Evidence

Edited by Christopher Michael Cloos (University of California at Santa Barbara)
About this topic
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 2006. Additional overviews of evidence include Conee & Feldman 2008 and Kelly 2008.
Related categories
Subcategories:History/traditions: Evidence

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  1. De Re Beliefs and Evidence in Legal Cases.Samuel J. Thomas - 2021 - Dissertation, Arizona State University
    For the past half-century, both jurisprudence and epistemology have been haunted by questions about why individual evidence (i.e., evidence which picks out a specific individual) can sufficiently justify a guilty or liable verdict while bare statistical evidence (i.e., statistical evidence which does not pick out a specific individual) does not sufficiently justify such a verdict. This thesis examines three popular justifications for such a disparity in verdicts – Judith Jarvis Thomson’s causal account, Enoch et al.’s sensitivity account, and Sarah Moss’ (...)
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  2. Objectivity as Independence.Alexander Reutlinger - 2021 - Episteme:1-8.
    Building on Nozick's invariantism about objectivity, I propose to define scientific objectivity in terms of counterfactual independence. I will argue that such a counterfactual independence account is (a) able to overcome the decisive shortcomings of Nozick's original invariantism and (b) applicable to three paradigmatic kinds of scientific objectivity (that is, objectivity as replication, objectivity as robustness, and objectivity as Mertonian universalism).
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  3. Against Methodological Gambling.Borut Trpin - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    Should a scientist rely on methodological triangulation? Heesen et al. (Synthese 196(8):3067–3081, 2019) recently provided a convincing affirmative answer. However, their approach requires belief gambles if the evidence is discordant. We instead propose epistemically modest triangulation (EMT), according to which one should withhold judgement in such cases. We show that for a scientist in a methodologically diffident situation the expected utility of EMT is greater than that of Heesen et al.’s (2019) triangulation or that of using a single method. We (...)
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  4. The Prospects for Debunking Non-Theistic Belief.Thaddeus Robinson - 2021 - Sophia 60 (1):83-89.
    According to The Debunking Argument, evidence from the cognitive science of religion suggests that it is epistemically inappropriate to persist in believing in the theistic God. In this paper, I focus on a reply to this argument according to which the evidence from cognitive science says nothing about the epistemic propriety of belief in the theistic God, since God may have chosen to create human beliefs in God by means of precisely the systems identified by cognitive scientists. I argue that (...)
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  5. Beliefs and Biases.Shannon Spaulding - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    Philosophers are divided over whether implicit biases are beliefs. Critics of the belief model of implicit bias argue that empirical data show that implicit biases are habitual but unstable and not sensitive to evidence. They are not rational or consistently action-guiding like beliefs are supposed to be. In contrast, proponents of the belief model of implicit bias argue that they are stable enough, sensitive to some evidence, and do guide our actions, albeit haphazardly sometimes. With the help of revisionary notions (...)
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  6. Permissivism and the Truth-Connection.Michele Palmira - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-16.
    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 (...)
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  7. Delusional Evidence-Responsiveness.Carolina Flores - forthcoming - Synthese:1-32.
    Delusions are deeply evidence-resistant. Patients with delusions are unmoved by evidence that is in direct conflict with the delusion, often responding to such evidence by offering obvious, and strange, confabulations. As a consequence, the standard view is that delusions are not evidence-responsive. This claim has been used as a key argumentative wedge in debates on the nature of delusions. Some have taken delusions to be beliefs and argued that this implies that belief is not constitutively evidence-responsive. Others hold fixed the (...)
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  8. Rehabilitating Statistical Evidence.Lewis Ross - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (1):3-23.
    Recently, the practice of deciding legal cases on purely statistical evidence has been widely criticised. Many feel uncomfortable with finding someone guilty on the basis of bare probabilities, even though the chance of error might be stupendously small. This is an important issue: with the rise of DNA profiling, courts are increasingly faced with purely statistical evidence. A prominent line of argument—endorsed by Blome-Tillmann 2017; Smith 2018; and Littlejohn 2018—rejects the use of such evidence by appealing to epistemic norms that (...)
