Evidentialism, Higher-Order Evidence, and Disagreement

Episteme 6 (3):294-312 (2009)
Abstract
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
Keywords higher-order doubts or evidence
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    References found in this work BETA
    Richard Feldman (2006). Epistemological Puzzles About Disagreement. In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), Epistemology Futures. Oxford University Press. 216-236.
    Jonathan Matheson (2009). Conciliatory Views of Disagreement and Higher-Order Evidence. Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 6 (3):269-279.
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