In the recent philosophical literature on inquiry, epistemologists point out that their subject has often begun at the point at which you already have your evidence and then focussed on identifying the beliefs for which that evidence provides justification. But we are not mere passive recipients of evidence. While some comes to us unbidden, we often actively collect it. This has long been recognised, but typically epistemologists have taken the norms that govern inquiry to be practical, not epistemic. The recent (...) literature challenges this assumption and uncovers a rich range of questions about the epistemic normativity of inquiry. In this paper, I approach these questions from the formal side of epistemology. Developing out of the philosophy of science, as it did, this branch of epistemology has long discussed inquiry. And, building on the insights of David Blackwell (1951) and I. J. Good (1967), it has produced a reasonably well-developed framework in which to understand norms of inquiry, both epistemic and practical. In the first half of the paper, I will present the pragmatic versions of this framework due to Blackwell and Good, and the epistemic version due to Wayne Myrvold (2012); in the second half of the paper, I put this framework to work, turning to some of the questions from the recent debate about inquiry and asking how the Blackwell-Good-Myrvold approach can help us answer them. Questions will include: Are there purely epistemic norms that govern these actions (Flores and Woodard forthcoming)? When should we initiate an inquiry, when should we continue it, when should we conclude it, and when should we reopen it? How should we understand Julia Staffel's distinction between transitional attitudes and terminal attitudes (Staffel 2021a,b)? How do epistemic norms of inquiry relate to epistemic norms of belief or credence, and can they conflict (Friedman 2020)? And how should we understand the epistemic error that occurs when someone is resistant to evidence (Simion 2023)? (shrink)
Different people reason differently, which means that sometimes they reach different conclusions from the same evidence. We maintain that this is not only natural, but rational. In this essay we explore the epistemology of that state of affairs. First we will canvass arguments for and against the claim that rational methods of reasoning must always reach the same conclusions from the same evidence. Then we will consider whether the acknowledgment that people have divergent rational reasoning methods should undermine one’s confidence (...) in one’s own reasoning. Finally we will explore how agents who employ distinct yet equally rational methods of reasoning should respond to interactions with the products of each others’ reasoning. We find that the epistemology of multiple reasoning methods has been misunderstood by a number of authors writing on epistemic permissiveness and peer disagreement. (shrink)
There is a divide in epistemology between those who think that, for any hypothesis and set of total evidence, there is a unique rational credence in that hypothesis, and those who think that there can be many rational credences. Schultheis offers a novel and potentially devastating objection to Permissivism, on the grounds that Permissivism permits dominated credences. I will argue that Permissivists can plausibly block Schultheis' argument. The issue turns on getting clear about whether we should be certain whether our (...) credences are rational. (shrink)
On the phenomenal view of evidence, seemings are evidence. More precisely, if it seems to S that p, S has evidence for p. Here, I raise a worry for this view of evidence; namely, that it has the counterintuitive consequence that two people who disagree would rarely, if ever, share evidence. This is because almost all differences in beliefs would involve differences in seemings. However, many literatures in epistemology, including the disagreement literature and the permissivism literature, presuppose that people who (...) disagree often do share evidence. I conclude that this is a reason to question the phenomenal view of evidence. (shrink)
Permissivism is the thesis that, for some body of evidence and a proposition p, there is more than one rational doxastic attitude any agent with that evidence can take toward p. Proponents of uniqueness deny permissivism, maintaining that every body of evidence always determines a single rational doxastic attitude. In this paper, we explore the debate between permissivism and uniqueness about evidence, outlining some of the major arguments on each side. We then consider how permissivism can be understood as an (...) underdetermination thesis, and show how this moves the debate forward in fruitful ways: in distinguishing between different types of permissivism, in dispelling classic objections to permissivism, and in shedding light on the relationship between permissivism and evidentialism. (shrink)
