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Epistemic Decision Theory

Mind 122 (488):915-952 (2013)

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  1. On the epistemic rationality and significance of self-fulfilling beliefs.Chad Marxen - forthcoming - Synthese 199 (1):4243-4260.
    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 (...)
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  • How to endorse conciliationism.Will Fleisher - 2021 - Synthese 198 (10):9913-9939.
    I argue that recognizing a distinct doxastic attitude called endorsement, along with the epistemic norms governing it, solves the self-undermining problem for conciliationism about disagreement. I provide a novel account of how the self-undermining problem works by pointing out the auxiliary assumptions the objection relies on. These assumptions include commitment to certain epistemic principles linking belief in a theory to following prescriptions of that theory. I then argue that we have independent reason to recognize the attitude of endorsement. Endorsement is (...)
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  • Non-Measurability, Imprecise Credences, and Imprecise Chances.Yoaav Isaacs, Alan Hájek & John Hawthorne - 2021 - Mind 131 (523):892-916.
    – We offer a new motivation for imprecise probabilities. We argue that there are propositions to which precise probability cannot be assigned, but to which imprecise probability can be assigned. In such cases the alternative to imprecise probability is not precise probability, but no probability at all. And an imprecise probability is substantially better than no probability at all. Our argument is based on the mathematical phenomenon of non-measurable sets. Non-measurable propositions cannot receive precise probabilities, but there is a natural (...)
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  • The theory of games as a tool for the social epistemologist.Kevin J. S. Zollman - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1381-1401.
    Traditionally, epistemologists have distinguished between epistemic and pragmatic goals. In so doing, they presume that much of game theory is irrelevant to epistemic enterprises. I will show that this is a mistake. Even if we restrict attention to purely epistemic motivations, members of epistemic groups will face a multitude of strategic choices. I illustrate several contexts where individuals who are concerned solely with the discovery of truth will nonetheless face difficult game theoretic problems. Examples of purely epistemic coordination problems and (...)
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  • Justifying the principle of indifference.Jon Williamson - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):559-586.
    This paper presents a new argument for the Principle of Indifference. This argument can be thought of in two ways: as a pragmatic argument, justifying the principle as needing to hold if one is to minimise worst-case expected loss, or as an epistemic argument, justifying the principle as needing to hold in order to minimise worst-case expected inaccuracy. The question arises as to which interpretation is preferable. I show that the epistemic argument contradicts Evidentialism and suggest that the relative plausibility (...)
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  • Epistemology, Pettigrew Style: A Critical Notice of Accuracy and the Laws of Credence, by Richard Pettigrew1.Scott Sturgeon - 2019 - Mind 128 (512):1319-1336.
    The sharpest corner of the cutting edge of recent epistemology is to be found in Richard Pettigrew’s Accuracy and the Laws of Credence. In this fine book Pettigrew argues that a certain kind of accuracy-based value monism entails that rational credence manifests a host of features emphasized by anti-externalists in epistemology. Specifically, he demonstrates how a particular version of accuracy-based value monism—to be discussed at length below—when placed with some not implausible views about how epistemic value and rationality relate to (...)
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  • Rational social and political polarization.Daniel J. Singer, Aaron Bramson, Patrick Grim, Bennett Holman, Jiin Jung, Karen Kovaka, Anika Ranginani & William J. Berger - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2243-2267.
    Public discussions of political and social issues are often characterized by deep and persistent polarization. In social psychology, it’s standard to treat belief polarization as the product of epistemic irrationality. In contrast, we argue that the persistent disagreement that grounds political and social polarization can be produced by epistemically rational agents, when those agents have limited cognitive resources. Using an agent-based model of group deliberation, we show that groups of deliberating agents using coherence-based strategies for managing their limited resources tend (...)
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  • Permissible Epistemic Trade-Offs.Daniel J. Singer - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):281-293.
    ABSTRACTRecent rejections of epistemic consequentialism, like those from Firth, Jenkins, Berker, and Greaves, have argued that consequentialism is committed to objectionable trade-offs and suggest...
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  • How to be an Epistemic Consequentialist.Daniel J. Singer - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272):580-602.
    Epistemic consequentialists think that epistemic norms are about believing the truth and avoiding error. Recently, a number of authors have rejected epistemic consequentialism on the basis that it incorrectly sanctions tradeoffs of epistemic goodness. Here, I argue that epistemic consequentialists should borrow two lessons from ethical consequentialists to respond to these worries. Epistemic consequentialists should construe their view as an account of right belief, which they distinguish from other notions like rational and justified belief. Epistemic consequentialists should also make their (...)
