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Evidence

Edited by Christopher Michael Cloos (University of California at Santa Barbara)
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Summary

The notion of evidence features importantly in epistemology and philosophy of science. There are three primary questions that a theory of evidence must address. The constitution question asks: What is the nature of evidence? A major divide in answers to the constitution question is between those who think that all evidence is propositional and those who think that some evidence is non-propositional. The possession question asks: When does someone possess a piece of information as evidence? Restrictive views of evidence possession hold that one has as evidence only information that one is consciously entertaining. More inclusive views of evidence possession hold that one’s evidence includes non-occurrent information, such as stored memories. Lastly, a theory of evidence must address the positive support question. In philosophy of science and formal epistemology the positive support question is: When is a hypothesis confirmed by evidence? In contemporary epistemology the positive support question is: When is a belief justified by evidence?

Introductions Encyclopedia entries on evidence include DiFate 2007 and Kelly 2008. Additional overviews of evidence include Conee & Feldman 2008 and Kelly 2008.
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Subcategories:History/traditions: Evidence
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Evidence and Knowledge
  1. Peter Achinstein (2010). Evidence, Explanation, and Realism: Essays in the Philosophy of Science. Oxford University Press.
    The essays in this volume address three fundamental questions in the philosophy of science: What is required for some fact to be evidence for a scientific ...
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  2. Peter Achinstein (2001). The Book of Evidence. Oxford University Press.
    What is required for something to be evidence for a hypothesis? In this fascinating, elegantly written work, distinguished philosopher of science Peter Achinstein explores this question, rejecting typical philosophical and statistical theories of evidence. He claims these theories are much too weak to give scientists what they want--a good reason to believe--and, in some cases, they furnish concepts that mistakenly make all evidential claims a priori. Achinstein introduces four concepts of evidence, defines three of them by reference to "potential" evidence, (...)
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  3. Peter Achinstein (2000). Why Philosophical Theories of Evidence Are (and Ought to Be) Ignored by Scientists. Philosophy of Science 67 (3):192.
    There are two reasons, I claim, scientists do and should ignore standard philosophical theories of objective evidence: (1) Such theories propose concepts that are far too weak to give scientists what they want from evidence, viz., a good reason to believe a hypothesis; and (2) They provide concepts that make the evidential relationship a priori, whereas typically establishing an evidential claim requires empirical investigation.
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  4. Marcus P. Adams (2009). Empirical Evidence and the Knowledge-That/Knowledge-How Distinction. Synthese 170 (1):97 - 114.
    In this article I have two primary goals. First, I present two recent views on the distinction between knowledge-that and knowledge-how (Stanley and Williamson, The Journal of Philosophy 98(8):411–444, 2001; Hetherington, Epistemology futures, 2006). I contend that neither of these provides conclusive arguments against the distinction. Second, I discuss studies from neuroscience and experimental psychology that relate to this distinction. Having examined these studies, I then defend a third view that explains certain relevant data from these studies by positing the (...)
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  5. Jonathan E. Adler (1989). Epistemics and the Total Evidence Requirement. Philosophia 19 (2-3):227-243.
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  6. James V. Allen (2001). Inference From Signs: Ancient Debates About the Nature of Evidence. Oxford University Press.
    Original and penetrating, this book investigates of the notion of inference from signs, which played a central role in ancient philosophical and scientific method. It examines an important chapter in ancient epistemology: the debates about the nature of evidence and of the inferences based on it--or signs and sign-inferences as they were called in antiquity. As the first comprehensive treatment of this topic, it fills an important gap in the histories of science and philosophy.
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  7. Ben Almassi (2007). Experts, Evidence, and Epistemic Independence. Spontaneous Generations 1 (1):58-66.
    Throughout his work on the rationality of epistemic dependence, John Hardwig makes the striking observation that he believes many things for which he possesses no evidence (1985, 335; 1991, 693; 1994, 83). While he could imagine collecting for himself the relevant evidence for some of his beliefs, the vastness of the world and constraints of time and individual intellect thwart his ability to gather for himself the evidence for all his beliefs. So for many things he believes what others tell (...)
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  8. Horacio Arló-Costa (2006). Review of Sherrilyn Roush, Tracking Truth: Knowledge, Evidence and Science. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (7).
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  9. Alexander Arnold (2013). Some Evidence is False. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):165 - 172.
    According to some philosophers who accept a propositional conception of evidence, someone's evidence includes a proposition only if it is true. I argue against this thesis by appealing to the possibility of knowledge from falsehood.