Morality is intrapersonally permissive: cases abound in which an agent has more than one morally permitted option. In contrast, there is a dearth of cases in which an agent has more than one epistemically permitted response to her evidence. Given the structural parallels between morality and epistemology, why do sources of moral permissiveness fail to have parallel permissive effects in the epistemic domain? This asymmetry between morality and epistemology cries out for explanation. The paper's task is to offer an answer (...) to that call. We explain the asymmetry by tracing moral permissiveness to two factors to which rationality is morally but not epistemically sensitive. (shrink)
Hume begins his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion by providing a discussion on what an ideal dialogue ought to look like. Many considerations that Hume raises coincide with similar concerns in contemporary social epistemology. This paper examines three aspects of Hume’s social epistemology: epistemic peerhood, inquiry norms and the possibility of rational persuasion. Interestingly, however, I will argue that the conversation between Philo, Cleanthes and Demea falls short of meeting Hume’s articulated standard of what an ideal dialogue ought to look like. (...) From this analysis, I defend the less popular view that Demea’s decision to leave the conversation (in Part XI) was entirely reasonable and suggest an explanation for why Hume decided to make Cleanthes the ‘hero’ of the Dialogues. (shrink)
As a slew of recent work in epistemology has brought out, there is a range of cases where there's a strong temptation to say that prudential and (especially) moral considerations affect what we ought to believe. There are two distinct models of how this can happen. On the first, “reasons pragmatist” model, the relevant prudential and moral considerations constitute distinctively practical reasons for (or against) belief. On the second, “pragmatic encroachment” model, the relevant prudential and moral considerations affect what one (...) is epistemically justified in believing. The pragmatic encroachment model appears to have several advantages over reasons pragmatism, and this has led many recent philosophers to endorse the former. However, in this paper we argue that a version of reasons pragmatism can be (at least largely) saved from these purported disadvantages once paired with an independently plausible permissivism about epistemically justified outright belief. This hybrid view—“permissivist pragmatism”—holds that when there is more than one epistemically permitted doxastic attitude, practical (including moral) considerations can determine which epistemically permitted doxastic attitude one all-things-considered ought to have. This view avoids both the problems faced by simple versions of reasons pragmatism, and those that distinctively attend pragmatic encroachment, while preserving the advantages of each view. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer reasons to conclude that either belief impermissivism or credal impermissivism is false. That is to say, I argue against the conjunction of belief impermissivism and credal impermissivism. I defend this conclusion in three ways. First, I show what I take to be an implausible consequence of holding that for any rational credence in p, there is only one correlating rational belief-attitude toward p, given a body of evidence. Second, I provide thought experiments designed to support (...) the intuition that there are at least a few credences in some cases for which more than one belief-attitude is rationally permissible. Third, I provide one possible theoretical grounding for my position by appeal to Jamesian values. (shrink)
This paper argues for a permissivism of personal rationality, a rationality concerning the epistemic evaluation of persons. I work from the perspective of virtue epistemology where the standards of evaluation are the intellectual character virtues. On this picture, an agent is personally rational in having a doxastic attitude when having it is the result of some exemplification of an intellectual virtue. Permissive cases arise when the emotional components of intellectual virtues conflict, making some potential conclusions both enabled and disabled for (...) the agent. The agent is left in a confusion needing resolution, but if each of these conflicting emotions are components of intellectual virtues, then she has multiple personally rational options. This grounds a potential case of a permissivism of personal rationality, but this should be interesting to epistemologists in general since opting for one of the sides of this conflict leads an agent to have different doxastic attitudes. (shrink)
This entry provides an overview of the current state of the debate between epistemic permissivists and impermissivists. Three important choice points for the permissivist are identified, and implications are discussed for plausibility of the resulting versions of permissivism.