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  • Demoting promoting objections to epistemic consequentialism.Daniel J. Singer - 2019 - Philosophical Issues 29 (1):268-280.
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  • Conditionalization Does Not Maximize Expected Accuracy.Miriam Schoenfield - 2017 - Mind 126 (504):1155-1187.
    Greaves and Wallace argue that conditionalization maximizes expected accuracy. In this paper I show that their result only applies to a restricted range of cases. I then show that the update procedure that maximizes expected accuracy in general is one in which, upon learning P, we conditionalize, not on P, but on the proposition that we learned P. After proving this result, I provide further generalizations and show that much of the accuracy-first epistemology program is committed to KK-like iteration principles (...)
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  • Another Argument Against Uniqueness.Thomas Raleigh - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267):327-346.
    I present an argument against the thesis of Uniqueness and in favour of Permissivism. Counterexamples to Uniqueness are provided, based on ‘Safespot’ propositions – i.e. a proposition that is guaranteed to be true provided the subject adopts a certain attitude towards it. The argument relies on a plausible principle: (roughly stated) If S knows that her believing p would be a true belief, then it is rationally permitted for S to believe p. One motivation for denying this principle – viz. (...)
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  • The Population Ethics of Belief: In Search of an Epistemic Theory X.Richard Pettigrew - 2018 - Noûs 52 (2):336-372.
    Consider Phoebe and Daphne. Phoebe has credences in 1 million propositions. Daphne, on the other hand, has credences in all of these propositions, but she's also got credences in 999 million other propositions. Phoebe's credences are all very accurate. Each of Daphne's credences, in contrast, are not very accurate at all; each is a little more accurate than it is inaccurate, but not by much. Whose doxastic state is better, Phoebe's or Daphne's? It is clear that this question is analogous (...)
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  • Replies to commentators on Accuracy and the Laws of Credence.Richard Pettigrew - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):784-800.
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  • On the pragmatic and epistemic virtues of inference to the best explanation.Richard Pettigrew - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12407-12438.
    In a series of papers over the past twenty years, and in a new book, Igor Douven has argued that Bayesians are too quick to reject versions of inference to the best explanation that cannot be accommodated within their framework. In this paper, I survey their worries and attempt to answer them using a series of pragmatic and purely epistemic arguments that I take to show that Bayes’ Rule really is the only rational way to respond to your evidence.
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  • Unifying Group Rationality.Matthew Kopec - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6:517-544.
    Various social epistemologists employ what seem to be rather distinct notions of group rationality. In this essay, I offer an account of group rationality that is able to unify the dominant notions present in the literature under a single framework. I argue that if we employ a teleological account of epistemic rationality, and then allow that there are many different epistemic goals that are worth pursuing for various groups and individuals, we can then see how those seemingly divergent understandings of (...)
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  • Epistemic utility theory’s difficult future.Chad Marxen - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7401-7421.
    According to epistemic utility theory, epistemic rationality is teleological: epistemic norms are instrumental norms that have the aim of acquiring accuracy. What’s definitive of these norms is that they can be expected to lead to the acquisition of accuracy when followed. While there’s much to be said in favor of this approach, it turns out that it faces a couple of worrisome extensional problems involving the future. The first problem involves credences about the future, and the second problem involves future (...)
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  • The Game of Belief.Barry Maguire & Jack Woods - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (2):211-249.
    It is plausible that there are epistemic reasons bearing on a distinctively epistemic standard of correctness for belief. It is also plausible that there are a range of practical reasons bearing on what to believe. These theses are often thought to be in tension with each other. Most significantly for our purposes, it is obscure how epistemic reasons and practical reasons might interact in the explanation of what one ought to believe. We draw an analogy with a similar distinction between (...)
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  • Who Cares What You Accurately Believe?Clayton Littlejohn - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):217-248.
    This is a critical discussion of the accuracy-first approach to epistemic norms. If you think of accuracy (gradational or categorical) as the fundamental epistemic good and think of epistemic goods as things that call for promotion, you might think that we should use broadly consequentialist reasoning to determine which norms govern partial and full belief. After presenting consequentialist arguments for probabilism and the normative Lockean view, I shall argue that the consequentialist framework isn't nearly as promising as it might first (...)
