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. 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 (...)
  2. 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.
  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. 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.
  5. 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 (...)
  6. 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 (...)
  7. Douglas Walton: Argument Evaluation and Evidence. [REVIEW]Marcello Di Bello & Bart Verheij - 2018 - Argumentation 32 (2):301-307.
  8. 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 (...)
  9. Evidence as a Criterion.M. der Schaavanr - unknown
  10. 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, (...)
  11. The Problem of Unreasoned Beliefs.W. T. Stace - 1945 - Mind 54 (213):27-49.
  12. The Problem of Unreasoned Beliefs (II.).W. T. Stace - 1945 - Mind 54 (214):122-147.
  13. Cohen on Evidential Support.R. G. Swinburne - 1972 - Mind 81 (322):244-248.
Evidence and Knowledge
  1. The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle - Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 2nd Edition.Michael Starks - 2019 - Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press.
    I provide a critical survey of some of the major findings of Wittgenstein and Searle on the logical structure of intentionality (mind, language, behavior), taking as my starting point Wittgenstein’s fundamental discovery –that all truly ‘philosophical’ problems are the same—confusions about how to use language in a particular context, and so all solutions are the same—looking at how language can be used in the context at issue so that its truth conditions (Conditions of Satisfaction or COS) are clear. The basic (...)
  2. Fragmentation and Higher-Order Evidence.Daniel Greco - forthcoming - In Higher-Order Evidence: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
  3. Rescuing the Assertability of Measurement Reports.Michael J. Shaffer - 2019 - Acta Analytica 34 (1):39-51.
    It is wholly uncontroversial that measurements-or, more properly, propositions that are measurement reports-are often paradigmatically good cases of propositions that serve the function of evidence. In normal cases it is also obvious that stating such a report is an utterly pedestrian case of successful assertion. So, for example, there is nothing controversial about the following claims: (1) that a proposition to the effect that a particular thermometer reads 104C when properly used to determine the temperature of a particular patient is (...)
  4. Rationality and Truth.Stewart Cohen & Juan Comesaña - forthcoming - In Julien Dutant & Fabian Dorsch (eds.), The New Evil Demon. Oxford University Press.
    The traditional view in epistemology is that we must distinguish between being rational and being right (that is also, by the way, the traditional view about practical rationality). In his paper in this volume, Williamson proposes an alternative view according to which only beliefs that amount to knowledge are rational (and, thus, no false belief is rational). It is healthy to challenge tradition, in philosophy as much as elsewhere. But, in this instance, we think that tradition has it right. In (...)
  5. Influences on Primary Care Provider Imaging for a Hypothetical Patient with Low Back Pain.Hh le, Matt DeCamp, Amanda Bertram, Minal Kale & Zackary Berger - 2018 - Southern Journal of Medicine 12 (111):758-762.
    OBJECTIVE: How outside factors affect physician decision making remains an open question of vital importance. We sought to investigate the importance of various influences on physician decision making when clinical guidelines differ from patient preference. -/- METHODS: An online survey asking 469 primary care providers (PCPs) across four practice sites whether they would order magnetic resonance imaging for a patient with uncomplicated back pain. Participants were randomized to one of four scenarios: a patient's preference for imaging (control), a patient's preference (...)
  6. Epistemic Internalism and Testimonial Justification.Jonathan Egeland - forthcoming - Episteme:1-17.
    According to epistemic internalists, facts about justification supervene upon one's internal reasons for believing certain propositions. Epistemic externalists, on the other hand, deny this. More specifically, externalists think that the supervenience base of justification isn't exhausted by one's internal reasons for believing certain propositions. In the last decade, the internalism–externalism debate has made its mark on the epistemology of testimony. The proponent of internalism about the epistemology of testimony claims that a hearer's testimonial justification for believing that p supervenes upon (...)
  7. Lewis on Williamson: Evidence, Knowledge and Vagueness.Daniel Nolan - manuscript
    In May 1999, David Lewis sent Timothy Williamson an intriguing letter about knowledge and vagueness. This paper has a brief discussion of Lewis on evidence, and a longer discussion of a distinctive theory of vagueness Lewis puts forward in this letter, one rather different from standard forms of supervaluationism. Lewis's theory enables him to provide distinctive responses to the challenges to supervaluationism famously offered in chapter 5 of Timothy Williamson's 1994 book Vagueness. However these responses bring out a number of (...)
