Can All-Accuracy Accounts Justify Evidential Norms?

In Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij & Jeff Dunn (eds.), Epistemic Consequentialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2018)
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Some of the most interesting recent work in formal epistemology has focused on developing accuracy-based approaches to justifying Bayesian norms. These approaches are interesting not only because they offer new ways to justify these norms, but because they potentially offer a way to justify all of these norms by appeal to a single, attractive epistemic goal: having accurate beliefs. Recently, Easwaran & Fitelson (2012) have raised worries regarding whether such “all-accuracy” or “purely alethic” approaches can accommodate and justify evidential Bayesian norms. In response, proponents of purely alethic approaches, such as Pettigrew (2013b) and Joyce (2016), have argued that scoring rule arguments provide us with compatible and purely alethic justifications for the traditional Bayesian norms, including evidential norms. In this paper I raise several challenges to this claim. First, I argue that many of the justifications these scoring rule arguments provide are not compatible. Second, I raise worries for the claim that these scoring rule arguments provide purely alethic justifications. Third, I turn to assess the more general question of whether purely alethic justifications for evidential norms are even possible, and argue that, without making some contentious assumptions, they are not. Fourth, I raise some further worries for the possibility of providing purely alethic justifications for content-sensitive evidential norms, like the Principal Principle.



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Christopher J. G. Meacham
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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