Evidentialism is the view that facts about whether or not an agent is justified in having a particular belief are entirely determined by facts about the agent’s evidence; the agent’s practical needs and interests are irrelevant. I examine an array of arguments against evidentialism (by Jeremy Fantl, Matthew McGrath, David Owens, and others), and demonstrate how their force is affected when we take into account the relation between degrees of belief and outright belief. Once we are sensitive to (...) one of the factors that secure thresholds for outright believing (namely, outright believing that p in a given circumstance requires, at the minimum, that one’s degree of belief that p is high enough for one to be willing to act as if p in the circumstances), we see how pragmatic considerations can be relevant to facts about whether or not an agent is justified in believing that p—but largely as a consequence of the pragmatic constraints on outright believing. (shrink)
Moral encroachment holds that the epistemic justification of a belief can be affected by moral factors. If the belief might wrong a person or group more evidence is required to justify the belief. Moral encroachment thereby opposes evidentialism, and kindred views, which holds that epistemic justification is determined solely by factors pertaining to evidence and truth. In this essay I explain how beliefs such as ‘that woman is probably an administrative assistant’—based on the evidence that most women employees at (...) the firm are administrative assistants—motivate moral encroachment. I then describe weaknesses of moral encroachment. Finally I explain how we can countenance the moral properties of such beliefs without endorsing moral encroachment, and I argue that the moral status of such beliefs cannot be evaluated independently from the understanding in which they are embedded. (shrink)
Deontological evidentialism is the claim that we ought to form and maintain our beliefs in accordance with our evidence. In this paper, I criticize two arguments in its defense. I begin by discussing Berit Broogard’s use of the distinction between narrow-scope and wide-scope requirements against W.K. Clifford’s moral defense of. I then use this very distinction against a defense of inspired by Stephen Grimm’s more recent claims about the moral source of epistemic normativity. I use this distinction once again (...) to argue that Hilary Kornblith’s criticism of Richard Feldman’s defense of is incomplete. Finally, I argue that Feldman’s defense is insensitive to the relation between normative requirements and privileged values: values that have normative authority over us. (shrink)
This is the introduction to Moretti, Luca and Nikolaj Pedersen (eds), Non-Evidentialist Epistemology. Brill. Contributors: N. Ashton, A. Coliva, J. Kim, K. McCain, A. Meylan, L. Moretti, S. Moruzzi, J. Ohlorst, N. Pedersen, T. Piazza, L. Zanetti.
Deontological evidentialism is the claim that S ought to form or maintain S’s beliefs in accordance with S’s evidence. A promising argument for this view turns on the premise that consideration c is a normative reason for S to form or maintain a belief that p only if c is evidence that p is true. In this paper, I discuss the surprising relation between a recently influential argument for this key premise and the principle that ought implies can. I (...) argue that anyone who antecedently accepts or rejects this principle already has a reason to resist either this argument’s premises or its role in support of deontological evidentialism. (shrink)
We propose an approach to epistemic justification that incorporates elements of both reliabilism and evidentialism, while also transforming these elements in significant ways. After briefly describing and motivating the non-standard version of reliabilism that Henderson and Horgan call “transglobal” reliabilism, we harness some of Henderson and Horgan’s conceptual machinery to provide a non-reliabilist account of propositional justification (i.e., evidential support). We then invoke this account, together with the notion of a transglobally reliable belief-forming process, to give an account of (...) doxastic justification. (shrink)
Susanna Rinard has recently offered a new argument for pragmatism and against evidentialism. According to Rinard, evidentialists must hold that the rationality of belief is determined in a way that is different from how the rationality of other states is determined. She argues that we should instead endorse a view she calls Equal Treatment, according to which the rationality of all states is determined in the same way. In this paper, I show that Rinard’s claims are mistaken, and that (...)evidentialism is more theoretically virtuous than its opponents sometimes give it credit for. Not only does evidentialism not make an exception for belief, but it fits naturally into a unified, explanatorily powerful account of the rationality of intentional mental states. According to such an account, the rationality of all intentional mental states, including belief, is determined by the right kind of reasons for those states. Since the right kind of reasons for belief just are evidential considerations, this unified account entails evidentialism. I conclude, contra Rinard, that evidentialism can be situated within a general account of rationality that is at least as theoretically virtuous as pragmatism, if not more so. (shrink)