  8. On Williamson's Account of Propositional Evidence.Artūrs Logins - 2013 - Logique Et Analyse 56 (223):347-354.
    In this paper I examine Williamson’s (2000) claim that all evidence is propositional. I propose to reject this claim. I give two objections to two premises of Williamson’s argument. The first is a critique of Williamson’s claim that we choose between hypotheses on the basis of our evidence. The second objection is that Williamson’s claim that evidence is an explanandum of an hypothesis leads to counter-intuitive consequences and thus is not central to what evidence is, at least on an ordinary (...)
  9. Neither/Nor.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - In Casey Doyle, Joe Milburn & Duncan Pritchard (eds.), New Issues in Epistemological Disjunctivism. Routledge.
    Abstract: On one formulation, epistemological disjunctivism is the view that our perceptual beliefs constitute knowledge when they are based on reasons that provide them with factive support. Some would argue that it is impossible to understand how perceptual knowledge is possible unless we assume that we have such reasons to support our perceptual beliefs. Some would argue that it is impossible to understand how perceptual experience could furnish us with these reasons unless we assume that the traditional view of experience (...)
  10. Perceptual Knowledge, Discrimination, and Closure.Santiago Echeverri - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    Carter and Pritchard (2016) and Pritchard (2010, 2012, 2016) have tried to reconcile the intuition that perceptual knowledge requires only limited discriminatory abilities with the closure principle. To this end, they have introduced two theoretical innovations: a contrast between two ways of introducing error-possibilities and a distinction between discriminating and favoring evidence. I argue that their solution faces the “sufficiency problem”: it is unclear whether the evidence that is normally available to adult humans is sufficient to retain knowledge of the (...)
  11. On the Normativity of Rationality and of Normative Reasons.Clayton Littlejohn & Julien Dutant - manuscript
    Abstract: Scepticism about the normativity of rationality is often partially based on the assumption that normative reasons are normative. Starting from the assumption that normative reasons are normative, someone will argue that reasons and rationality can require different things from us and conclude that rationality must not be normative. We think that the assumption that normative reasons are normative is one that deserves more scrutiny, particularly if it turns out, as we shall argue, that no one has yet shown that (...)
  12. Just Do It? When to Do What You Judge You Ought to Do.Julien Dutant & Clayton Littlejohn - 2018 - Synthese 195 (9):3755-3772.
    While it is generally believed that justification is a fallible guide to the truth, there might be interesting exceptions to this general rule. In recent work on bridge-principles, an increasing number of authors have argued that truths about what a subject ought to do are truths we stand in some privileged epistemic relation to and that our justified normative beliefs are beliefs that will not lead us astray. If these bridge-principles hold, it suggests that justification might play an interesting role (...)
  13. Direct Inference in the Material Theory of Induction.William Peden - unknown
    John D. Norton’s “Material Theory of Induction” has been one of the most intriguing recent additions to the philosophy of induction. Norton’s account appears to be a notably natural account of actual inductive practices, though his theory has attracted considerable criticisms. I detail several novel issues for his theory, but argue that supplementing the Material Theory with a theory of direct inference could address these problems. I argue that if this combination is possible, a stronger theory of inductive reasoning emerges, (...)
  14. The Demon That Makes Us Go Mental: Mentalism Defended.Jonathan Egeland - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-18.
    Facts about justification are not brute facts. They are epistemic facts that depend upon more fundamental non-epistemic facts. Internalists about justification often argue for mentalism, which claims that facts about justification supervene upon one’s non-factive mental states, using Lehrer and Cohen’s :191–207, 1983) New Evil Demon Problem. The New Evil Demon Problem tells you to imagine yourself the victim of a Cartesian demon who deceives you about what the external world is like, and then asks whether you nevertheless have justification (...)
  15. The Prejudicial Effects of 'Reasonable Steps' in Analysis of Mens Rea and Sexual Consent: Two Solutions.Lucinda Vandervort - 2018 - Alberta Law Review 55 (4):933-970.
    This article examines the operation of “reasonable steps” as a statutory standard for analysis of the availability of the defence of belief in consent in sexual assault cases and concludes that application of section 273.2(b) of the Criminal Code, as presently worded, often undermines the legal validity and correctness of decisions about whether the accused acted with mens rea, a guilty, blameworthy state of mind. When the conduct of an accused who is alleged to have made a mistake about whether (...)
  16. The Externalist’s Guide to Fishing for Compliments.Bernhard Salow - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):691-728.
    Suppose you’d like to believe that p, whether or not it’s true. What can you do to help? A natural initial thought is that you could engage in Intentionally Biased Inquiry : you could look into whether p, but do so in a way that you expect to predominantly yield evidence in favour of p. This paper hopes to do two things. The first is to argue that this initial thought is mistaken: intentionally biased inquiry is impossible. The second is (...)
