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Improbable knowing

In T. Dougherty (ed.), Evidentialism and its Discontents. Oxford University Press (2011)

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  1. Random and Systematic Error in the Puzzle of the Unmarked Clock.Randall G. McCutcheon - manuscript
    A puzzle of an unmarked clock, used by Timothy Williamson to question the KK principle, was separately adapted by David Christensen and Adam Elga to critique a principle of Rational Reflection. Both authors, we argue, flout the received relationship between ideal agency and the classical distinction between systematic and random error, namely that ideal agents are subject only to the latter. As a result, these criticisms miss their mark.
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  • How to Use Cognitive Faculties You Never Knew You Had.Andrew Moon - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (S1):251-275.
    Norman forms the belief that the president is in New York by way of a clairvoyance faculty he doesn’t know he has. Many agree that his belief is unjustified but disagree about why it is unjustified. I argue that the lack of justification cannot be explained by a higher-level evidence requirement on justification, but it can be explained by a no-defeater requirement. I then explain how you can use cognitive faculties you don’t know you have. Lastly, I use lessons from (...)
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  • The Illusion of Discretion.Kurt Sylvan - 2016 - Synthese 193 (6):1635-1665.
    Having direct doxastic control would not be particularly desirable if exercising it required a failure of epistemic rationality. With that thought in mind, recent writers have invoked the view that epistemic rationality gives us options to defend the possibility of a significant form of direct doxastic control. Specifically, they suggest that when the evidence for p is sufficient but not conclusive, it would be epistemically rational either to believe p or to be agnostic on p, and they argue that we (...)
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  • Moral Disagreement and Higher-Order Evidence.Klemens Kappel & Frederik J. Andersen - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (5):1103-1120.
    This paper sketches a general account of how to respond in an epistemically rational way to moral disagreement. Roughly, the account states that when two parties, A and B, disagree as to whether p, A says p while B says not-p, this is higher-order evidence that A has made a cognitive error on the first-order level of reasoning in coming to believe that p. If such higher-order evidence is not defeated, then one rationally ought to reduce one’s confidence with respect (...)
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  • The Value of Biased Information.Nilanjan Das - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axaa003.
    In this essay, I cast doubt on an apparent truism: namely, that if evidence is available for gathering and use at a negligible cost, then it's always instrumentally rational for us to gather that evidence and use it for making decisions. Call this thesis Value of Information. I show that Value of Information conflicts with two other plausible theses. The first is the view that an agent's evidence can entail non-trivial propositions about the external world. The second is the view (...)
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  • Knowledge and Other Norms for Assertion, Action, and Belief: A Teleological Account.Neil Mehta - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):681-705.
    Here I advance a unified account of the structure of the epistemic normativity of assertion, action, and belief. According to my Teleological Account, all of these are epistemically successful just in case they fulfill the primary aim of knowledgeability, an aim which in turn generates a host of secondary epistemic norms. The central features of the Teleological Account are these: it is compact in its reliance on a single central explanatory posit, knowledge-centered in its insistence that knowledge sets the fundamental (...)
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  • Elusive Externalism.Bernhard Salow - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):397-427.
    Epistemologists have recently noted a tension between (i) denying access internalism, and (ii) maintaining that rational agents cannot be epistemically akratic, believing claims akin to ‘p, but I shouldn’t believe p’. I bring out the tension, and develop a new way to resolve it. The basic strategy is to say that access internalism is false, but that counterexamples to it are ‘elusive’ in a way that prevents rational agents from suspecting that they themselves are counterexamples to the internalist principles. I (...)
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  • Lewis on Iterated Knowledge.Bernhard Salow - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (6):1571-1590.
    The status of the knowledge iteration principles in the account provided by Lewis in “Elusive Knowledge” is disputed. By distinguishing carefully between what in the account describes the contribution of the attributor’s context and what describes the contribution of the subject’s situation, we can resolve this dispute in favour of Holliday’s claim that the iteration principles are rendered invalid. However, that is not the end of the story. For Lewis’s account still predicts that counterexamples to the negative iteration principle ) (...)
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  • Truth, Knowledge, and the Standard of Proof in Criminal Law.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - Synthese:1-34.