Evidentialism is a view about the conditions under which a person is epistemically justified in having a particular doxastic attitude toward a proposition. Evidentialism holds that the justified attitudes are determined entirely by the person's evidence. This is the traditional view of justification. It is now widely opposed. The essays included in this volume develop and defend the tradition.Evidentialism has many assets. In addition to providing an intuitively plausible account of epistemic justification, it helps to resolve the (...) problem of the criterion, helps to disentangle epistemic and ethical evaluations, and illuminates the relationship between epistemic evaluations of beliefs and the evaluation of the methods used to form beliefs. These issues are all addressed in the essays presented here. External world skepticism poses the classic problem for an epistemological theory. The final essay in this volume argues that evidentialism is uniquely well qualified to make sense of skepticism and to respond to its challenge.Evidentialism is a version of epistemic internalism. Recent epistemology has included many attacks on internalism and has seen the development of numerous externalist theories. The essays included here respond to those attacks and raise objections to externalist theories, especially the principal rival, reliabilism. Internalism generally has been criticized for having unacceptable deontological implications, for failing to connect epistemic justification to truth, and for failing to provide an adequate account of what makes basic beliefs justified. Each of these charges is answered in these essays. The collection includes two previously unpublished essays and new afterwords to five of the reprinted essays; it will be the definitive resource on evidentialism for all epistemologists. (shrink)
This paper explores what happens if we construe evidentialism as a thesis about the metaphysical grounds of justification. According to grounding evidentialism, facts about what a subject is justified in believing are grounded in facts about that subject’s evidence. At first blush, grounding evidentialism appears to enjoy advantages over a more traditional construal of evidentialism as a piece of conceptual analysis. However, appearances are deceiving. I argue that grounding evidentialists are unable to provide a satisfactory story (...) about what grounds the evidential facts, and that this provides good reason to reject grounding evidentialism. (shrink)
Evidentialism is a view about the conditions under which a person is epistemically justified in having a particular doxastic attitude toward a proposition. Evidentialism holds that the justified attitudes are determined entirely by the person's evidence. This is the traditional view of justification. It is now widely opposed. The essays included in this volume develop and defend the tradition. Evidentialism has many assets. In addition to providing an intuitively plausible account of epistemic justification, it helps to resolve (...) the problem of the criterion, helps to disentangle epistemic and ethical evaluations, and illuminates the relationship between epistemic evaluations of beliefs and the evaluation of the methods used to form beliefs. These issues are all addressed in the essays presented here. External world skepticism poses the classic problem for an epistemological theory. The final essay in this volume argues that evidentialism is uniquely well qualified to make sense of skepticism and to respond to its challenge. Evidentialism is a version of epistemic internalism. Recent epistemology has included many attacks on internalism and has seen the development of numerous externalist theories. The essays included here respond to those attacks and raise objections to externalist theories, especially the principal rival, reliabilism. Internalism generally has been criticized for having unacceptable deontological implications, for failing to connect epistemic justification to truth, and for failing to provide an adequate account of what makes basic beliefs justified. Each of these charges is answered in these essays. The collection includes two previously unpublished essays and new afterwords to five of the reprinted essays; it will be the definitive resource on evidentialism for all epistemologists. (shrink)
At the core of evidentialism lies a very plausible claim: rational thinkers follow their evidence. While this seems to be a very intuitive, almost trivial, claim, providing a full and complete evidentialist theory is complicated. In this entry, I begin with elucidating what kind of theory evidentialists aim to provide us with. I will show that, in order to provide a complete evidentialist theory, we have to provide a lot of details on what evidence is and how it relates (...) to the proposition it’s evidence for, as well as the agent possessing such evidence. I then consider objections arising for the most popular answers one can give to such questions. I conclude by considering old and new challenges that arise for evidentialism, regardless of the specific version one endorses. (shrink)