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  9. Epistemic Defeaters.Tommaso Piazza - forthcoming - Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Article Summary You reach for the bowl with ‘sugar’ written on it only to discover, from the bad taste of your coffee, that it contained salt. Mundane experiences like these show that epistemic justification does not necessarily hold stable across possible changes of information. One can be justified in believing a proposition at a certain time (that the bowl contains sugar) and cease to be justified at a later time, as one enlarges one’s epistemic perspective (as one drinks a salty (...)
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  10. Non-Evidentialist Epistemology: Introduction and Overview.Nikolaj Jang Linding Pedersen & Luca Moretti - forthcoming - In Luca Moretti & Nikolaj Jang Linding Pedersen (eds.), Non-Evidentialist Epistemology. Leiden: Brill:
    This is the introduction to Moretti, Luca and Nikolaj Pedersen (eds), Non-Evidentialist Epistemology. Brill. Contributors: N. Ashton, A. Coliva, J. Kim, K. McCain, A. Meylan, L. Moretti, S. Moruzzi, J. Ohlorst, N. Pedersen, T. Piazza, L. Zanetti.
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  11. How Philosophers of Science Violated Their Epistemic Duties During the SARS-CoV-2 Crisis.Philippe van Basshuysen & Lucie White - manuscript
    Were governments justified in imposing lockdowns to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic? We argue that a convincing answer to this question is to date wanting, by critically analyzing the factual basis of a recent paper, “How Government Leaders Violated Their Epistemic Duties During the SARS-CoV-2 Crisis” (Winsberg et al. 2020). In their paper, Winsberg et al. argue that government leaders did not, at the beginning of the pandemic, meet the epistemic requirements necessitated to impose lockdowns. We focus on (...)
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  12. Belief, Credence, and Evidence.Elizabeth Jackson - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):5073-5092.
    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 (...)
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  13. Dinosaurs and Reasonable Disagreement.Margaret Greta Turnbull - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Research.
    Most philosophical discussions of disagreement have used idealized disagreements to draw conclusions about the nature of disagreement. I closely examine an actual, non-idealized disagreement in dinosaur paleobiology and show that it can not only teach us about the features of some of our real world disagreements, but can help us to argue for the possibility of reasonable real world disagreement.
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  14. Evidence, Knowledge, and Gas Gauges.Britton Watson - manuscript
    A brief discussion of Hawthorne's objection to evidence-first knowledge. I offer an argument towards evidence-first contextualism.
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  15. Conditionals All the Way Down.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    It is usually accepted that unconditional statements are clearer and less problematic than conditional ones. This article goes against this popular belief by advancing the contrarian hypothesis that all unconditional statements can be reduced to conditional ones due to the way our assumptions support our assertions. In fact, considering the coherentist process by which most of our different beliefs mutually support themselves, the only genuine example of unconditional statements are cases of self-justified beliefs, but these examples are controversial and few (...)
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  16. Theoretical Virtues in Eighteenth-Century Debates on Animal Cognition.Hein van den Berg - 2020 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42 (3):1-35.
    Within eighteenth-century debates on animal cognition we can distinguish at least three main theoretical positions: (i) Buffon’s mechanism, (ii) Reimarus’ theory of instincts, and (iii) the sensationalism of Condillac and Leroy. In this paper, I adopt a philosophical perspective on this debate and argue that in order to fully understand the justification Buffon, Reimarus, Condillac, and Leroy gave for their respective theories, we must pay special attention to the theoretical virtues these naturalists alluded to while justifying their position. These theoretical (...)
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  17. Extrapolating From Laboratory Behavioral Research on Nonhuman Primates Is Unjustified.Parker Crutchfield - 2020 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (4):628-645.