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  • Interpreting plural predication: homogeneity and non-maximality.Manuel Križ & Benjamin Spector - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (5):1131-1178.
    Plural definite descriptions across many languages display two well-known properties. First, they can give rise to so-called non-maximal readings, in the sense that they ‘allow for exceptions’. Second, while they tend to have a quasi-universal quantificational force in affirmative sentences, they tend to be interpreted existentially in the scope of negation. Building on previous works, we offer a theory in which sentences containing plural definite expressions trigger a family of possible interpretations, and where general principles of language use account for (...)
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  • A Counterexample to the Uniqueness Thesis.Matthew Kopec - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (2):403-409.
    In this essay, I present a straightforward counterexample to the Uniqueness Thesis, which holds, roughly speaking, that there is a unique rational response to any particular body of evidence.
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  • A pluralistic account of epistemic rationality.Matthew Kopec - 2018 - Synthese 195 (8):3571-3596.
    In this essay, I aim to motivate and defend a pluralistic view of epistemic rationality. At the core of the view is the notion that epistemic rationality is essentially a species of practical rationality put in the service of various epistemic goals. I begin by sketching some closely related views that have appeared in the literature. I then present my preferred version of the view and sketch some of its benefits. Thomas Kelly has raised challenging objections to a part of (...)
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  • The Foundations of Epistemic Decision Theory.Jason Konek & Benjamin A. Levinstein - 2019 - Mind 128 (509):69-107.
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  • Counterfactuals and Probability. [REVIEW]Justin Khoo - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (3):489-495.
  • Updating Without Evidence.Yoaav Isaacs & Jeffrey Sanford Russell - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Sometimes you are unreliable at fulfilling your doxastic plans: for example, if you plan to be fully confident in all truths, probably you will end up being fully confident in some falsehoods by mistake. In some cases, there is information that plays the classical role of *evidence*—your beliefs are perfectly discriminating with respect to some possible facts about the world—and there is a standard expected-accuracy-based justification for planning to *conditionalize* on this evidence. This planning-oriented justification extends to some cases where (...)
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  • Are There Any Epistemic Consequentialists?Tsung-Hsing Ho - 2022 - Episteme 19 (2):220-230.
    Selim Berker argues that epistemic consequentialism is pervasive in epistemology and that epistemic consequentialism is structurally flawed. is incorrect, however. I distinguish between epistemic consequentialism and epistemic instrumentalism and argue that most putative consequentialists should be considered instrumentalists. I also identify the structural problem of epistemic consequentialism Berker attempts to pinpoint and show that epistemic instrumentalism does not have the consequentialist problem.
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  • A Tale of Two Epistemologies?Alan Hájek & Hanti Lin - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (2):207-232.
    So-called “traditional epistemology” and “Bayesian epistemology” share a word, but it may often seem that the enterprises hardly share a subject matter. They differ in their central concepts. They differ in their main concerns. They differ in their main theoretical moves. And they often differ in their methodology. However, in the last decade or so, there have been a number of attempts to build bridges between the two epistemologies. Indeed, many would say that there is just one branch of philosophy (...)
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  • Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij and Jeffrey Dunn (Eds.), 2018, Epistemic Consequentialism: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, 335 pages, $77.00.Peter Hartl - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (3):1273-1281.
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  • Disagreement and the division of epistemic labor.Bjørn G. Hallsson & Klemens Kappel - 2020 - Synthese 197 (7):2823-2847.
    In this article we discuss what we call the deliberative division of epistemic labor. We present evidence that the human tendency to engage in motivated reasoning in defense of our beliefs can facilitate the occurrence of divisions of epistemic labor in deliberations among people who disagree. We further present evidence that these divisions of epistemic labor tend to promote beliefs that are better supported by the evidence. We show that promotion of these epistemic benefits stands in tension with what extant (...)
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  • A Tale of Two Epistemologies?Alan H.\'aje & Hanti Lin - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (2):207-232.
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  • Updating for Externalists.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2021 - Noûs 55 (3):487-516.
    The externalist says that your evidence could fail to tell you what evidence you do or not do have. In that case, it could be rational for you to be uncertain about what your evidence is. This is a kind of uncertainty which orthodox Bayesian epistemology has difficulty modeling. For, if externalism is correct, then the orthodox Bayesian learning norms of conditionalization and reflection are inconsistent with each other. I recommend that an externalist Bayesian reject conditionalization. In its stead, I (...)