I argue that when we use ‘probability’ language in epistemic contexts—e.g., when we ask how probable some hypothesis is, given the evidence available to us—we are talking about degrees of support, rather than degrees of belief. The epistemic probability of A given B is the mind-independent degree to which B supports A, not the degree to which someone with B as their evidence believes A, or the degree to which someone would or should believe A if they had B as (...) their evidence. My central argument is that the degree-of-support interpretation lets us better model good reasoning in certain cases involving old evidence. Degree-of-belief interpretations make the wrong predictions not only about whether old evidence confirms new hypotheses, but about the values of the probabilities that enter into Bayes’ Theorem when we calculate the probability of hypotheses conditional on old evidence and new background information. (shrink)
Epistemic permissivism is the thesis that the evidence can rationally permit more than one attitude toward a proposition. Pascal’s wager is the idea that one ought to believe in God for practical reasons, because of what one can gain if theism is true and what one has to lose if theism is false. In this paper, I argue that if epistemic permissivism is true, then the defender of Pascal’s wager has powerful responses to two prominent objections. First, I argue that (...) if permissivism is true, then permissivism is true about theistic belief. Second, I show how epistemic permissivism about theistic belief dispels two objections to Pascal’s wager: the objection that wagering is impossible, and the objection that wagering is epistemically impermissible. (shrink)
The paper presents a new argument for epistemic permissivism. The version of permissivism that we defend is a moderate version that applies only to explicit doxastic attitudes. Drawing on Yalcin’s framework for modeling such attitudes, we argue that two fully rational subjects who share all their evidence, prior beliefs, and epistemic standards may still differ in the explicit doxastic attitudes that they adopt. This can happen because two such subjects may be sensitive to different questions. Thus, differing intellectual interests can (...) yield failures of uniqueness. This is not a merely pragmatic phenomenon. (shrink)
Two principles in epistemology are apparent examples of the close connection between rationality and truth. First, adding a disjunct to what it is rational to believe yields a proposition that’s also rational to believe. Second, what’s likely if believed is rational to believe. While these principles are accepted by many, it turns out that they clash. In light of this clash, we must relinquish the second principle. Reflecting on its rationale, though, reveals that there are two distinct ways to understand (...) the connection between rationality and truth. Rationality is fundamentally a guide to the belief-independent truth, rather than a guide to acquiring true beliefs. And this in turn has important implications for current discussions of permissivism, epistemic reasons, and epistemic consequentialism. (shrink)
Permissivism is the view that, sometimes, there is more than one doxastic attitude that is perfectly rationalised by the evidence. Impermissivism is the denial of Permissivism. Several philosophers, with the aim to defend either Impermissivism or Permissivism, have recently discussed the value of (im)permissive rationality. This paper focuses on one kind of value-conferring considerations, stemming from the so-called “truth-connection” enjoyed by rational doxastic attitudes. The paper vindicates the truth-connected value of permissive rationality by pursuing a novel strategy which rests on (...) two main planks: first, there is a distinction between a fine-grained and a coarse-grained type-individuation of belief-forming methods. Secondly, different kinds of decision-theoretic reasoning, i.e. expected-accuracy reasoning and accuracy-domination reasoning, must be paired with a fine-grained and a coarse-grained type-individuation of methods, respectively. I argue that while the first pair is wholly irrelevant to the question of the truth-connection, the second affords the means to a permissivist explanation of the truth-connected value of rationality. (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)