Reductive Evidentialism seeks to explain away all structural requirements of rationality – including norms of logical coherence – in terms of substantive norms of rationality, i.e., responsiveness to evidence. While this view constitutes a novel take on the source of the normativity of logic, I argue that it faces serious difficulties. My argument, in a nutshell, is that, on the assumption that individuals with the same evidence can have different rational responses (interpersonal permissivism), the view lacks the resources to (...) maintain its central tenant that an individual’s body of evidence cannot make it rationally permissible for the individual to believe logical inconsistencies (intrapersonal non-permissivism). (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis that all reasons to believe p are evidence for p. Pragmatists hold that pragmatic considerations – incentives for believing – can also be reasons to believe. Nishi Shah, Thomas Kelly and others have argued for evidentialism on the grounds that incentives for belief fail a ‘reasoning constraint’ on reasons: roughly, reasons must be considerations we can reason from, but we cannot reason from incentives to belief. In the first half of the paper, I show (...) that this argument fails: the claim that we cannot reason from incentives is either false or does not combine with the reasoning constraint to support evidentialism. However, the failure of this argument suggests an alternative route to evidentialism. Roughly, reasons must be premises of good reasoning, but it is not good reasoning to reason from incentives to belief. The second half of the paper develops and defends this argument for evidentialism. (shrink)
A popular evidentialist argument against pragmatism is based on reason internalism: the view that a normative reason for one to φ must be able to guide one in normative deliberation whether to φ. In the case of belief, this argument maintains that, when deliberating whether to believe p, one must deliberate whether p is true. Since pragmatic considerations cannot weigh in our deliberation whether p, the argument concludes that pragmatism is false. I argue that evidentialists fail to recognize that the (...) question whether to φ is essentially the question whether one should φ. Furthermore, the question of whether one should believe p can be answered on pragmatic grounds. The internalist argument turns out to favor pragmatism. (shrink)
In this paper I introduce an objection to normative evidentialism about reasons for belief. The objection arises from difficulties that evidentialism has with explaining our reasons for belief in unstable belief contexts with a single fixed point. I consider what other kinds of reasons for belief are relevant in such cases.
This is the first edited collection entirely dedicated to non-evidentialist epistemology or non-evidentialism—the controversial view that evidence is not required in order for doxastic attitudes to enjoy a positive epistemic status. Belief or acceptance can be epistemically justified, warranted, or rational without evidence. The volume is divided into three section: the first focuses on hinge epistemology, the second offers a critical reflection about evidentialist and non-evidentialist epistemologies, and the third explores extensions of non-evidentialism to the fields of social (...) psychology, psychiatry, and mathematics. Contributors: N. Ashton, A. Coliva, J. Kim, K. McCain, A. Meylan, L. Moretti, S. Moruzzi, J. Ohlorst, N. Pedersen, T. Piazza, L. Zanetti. (shrink)
Evidentialism is a popular theory of epistemic justification, yet, as early proponents of the theory Earl Conee and Richard Feldman admit, there are many elements that must be developed before Evidentialism can provide a full account of epistemic justification, or well-founded belief. It is the aim of this book to provide the details that are lacking; here McCain moves past Evidentialism as a mere schema by putting forward and defending a full-fledged theory of epistemic justification. In this (...) book McCain offers novel approaches to several elements of well-founded belief. Key among these are an original account of what it takes to have information as evidence, an account of epistemic support in terms of explanation, and a causal account of the basing relation that is far superior to previous accounts. The result is a fully developed Evidentialist account of well-founded belief. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis that a person is justified in believing a proposition iff the person's evidence on balance supports that proposition. In discussing epistemological issues associated with disagreements among epistemic peers, some philosophers have endorsed principles that seem to run contrary to evidentialism, specifying how one should revise one's beliefs in light of disagreement. In this paper, I examine the connection between evidentialism and these principles. I argue that the puzzles about disagreement provide no reason to (...) abandon evidentialism and that there are no true general principles about justified responses to disagreement other than the general evidentialist principle. I then argue that the puzzles about disagreement are primarily puzzles about the evidential impact of higher - order evidence – evidence about the significance or existence of ordinary, or first- order, evidence. I conclude by arguing that such higher - order evidence can often have a profound effect on the justification of first- order beliefs. (shrink)