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  • Rational endorsement.Will Fleisher - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2649-2675.
    It is valuable for inquiry to have researchers who are committed advocates of their own theories. However, in light of pervasive disagreement, such a commitment is not well explained by the idea that researchers believe their theories. Instead, this commitment, the rational attitude to take toward one’s favored theory during the course of inquiry, is what I call endorsement. Endorsement is a doxastic attitude, but one which is governed by a different type of epistemic rationality. This inclusive epistemic rationality is (...)
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  • Responsibility for Collective Epistemic Harms.Will Fleisher & Dunja Šešelja - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-41.
    Discussion of epistemic responsibility typically focuses on belief formation and actions leading to it. Similarly, accounts of collective epistemic responsibility have addressed the issue of collective belief formation and associated actions. However, there has been little discussion of collective responsibility for preventing epistemic harms, particularly those preventable only by the collective action of an unorganized group. We propose an account of collective epistemic responsibility which fills this gap. Building on Hindriks' (2019) account of collective moral responsibility, we introduce the Epistemic (...)
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  • Pursuit and inquisitive reasons.Will Fleisher - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 94 (C):17-30.
    Sometimes inquirers may rationally pursue a theory even when the available evidence does not favor that theory over others. Features of a theory that favor pursuing it are known as considerations of promise or pursuitworthiness. Examples of such reasons include that a theory is testable, that it has a useful associated analogy, and that it suggests new research and experiments. These reasons need not be evidence in favor of the theory. This raises the question: what kinds of reasons are provided (...)
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  • Endorsement and assertion.Will Fleisher - 2021 - Noûs 55 (2):363-384.
    Scientists, philosophers, and other researchers commonly assert their theories. This is surprising, as there are good reasons for skepticism about theories in cutting-edge research. I propose a new account of assertion in research contexts that vindicates these assertions. This account appeals to a distinct propositional attitude called endorsement, which is the rational attitude of committed advocacy researchers have to their theories. The account also appeals to a theory of conversational pragmatics known as the Question Under Discussion model, or QUD. Hence, (...)
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  • The Tripartite Role of Belief: Evidence, Truth, and Action.Kenny Easwaran - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (2):189-206.
    Belief and credence are often characterized in three different ways—they ought to govern our actions, they ought to be governed by our evidence, and they ought to aim at the truth. If one of these roles is to be central, we need to explain why the others should be features of the same mental state rather than separate ones. If multiple roles are equally central, then this may cause problems for some traditional arguments about what belief and credence must be (...)
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  • Probability and Logic.Kenny Easwaran - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (12):876-883.
    Probability and logic are two branches of mathematics that have important philosophical applications. This article discusses several areas of intersection between them. Several involve the role for probability in giving semantics for logic or the role of logic in governing assignments of probability. Some involve probability over non-classical logic or self-referential sentences.
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  • Group epistemic value.Jeffrey Dunn - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (1):65-92.
    Sometimes we are interested in how groups are doing epistemically in aggregate. For instance, we may want to know the epistemic impact of a change in school curriculum or the epistemic impact of abolishing peer review in the sciences. Being able to say something about how groups are doing epistemically is especially important if one is interested in pursuing a consequentialist approach to social epistemology of the sort championed by Goldman. According to this approach we evaluate social practices and institutions (...)
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  • The Attitudes We Can Have.Daniel Drucker - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (4):591-642.
    I investigate when we can (rationally) have attitudes, and when we cannot. I argue that a comprehensive theory must explain three phenomena. First, being related by descriptions or names to a proposition one has strong reason to believe is true does not guarantee that one can rationally believe that proposition. Second, such descriptions, etc. do enable individuals to rationally have various non-doxastic attitudes, such as hope and admiration. And third, even for non-doxastic attitudes like that, not just any description will (...)
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  • Doxastic permissiveness and the promise of truth.J. Drake - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4897-4912.
    The purpose of this paper is to challenge what is often called the “Uniqueness” thesis. According to this thesis, given one’s total evidence, there is a unique rational doxastic attitude that one can take to any proposition. It is sensible for defenders of Uniqueness to commit to an accompanying principle that: when some agent A has equal epistemic reason both to believe that p and to believe that not p, the unique epistemically rational doxastic attitude for A to adopt with (...)