  17. 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.
  18. 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 (...)
  19. Safety and the Preface Paradox.Michael J. Shaffer - 2018 - Logos and Episteme 9 (2):215-219.
    In the preface paradox the posited author is supposed to know both that every sentence in a book is true and that not every sentence in that book is true. But, this result is paradoxically contradictory. The paradoxicality exhibited in such cases arises chiefly out of the recognition that large-scale and difficult tasks like verifying the truth of large sets of sentences typically involve errors even given our best efforts to be epistemically diligent. This paper introduces an argument designed to (...)
  20. Visual Representations in Science - Concept and Epistemology.Nicola Mößner - 2018 - London AND New York: Routledge.
    Visual representations (photographs, diagrams, etc.) play crucial roles in scientific processes. They help, for example, to communicate research results and hypotheses to scientific peers as well as to the lay audience. In genuine research activities they are used as evidence or as surrogates for research objects which are otherwise cognitively inaccessible. Despite their important functional roles in scientific practices, philosophers of science have more or less neglected visual representations in their analyses of epistemic methods and tools of reasoning in science. (...)
  21. Intraspecies Impermissivism.Scott Stapleford - 2018 - Episteme:1-17.
    The Uniqueness thesis says that any body of evidence E uniquely determines which doxastic attitude is rationally permissible regarding some proposition P. Permissivists deny Uniqueness. They are charged with arbitrarily favouring one doxastic attitude out of the set of attitudes they regard as rationally permissible. Simpson (Episteme, 2017) claims that an appeal to differences in cognitive abilities can remove the arbitrariness. I argue that it can't. Impermissivists face a challenge of their own: The problem of fine distinctions. I suggest that (...)
  22. A Dilemma for the Knowledge Despite Falsehood Strategy.Christopher Buford & Christopher Michael Cloos - 2018 - Episteme 15 (2):166-182.
    One strategy for dealing with apparent cases of knowledge from falsehood is to deny that the knowledge actually is from a falsehood. Those endorsing such a move have suggested that cases of knowledge from falsehood are instead cases of knowledge despite falsehood. We here provide a dilemma for those wanting to reject the possibility of knowledge from falsehood. The dilemma is explained in part by examining recent attempts to deny that knowledge can be inferentially derived from falsehood.
  23. Anti-Intellectualism.Blake Roeber - 2018 - Mind 127 (506):437-466.
    Intellectualists disagree with anti-intellectualists about the relationship between knowledge and truth. According to intellectualists, this relationship is intimate. Knowledge entails true belief, and in fact everything required for knowledge is somehow relevant to the probability that the belief in question is true. According to anti-intellectualists, this relationship isn’t intimate. Or, at least, it’s not as intimate as intellectualists think. Factors that aren’t in any way relevant to the probability that a belief is true can make a difference to whether it (...)
  24. Does Luck Exclude Knowledge or Certainty?Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - forthcoming - Synthese.
    A popular account of luck, with a firm basis in common sense, holds that a necessary condition for an event to be lucky, is that it was suitably improbable. It has recently been proposed that this improbability condition is best understood in epistemic terms. Two different versions of this proposal have been advanced. According to my own proposal (Steglich-Petersen 2010), whether an event is lucky for some agent depends on whether the agent was in a position to know that the (...)
  25. Optogenetics, Pluralism, and Progress.Jacqueline Anne Sullivan - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (00):1090-1101.
    Optogenetic techniques are described as “revolutionary” for the unprecedented causal control they allow neuroscientists to exert over neural activity in awake behaving animals. In this paper, I demonstrate by means of a case study that optogenetic techniques will only illuminate causal links between the brain and behavior to the extent that their error characteristics are known and, further, that determining these error characteristics requires comparison of optogenetic techniques with techniques having well known error characteristics and consideration of the broader neural (...)
  26. In Defense of an Epistemic Probability Account of Luck.Gregory Stoutenburg - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Many philosophers think that part of what makes an event lucky concerns how probable that event is. In this paper, I argue that an epistemic probability account of luck successfully resists recent arguments that all theories of luck, including probability theories, are subject to counterexample (Hales 2016). I argue that an event is lucky if and only if it is significant and sufficiently improbable. An event is significant when, given some reflection, the subject would regard the event as significant, and (...)