Sometimes it is practically beneficial to believe what is epistemically unwarranted. Philosophers have taken these cases to raise the question are there practical reasons for belief? Evidentialists argue that there cannot be any such reasons. Putative practical reasons for belief are not reasons for belief, but reasons to manage our beliefs in a particular way. Pragmatists are not convinced. They accept that some reasons for belief are practical. The debate, it is widely thought, is at an impasse. But this debate (...) fails to address what is puzzling and interesting about the cases. By focusing on reasons for belief, the debate completely overlooks the role of action in relation to belief. We should be talking about the reasons for actions that shape our beliefs, which I will call belief management. I argue for three related theses: the interesting cases that motivate the debate are about belief management; Evidentialism is irrelevant to belief management; agents have practical reasons to manage their beliefs with the aim of forming true beliefs. These reasons are categorical in nature and result in the tension of conflict cases. (shrink)
Belief polarization occurs when subjects who disagree about some matter of fact are exposed to a mixed body of evidence that bears on that dispute. While we might expect mutual exposure to common evidence to mitigate disagreement, since the evidence available to subjects comes to consist increasingly of items they have in common, this is not what happens. The subjects’ initial disagreement becomes more pronounced because each person increases confidence in her antecedent belief. Kelly aims to identify the mechanisms that (...) underlie this phenomenon and assess whether these processes undermine the justification of polarized beliefs. He concludes that given evidentialism, justification is not undermined by the polarizing mechanisms. I take on board Kelly’s description of the polarizing mechanisms, but challenge his conclusion. I argue that on plausible versions of evidentialism, the beliefs that result from these routes to polarization are not justified. (shrink)
I argue that the following theses are both popular among evidentialists but also jointly inconsistent with evidentialism: 1) Time-Slice Mentalism: one’s justificational properties at t are grounded only by one’s mental properties at t; 2) Experience Ultimacy: all ultimate evidence is experiential; and 3) Sleep Justification: we have justified beliefs while we have dreamless, nonexperiential sleep. Although I intend for this paper to be a polemic against evidentialists, it can also be viewed as an opportunity for them to clarify (...) their views. Furthermore, the paper is not only relevant to evidentialists. For example, the arguments of this paper could give Time-Slice Mentalists a reason to deny evidentialism. (shrink)
When is a person justified in believing a proposition? In this paper, I defend a view according to which a person is justified in believing a proposition just in case the person’s evidence sufficiently supports the proposition and the person responsibly acquired and sustained the evidence that supports the proposition. This view overcomes a deficiency in a prominent theory of epistemic justification. As championed by Earl Conee and Richard Feldman, Evidentialism is a theory subject to counterexamples at the hands (...) of cases involving epistemic irresponsibility. I critically discuss such a case as put forward by Jason Baehr. After providing an argument that clarifies why the case is problematic for Evidentialism, I defend my argument from a response by Earl Conee. Then I develop a theory of epistemic justification capable of handling cases involving epistemic irresponsibility, and I defend this theory from evidentialist objections. (shrink)
Evidentialists say that a necessary condition of sound epistemic reasoning is that our beliefs reflect only our evidence. This thesis arguably conflicts with standard Bayesianism, due to the importance of prior probabilities in the latter. Some evidentialists have responded by modelling belief-states using imprecise probabilities (Joyce 2005). However, Roger White (2010) and Aron Vallinder (2018) argue that this Imprecise Bayesianism is incompatible with evidentialism due to “inertia”, where Imprecise Bayesian agents become stuck in a state of ambivalence towards hypotheses. (...) Additionally, escapes from inertia apparently only create further conflicts with evidentialism. This dilemma gives a reason for evidentialist imprecise probabilists to look for alternatives without inertia. I shall argue that Henry E. Kyburg’s approach offers an evidentialist-friendly imprecise probability theory without inertia, and that its relevant anti-inertia features are independently justified. I also connect the traditional epistemological debates concerning the “ethics of belief” more systematically with formal epistemology than has been hitherto done. (shrink)
This paper is a book review of Scott Aikin's (2014) Evidentialism and the Will to Believe. Beyond a brief summary of the text, the review focuses on the book's pedagogical merits. I conclude that the book would be worth adopting for graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses that cover the ethics of belief in detail, though the hardcover edition of the book is rather pricey.