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  10. Review author[S.]: Bruce Aune (1996). Haack's Evidence and Inquiry. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):627-632.
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  11. Andrew Bacon (2014). Giving Your Knowledge Half a Chance. Philosophical Studies:1-25.
    One thousand fair causally isolated coins will be independently flipped tomorrow morning and you know this fact. I argue that the probability, conditional on your knowledge, that any coin will land tails is almost 1 if that coin in fact lands tails, and almost 0 if it in fact lands heads. I also show that the coin flips are not probabilistically independent given your knowledge. These results are uncomfortable for those, like Timothy Williamson, who take these probabilities to play a (...)
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  12. Thomas Baldwin & Timothy Smiley (eds.) (2005). Studies in the Philosophy of Logic and Knowledge. OUP/British Academy.
    Eleven papers by distinguished British and American philosophers are brought together in this volume. -/- Five of the contributors engage in effect in a running debate about knowledge. How does knowledge relate to evidence? How reliable need one be to have knowledge? Once sceptical doubt has been introduced is there any untainted evidence to show that it is misplaced? Does verificationism succeed in showing that scepticism is untenable? Or is there a natural propensity for belief which explains why we are (...)
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  13. Eric Christian Barnes (2008). Evidence and Leverage: Comment on Roush. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):549-557.
    provides a sustained and ambitious development of the basic idea that knowledge is true belief that tracks the truth. In this essay, I provide a quick synopsis of Roush's book and offer a substantive discussion of her analysis of scientific evidence. Roush argues that, for e to serve as evidence for h, it should be easier to determine the truth value of e than it is to determine the truth value of h, an ideal she refers to as ‘leverage’. She (...)
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  14. Peter Baumann (2013). Knowledge and Dogmatism. Philosophical Quarterly 63 (250):1-19.
    There is a sceptical puzzle according to which knowledge appears to license an unacceptable kind of dogmatism. Here is a version of the corresponding sceptical argument: (1) If a subject S knows a proposition p, then it is OK for S to ignore all evidence against p as misleading; (2) It is never OK for any subject to ignore any evidence against their beliefs as misleading; (3) Hence, nobody knows anything.I distinguish between different versions of the puzzle (mainly a ‘permissibility’ (...)
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  15. George Bealer, A Priori Knowledge: Replies to Lycan and Sosa.
    This paper contains replies to comments on the author's paper "A Priori Knowledge and the Scope of Philosophy." Several points in the argument of that paper are given further clarification: the notion of our standard justificatory procedure, the notion of a basic source of evidence, and the doctrine of modal reliabilism. The reliability of intuition is then defended against Lycan's skepticism and a response is given to Lycan's claim that the scope of a priori knowledge does not include philosophically central (...)
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  16. George Bealer (2000). A Theory of the a Priori. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (1):1–30.
    The topic of a priori knowledge is approached through the theory of evidence. A shortcoming in traditional formulations of moderate rationalism and moderate empiricism is that they fail to explain why rational intuition and phenomenal experience count as basic sources of evidence. This explanatory gap is filled by modal reliabilism -- the theory that there is a qualified modal tie between basic sources of evidence and the truth. This tie to the truth is then explained by the theory of concept (...)
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  17. George Bealer (1987). The Philosophical Limits of Scientific Essentialism. Philosophical Perspectives 1:289-365.
    Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities (e.g., water = H2O) can be known only with the aid of empirical science. The thesis of the paper is that scientific essentialism does not extend to the central questions of philosophy and that these questions can be answered a priori. The argument is that the evidence required for the defense of scientific essentialism (e.g., twin earth intuitions) is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is (...)
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  18. William P. Bechtel (forthcoming). The Epistemology of Evidence in Cognitive Neuroscience. In R. Skipper Jr, C. Allen, R. A. Ankeny, C. F. Craver, L. Darden, G. Mikkelson & and R. Richardson (eds.), Philosophy and the Life Sciences: A Reader. Mit Press.
    It is no secret that scientists argue. They argue about theories. But even more, they argue about the evidence for theories. Is the evidence itself trustworthy? This is a bit surprising from the perspective of traditional empiricist accounts of scientific methodology according to which the evidence for scientific theories stems from observation, especially observation with the naked eye. These accounts portray the testing of scientific theories as a matter of comparing the predictions of the theory with the data generated by (...)
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  19. Andrew Bell, John Swenson-Wright & Karin Tybjerg (eds.) (2008). Evidence. Cambridge University Press.