One famous debate in contemporary epistemology considers whether there is always one unique, epistemically rational way to respond to a given body of evidence. Generally speaking, answering “yes” to this question makes one a proponent of the Uniqueness thesis, while those who answer “no” are called “permissivists”. Another influential recent debate concerns whether non-truth-related factors can be the basis of epistemic justification, knowledge, or rational belief. Traditional theories answer “no”, and are therefore considered “purists”. However, more recently many theorists have (...) argued to the contrary, claiming that impurist factors, such as practical stakes, can sometimes encroach or even override truth-related considerations. This paper bridges the two debates by presenting and defending what I call “Impurist Permissivism”. I support Impurist Permissivism by showing how it can resist Roger White’s famous Argument from Arbitrariness (2005). (shrink)
What is the relationship between Immodesty and Permissivism? For permissivists, epistemically rational agents are sometimes permitted to take incompatible doxastic attitudes towards P. Immodesty is a requirement governing our estimations or beliefs about our own credences and standards. If agents believe that their standards and credences are not among the most truth-conducive ones available to them, they are not immodest. Some philosophers think that Immodesty is incompatible with Intrapersonal Permissivism :41–56, 2014, J Philos 116:237–262, 2019). Others think that Immodesty can (...) be used to respond to some objections against Interpersonal Permissivism :193–218). In this paper, we argue that Immodesty neither supports nor disproves Permissivism. (shrink)
In this paper, I aim to do three things. First, I introduce the distinction between the Uniqueness Thesis (U) and what I call the Conditional Uniqueness Thesis (U*). Second, I argue that despite their official advertisements, some prominent uniquers effectively defend U* rather than U. Third, some influential considerations that have been raised by the opponents of U misfire if they are interpreted as against U*. The moral is that an appreciation of the distinction between U and U* helps to (...) clarify the contours of the uniqueness debate and to avoid a good deal of talking past each other. (shrink)
Ethics committees like Institutional Review Boards and Research Ethics Committees are typically empowered to approve or reject proposed studies, typically conditional on certain conditions or revisions being met. While some have argued this power should be primarily a function of applying clear, codified requirements, most institutions and legal regimes allow discretion for IRBs to ethically evaluate studies, such as to ensure a favourable risk-benefit ratio, fair subject selection, adequate informed consent, and so forth. As a result, ethics committees typically make (...) moral demands on researchers: require them to act in a way the committee considers ethically right or appropriate. This paper argues that moral demands are legitimate only if publicly justifiable; and as a result, committee decisions are subject to a public justification requirement. Ethics committees can permissibly request for more information, changes to the research protocol or that the research is delayed or even stopped only if these demands are publicly justifiable. This latter claim is in turn justified on the basis that moral demands to φ are permissible only if we are in a position to know that the addressee ought to φ and that we are in a position to know a proposition only if it is publicly justifiable. This argument suggests that ethics committees must consciously and explicitly appeal to public reasons in their decision-making. In cases where public reasons cannot be offered, committees would not be permitted to reject a given study or make approval conditional on an amendment. (shrink)
How much does rationality constrain what we should believe on the basis of our evidence? According to this book, not very much. For most people and most bodies of evidence, there is a wide range of beliefs that rationality permits them to have in response to that evidence. The argument, which takes inspiration from William James' ideas in 'The Will to Believe', proceeds from two premises. The first is a theory about the basis of epistemic rationality. It's called epistemic utility (...) theory, and it says that what it is epistemically rational for you to believe is what it would be rational for you to choose if you were given the chance to pick your beliefs and, when picking them, you were to care only about their epistemic value. So, to say which beliefs are permitted, we must say how to measure epistemic value, and which decision rule to use when picking your beliefs. The second premise is a claim about attitudes to epistemic risk, and it says that rationality permits many different such attitudes. These attitudes can show up in epistemic utility theory in two ways: in the way you measure epistemic value; and in the decision rule you use to pick beliefs. This book explores the latter. The result is permissivism about epistemic rationality: different attitudes to epistemic risk lead to different choices of prior beliefs; given most bodies of evidence, different priors lead to different posteriors; and even once we fix your attitudes to epistemic risk, if they are at all risk-inclined, there is a range of different priors and therefore different posteriors they permit. (shrink)