Cartesian skepticism about epistemic justification (‘skepticism’) is the view that many of our beliefs about the external world – e.g., my current belief that I have hands – aren’t justified. I examine the two most influential arguments for skepticism – the Closure Argument and the Underdetermination Argument – from an evidentialist perspective. For both arguments it is clear which premise the anti-skeptic must deny. The Closure Argument, I argue, is the better argument in that its key premise is weaker than (...) the Underdetermination Argument’s key premise. However, it’s also likely that the motivation for accepting both key premises is exactly the same. So there may be a sense in which both arguments provide exactly the same motivation for skepticism. Then I argue that if I I’m right about what the motivation for accepting the arguments’ key premises is, then neither argument succeeds in providing a good reason to accept skepticism. I conclude by explaining why I think epistemologists are right to expend a lot of time and effort on refuting these arguments, even if neither argument provides any motivation for skepticism. (shrink)
Few concepts have been considered as essential to the theory of knowledge and rational belief as that of evidence. The simplest theory which accounts for this is evidentialism, the view that epistemic justification for belief--the kind of justification typically taken to be required for knowledge--is determined solely by considerations pertaining to one's evidence. In this ground-breaking book, leading epistemologists from across the spectrum challenge and refine evidentialism, sometimes suggesting that it needs to be expanded in quite surprising directions. (...) Following this, the twin pillars of contemporary evidentialism--Earl Conee and Richard Feldman--respond to each essay. This engaging debate covers a vast number of issues, and will illuminate and inform. (shrink)
Evidentialists maintain that epistemic justification is strictly a function of the evidence one has at the moment of belief. I argue here, on the basis of two kinds of cases, that the possession of good evidence is an insuflicient basis for justification. I go on to propose a modification of evidentialism according to which justification sometimes requires intellectually virtuous agency. The discussion thereby underscores an important point of contact between evidentialism and the more recent enterprise of virtue epistemology.
Evidentialism and Reliabilism are two of the main contemporary theories of epistemic justification. Some authors have thought that the theories are not incompatible with each other, and that a hybrid theory which incorporates elements of both should be taken into account. More recently, other authors have argued that the resulting theory is well- placed to deal with fine-grained doxastic attitudes (credences). In this paper I review the reasons for adopting this kind of hybrid theory, paying attention to the case (...) of credences and the notion of probability involved in their treatment. I argue that the notion of probability in question can only be an epistemic (or evidential) kind of probability. I conclude that the resulting theory will be incompatible with Reliabilism in one important respect: it cannot deliver on the reductivist promise of Reliabilism. I also argue that attention to the justification of basic beliefs reveals limitations in the Evidentialist framework as well. The theory that results from the right combination of Evidentialism and Reliabilism, therefore, is neither Evidentialist nor Reliabilist. (shrink)
Bootstrapping, evidentialist internalism, and rule circularity Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9876-9 Authors Anthony Brueckner, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Kevin McCain’s Evidentialism and Epistemic Justification is the most thorough defense of evidentialism to date. In this work, McCain proposes insightful new theses to fill in underdeveloped parts of evidentialism. One of these new theses is an explanationist account of evidential fit that appeals to dispositional properties. We argue that this explanationist account faces counterexamples, and that, more generally, explanationists should not understand evidential fit in terms of dispositional properties.
