Edited by Christopher Michael Cloos (University of California at Santa Barbara)
About this topic

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 2006. Additional overviews of evidence include Conee & Feldman 2008 and Kelly 2008.
Related categories
Subcategories:History/traditions: Evidence

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Material to categorize
  1. Reasons, Evidence, and Explanations.John Brunero - 2018 - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 321-341.
  2. Can Experience Fulfill the Many Roles of Evidence?Logan Paul Gage - 2018 - Quaestiones Disputatae 8 (2):87-111.
    It is still a live question in epistemology and philosophy of science as to what exactly evidence is. In my view, evidence consists in experiences called “seemings.” This view is a version of the phenomenal conception of evidence, the position that evidence consists in nonfactive mental states with propositional content. This conception is opposed by sense-data theorists, disjunctivists, and those who think evidence consists in physical objects or publicly observable states of affairs—call it the courtroom conception of evidence. Thomas Kelly (...)
  3. Belief, Credence, and Evidence.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    I explore how rational belief and rational credence relate to evidence. I begin by looking at three cases where rational belief and credence seem to respond differently to evidence: cases of naked statistical evidence, lotteries, and hedged assertions. I consider an explanation for these cases, namely, that one ought not form beliefs on the basis of statistical evidence alone, and raise worries for this view. Then, I suggest another view that explains how belief and credence relate to evidence. My view (...)
  4. Belief and Credence: Why the Attitude-Type Matters.Elizabeth Grace Jackson - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-20.
    In this paper, I argue that the relationship between belief and credence is a central question in epistemology. This is because the belief-credence relationship has significant implications for a number of current epistemological issues. I focus on five controversies: permissivism, disagreement, pragmatic encroachment, doxastic voluntarism, and the relationship between doxastic attitudes and prudential rationality. I argue that each debate is constrained in particular ways, depending on whether the relevant attitude is belief or credence. This means that (i) epistemologists should pay (...)
  5. Self-Evidence and Proof.C. H. Perelman - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (127):289 - 302.
    There is an argument, well known in the history of philosophy, which makes all knowledge ultimately depend on some kind of intuitive or sensory immediacy. According to this argument, either the proposition itself is self–evident; 2 or else it can be shown to follow, with the help of a chain of intermediate links, from other propositions which are self–evident. Moreover, it is this self–evidence of immediate knowledge and only this which, again speaking traditionally, sufficiently guarantees the truth of the affirmations (...)
  6. Rational Reliance.James F. Ross - manuscript
    The notion of rational certainty[1] had developed a long way in four decades. Many now recognize that even to do science we characteristically claim rational certainty where we lack supporting proof of our own, have not engaged in some balancing of evidence, and have not even undertaken any articulate inquiry. Many further recognize that rational reliance is notably voluntary[2]and that our feelings, especially refined feelings, have indispensable roles in determining our willing reliances and in sustaining them. Scientists, and ordinary people, (...)
  7. Evidence as a Criterion.M. der Schaavanr - unknown
  8. Historical Inductions Meet the Material Theory.Elay Shech - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    Historical inductions, viz., the pessimistic meta-induction and the problem of unconceived alternatives, are critically analyzed via John D. Norton’s material theory of induction and subsequently rejected as non-cogent arguments. It is suggested that the material theory is amenable to a local version of the pessimistic meta-induction, e.g., in the context of some medical studies.
  9. The Problem of Unreasoned Beliefs.W. T. Stace - 1945 - Mind 54 (213):27-49.
  10. The Problem of Unreasoned Beliefs (II.).W. T. Stace - 1945 - Mind 54 (214):122-147.
  11. Bayesian Norms and Non-Ideal Agents.Julia Staffel - forthcoming - In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton M. Littlejohn (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy Evidence. Routledge.
    Bayesian epistemology provides a popular and powerful framework for modeling rational norms on credences, including how rational agents should respond to evidence. The framework is built on the assumption that ideally rational agents have credences, or degrees of belief, that are representable by numbers that obey the axioms of probability. From there, further constraints are proposed regarding which credence assignments are rationally permissible, and how rational agents’ credences should change upon learning new evidence. While the details are hotly disputed, all (...)
  12. Cohen on Evidential Support.R. G. Swinburne - 1972 - Mind 81 (322):244-248.
Evidence and Knowledge
  1. Evidence, Explanation, and Realism: Essays in the Philosophy of Science.Peter Achinstein - 2010 - 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 ...
