Evidence-Coherence Conflicts Revisited

In Nick Hughes (ed.), Epistemic Dilemmas. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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There are at least two different aspects of our rational evaluation of agents’ doxastic attitudes. First, we evaluate these attitudes according to whether they are supported by one’s evidence (substantive rationality). Second, we evaluate these attitudes according to how well they cohere with one another (structural rationality). In previous work, I’ve argued that substantive and structural rationality really are distinct, sui generis, kinds of rationality – call this view ‘dualism’, as opposed to ‘monism’, about rationality – by arguing that the requirements of substantive and structural rationality can come into conflict. In this paper, I push the dialectic on this issue forward in two main ways. First, I argue that the most promising ways of resisting the diagnosis of my cases as conflicts still end up undermining monism in different ways. Second, supposing for the sake of argument that we should understand the cases as conflicts, I address the question of what we should do when such conflicts arise. I argue that, at least in a prominent kind of conflict case, the coherence requirements take precedence over the evidential requirements.

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Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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