  27. Logic of Probability and Conjecture.Harry Crane - unknown
    I introduce a formalization of probability which takes the concept of 'evidence' as primitive. In parallel to the intuitionistic conception of truth, in which 'proof' is primitive and an assertion A is judged to be true just in case there is a proof witnessing it, here 'evidence' is primitive and A is judged to be probable just in case there is evidence supporting it. I formalize this outlook by representing propositions as types in Martin-Lof type theory (MLTT) and defining a (...)
  28. The Problem of Evaluating Automated Large-Scale Evidence Aggregators.Nicolas Wüthrich & Katie Steele - forthcoming - Synthese:1-28.
    In the biomedical context, policy makers face a large amount of potentially discordant evidence from different sources. This prompts the question of how this evidence should be aggregated in the interests of best-informed policy recommendations. The starting point of our discussion is Hunter and Williams’ recent work on an automated aggregation method for medical evidence. Our negative claim is that it is far from clear what the relevant criteria for evaluating an evidence aggregator of this sort are. What is the (...)
  29. Evidence, Explanation and Predictive Data Modelling.Steve Mckinlay - 2017 - Philosophy and Technology 30 (4):461-473.
    Predictive risk modelling is a computational method used to generate probabilities correlating events. The output of such systems is typically represented by a statistical score derived from various related and often arbitrary datasets. In many cases, the information generated by such systems is treated as a form of evidence to justify further action. This paper examines the nature of the information generated by such systems and compares it with more orthodox notions of evidence found in epistemology. The paper focuses on (...)
  30. Necessary Truths, Evidence, and Knowledge.Artūrs Logins - 2016 - Filosofia Unisinos 17 (3):302-307.
    According to the knowledge view of evidence notoriously defended by Timothy Williamson (2000), for any subject, her evidence consists of all and only her propositional knowledge (E=K). Many have found (E=K) implausible. However, few have offered arguments against Williamson’s positive case for (E=K). In this paper, I propose an argument against Williamson’s positive case in favour of (E=K). Central to my argument is the possibility of the knowledge of necessary truths. I also draw some more general conclusions concerning theorizing about (...)
  31. Two Conceptions of Weight of Evidence in Peirce’s Illustrations of the Logic of Science.Jeff Kasser - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):629-648.
    Weight of evidence continues to be a powerful metaphor within formal approaches to epistemology. But attempts to construe the metaphor in precise and useful ways have encountered formidable obstacles. This paper shows that two quite different understandings of evidential weight can be traced back to one 1878 article by C.S. Peirce. One conception, often associated with I.J. Good, measures the balance or net weight of evidence, while the other, generally associated with J.M. Keynes, measures the gross weight of evidence. Conflations (...)
  32. 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.
  33. Basic Knowledge First.Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa - 2017 - Episteme 14 (3):343-361.
    An infuential twenty-first century philosophical project posits a central role for knowledge: knowledge is more fundamental than epistemic states like belief and justification. So-called “knowledge first” theorists find support for this thought in identifying central theoretical roles for knowledge. I argue that a similar methodology supports a privileged role for more specific category of basic knowledge. Some of the roles that knowledge first theorists have posited for knowledge generally are better suited for basic knowledge.
  34. Standing in a Garden of Forking Paths.Clayton Littlejohn - 2018 - In Believing in Accordance with the Evidence. Springer Verlag.
    According to the Path Principle, it is permissible to expand your set of beliefs iff (and because) the evidence you possess provides adequate support for such beliefs. If there is no path from here to there, you cannot add a belief to your belief set. If some thinker with the same type of evidential support has a path that they can take, so do you. The paths exist because of the evidence you possess and the support it provides. Evidential support (...)
  35. What is Evidence of Evidence Evidence Of?Fabio Lampert & John Biro - 2017 - Logos and Episteme 8 (2):195-206.
    Richard Feldman’s well-known principle about disagreement and evidence – usually encapsulated in the slogan, ‘evidence of evidence is evidence’, (EEE) – invites the question, what should a rational believer do when faced by such evidence, especially when the disagreement is with an epistemic peer? The question has been the subject of much controversy. However, it has been recently suggested both that the principle is subject to counterexamples and that it is trivial. If either is the case, the question of what (...)
  36. Daniel Star, Knowing Better. [REVIEW]Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  37. What to Believe About Your Belief That You're in the Good Case.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 6.
    Going about our daily lives in an orderly manner requires us, once we are aware of them, to dismiss many metaphysical possibilities. We take it for granted that we are not brains in vats, or living in the Matrix, or in an extended dream. Call these things that we take for granted “anti-skeptical assumptions”. What should a reflective agent who believes these things think of these beliefs? For various reasons, it can seem that we do not have evidence for such (...)
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