  2. The Book of Evidence.Peter Achinstein - 2001 - 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, (...)
  3. Why Philosophical Theories of Evidence Are (and Ought to Be) Ignored by Scientists.Peter Achinstein - 2000 - 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.
  4. The Concept of Evidence.Peter Achinstein (ed.) - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
  5. Empirical Evidence and the Knowledge-That/Knowledge-How Distinction.Marcus P. Adams - 2009 - 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 (...)
  6. Epistemics and the Total Evidence Requirement.Jonathan E. Adler - 1989 - Philosophia 19 (2-3):227-243.
  7. The Jury's Still Out on What Constitutes a Microaggression.Musa Al-Gharbi - 2018 - In Gary Weiner (ed.), Microaggressions, Trigger Warnings & Safe Spaces. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Greenhaven Press. pp. 106-13.
    In "Microaggressions: Strong Claims, Inadequate Evidence," Scott Lillenfeld argues that, despite a decade of scholarship, the Microaggression Research Program (MRP) continues to suffer serious analytic and evidentiary problems. After walking through these shortcomings, he provides 18 suggestions to help improve the reliability and utility of the MRP. In "Microaggressions and 'Evidence': Experimental or Experiential Reality?" Derald Wing Sue responds. This chapter provides background on the origin of the MRP, and referees the dispute between Lillenfeld and Sue about its contemporary status.
  8. Inference From Signs: Ancient Debates About the Nature of Evidence.James Allen - 2001 - 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.
  9. Experts, Evidence, and Epistemic Independence.Ben Almassi - 2007 - 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 (...)
  10. On Providing Evidence.Charity Anderson - 2018 - Episteme 15 (3):245-260.
    Obligations to provide evidence to others arise in many contexts. This paper develops a framework within which to understand what it is to provide evidence to someone. I argue that an initially plausible connection between evidence-providing and evidence-possession fails: it is not the case that in order to count as providing evidence to someone, the intended recipient must have the evidence. I further argue that the following is possible: evidence is provided to an agent, the agent does not have the (...)
  11. Reasons and Rationalizations: The Limits to Organizational Knowledge.Chris Argyris (ed.) - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
    This is a book about how social sciences can be improved in ways that its relevance is expanded, the applicability of its knowledge is enlarged and increased, and the commitment to questioning the status quo is strengthened.
  12. Review of Sherrilyn Roush, Tracking Truth: Knowledge, Evidence and Science[REVIEW]Horacio Arló-Costa - 2006 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (7).
  13. Some Evidence is False.Alexander Arnold - 2013 - 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.
  14. Self-Evidence.Robert Audi - 1999 - Philosophical Perspectives 13 (s13):205-228.
  15. Haack's Evidence and Inquiry.Bruce Aune - 1996 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):627 - 632.
  16. Haack's Evidence and Inquiry.Review author[S.]: Bruce Aune - 1996 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):627-632.
  17. Giving Your Knowledge Half a Chance.Andrew Bacon - 2014 - Philosophical Studies (2):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 (...)
  18. Defeatism Defeated.Max Baker-Hytch & Matthew A. Benton - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):40-66.
    Many epistemologists are enamored with a defeat condition on knowledge. In this paper we present some implementation problems for defeatism, understood along either internalist or externalist lines. We then propose that one who accepts a knowledge norm of belief, according to which one ought to believe only what one knows, can explain away much of the motivation for defeatism. This is an important result, because on the one hand it respects the plausibility of the intuitions about defeat shared by many (...)
  19. Studies in the Philosophy of Logic and Knowledge.Thomas Baldwin & Timothy Smiley (eds.) - 2005 - Oup/British Academy.
    Questions about knowledge, and about the relation between logic and language, are at the heart of philosophy. Eleven distinguished philosophers from Britain and America contribute papers on such questions. All the contributions are examples of recent philosophy at its best. The first half of the book constitutes a running debate about knowledge, evidence and doubt. The second half tackles questions about logic and its relation to language.
  20. The Logic of Justified Belief, Explicit Knowledge, and Conclusive Evidence.Alexandru Baltag, Bryan Renne & Sonja Smets - 2014 - Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 165 (1):49-81.
