Synthese 199 (1-2):481-511 (2020)

Georgi Gardiner
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The epistemology of risk examines how risks bear on epistemic properties. A common framework for examining the epistemology of risk holds that strength of evidential support is best modelled as numerical probability given the available evidence. In this essay I develop and motivate a rival ‘relevant alternatives’ framework for theorising about the epistemology of risk. I describe three loci for thinking about the epistemology of risk. The first locus concerns consequences of relying on a belief for action, where those consequences are significant if the belief is false. The second locus concerns whether beliefs themselves—regardless of action—can be risky, costly, or harmful. The third locus concerns epistemic risks we confront as social epistemic agents. I aim to motivate the relevant alternatives framework as a fruitful approach to the epistemology of risk. I first articulate a ‘relevant alternatives’ model of the relationship between stakes, evidence, and action. I then employ the relevant alternatives framework to undermine the motivation for moral encroachment. Finally, I argue the relevant alternatives framework illuminates epistemic phenomena such as gaslighting, conspiracy theories, and crying wolf, and I draw on the framework to diagnose the undue skepticism endemic to rape accusations.
Keywords Relevant alternatives theory  Moral Encroachment  Risk  Stakes  Rape Accusations  Conspiracy Theories  Gaslighting  Epistemic Injustice
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02668-2
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References found in this work BETA

Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.
Probabilistic Knowledge.Sarah Moss - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
Elusive Knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
The Wrongs of Racist Beliefs.Rima Basu - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2497-2515.

View all 85 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Tale of Two Doctrines: Moral Encroachment and Doxastic Wronging.Rima Basu - 2021 - In Jennifer Lackey (ed.), Applied Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 99-118.
Varieties of Moral Encroachment.Renée Jorgensen Bolinger - 2020 - Philosophical Perspectives 34 (1):5-26.
Evidence, Risk, and Proof Paradoxes: Pessimism About the Epistemic Project.Giada Fratantonio - 2021 - International Journal of Evidence and Proof:online first.

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