What Epistemic Reasons Are For: Against the Belief-Sandwich Distinction

In Billy Dunaway & David Plunkett (eds.), Meaning, Decision, and Norms: Themes from the Work of Allan Gibbard (forthcoming)
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The standard view says that epistemic normativity is normativity of belief. If you’re an evidentialist, for example, you’ll think that all epistemic reasons are reasons to believe what your evidence supports. Here we present a line of argument that pushes back against this standard view. If the argument is right, there are epistemic reasons for things other than belief. The argument starts with evidentialist commitments and proceeds by a series of cases, each containing a reason. As the cases progress, the reasons change from counting in favor of things like having a belief to things like performing ordinary actions. We argue that each of those reasons is epistemic. If the argument succeeds, we should think there are epistemic reasons to consider hypotheses, conduct thought and physical experiments, extend one’s evidence, and perform mundane tasks like eating a sandwich, just as there are epistemic reasons to believe what one’s evidence supports.

Author Profiles

Daniel J. Singer
University of Pennsylvania
Sara Aronowitz
University of Toronto, St. George Campus


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