The Foundations of Epistemic Decision Theory

Abstract

According to accuracy-first epistemology, accuracy is the fundamental epistemic good. Epistemic norms — Probabilism, Conditionalization, the Principal Principle, etc. — have their binding force in virtue of helping to secure this good. To make this idea precise, accuracy-firsters invoke Epistemic Decision Theory (EpDT) to determine which epistemic policies are the best means toward the end of accuracy. Hilary Greaves and others have recently challenged the tenability of this programme. Their arguments purport to show that EpDT encourages obviously epistemically irrational behavior. We develop firmer conceptual foundations for EpDT. First, we detail a theory of praxic and epistemic good. Then we show that, in light of their very different good-making features, EpDT will evaluate epistemic states and epistemic acts according to different criteria. So, in general, rational preference over states and acts won’t agree. Finally, we argue that based on direction-of-fit considerations, it’s preferences over the former that matter for normative epistemology, and that EpDT, properly spelt out, arrives at the correct verdicts in a range of putative problem cases.

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Jason Konek
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

Rational Endorsement.Will Fleisher - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2649-2675.
A Pragmatist’s Guide to Epistemic Utility.Benjamin Anders Levinstein - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (4):613-638.
Lying, Risk and Accuracy.Sam Fox Krauss - 2017 - Analysis 77 (4):726-734.
The Normative Status of Logic.Florian Steinberger - 2017 - Stanford Enyclopedia of Philosophy.

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The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Wiley Publications in Statistics.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Harvard University Press.
The Logic of Decision.Richard C. Jeffrey - 1965 - New York, NY, USA: University of Chicago Press.
The Moral Problem.Michael Smith (ed.) - 1994 - Wiley.

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