    We present a complete, decidable logic for reasoning about a notion of completely trustworthy evidence and its relations to justifiable belief and knowledge, as well as to their explicit justifications. This logic makes use of a number of evidence-related notions such as availability, admissibility, and “goodness” of a piece of evidence, and is based on an innovative modification of the Fitting semantics for Artemovʼs Justification Logic designed to preempt Gettier-type counterexamples. We combine this with ideas from belief revision and awareness (...)
  21. Evidence and Leverage: Comment on Roush.Eric Christian Barnes - 2008 - 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 (...)
  22. Knowledge and Dogmatism.Peter Baumann - 2013 - 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’ (...)
  23. A Priori Knowledge: Replies to William Lycan and Ernest Sosa.George Bealer - 1996 - Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):163-174.
    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 (...)
  24. The Philosophical Limits of Scientific Essentialism.George Bealer - 1987 - Philosophical Perspectives 1:289-365.
    Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities 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 is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is also reliable. Included is an outline of a (...)
  25. The Epistemology of Evidence in Cognitive Neuroscience.William P. Bechtel - forthcoming - 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 (...)
  26. Evidence.Andrew Bell, John Swenson-Wright & Karin Tybjerg (eds.) - 2008 - 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.
  27. Knowledge and Evidence You Should Have Had.Matthew A. Benton - 2016 - Episteme 13 (4):471-479.
    Epistemologists focus primarily on cases of knowledge, belief, or credence where the evidence which one possesses, or on which one is relying, plays a fundamental role in the epistemic or normative status of one's doxastic state. Recent work in epistemology goes beyond the evidence one possesses to consider the relevance for such statuses of evidence which one does not possess, particularly when there is a sense in which one should have had some evidence. I focus here on Sanford Goldberg's approach (...)
  28. Evil and Evidence.Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Yoaav Isaacs - 2016 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 7:1-31.
    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 dispel some confusions about these notions, in particular by clarifying their roles within a probabilistic epistemology. In addition, we develop new responses to the problem of evil from both the phenomenal (...)
  29. Veritistic Value and the Use of Evidence: A Shortcoming of Goldman's Epistemic Evaluation of Social Practices.Hans Berends - 2001 - Social Epistemology 16 (2):177 – 179.
  30. The Routledge Companion to Epistemology.Sven Bernecker & Duncan Pritchard (eds.) - 2010 - Routledge.
    Epistemology, the philosophy of knowledge, is at the core of many of the central debates and issues in philosophy, interrogating the notions of truth, objectivity, trust, belief and perception. _The Routledge Companion to Epistemology_ provides a comprehensive and the up-to-date survey of epistemology, charting its history, providing a thorough account of its key thinkers and movements, and addressing enduring questions and contemporary research in the field. Organized thematically, the _Companion_ is divided into ten sections: Foundational Issues, The Analysis of Knowledge, (...)
  31. Evidence and Inference.Alexander Bird - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:299-317.
    I articulate a functional characterisation of the concept of evidence, according to which evidence is that which allows us to make inferences that extend our knowledge. This entails Williamson's equation of knowledge with evidence.
  32. Inductive Knowledge.Alexander Bird - 2009 - In D. Pritchard (ed.), The 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 (...)
  33. Underdetermination and Evidence.Alexander Bird - 2007 - 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.
  34. Abductive Knowledge and Holmesian Inference.Alexander Bird - 2005 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 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 (...)
  35. Is Evidence Non-Inferential?Alexander Bird - 2004 - 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.
  36. Clocks, Evidence, and the “Truth-Maker Solution”.John Biro - 2014 - Acta Analytica 29 (3):377-381.
    Adrian Heathcote and I agree that a stopped clock does not show—as the adage has it—the right time twice a day, but he thinks, as I do not, that it does show what time it stopped. To think that it does is to treat the position of its hands as evidence of its stopping at the time it did. Add to the justified-true-belief analysis of knowledge the requirement that the evidence on the basis of which the believer is justified be (...)
  37. The Limitations of Evidence.Douglas Black - 1998 - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 42 (1):1-7.
  38. Infallibilism, Evidence and Pragmatics.Jessica Brown - 2013 - Analysis 73 (4):626-635.
    According to one contemporary formulation of infallibilism, probability 1 infallibilism, if a subject knows that p, then the probability of p on her evidence is 1. To avoid an implausible scepticism about knowledge, probability 1 infallibilism needs to allow that, in a wide range of cases, a proposition can be evidence for itself. However, such infallibilism needs to explain why it is typically infelicitous to cite p as evidence for p itself. I argue that probability 1 infallibilism has no explanation (...)
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