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Kevin Dorst
University of Pittsburgh
  1. Lockeans Maximize Expected Accuracy.Kevin Dorst - 2019 - Mind 128 (509):175-211.
    The Lockean Thesis says that you must believe p iff you’re sufficiently confident of it. On some versions, the 'must' asserts a metaphysical connection; on others, it asserts a normative one. On some versions, 'sufficiently confident' refers to a fixed threshold of credence; on others, it varies with proposition and context. Claim: the Lockean Thesis follows from epistemic utility theory—the view that rational requirements are constrained by the norm to promote accuracy. Different versions of this theory generate different versions of (...)
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  2. Evidence: A Guide for the Uncertain.Kevin Dorst - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):586-632.
    Assume that it is your evidence that determines what opinions you should have. I argue that since you should take peer disagreement seriously, evidence must have two features. (1) It must sometimes warrant being modest: uncertain what your evidence warrants, and (thus) uncertain whether you’re rational. (2) But it must always warrant being guided: disposed to treat your evidence as a guide. Surprisingly, it is very difficult to vindicate both (1) and (2). But diagnosing why this is so leads to (...)
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  3. Rational Polarization.Kevin Dorst - manuscript
    Predictable polarization is everywhere: we can often predict how people’s opinions—including our own—will shift over time. Empirical studies suggest that this is so when evidence is ambiguous. That fact is often thought to demonstrate human irrationality. It doesn’t. Bayesians will predictably polarize iff their evidence is ambiguous. And ours often is: the process of cognitive search—searching a cognitively-accessible space for an item of a particular profile—yields ambiguous evidence that can predictably polarize beliefs, despite being expected to make them more accurate. (...)
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  4. Abominable KK Failures.Kevin Dorst - 2019 - Mind 128 (512):1227-1259.
    KK is the thesis that if you can know p, you can know that you can know p. Though it’s unpopular, a flurry of considerations has recently emerged in its favour. Here we add fuel to the fire: standard resources allow us to show that any failure of KK will lead to the knowability and assertability of abominable indicative conditionals of the form ‘If I don’t know it, p’. Such conditionals are manifestly not assertable—a fact that KK defenders can easily (...)
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  5. Assertion is Weak.Matthew Mandelkern & Kevin Dorst - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    Recent work has argued that belief is weak: the level of rational credence required for belief is relatively low. That literature has contrasted belief with assertion, arguing that the latter requires an epistemic state much stronger than (weak) belief—perhaps knowledge or even certainty. We argue that this is wrong: assertion is just as weak as belief. We first present a variety of new arguments for this claim, and then show that the standard arguments for stronger norms are not convincing. Finally, (...)
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  6. Deference Done Better.Kevin Dorst, Benjamin A. Levinstein, Bernhard Salow, Brooke E. Husic & Branden Fitelson - 2021 - Wiley: Philosophical Perspectives 35 (1):99-150.
    There are many things—call them ‘experts’—that you should defer to in forming your opinions. The trouble is, many experts are modest: they’re less than certain that they are worthy of deference. When this happens, the standard theories of deference break down: the most popular (“Reflection”-style) principles collapse to inconsistency, while their most popular (“New-Reflection”-style) variants allow you to defer to someone while regarding them as an anti-expert. We propose a middle way: deferring to someone involves preferring to make any decision (...)
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  7. Higher-Order Uncertainty.Kevin Dorst - forthcoming - In Mattias Skipper & Asbjørn Steglich Petersen (eds.), Higher-Order Evidence: New Essays.
    You have higher-order uncertainty iff you are uncertain of what opinions you should have. I defend three claims about it. First, the higher-order evidence debate can be helpfully reframed in terms of higher-order uncertainty. The central question becomes how your first- and higher-order opinions should relate—a precise question that can be embedded within a general, tractable framework. Second, this question is nontrivial. Rational higher-order uncertainty is pervasive, and lies at the foundations of the epistemology of disagreement. Third, the answer is (...)
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  8. Higher-Order Evidence.Kevin Dorst - forthcoming - In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton Littlejohn (eds.), The Routledge Handbook for the Philosophy of Evidence. Routledge.
    On at least one of its uses, ‘higher-order evidence’ refers to evidence about what opinions are rationalized by your evidence. This chapter surveys the foundational epistemological questions raised by such evidence, the methods that have proven useful for answering them, and the potential consequences and applications of such answers.
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  9. Good Guesses.Kevin Dorst & Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    This paper is about guessing: how people respond to a question when they aren’t certain of the answer. Guesses show surprising and systematic patterns that the most obvious theories don’t explain. We argue that these patterns reveal that people aim to optimize a tradeoff between accuracy and informativity when forming their guess. After spelling out our theory, we use it to argue that guessing plays a central role in our cognitive lives. In particular, our account of guessing yields new theories (...)
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  10. (Almost) All Evidence is Higher-Order Evidence.Brian Hedden & Kevin Dorst - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Higher-order evidence is evidence about what’s rational to think in light of your evidence. Many have argued that it’s special—falling into its own evidential category, or leading to deviations from standard rational norms. But it’s not. Given standard assumptions, almost all evidence is (in part) higher-order evidence.
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    Correction To: Be Modest: You’Re Living on the Edge.Kevin Dorst - forthcoming - Analysis.
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  12. Why Rational People Polarize.Kevin Dorst - 2019 - The Phenomenal World.
    I argue that several of the psychological tendencies that drive polarization could arise from purely rational mechanisms, due to the fact that some types of evidence are predictably more ambiguous than others.
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  13. Be Modest: You're Living on the Edge.Kevin Dorst - 2022 - Analysis 81 (4):611-621.
    Many have claimed that whenever an investigation might provide evidence for a claim, it might also provide evidence against it. Similarly, many have claimed that your credence should never be on the edge of the range of credences that you think might be rational. Surprisingly, both of these principles imply that you cannot rationally be modest: you cannot be uncertain what the rational opinions are.
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  14. Can the Knowledge Norm Co‐Opt the Opt Out?Kevin Dorst - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (4):273-282.
    The Knowledge Norm of Assertion claims that it is proper to assert that p only if one knows that p. Though supported by a wide range of evidence, it appears to generate incorrect verdicts when applied to utterances of “I don't know.” Instead of being an objection to KNA, I argue that this linguistic data shows that “I don't know” does not standardly function as a literal assertion about one's epistemic status; rather, it is an indirect speech act that has (...)
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  15. Being Rational and Being Wrong.Kevin Dorst - manuscript
    Do people tend to be overconfident in their opinions? Many think so. They’ve run studies to test whether people are calibrated: whether their confidence in their opinions matches the proportion of those opinions that are true. Under certain conditions, people are systematically “over-calibrated”—for example, of the opinions they’re 80% confident in, only 60% are true. From this observed over-calibration, it’s inferred that people are irrationally overconfident. My question: When—and why—is this inference warranted? Answering this question requires articulating a general connection (...)
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  16. Fine-Tuning Divine Indifference.Chris Dorst & Kevin Dorst - manuscript
    Given the laws of our universe, the initial conditions and cosmological constants had to be "fine-tuned" to result in life. Is this evidence for design? We argue that we should be uncertain whether an ideal agent would take it to be so—but that given such uncertainty, we should react to fine-tuning by boosting our confidence in design. The degree to which we should do so depends on our credences in controversial metaphysical issues.
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  17. Epistemic Consequentialism. [REVIEW]Kevin Dorst - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (3):484-489.
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