    Conducting research on animals is supposed to be valuable because it provides information on how human mechanisms work. But for the use of animal models to be ethically justified, it must be epistemically justified. The inference from an observation about an animal model to a conclusion about humans must be warranted for the use of animals to be moral. When researchers infer from animals to humans, it’s an extrapolation. Often non-human primates are used as animal models in laboratory behavioral research. (...)
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  18. Straight out of Durkheim? Haidt’s Neo-Durkheimian Account of Religion and the Cognitive Science of Religion.Steve Clarke - 2018 - Sophia:1-14.
    Jon Haidt, a leading figure in contemporary moral psychology, advocates a participation-centric view of religion, according to which participation in religious communal activity is significantly more important than belief in explaining religious behaviour and commitment. He describes the participation-centric view as ‘Straight out of Durkheim’. I argue that this is a misreading of Durkheim, who held that religious behaviour and commitment are the joint products of belief and participation, with neither belief nor participation being considered more important than the other. (...)
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  19. Recent Work on the Proof Paradox.Lewis D. Ross - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (6).
    Recent years have seen fresh impetus brought to debates about the proper role of statistical evidence in the law. Recent work largely centres on a set of puzzles known as the ‘proof paradox’. While these puzzles may initially seem academic, they have important ramifications for the law: raising key conceptual questions about legal proof, and practical questions about DNA evidence. This article introduces the proof paradox, why we should care about it, and new work attempting to resolve it.
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  20. How Philosophy Bears on Covid-19.Thaddeus Metz - 2020 - South African Journal of Science 116 (7/8):1.
    A short reflection on respects in which philosophers are particularly, if not uniquely, well positioned to address certain ethical and epistemological controversies pertaining to the coronavirus.
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  21. Religious Convictions and Moral Motivation.Anndrei Zavaliy - 2020 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 25 (1):141-161.
    Adherence to certain religious beliefs is often cited as both an efficient deterrent to immoral behavior and as an effective trigger of morally praiseworthy actions. I assume the truth of the externalist theory of motivation, emphasizing emotions as the most important non-cognitive elements that causally contribute to behavioral choices. While religious convictions may foster an array of complex emotions in a believer, three emotive states are singled out for a closer analysis: fear, guilt and gratitude. The results of recent empirical (...)
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  22. Précis of The Unity of Perception.Susanna Schellenberg - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):715-720.
  23. Sceptical Theism and the Paradox of Evil.Luis R. G. Oliveira - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (2):319-333.
    Given plausible assumptions about the nature of evidence and undercutting defeat, many believe that the force of the evidential problem of evil depends on sceptical theism’s being false: if evil is...
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  24. Becoming a Christian: Combining Prior Belief, Evidence, and Will. [REVIEW]Lydia McGrew - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (2):599-603.
  25. Moral Emotions: Reclaiming the Evidence of the Heart. By Anthony J. Steinbock. Pp. Xii, 341, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2014, $ 89.95/$34.95. [REVIEW]Antonio Calcagno - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (2):355-356.
  26. Necessary and Sufficient Conditions Are Converse Relations.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    According to the so-called ‘standard theory’ of conditions, the conditionship relation is converse, that is, if A is a sufficient condition for B, B is a necessary condition for A. This theory faces well-known counterexamples that appeal to both causal and other asymmetric considerations. I show that these counterexamples lose their plausibility once we clarify two key components of the standard theory: that to satisfy a condition is to instantiate a property, and that what is usually called ‘conditionship relation’ is (...)
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  27. The Big Four - Their Interdependence and Limitations.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    Four intuitions are recurrent and influential in theories about conditionals: the Ramsey’s test, the Adams’ Thesis, the Equation, and the robustness requirement. For simplicity’s sake, I call these intuitions ‘the big four’. My aim is to show that: (1) the big four are interdependent; (2) they express our inferential dispositions to employ a conditional on a modus ponens; (3) the disposition to employ conditionals on a modus ponens doesn’t have the epistemic significance that is usually attributed to it, since the (...)
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  28. A Paradox of Evidential Equivalence.David Builes - 2020 - Mind 129 (513):113-127.