According to evidentialism, a belief is propositionally justified just in case it fits one’s evidence. A fully developed evidentialist theory of justification will require an account of the evidential fit relation. Some evidentialists have embraced an explanationist account of this relation. Some of these accounts, such as Kevin McCain’s, place an awareness requirement on evidential fit. That is, they claim that a proposition, p, fits a subject’s evidence, e, only if the subject is aware of the explanatory connection between (...) p and e. I argue by way of example that this version of explanationism fails. As a result, I suggest a friendly revision of explanationism that excludes an awareness condition. Finally, I field some objections to my version of explanationism. (shrink)
Evidentialism as an account of epistemic justification is the position that a doxastic attitude, D, towards a proposition, p, is justified for an intentional agent, S, at a time, t, iff having D towards p fits S’s evidence at t, where the fittingness of an attitude on one’s evidence is typically analyzed in terms of evidential support for the propositional contents of the attitude. Evidentialism is a popular and well-defended account of justification. In this paper, I raise a (...) problem for evidentialism on the grounds that there can be epistemic circumstances in which a proposition is manifestly and nonmisleadingly supported by an agent’s total evidence, and yet believing the proposition is not justified for the agent. As I argue, in order for an agent to have justification to believe a proposition, it needs to be the case that the belief as possessed by the agent could exhibit certain epistemic good making features, e.g., the propositional content of the belief as possessed by the agent would be supported by the agent’s evidence. As I demonstrate, the fact that a proposition, p, is supported by an agent’s total evidence at a time, t, doesn’t guarantee that a belief in p as possessed by the agent at t could exhibit any epistemic good making features, including having propositional contents (i.e., p) that would be supported by the agent’s evidence. Thus, the fact that a proposition is supported by an agent’s evidence doesn’t guarantee that the agent has justification to believe the proposition. (shrink)
According to evidentialists about inferential justification, an agent’s evidence—and only her evidence—determines which inferences she would be justified in making, whether or not she in fact makes them. But there seem to be cases in which two agents would be justified in making different inferences from a shared body of evidence, merely in virtue of the different competences those agents possess. These sorts of cases suggest that evidence does not have the pride of place afforded to it by evidentialists; competence (...) seems to play at least as important a role as evidence in explaining which inferences an agent would be justified in making. -/- In this paper, I consider how two versions of evidentialism about inferential justification might try to account for the role of competence in inference, and I present problems specific to each version. I end by sketching and briefly defending an alternative to these evidentialist views, “inferential dogmatism”. While dogmatic views have gotten some attention in debates around non-inferential justification, they have largely been ignored in debates around inferential justification and are to that extent novel. (shrink)
Dormandy argues that stubborn counterevidence provides a reason for Evidentialists to form negative beliefs about God. Focusing on ‘horrendous evils’ as a kind of stubborn counterevidence, I discuss two possible interpretations of Dormandy’s account (a stronger and a weaker view). Against the stronger view, I consider the case of a Committed Theistic Evidentialist, that is, an evidentialist who possesses a defeater belief against horrendous evils. I argue that it would be improbable that she would form negative beliefs about God on (...) the basis of horrendous evils alone. I consider the response of a Committed Theistic Evidentialist towards horrendous evils, arguing that for her, ‘honesty’, which results in a psychological struggle, is an excellent-making property of her faith. (shrink)