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  • Lockeans Maximize Expected Accuracy.Kevin Dorst - 2019 - Mind 128 (509):175-211.
    The Lockean Thesis says that you must believe p iff you’re sufficiently confident of it. On some versions, the 'must' asserts a metaphysical connection; on others, it asserts a normative one. On some versions, 'sufficiently confident' refers to a fixed threshold of credence; on others, it varies with proposition and context. Claim: the Lockean Thesis follows from epistemic utility theory—the view that rational requirements are constrained by the norm to promote accuracy. Different versions of this theory generate different versions of (...)
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  • Epistemic Consequentialism. [REVIEW]Kevin Dorst - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (3):484-489.
  • Epistemic consequentialism, veritism, and scoring rules.Marc-Kevin Daoust & Charles Côté-Bouchard - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-25.
    We argue that there is a tension between two monistic claims that are the core of recent work in epistemic consequentialism. The first is a form of monism about epistemic value, commonly known as veritism: accuracy is the sole final objective to be promoted in the epistemic domain. The other is a form of monism about a class of epistemic scoring rules: that is, strictly proper scoring rules are the only legitimate measures of inaccuracy. These two monisms, we argue, are (...)
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  • Epistemic Utility Theory and the Aim of Belief.Jennifer Rose Carr - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (3):511-534.
    How should rational believers pursue the aim of truth? Epistemic utility theorists have argued that by combining the tools of decision theory with an epistemic form of value—gradational accuracy, proximity to the truth—we can justify various epistemological norms. I argue that deriving these results requires using decision rules that are different in important respects from those used in standard (practical) decision theory. If we use the more familiar decision rules, we can’t justify the epistemic coherence norms that epistemic utility theory (...)
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  • Downwards Propriety in Epistemic Utility Theory.Alejandro Pérez Carballo - forthcoming - Mind.
    Epistemic Utility Theory is often identified with the project of *axiology-first epistemology*—the project of vindicating norms of epistemic rationality purely in terms of epistemic value. One of the central goals of axiology-first epistemology is to provide a justification of the central norm of Bayesian epistemology, Probabilism. The first part of this paper presents a new challenge to axiology first epistemology: I argue that in order to justify Probabilism in purely axiological terms, proponents of axiology first epistemology need to justify a (...)
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  • A modesty proposal.Jennifer Rose Carr - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3581-3601.
    Accuracy-first epistemology aims to show that the norms of epistemic rationality can be derived from the effective pursuit of accuracy. This paper explores the prospects within accuracy-first epistemology for vindicating “modesty”: the thesis that ideal rationality permits uncertainty about one’s own rationality. I argue that accuracy-first epistemology faces serious challenges in accommodating three forms of modesty: uncertainty about what priors are rational, uncertainty about whether one’s update policy is rational, and uncertainty about what one’s evidence is. I argue that the (...)
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  • Accurate Updating for the Risk Sensitive.Catrin Campbell-Moore & Bernhard Salow - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (3):751-776.
    Philosophers have recently attempted to justify particular belief revision procedures by arguing that they are the optimal means towards the epistemic end of accurate credences. These attempts, however, presuppose that means should be evaluated according to classical expected utility theory; and there is a long tradition maintaining that expected utility theory is too restrictive as a theory of means–end rationality, ruling out too many natural ways of taking risk into account. In this paper, we investigate what belief-revision procedures are supported (...)
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  • Agreement and Updating For Self-Locating Belief.Michael Caie - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (3):513-547.
    In this paper, I argue that some plausible principles concerning which credences are rationally permissible for agents given information about one another’s epistemic and credal states have some surprising consequences for which credences an agent ought to have in light of self-locating information. I provide a framework that allows us to state these constraints and draw out these consequences precisely. I then consider and assess the prospects for rejecting these prima facie plausible principles.
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  • Conditionalization and not Knowing that One Knows.Aaron Bronfman - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (4):871-892.
    Bayesian Conditionalization is a widely used proposal for how to update one’s beliefs upon the receipt of new evidence. This is in part because of its attention to the totality of one’s evidence, which often includes facts about what one’s new evidence is and how one has come to have it. However, an increasingly popular position in epistemology holds that one may gain new evidence, construed as knowledge, without being in a position to know that one has gained this evidence. (...)
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  • The Dominance Principle in Epistemic Decision Theory.R. A. Briggs - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):763-775.
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