Rationality and total evidence

Philosophy of Science 37 (2):271-278 (1970)
The meaning and justification of the requirement of total evidence are examined. It is argued that there are several significantly different interpretations of the requirement, but each interpretation makes the requirement highly suspect. For any of the usual interpretations of the requirement, it would be quite unreasonable to conduct inquiry in such a way as to fulfill it. It is then suggested that the rational inquirer should seek the optimal amount of evidence, rather than all the evidence. This raises the problems surrounding the idea of scientific or epistemic utility
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