    In this highly accessible book eight distinguished experts from a wide range of disciplines consider the nature and use of evidence in the modern world.
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  20. Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Yoaav Isaacs (forthcoming). Evil and Evidence. Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion.
    The problem of evil is the most prominent argument against the existence of God. Skeptical theists contend that it is not a good argument. Their reasons for this contention vary widely, involving such notions as CORNEA, epistemic appearances, 'gratuitous' evils, 'levering' evidence, and the representativeness of goods. We aim to clarify some confusions about these notions, and also to offer a few new responses to the problem of evil.
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  21. Hans Berends (2001). Veritistic Value and the Use of Evidence: A Shortcoming of Goldman's Epistemic Evaluation of Social Practices. Social Epistemology 16 (2):177 – 179.
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  22. Alexander Bird (2009). Inductive Knowledge. In D. Pritchard (ed.), Routledge Companion to Epistemology. Routledge.
    The first obstacle that confronts the student of induction is that of defining the subject matter. One initial point is to note that much of the relevant subject matter goes under the description ‘the theory of confirmation’. The distinction is primarily that the study of induction concerns inference, i.e. cases where one takes the conclusion to be established by the evidence, whereas confirmation concerns the weight of evidence, which one may take to be something like the credibility of a hypothesis (...)
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  23. Alexander Bird (2007). Underdetermination and Evidence. In Bradley John Monton (ed.), Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen. Oxford University Press.
    I present an argument that encapsulates the view that theory is underdetermined by evidence. I show that if we accept Williamson's equation of evidence and knowledge, then this argument is question-begging. I examine ways of defenders of underdetermination may avoid this criticism. I also relate this argument and my critique to van Fraassen's constructive empiricism.
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  24. Alexander Bird (2005). Abductive Knowledge and Holmesian Inference. In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology. Oxford University Press. 1--31.
    The usual, comparative, conception of inference to the best explanation (IBE) takes it to be ampliative. In this paper I propose a conception of IBE ('Holmesian inference') that takes it to be a species of eliminative induction and hence not ampliative. This avoids several problems for comparative IBE (for example, how could it be reliable enough to generate knowledge?). My account of Holmesian inference raises the suspicion that it could never be applied, on the grounds that scientific hypotheses are inevitably (...)
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  25. Alexander Bird (2005). Abductive Knowledge and Holmesian Inference. In Tamar Szabo Gendler John Hawthorne (ed.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology. Oxford University Press. 1--31.
    The usual, comparative, conception of Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) takes it to be ampliative. In this paper I propose a conception of IBE (‘Holmesian inference’) that takes it to be a species of eliminative induction and hence not ampliative. This avoids several problems for comparative IBE (e.g. how could it be reliable enough to generate knowledge?). My account of Holmesian inference raises the suspicion that it could never be applied, on the grounds that scientific hypotheses are inevitably underdetermined (...)
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  26. Alexander Bird (2004). Is Evidence Non-Inferential? Philosophical Quarterly 54 (215):252–265.
    Evidence is often taken to be foundational, in that while other propositions may be inferred from our evidence, evidence propositions are themselves not inferred from anything. I argue that this conception is false, since the non-inferential propositions on which beliefs are ultimately founded may be forgotten or undermined in the course of enquiry.
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  27. Jessica Brown (2011). Thought Experiments, Intuitions and Philosophical Evidence. Dialectica 65 (4):493-516.
    What is the nature of the evidence provided by thought experiments in philosophy? For instance, what evidence is provided by the Gettier thought experiment against the JTB theory of knowledge? According to one view, it provides as evidence only a certain psychological proposition, e.g. that it seems to one that the subject in the Gettier case lacks knowledge. On an alternative, nonpsychological view, the Gettier thought experiment provides as evidence the nonpsychological proposition that the subject in the Gettier case lacks (...)
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  28. Anthony Brueckner (2005). Knowledge, Evidence, and Skepticism According to Williamson. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):436–443.
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  29. John Brunero (2009). Reasons and Evidence One Ought. Ethics 119 (3):538-545.
  30. James Cargile (1996). Evidence and Inquiry by Susan Haack. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):621-625.
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  31. Nancy Cartwright (2009). Evidence-Based Policy: What's to Be Done About Relevance? [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 143 (1):127 - 136.
    How can philosophy of science be of more practical use? One thing we can do is provide practicable advice about how to determine when one empirical claim is relevant to the truth of another; i.e., about evidential relevance. This matters especially for evidence-based policy, where advice is thin—and misleading—about how to tell what counts as evidence for policy effectiveness. This paper argues that good efficacy results (as in randomized controlled trials), which are all the rage now, are only a very (...)
