Two Arguments for Evidentialism

Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):805-818 (2016)
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Abstract

Evidentialism is the thesis that all reasons to believe p are evidence for p. Pragmatists hold that pragmatic considerations – incentives for believing – can also be reasons to believe. Nishi Shah, Thomas Kelly and others have argued for evidentialism on the grounds that incentives for belief fail a ‘reasoning constraint’ on reasons: roughly, reasons must be considerations we can reason from, but we cannot reason from incentives to belief. In the first half of the paper, I show that this argument fails: the claim that we cannot reason from incentives is either false or does not combine with the reasoning constraint to support evidentialism. However, the failure of this argument suggests an alternative route to evidentialism. Roughly, reasons must be premises of good reasoning, but it is not good reasoning to reason from incentives to belief. The second half of the paper develops and defends this argument for evidentialism.

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Jonathan Way
University of Southampton

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