for alternatives without inertia. I shall argue that Henry E. Kyburg’s approach offers an evidentialist-friendly imprecise probability theory without inertia, and that its relevant anti-inertia features are independently justified. I also connect the traditional epistemological debates concerning the “ethics of belief” more systematically with formal epistemology than has been hitherto done.

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William Peden
Lingnan University


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