    Our evidence can be about different subject matters. In fact, necessarily equivalent pieces of evidence can be about different subject matters. Does the hyperintensionality of ‘aboutness’ engender any hyperintensionality at the level of rational credence? In this paper, I present a case which seems to suggest that the answer is ‘yes’. In particular, I argue that our intuitive notions of independent evidence and inadmissible evidence are sensitive to aboutness in a hyperintensional way. We are thus left with a paradox. While (...)
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  29. Being Rational and Being Right.Juan Comesaña - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
  30. Lamentable Theology: A Response.Devin Singh - forthcoming - Modern Theology.
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  31. Induction and Hypothesis: A Study of the Logic of Confirmation.Stephen F. Barker - 1957 - Cornell University Press.
    Doubting that any version of induction could be satisfactory as the basic principle of nondemonstrative inference the author analyzes elaborately and rejects eliminative and enumerative induction in the search for a satisfactory criterion of confirmation. The basic difficulty is that induction fails to provide a means of confirming hypotheses about unobserved things. He inclines toward a method of hypothesis but rejects previous formulations in favor of one that involves systems of confirmable hypotheses that are competetively chosen as the simplest available.
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  32. Evolutionary Debunking, Self-Defeat, and All the Evidence.Silvan Wittwer - 2020 - In Michael Klenk (ed.), Higher Order Evidence and Moral Epistemology. New York, NY, USA: Routledge.
    Recently, Tomas Bogardus (2016), Andreas Mogensen (2017) and – at least on one plausible reconstruction – Sharon Street (2005) have argued that evolutionary theory debunks our moral beliefs by providing higher-order evidence of error. In response, moral realists such as Katia Vavova (2014) have objected that such evolutionary debunking arguments are self-defeating. The literature lacks any discussion of whether this self-defeat objection can be handled. My overall aim is to argue that it cannot, thus filling that lacuna – and vindicating (...)
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  33. Normative Reasons for Mentalism.Eva Schmidt - 2018 - In Christos Kyriacou & Robin McKenna (eds.), Metaepistemology: Realism and Anti-Realism. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 97-120.
    The aim of this paper is to connect the traditional epistemological issue of justification with what one might call the “new reasons paradigm” coming from the philosophy of action and metaethics. More specifically, I will show that Conee and Feldman’s mentalism, a version of internalism about justification, can profitably be spelled out in terms of subjective normative reasons. On the way to achieving this aim, I will argue that it is important to ask not just the oft-discussed ontological question about (...)
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  34. ‘Data’ in the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions, 1665–1886.Chris Meyns - 2019 - Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science.
    Was there a concept of data before the so-called ‘data revolution’? This paper contributes to the history of the concept of data by investigating uses of the term ‘data’ in texts of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions for the period 1665–1886. It surveys how the notion enters the journal as a technical term in mathematics, and charts how over time it expands into various other scientific fields, including Earth sciences, physics and chemistry. The paper argues that in these texts the (...)
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  35. Objašnjenje, evidencija, teorija (Explanation, Evidence, Theory).Daniel Kostic & Dusko Prelevic - 2014 - Belgrade, Serbia: Treći program.
  36. Review of P. Copan and Craig, W. (Eds.) The Kalām Cosmological Argument Volume Two: Scientific Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe. [REVIEW]Graham Oppy - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (3):225-229.
    This is a commissioned review of Copan, P. and Craig, W. The Kalām Cosmological Argument Volume Two: Scientific Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe New York: Bloomsbury, US$172.50, ISBN 978-1-50-133587-7.
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  37. Knowing Our Limits.Nathan Ballantyne - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Changing our minds isn't easy. Even when we recognize our views are disputed by intelligent and informed people, we rarely doubt our rightness. Why is this so? How can we become more open-minded, putting ourselves in a better position to tolerate conflict, advance collective inquiry, and learn from differing perspectives in a complex world? -/- Nathan Ballantyne defends the indispensable role of epistemology in tackling these issues. For early modern philosophers, the point of reflecting on inquiry was to understand how (...)
