Unifying Epistemic and Practical Rationality

Mind (forthcoming)
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Abstract
Many theories of rational action are predicated on the idea that what it is rational to do in a given situation depends, in part, on what it is rational to believe in that situation. In short: they treat epistemic rationality as explanatorily prior to practical rationality. If they are right in doing so, it follows, on pain of explanatory circularity, that epistemic rationality cannot itself be a form of practical rationality. Yet, many epistemologists have defended just such a view of epistemic rationality. According to them, there is no such thing as a distinctively epistemic form of rationality which could be explanatorily prior to practical rationality. Rather, they maintain, there is just one form of rationality—practical rationality—of which epistemic rationality is a species. What to make of this conflict? The aim of this paper is to motivate a view about the relationship between epistemic and practical rationality which resolves the conflict in a way that should be attractive to both sides. The central idea is to ground both epistemic and practical rationality in an independently motivated notion of evidential probability which is itself to be understood in non-normative terms. Doing so, I argue, allows us to unify epistemic and practical rationality in a way that does justice to the idea that what it is rational to do depends, in part, on what it is rational to believe; and to do so in a way that avoids explanatory circularity.
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First archival date: 2022-07-30
Latest version: 2 (2022-07-30)
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