There is now a significant body of literature on consequentialist ethics that propose satisficing instead of maximizing accounts. Even though epistemology recently witnessed a widespread discussion of teleological and consequentialist theories, a satisficing account is surprisingly not developed yet. The aim of this paper is to do just that. The rough idea is that epistemic rules are justified if and only if they satisfice the epistemic good, i.e., reach some threshold of epistemic value (which varies with practical context), and believing (...) is justified if and only if it follows said rules.I argue that this alternative to the implicitly established way of thinking in maximizing terms has significant advantages. First, maximizing epistemic value can be unreasonably demanding; second, a satisficing theory can make finding reasonable rules for belief formation and sustenance much more accessible; and third, a satisficing approach is a better alternative to both general subjectivist and maximizing objectivist attempts to spell out epistemic blame. (shrink)
Extreme Permissivism is the view that a body of evidence could rationally permit both the attitude of belief and disbelief towards a proposition. This paper puts forward a new argument against Extreme Permissivism, which improves on a similar style of argument due to Roger White (2005, 2014). White’s argument is built around the principle that the support relation between evidence and a hypothesis is objective: so that if evidence E makes it rational for an agent to believe a hypothesis H, (...) then E makes it rational to believe H, for all agents. In this paper, I construct a new argument against Extreme Permissivism that appeals to a logically weaker, less demanding view about evidential support, Relational Objectivity: whether a body of evidence E is more likely if H is true than if H is false is an objective matter and does not depend on how any agent interprets the relationship between E and H. Relational Objectivity is solely concerned with the conditional probabilities called likelihoods and does not put substantive constraints on an agent’s prior and posterior credences. For this reason, the presented argument avoids the standard permissivist criticism levelled against White’s argument. (shrink)
This dissertation proposes and defends a hybrid view I call Hybrid Impermissivism, which combines the following two theses: Moderate Uniqueness and Credal Permissivism. Moderate Uniqueness says that no evidence could justify both believing a proposition and its negation. However, on Moderate Uniqueness, evidence could justify both believing and suspending judgement on a proposition (hence the adjective “Moderate”). And Credal Permissivism says that more than one credal attitude could be justified on the evidence. Hybrid Impermissisim is developed into a precise theory (...) by using normative bridge principles on how rational belief and credence ought to interact. My overall conclusion is that Hybrid Impermissivism is a coherent, plausible, and conciliatory position and provides a correct characterisation of the requirements of evidence on doxastic attitudes . (shrink)
Subjectivist permissivism is a prima facie attractive view. That is, it's plausible to think that what's rational for people to believe on the basis of their evidence can vary if they have different frameworks or sets of epistemic standards. In this paper, I introduce an epistemic existentialist form of subjectivist permissivism, which I argue can better address “the arbitrariness objection” to subjectivist permissivism in general. According to the epistemic existentialist, it's not just that what's rational to believe on the basis (...) of evidence can vary according to agents’ frameworks, understood as passive aspects of individuals’ psychologies. Rather, what's rational to believe on the basis of evidence is sensitive to agents’ choices and active commitments. Here I draw on Chang's work on commitment and voluntarist reasons. The epistemic existentialist maintains that what's rational for us to believe on the basis of evidence is, at least in part, up to us. It can vary not only across individuals but for a single individual, over time, as she makes differing epistemic commitments. (shrink)