Two recent arguments purport to find a new and firmer foundation for evidentialism in the very nature of the concept of belief. Evidentialism is claimed to be a conceptual truth about belief, and pragmatism to be ruled out, conceptually. But can the conclusion of such conceptual arguments be regarded as the denial of pragmatism? The pragmatist traditionally conceived belief through its motivational role. Therefore, when confronted with conceptual evidentialism, the pragmatist should cede the term ‘belief,’ but insist (...) that pragmatism be understood as a claim about another attitude, a motivational duplicate of belief. Thus, the original dispute is simply relocated terminologically. (shrink)
I formulate a resilient paradox about epistemic rationality, discuss and reject various solutions, and sketch a way out. The paradox exemplifies a tension between a wide range of views of epistemic justification, on the one hand, and enkratic requirements on rationality, on the other. According to the enkratic requirements, certain mismatched doxastic states are irrational, such as believing p, while believing that it is irrational for one to believe p. I focus on an evidentialist view of justification on which a (...) doxastic state regarding a proposition p is epistemically rational or justified just in case it tracks the degree to which one’s evidence supports p. If it is possible to have certain kinds of misleading evidence, then evidentialism and the enkratic requirements come into conflict. Yet, both have been defended as platitudinous. After discussing and rejecting three solutions, I sketch an account that rejects the enkratic requirements, while nevertheless explaining our sense that epistemic akrasia is a distinct kind of epistemic failure. Central to the account is distinguishing between two evaluative perspectives, one having to do with the relevant kind of success, the other having to do with manifesting good dispositions. The problem with akratic subjects, I argue, is that they manifest dispositions to fail to correctly respond to a special class of conclusive and conspicuous reasons. (shrink)
Beliefs are most naturally formed in response to truth-related, epistemic reasons. But they are also said to be prompted and justified by non-epistemic reasons. For pragmatists who maintain such a view, sometimes the potential benefits of a belief might demand believing it even though it is not adequately grounded. For evidentialists, only evidential considerations constitute normative reasons for doxastic attitudes. This paper critically examines two arguments by Thomas Kelly and Nishi Shah from deliberation for evidentialism. I begin by putting (...) these arguments in perspective by providing a context to make sense of their normative force and explain their differences. To do so, I briefly explain what I call the “dispositional” structure of epistemic reasons. This is followed by some critical remarks about Jonathan Way’s improved version of such arguments. I conclude by explaining how the dispositional account can explain why practical considerations fail to provide reasons for belief. (shrink)
In this chapter I defend Explanationist Evidentialism, the theory developed and argued for in Evidentialism and Epistemic Justification, from the objections raised by Richard Fumerton, Jonathan Kvanvig, and Matthias Steup. Ultimately, I conclude that although each of these philosophers presents interesting challenges, none of the challenges succeed in undermining Explanationist Evidentialism. It remains a viable theory of epistemic justification.
Wittgenstein’s On Certainty is sometimes read as providing a response to the skeptical puzzle from closure, according to which our commitment to the trustworthiness of our evidence is not itself evidentially grounded. In this paper, I argue both that this standard reading of Wittgenstein is incorrect, and that a more accurate reading of Wittgenstein provides us with a more plausible solution to the Closure Puzzle.