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  32. Albert Casullo (2008). Defeasible a Priori Justification: A Reply to Thurow. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (231):336–343.
    Joshua Thurow offers a defence of the claim that if a belief is defeasible by non-experiential evidence then it is defeasible by experiential evidence. He responds to an objection which I make against this claim, and offers two arguments in support of his own position. I show that Thurow's response misconstrues my objection, and that his supporting arguments fall short of their goal.
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  33. Roderick M. Chisholm (1973). Empirical Knowledge; Readings From Contemporary Sources. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,Prentice-Hall.
    Nelson, L. The impossibility of the "Theory of knowledge."--Moore, G. E. Four forms of skepticism.--Lehrer, K. Skepticism & conceptual change.--Quine, W. V. Epistemology naturalized.--Rozeboom, W. W. Why I know so much more than you do.--Price, H. H. Belief and evidence.--Lewis, C. I. The bases of empirical knowledge.--Malcolm, N. The verification argument.--Firth, R. The anatomy of certainty.--Chisholm, R. M. On the nature of empirical evidence.--Meinong, A. Toward an epistemological assessment of memory.--Brandt, R. The epistemological status of memory beliefs.--Malcolm, N. A definition (...)
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  34. Roderick M. Chisholm (1961). Evidence as Justification. Journal of Philosophy 58 (23):739-748.
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  35. David Christensen (2009). Disagreement as Evidence: The Epistemology of Controversy. Philosophy Compass 4 (5):756-767.
    How much should your confidence in your beliefs be shaken when you learn that others – perhaps 'epistemic peers' who seem as well-qualified as you are – hold beliefs contrary to yours? This article describes motivations that push different philosophers towards opposite answers to this question. It identifies a key theoretical principle that divides current writers on the epistemology of disagreement. It then examines arguments bearing on that principle, and on the wider issue. It ends by describing some outstanding questions (...)
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  36. David Christensen (1983). Glymour on Evidential Relevance. Philosophy of Science 50 (3):471-481.
    Glymour's "bootstrap" account of confirmation is designed to provide an analysis of evidential relevance, which has been a serious problem for hypothetico-deductivism. As set out in Theory and Evidence, however, the "bootstrap" condition allows confirmation in clear cases of evidential irrelevance. The difficulties with Glymour's account seem to be due to a basic feature which it shares with hypothetico-deductive accounts, and which may explain why neither can give a satisfactory analysis of evidential relevance.
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  37. Liana Chua, Casey High & Timm Lau (eds.) (2008). How Do We Know?: Evidence, Ethnography, and the Making of Anthropological Knowledge. Cambridge Scholars Pub..
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  38. E. J. Coffman, Justification Before Knowledge?
    This paper assesses several prominent recent attacks on the view that epistemic justification is conceptually prior to knowledge. I argue that this view—call it the Received View (RV)—emerges from these attacks unscathed. I start with Timothy Williamson’s two strongest arguments for the claim that all evidence is knowledge (E>K), which impugns RV when combined with the claim that justification depends on evidence. One of Williamson’s arguments assumes a false epistemic closure principle; the other misses some alternative (to E>K) explanations of (...)
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  39. E. J. Coffman (2011). Hiddenness, Evidence, and Idolatry. In Raymond VanArragon & Kelly James Clark (eds.), Evidence and Religious Belief. Oxford University Press.
    In some of the most important recent work in religious epistemology, Paul Moser (2002, 2004, 2008) develops a multifaceted reply to a prominent attack on belief in God—what we’ll call the Hiddenness Argument. This paper raises a number of worries about Moser’s novel treatment of the Hiddenness Argument. After laying out the version of that argument Moser most explicitly engages, we explain the four main elements of Moser’s reply and argue that it stands or falls with two pieces in particular—what (...)
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  40. Juan Comesaña & Holly Kantin (2010). Is Evidence Knowledge? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (2):447 - 454.
    We argue that if evidence were knowledge, then there wouldn’t be any Gettier cases, and justification would fail to be closed in egregious ways. But there are Gettier cases, and justification does not fail to be close in egregious ways. Therefore, evidence isn’t knowledge.
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  41. Carl Cranor & Kurt Nutting (1990). Scientific and Legal Standards of Statistical Evidence in Toxic Tort and Discrimination Suits. Law and Philosophy 9 (2):115 - 156.