One explanation of rational peer disagreement is that agents find themselves in an epistemically permissive situation. In fact, some authors have suggested that, while evidence could be impermissive at the intrapersonal level, it is permissive at the interpersonal level. In this paper, I challenge such a claim. I will argue that, at least in cases of rational disagreement under full disclosure, there cannot be more interpersonal epistemically permissive situations than there are intrapersonal epistemically permissive situations. In other words, with respect (...) to cases of disagreement under full disclosure, I will argue that there is a necessary connection between interpersonal permissiveness and its intrapersonal counterpart. Specifically, I claim that a plausible principle of correct argumentation supports such a bridge. (shrink)
Permissivism is the view that there are evidential situations that rationally permit more than one attitude toward a proposition. In this paper, I argue for Intrapersonal Belief Permissivism (IaBP): that there are evidential situations in which a single agent can rationally adopt more than one belief-attitude toward a proposition. I give two positive arguments for IaBP; the first involves epistemic supererogation and the second involves doubt. Then, I should how these arguments give intrapersonal permissivists a distinct response to the toggling (...) objection. I conclude that IaBP is a view that philosophers should take seriously. (shrink)
Some propositions are not likely to be true overall, but are likely to be true if you believe them. Appealing to the platitude that belief aims at truth, it has become increasingly popular to defend the view that such propositions are epistemically rational to believe. However, I argue that this view runs into trouble when we consider the connection between what’s epistemically rational to believe and what’s practically rational to do. I conclude by discussing how rejecting the view bears on (...) three other epistemological issues. First, we’re able to uncover a flaw in a common argument for permissivism. Second, we can generate a problem for prominent versions of epistemic consequentialism. Finally, we can better understand the connection between epistemic rationality and truth: epistemic rationality is a guide to true propositions rather than true beliefs. (shrink)
Evidential Uniqueness is the thesis that, for any batch of evidence, there’s a unique doxastic state that a subject with that evidence should have. One of the most common kinds of objections to views that violate Evidential Uniqueness are arbitrariness objections – objections to the effect that views that don’t satisfy Evidential Uniqueness lead to unacceptable arbitrariness. The goal of this paper is to examine a variety of arbitrariness objections that have appeared in the literature, and to assess the extent (...) to which these objections bolster the case for Evidential Uniqueness. After examining a number of different arbitrariness objections, I’ll conclude that, by and large, these objections do little to bolster the case for Evidential Uniqueness. (shrink)
Recently, self-fulfilling cases, that is, ones in which an agent's believing a proposition guarantees its truth, have been offered as counterexamples to uniqueness. According to uniqueness, at most one doxastic attitude is epistemically rational given the evidence. I argue that self-fulfilling cases are not counterexamples to uniqueness because belief-formation is not governed by epistemic rationality in such cases. Specifically, this is because epistemic rationality is not just about forming true beliefs, but about tracking mind-independent truths. In support of the latter (...) claim, I offer three arguments, namely that self-fulfilling and non-self-fulfilling cases differ in their phenomenology, in the norms that guide belief formation, and in the way they relate to the evidence. (shrink)
Kopec and Titelbaum collect five alleged counterexamples to Uniqueness, the thesis that it is impossible for agents who have the same total evidence to be ideally rational in having different doxastic attitudes toward the same proposition. I argue that four of the alleged counterexamples fail, and that Uniqueness should be slightly modified to accommodate the fifth example.
There is an intuitive difference in how we think about pluralism and attitudinal diversity in epistemological contexts versus political contexts. In an epistemological context, it seems problematically arbitrary to hold a particular belief on some issue, while also thinking it perfectly reasonable to hold a totally different belief on the same issue given the same evidence. By contrast, though, it doesn’t seem problematically arbitrary to have a particular set of political commitments, while at the same time thinking it perfectly reasonable (...) for someone in a similar position have a totally different set of political commitments. This chapter examines three explanatory theses that might be used to make sense of this difference: (1) that practical commitments are desire dependent in a way that beliefs are not; (2) that there are reasons to be resolute in practical commitments, but not in beliefs; and (3) that compromise in the face of practical political disagreement doesn’t mitigate controversy, whereas compromise in the face of disagreement about mere beliefs does mitigate controversy. (shrink)
