Plenty of Room Left for the Dogmatist

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Barnett (2015) provides an interesting new challenge for Dogmatist accounts of perceptual justification. The worry is that such accounts, by accepting that a perceptual experience can provide a distinctive kind of boost to one’s credences, would lead to a form of diachronic irrationality in cases where one has already learnt in advance that one will have such an experience. One possible line of response for the Dogmatist, insists that actually having the experience will rationally make one more certain that one has such an experience compared with merely learning about it in advance. Barnett dismisses this response on the grounds that there would only be a very ‘little room for one’s degree of certainty’ about the experience to increase, and thus ‘little room for one’s confidence’ about the state of one’s environment to increase as a result. So this Dogmatist line of response could only account for insignificant increases in confidence. I argue that Barnett’s counter-response rests on a misleading feature of using the 0-1 interval to express probabilities and show that if we switch to using odds or (better) Log-Odds, the misleading appearance that there is only ‘a little room’ for one’s credences to increase evaporates. Moreover, there are familiar, independent reasons for taking the Log-Odds scale to provide a clearer picture of the confirmatory effect of evidence. Thus the Dogmatist can after all escape Barnett’s charge of diachronic irrationality.
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Archival date: 2019-04-24
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Mind and World.Price, Huw & McDowell, John
Belief and the Will.van Fraassen, Bas C.

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