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Brett Topey
University of Salzburg
  1.  85
    Best Laid Plans: Idealization and the Rationality–Accuracy Bridge.Brett Topey - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Hilary Greaves and David Wallace argue that conditionalization maximizes expected accuracy and so is a rational requirement, but their argument presupposes a particular picture of the bridge between rationality and accuracy: the Best-Plan-to-Follow picture. And theorists such as Miriam Schoenfield and Robert Steel argue that it's possible to motivate an alternative picture—the Best-Plan-to-Make picture—that does not vindicate conditionalization. I show that these theorists are mistaken: it turns out that, if an update procedure maximizes expected accuracy on the Best-Plan-to-Follow picture, it's (...)
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  2. Realism, Reliability, and Epistemic Possibility: On Modally Interpreting the Benacerraf–Field Challenge.Brett Topey - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):4415-4436.
    A Benacerraf–Field challenge is an argument intended to show that common realist theories of a given domain are untenable: such theories make it impossible to explain how we’ve arrived at the truth in that domain, and insofar as a theory makes our reliability in a domain inexplicable, we must either reject that theory or give up the relevant beliefs. But there’s no consensus about what would count here as a satisfactory explanation of our reliability. It’s sometimes suggested that giving such (...)
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  3. Saving Sensitivity.Brett Topey - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):177-196.
    Sensitivity has sometimes been thought to be a highly epistemologically significant property, serving as a proxy for a kind of responsiveness to the facts that ensure that the truth of our beliefs isn’t just a lucky coincidence. But it's an imperfect proxy: there are various well-known cases in which sensitivity-based anti-luck conditions return the wrong verdicts. And as a result of these failures, contemporary theorists often dismiss such conditions out of hand. I show here, though, that a sensitivity-based understanding of (...)
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  4.  93
    Higher-Order Evidence and the Dynamics of Self-Location: An Accuracy-Based Argument for Calibrationism.Brett Topey - forthcoming - Erkenntnis.
    The thesis that agents should calibrate their beliefs in the face of higher-order evidence—i.e., should adjust their first-order beliefs in response to evidence suggesting that the reasoning underlying those beliefs is faulty—is sometimes thought to be in tension with Bayesian approaches to belief update: in order to obey Bayesian norms, it's claimed, agents must remain steadfast in the face of higher-order evidence. But I argue that this claim is incorrect. In particular, I motivate a minimal constraint on a reasonable treatment (...)
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  5. Linguistic Convention and Worldly Fact: Prospects for a Naturalist Theory of the a Priori.Brett Topey - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1725-1752.
    Truth by convention, once thought to be the foundation of a uniquely promising approach to explaining our access to the truth in nonempirical domains, is nowadays widely considered an absurdity. Its fall from grace has been due largely to the influence of an argument that can be sketched as follows: our linguistic conventions have the power to make it the case that a sentence expresses a particular proposition, but they can’t by themselves generate truth; whether a given proposition is true—and (...)
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  6. Coin Flips, Credences and the Reflection Principle.Brett Topey - 2012 - Analysis 72 (3):478-488.
    One recent topic of debate in Bayesian epistemology has been the question of whether imprecise credences can be rational. I argue that one account of imprecise credences, the orthodox treatment as defended by James M. Joyce, is untenable. Despite Joyce’s claims to the contrary, a puzzle introduced by Roger White shows that the orthodox account, when paired with Bas C. van Fraassen’s Reflection Principle, can lead to inconsistent beliefs. Proponents of imprecise credences, then, must either provide a compelling reason to (...)
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  7. Quinean Holism, Analyticity, and Diachronic Rational Norms.Brett Topey - 2018 - Synthese 195 (7):3143-3171.
    I argue that Quinean naturalists’ holism-based arguments against analyticity and apriority are more difficult to resist than is generally supposed, for two reasons. First, although opponents of naturalism sometimes dismiss these arguments on the grounds that the holistic premises on which they depend are unacceptably radical, it turns out that the sort of holism required by these arguments is actually quite minimal. And second, although it’s true, as Grice and Strawson pointed out long ago, that these arguments can succeed only (...)
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  8. Categoricity by convention.Julien Murzi & Brett Topey - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3391-3420.
    On a widespread naturalist view, the meanings of mathematical terms are determined, and can only be determined, by the way we use mathematical language—in particular, by the basic mathematical principles we’re disposed to accept. But it’s mysterious how this can be so, since, as is well known, minimally strong first-order theories are non-categorical and so are compatible with countless non-isomorphic interpretations. As for second-order theories: though they typically enjoy categoricity results—for instance, Dedekind’s categoricity theorem for second-order PA and Zermelo’s quasi-categoricity (...)
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  9.  31
    Correction To: Linguistic Convention and Worldly Fact: Prospects for a Naturalist Theory of the a Priori.Brett Topey - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1753-1755.
    The original publication of the article contains two formatting errors, the second of which significantly inhibits readability.
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