A number of authors have defended permissivism by appealing to rational supererogation, the thought that some doxastic states might be rationally permissible even though there are other, more rational beliefs available. If this is correct, then there are situations that allow for multiple rational doxastic responses, even if some of those responses are rationally suboptimal. In this paper, I will argue that this is the wrong approach to defending permissivism—there are no doxastic states that are rationally supererogatory. By the lights (...) of contemporary linguistics, ‘rational’ is an absolute gradable adjective, and as such, can only be applied to things that satisfy the top of the scale of rationality. For this reason, it is not possible to believe what is rational while also failing to believe what is rationally optimal. (shrink)
Uniqueness is the view that a body of evidence justifies a unique doxastic attitude toward any given proposition. Contemporary defenses and criticisms of Uniqueness are generally indifferent to whether we formulate the view in terms of the coarse-grained attitude of belief or the fine-grained attitude of credence. This paper articulates and discusses a hybrid view I call Hybrid Impermissivism that endorses Uniqueness about belief but rejects Uniqueness about credence. While Hybrid Impermissivism is an attractive position in several respects, I show (...) that it faces a special problem, the diachronic coordination problem, which has to do with coordinating an agent’s beliefs and credences over time. I argue that the problem is fatal for Hybrid Impermissivism. I also formulate a logically weaker version of Hybrid Impermissivism which avoids the diachronic coordination problem, but under substantive assumptions about rational credence. (shrink)
This paper discusses the uniqueness thesis, a core thesis in the epistemology of disagreement. After presenting uniqueness and clarifying relevant terms, a novel counterexample to the thesis will be introduced. This counterexample involves logical disagreement. Several objections to the counterexample are then considered, and it is argued that the best responses to the counterexample all undermine the initial motivation for uniqueness.
Is epistemic inconsistency a mere symptom of having violated other requirements of rationality—notably, reasons-responsiveness requirements? Or is inconsistency irrational on its own? This question has important implications for the debate on the normativity of epistemic rationality. In this paper, I defend a new account of the explanatory role of the requirement of epistemic consistency. Roughly, I will argue that, in cases where an epistemically rational agent is permitted to believe P and also permitted to disbelieve P, the consistency requirement plays (...) a distinct explanatory role. I will also argue that such a type of permissiveness is a live possibility when it comes to rational epistemic standards. (shrink)
Ginger Schultheis offers a novel and interesting argument against epistemic permissivism. While we think that her argument is ultimately uncompelling, we think its faults are instructive. We explore the relationship between epistemic permissivism, Margin-for-Error principles, and an epistemological version of Dominance reasoning.
Epistemic paternalism is the practice of interfering with someone’s inquiry, without their consent, for their own epistemic good. In this chapter, I explore the relationship between epistemic paternalism and two other epistemological theses: epistemic permissivism and standpoint epistemology. I argue that examining this relationship is fruitful because it sheds light on a series of cases in which epistemic paternalism is unjustified and brings out notable similarities between epistemic permissivism and standpoint epistemology.
A considerable literature has grown up around the claim of Uniqueness, according to which evidence rationally determines belief. It is opposed to Permissivism, according to which evidence underdetermines belief. This paper highlights an overlooked third possibility, according to which there is no rational doxastic attitude. I call this 'Nihilism'. I argue that adherents of the other two positions ought to reject it but that it might, nevertheless, obtain at least sometimes.