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  38. Virtuous Faith.Travis M. Dickinson - 2019 - Philosophia Christi 21 (1):119-134.
    The notion of faith has been variously understood throughout the course of Christian intellectual history. It has been common to construe faith in epistemological terms, especially by critics of religious faith. In this paper, I argue that faith, especially faith that is had in the context of relationships, should be understood as an act of ventured trust. This is not to say that beliefs and the evidence for the truth of those beliefs are unimportant. Indeed, I argue that acting on (...)
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  39. Review of The Paradoxical Rationality of Søren Kierkegaard. [REVIEW]Antony Aumann - 2014 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2014.
    Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) has often been cast as an irrationalist -- an enemy of reason, logic, and perhaps even truth. It is easy to see why. Some of his works encourage us to "crucify" our understanding or to take a leap of faith beyond the evidence.[1] We also encounter texts suggesting that passionate beliefs are more important than true ones.[2] Perhaps his most frequently read book, Fear and Trembling, lauds Abraham for following God's commands "by virtue of the absurd."[3] Finally, (...)
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  40. Belief and Credence: Why the Attitude-Type Matters.Elizabeth Jackson - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2477-2496.
    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 epistemologists should pay attention (...)
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  41. Das Petrusbild nach außerkanonischen Zeugnissen.Michael Mees - 1975 - Zeitschrift für Religions- Und Geistesgeschichte 27 (3):193-205.
  42. The Epistemic Superiority of Experiment to Simulation.Sherrilyn Roush - 2018 - Synthese 195 (11):4883-4906.
    This paper defends the naïve thesis that the method of experiment has per se an epistemic superiority over the method of computer simulation, a view that has been rejected by some philosophers writing about simulation, and whose grounds have been hard to pin down by its defenders. I further argue that this superiority does not come from the experiment’s object being materially similar to the target in the world that the investigator is trying to learn about, as both sides of (...)
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  43. 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 (...)
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  44. 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.
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  45. 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.
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  46. 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 (...)
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  47. Patient-Specific Devices and Population-Level Evidence: Evaluating Therapeutic Interventions with Inherent Variation.Mary Jean Walker - 2018 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 21 (3):335-345.
    Designing and manufacturing medical devices for specific patients is becoming increasingly feasible with developments in 3D printing and 3D imaging software. This raises the question of how patient-specific devices can be evaluated, since our ‘gold standard’ method for evaluation, the randomised controlled trial, requires that an intervention is standardised across a number of individuals in an experimental group. I distinguish several senses of patient-specific device, and focus the discussion on understanding the problem of variations between instances of an intervention for (...)
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  48. Douglas Walton: Argument Evaluation and Evidence: Springer, 2016, 286 Pp. [REVIEW]Marcello Di Bello & Bart Verheij - 2018 - Argumentation 32 (2):301-307.
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  49. Combining Probability with Qualitative Degree-of-Certainty Metrics in Assessment.Casey Helgeson, Richard Bradley & Brian Hill - 2018 - Climatic Change 149:517-525.
    Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) employ an evolving framework of calibrated language for assessing and communicating degrees of certainty in findings. A persistent challenge for this framework has been ambiguity in the relationship between multiple degree-of-certainty metrics. We aim to clarify the relationship between the likelihood and confidence metrics used in the Fifth Assessment Report (2013), with benefits for mathematical consistency among multiple findings and for usability in downstream modeling and decision analysis. We discuss how our (...)
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  50. Intuitions Are Used as Evidence in Philosophy.Nevin Climenhaga - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):69-104.
    In recent years a growing number of philosophers writing about the methodology of philosophy have defended the surprising claim that philosophers do not use intuitions as evidence. In this paper I defend the contrary view that philosophers do use intuitions as evidence. I argue that this thesis is the best explanation of several salient facts about philosophical practice. First, philosophers tend to believe propositions which they find intuitive. Second, philosophers offer error theories for intuitions that conflict with their theories. Finally, (...)
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