    Many legal disputes turn on scientific, especially statistical, evidence. Traditionally scientists have accepted only that statistical evidence which satisfies a 95 percent (or 99 percent) rule — that is, only evidence which has less than five percent (or one percent) probability of resulting from chance.The rationale for this rule is the reluctance of scientists to accept anything less than the best-supported new knowledge. The rule reflects the internal needs of scientific practice. However, when uncritically adopted as a rule for admitting (...)
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  42. Charles B. Cross (1995). Probability, Evidence, and the Coherence of the Whole Truth. Synthese 103 (2):153 - 170.
    The coherence of the whole truth is a presupposition of any holistic coherence theory of justification that postulates a positive connection between justification and truth, for unless the whole truth is itself systemically coherent there is no reason to look for systemic coherence when deciding whether one is justified in accepting a given body of beliefs as true. This paper develops a formal model of holistic evidential coherence and uses this model to formalize and defend the claim that the whole (...)
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  43. Vincenzo Crupi, Roberto Festa & and Tommaso Mastropasqua (2008). Bayesian Confirmation by Uncertain Evidence: A Reply to Huber [2005]. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (2):201-211.
    Bayesian epistemology postulates a probabilistic analysis of many sorts of ordinary and scientific reasoning. Huber ([2005]) has provided a novel criticism of Bayesianism, whose core argument involves a challenging issue: confirmation by uncertain evidence. In this paper, we argue that under a properly defined Bayesian account of confirmation by uncertain evidence, Huber's criticism fails. By contrast, our discussion will highlight what we take as some new and appealing features of Bayesian confirmation theory. Introduction Uncertain Evidence and Bayesian Confirmation Bayesian Confirmation (...)
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  44. Timothy Joseph Day (1993). Knowledge and Evidence. International Studies in Philosophy 25 (1):98-99.
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  45. Keith Derose (2000). Ought We to Follow Our Evidence? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3):697-706.
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  46. Dylan Dodd (2007). Why Williamson Should Be a Sceptic. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229):635–649.
    Timothy Williamson's epistemology leads to a fairly radical version of scepticism. According to him, all knowledge is evidence. It follows that if S knows p, the evidential probability for S that p is 1. I explain Williamson's infallibilist account of perceptual knowledge, contrasting it with Peter Klein's, and argue that Klein's account leads to a certain problem which Williamson's can avoid. Williamson can allow that perceptual knowledge is possible and that all knowledge is evidence, while at the same time avoiding (...)
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  47. Mathieu Doucet (2012). Can We Be Self-Deceived About What We Believe? Self-Knowledge, Self-Deception, and Rational Agency. [REVIEW] European Journal of Philosophy 20 (S1):E1-E25.
    Abstract: This paper considers the question of whether it is possible to be mistaken about the content of our first-order intentional states. For proponents of the rational agency model of self-knowledge, such failures might seem very difficult to explain. On this model, the authority of self-knowledge is not based on inference from evidence, but rather originates in our capacity, as rational agents, to shape our beliefs and other intentional states. To believe that one believes that p, on this view, constitutes (...)
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  48. T. Dougherty (ed.) (2011). Evidentialism and its Discontents. Oxford University Press.
    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, (...)
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  49. Trent Dougherty & Patrick Rysiew (2009). Fallibilism, Epistemic Possibility, and Concessive Knowledge Attributions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (1):123-132.
    If knowing requires believing on the basis of evidence that entails what’s believed, we have hardly any knowledge at all. Hence the near-universal acceptance of fallibilism in epistemology: if it's true that "we are all fallibilists now" (Siegel 1997: 164), that's because denying that one can know on the basis of non-entailing evidence1is, it seems, not an option if we're to preserve the very strong appearance that we do know many things (Cohen 1988: 91). Hence the significance of concessive knowledge (...)
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  50. David L. Dowe (2008). Minimum Message Length and Statistically Consistent Invariant (Objective?) Bayesian Probabilistic Inference—From (Medical) “Evidence”. Social Epistemology 22 (4):433 – 460.
    “Evidence” in the form of data collected and analysis thereof is fundamental to medicine, health and science. In this paper, we discuss the “evidence-based” aspect of evidence-based medicine in terms of statistical inference, acknowledging that this latter field of statistical inference often also goes by various near-synonymous names—such as inductive inference (amongst philosophers), econometrics (amongst economists), machine learning (amongst computer scientists) and, in more recent times, data mining (in some circles). Three central issues to this discussion of “evidence-based” are (i) (...)
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