Locke’s Principle of Proportionality

Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 101 (2):237-257 (2019)
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Locke’s principle of proportionality – among his most important contributions to philosophy – states that we ought to apportion our assent to a given proposition in accord with the probability of that proposition on an adequate body of evidence. I argue that treatments of Locke’s principle fail to avoid interpreting it as a fundamentally doxastic prescription – a precept concerning how we ought to voluntarily control our assent. These interpretations are problematic on account of their implications concerning the degree of control that agents have over the doxastic process, and on account of how they cohere with numerous texts in the Essay. I suggest that the principle, instead, commends that we engage in certain activities, or practices, that tend to produce true beliefs.



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Mark Boespflug
Fort Lewis College

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Only Light and Evidence: Locke on the Will to Believe.Mark Boespflug - 2021 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 38 (1):1-21.

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