A new wave of evidentialist theorizing concedes that evidentialism may be extensionally incorrect as an account of all-things-considered rational belief. Nevertheless, these newer evidentialists maintain that there is an importantly distinct type of epistemic rationality about which evidentialism may be the correct account. I argue that natural ways of developing the newer evidentialist position face opposite problems. One version, due to David Christensen (forthcoming), may correctly describe what rationality requires, but does not entail the existence of a distinctively (...) epistemic type of rationality. Another version, due to Barry Maguire and Jack Woods (forthcoming), characterizes a normative concept that is both distinct and epistemic, but struggles to explain why this concept should be classified as a type of rationality. I conclude that the newer evidentialist strategy of extensional compromise may be less favorable to evidentialism than previously supposed. (shrink)
Evidentialists and Pragmatists about reasons for belief have long been in dialectical stalemate. However, recent times have seen a new wave of Evidentialists who claim to provide arguments for their view which should be persuasive even to someone initially inclined toward Pragmatism. This paper reveals a central flaw in this New Evidentialist project: their arguments rely on overly demanding necessary conditions for a consideration to count as a genuine reason. In particular, their conditions rule out the possibility of pragmatic reasons (...) for action. Since the existence of genuine pragmatic reasons for action is common ground between the Evidentialist and the Pragmatist, this problem for the New Evidentialist arguments is fatal. The upshot is that the deadlock between these two positions is restored: neither side can claim to be in possession of an argument that could convince the other. As it happens, I myself favor Pragmatism about reasons for belief, and although I don't claim to be able to convince a committed Evidentialist, I do make a prima facie case for Pragmatism by describing particular scenarios in which it seems to be true. I then go on to develop my own preferred version of the view: Robust Pragmatism, according to which a consideration never constitutes a reason for believing a proposition purely in virtue of being evidence for it. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the view that subjects should believe neither more than nor contrary to what their current evidence supports. I will critically present two arguments for the view. A common source of resistance to evidentialism is that there are intuitive cases where subjects should believe contrary to their evidence. I will present modest evidentialism as the view that subjects should believe in accord with what their evidence supports, but that this norm may be overridden under certain conditions. (...) As such, a modest evidentialismaccommodates the intuitions behind a good deal of traditional anti-evidentialism. (shrink)
Are there epistemic duties to inquire? The idea enjoys intuitive support. However, prominent evidentialists argue that our only epistemic duty is to believe well (i.e., to have doxastically justified beliefs), and doing so does not require inquiry. Against this, I argue that evidentialists are plausibly committed to the idea that if we have epistemic duties to believe well, then we have epistemic duties to inquire. This is because on plausible evidentialist views of evidence possession (i.e., views that result in plausible (...) theories of evidentialist justification), inquiry is sometimes a necessary constitutive means of forming doxastically justified beliefs—beliefs that are proportioned to and based on one's evidence. So, either evidentialist views of evidence possession commit them to epistemic duties to inquire or they lead to independently implausible theories of evidentialist justification. My discussion also has important implications for the zetetic turn in epistemology, since I argue that evidentialists who are staunchly opposed to epistemic norms on inquiry have reason to reconsider. (shrink)
Many stored beliefs, like beliefs in one’s personal data or beliefs in one’s area of expertise, intuitively amount to knowledge, and so are justified. This uncontroversial datum arguably tells against evidentialism, the position according to which a belief is justified if it fits the available evidence: stored beliefs are normally not sustained by one’s available evidence. Conee and Feldman have tried to meet this potential objection by relaxing the notion of available evidence. According to their proposal, stored beliefs are (...) dispositionally justified, because they are justified by the evidence one has the disposition to retrieve; such evidence, as a consequence, is to be characterize as available, though in a derivative sense. Goldman has criticized this proposal, by offering a counterexample to the claim that a disposition to generate a piece of evidence may qualify as a justifier. In this paper I critically examine two possible replies to Goldman’s example stemming from Conee and Feldman, and finally propose my own, based on a distinction, inspired by Audi, between dispositional evidence and the disposition to have evidence. Though this proposal differs from Conee and Feldman’s one, I will conclude that it fits pretty well their intuitions. (shrink)
This paper is a defense of moral evidentialism, the view that we have a moral obligation to form the doxastic attitude that is best supported by our evidence. I will argue that two popular arguments against moral evidentialism are weak. I will also argue that our commitments to the moral evaluation of actions require us to take doxastic obligations seriously.
Evidentialism is generally taken to be a position which is not friendly to a religious epistemology. However, in this paper, I will argue for a religious epistemology which is compatible with fundamental tenets of an evidentialist position on epistemic justification. It is a position which entails both a “will to believe” which goes beyond the standard evidentialist principles governing the appropriate doxastic attitude towards a proposition, but nonetheless satisfies epistemic principles at the basis of an evidentialist position on justification. (...) If my argument is successful, a proponent of a conception of religious faith may be able to have her cake and eat it too: namely, she may be able to fundamentally accept both the evidentialist demand that epistemically rational belief fit, or be supported by evidence as well as the position that rational faith is willing belief beyond what one’s evidence strictly demands. (shrink)