Epistemic permissivism is the view that it is possible for two people to rationally hold incompatible attitudes toward some proposition on the basis of one body of evidence. In this paper, I defend a particular version of permissivism – unacknowledged permissivism (UP) – which says that permissivism is true, but that no one can ever rationally believe that she is in a permissive case. I show that counter to what virtually all authors who have discussed UP claim, UP is an (...) attractive view: it is compatible with the intuitive motivations for permissivism and avoids a significant challenge to permissivism: the arbitrariness objection. (shrink)
Epistemologists often assume that rationality bears an important connection to the truth. In this paper I examine the implications of this commitment for permissivism: if rationality is a guide to the truth, can it also allow some leeway in how we should respond to our evidence? I first discuss a particular strategy for connecting permissive rationality and the truth, developed in a recent paper by Miriam Schoenfield. I argue that this limited truth-connection is unsatisfying, and the version of permissivism that (...) supports it faces serious challenges; so, for mainstream permissivism, the truth problem is still unsolved. I then discuss a strategy available to impermissivists, according to which rationality bears a quite strong connection to truth. I argue that this second strategy is successful. (shrink)
Rationality is intrapersonally permissive just in case there are multiple doxastic states that one agent may be rational in holding at a given time, given some body of evidence. One way for intrapersonal permissivism to be true is if there are epistemic supererogatory beliefs—beliefs that go beyond the call of epistemic duty. Despite this, there has been almost no discussion of epistemic supererogation in the permissivism literature. This paper shows that this is a mistake. It does this by arguing that (...) the most popular ways of responding to one of the major obstacles to any intrapersonally permissive all fall prey to the same problem. This problem is most naturally solved by positing a category of epistemically supererogatory belief. So intrapersonal epistemic permissivists should embrace epistemic supererogation. (shrink)
The uniqueness thesis states that for any body of evidence and any proposition, there is at most one rational doxastic attitude that an epistemic agent can take toward that proposition. Permissivism is the denial of uniqueness. Perhaps the most popular form of permissivism is what I call the Epistemic Standard View, since it relies on the concept of epistemic standards. Roughly speaking, epistemic standards encode particular ways of responding to any possible body of evidence. Since different epistemic standards may rationalize (...) different doxastic states on the same body of evidence, this view gives us a form of permissivism if different agents can have different epistemic standards. Defenders of the ESV, however, have not paid sufficient attention to what it means to have a particular epistemic standard. I argue that any theory of epistemic standard possession must satisfy two criteria to adequately address the broader needs of the ESV. The first criterion is the normative criterion: a theory of standard-possession should explain why agents are rationally required to form beliefs in accordance with their own epistemic standard, rather than any other standard. The second criterion is the applicability criterion: a theory of standard-possession should rule that agents have the epistemic standards we intuitively think they have. I then argue that no extant theories of standard-possession can satisfy both these criteria. I conclude by diagnosing why these criteria are so hard to jointly satisfy. Defenders of the ESV are thus left with a serious obstacle to forming a complete and plausible version of their view. (shrink)
Deference principles are principles that describe when, and to what extent, it’s rational to defer to others. Recently, some authors have used such principles to argue for Evidential Uniqueness, the claim that for every batch of evidence, there’s a unique doxastic state that it’s permissible for subjects with that total evidence to have. This paper has two aims. The first aim is to assess these deference-based arguments for Evidential Uniqueness. I’ll show that these arguments only work given a particular kind (...) of deference principle, and I’ll argue that there are reasons to reject these kinds of principles. The second aim of this paper is to spell out what a plausible generalized deference principle looks like. I’ll start by offering a principled rationale for taking deference to constrain rational belief. Then I’ll flesh out the kind of deference principle suggested by this rationale. Finally, I’ll show that this principle is both more plausible and more general than the principles used in the deference-based arguments for Evidential Uniqueness. (shrink)
Doxastic involuntarists have paid insufficient attention to two debates in contemporary epistemology: the permissivism debate and the debate over norms of assertion and belief. In combination, these debates highlight a conception of belief on which, if you find yourself in what I will call an ‘equipollent case’ with respect to some proposition p, there will be no reason why you can’t believe p at will. While doxastic involuntarism is virtually epistemological orthodoxy, nothing in the entire stock of objections to belief (...) at will blocks this route to doxastic voluntarism. Against the backdrop of the permissivism debate and the literature on norms of belief and assertion, doxastic involuntarism emerges as an article of faith, not the obvious truth it’s usually purported to be. (shrink)
Recent objections to epistemic permissivism have a metaepistemic flavor. Impermissivists argue that their view best accounts for connections between rationality, planning and deference. Impermissivism is also taken to best explain the value of rational belief and normative assessment. These objections pose a series of metaepistemic explanatory challenges for permissivism. In this paper, I illustrate how permissivists might meet their explanatory burdens by developing two permissivist metaepistemic views which fare well against the explanatory challenges.