A New Argument for Uniqueness about Evidential Support

Episteme:1-22 (forthcoming)
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In this paper I offer an argument for the view that every body of evidence rationalizes exactly one doxastic attitude to each proposition. This is the uniqueness thesis. I do this by identifying a family of explanatory demands facing permissivists, those who deny the uniqueness thesis. Permissivists have traditionally motivated their view by attempting to identify counterexamples to the uniqueness thesis. But they have not developed a more general account of when permissive cases arise, and why. Permissivists cannot explain why permissive cases are permissive, or how permissive they are. The paper contains three sections. First, I identify the explanatory demands facing the permissivist. Second, I survey a few existing proposals in the literature for how these explanatory demands might be answered, and argue that they fail. In the third section, I consider how permissivists might “soften” these explanatory demands, by holding that the permissible range of attitudes has vague borders, or that we do not know where its borders lie. I argue against both options. To do this, I present a general argument that there cannot be vague deontic facts, by appealing to a dominance principle and basic principles of deontic logic. If there are no deontic facts, then the permissible range of attitudes could not have vague borders, so the explanatory demands facing the permissivist remain unanswered.

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Paul Forrester
Yale University (PhD)

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.
Justifications, Excuses, and Sceptical Scenarios.Timothy Williamson - forthcoming - In Fabian Dorsch & Julien Dutant (eds.), The New Evil Demon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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