    Could it be right to convict and punish defendants using only statistical evidence? In this paper, I argue that it is not and explain why it would be wrong. This is difficult to do because there is a powerful argument for thinking that we should convict and punish defendants using statistical evidence. It looks as if the relevant cases are cases of decision under risk and it seems we know what we should do in such cases (i.e., maximize expected value). (...)
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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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  • Rescuing the Assertability of Measurement Reports.Michael 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 (...)
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  • Reasoning One's Way Out of Skepticism.Susanna Rinard - forthcoming - In Brill Studies in Skepticism.
    Many have thought that it is impossible to rationally persuade an external world skeptic that we have knowledge of the external world. This paper aims to show how this could be done. I argue, while appealing only to premises that a skeptic could accept, that it is not rational to believe external world skepticism, because doing so commits one to more extreme forms of skepticism in a way that is self-undermining. In particular, the external world skeptic is ultimately committed to (...)
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  • Updating for Externalists.J. Dmitri Gallow - forthcoming - Noûs.
    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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  • Problems for Credulism.James Pryor - 2013 - In Chris Tucker (ed.), Seemings and Justification: New Essays on Dogmatism and Phenomenal Conservatism.
    We have several intuitive paradigms of defeating evidence. For example, let E be the fact that Ernie tells me that the notorious pet Precious is a bird. This supports the premise F, that Precious can fly. However, Orna gives me *opposing* evidence. She says that Precious is a dog. Alternatively, defeating evidence might not oppose Ernie's testimony in that direct way. There might be other ways for it to weaken the support that Ernie's testimony gives me for believing F, without (...)
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  • Don’T Look Now.Bernhard Salow & Arif Ahmed - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):327-350.
    Good’s theorem is the apparent platitude that it is always rational to ‘look before you leap’: to gather information before making a decision when doing so is free. We argue that Good’s theorem is not platitudinous and may be false. And we argue that the correct advice is rather to ‘make your act depend on the answer to a question’. Looking before you leap is rational when, but only when, it is a way to do this.
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  • 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 (...)
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  • Risk, Doubt, and Transmission.Rachel Fraser - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2803-2821.
    Despite their substantial appeal, closure principles have fallen on hard times. Both anti-luck conditions on knowledge and the defeasibility of knowledge look to be in tension with natural ways of articulating single-premise closure principles. The project of this paper is to show that plausible theses in the epistemology of testimony face problems structurally identical to those faced by closure principles. First I show how Lasonen-Aarnio’s claim that there is a tension between single premise closure and anti-luck constraints on knowledge can (...)
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  • Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):1-14.
    The possibility of justified true belief without knowledge is normally motivated by informally classified examples. This paper shows that it can also be motivated more formally, by a natural class of epistemic models in which both knowledge and justified belief are represented. The models involve a distinction between appearance and reality. Gettier cases arise because the agent's ignorance increases as the gap between appearance and reality widens. The models also exhibit an epistemic asymmetry between good and bad cases that sceptics (...)
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  • Inexact Knowledge Without Improbable Knowing.Jeremy Goodman - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):30-53.
    In a series of recent papers, Timothy Williamson has argued for the surprising conclusion that there are cases in which you know a proposition in spite of its being overwhelmingly improbable given what you know that you know it. His argument relies on certain formal models of our imprecise knowledge of the values of perceptible and measurable magnitudes. This paper suggests an alternative class of models that do not predict this sort of improbable knowing. I show that such models are (...)
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  • Response to Cohen, Comesaña, Goodman, Nagel, and Weatherson on Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):77-96.
    The five commentators on my paper ‘Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic’ (GCEL) demonstrate how fruitful the topic can be. Especially in Brian Weatherson's contribution, and to some extent in those of Jennifer Nagel and Jeremy Goodman, much of the material constitutes valuable development and refinement of ideas in GCEL, rather than criticism. In response, I draw some threads together, and answer objections, mainly those in the papers by Stewart Cohen and Juan Comesaña and by Goodman.
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  • The Puzzle of the Unmarked Clock and the New Rational Reflection Principle.Adam Elga - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):127-139.
    The “puzzle of the unmarked clock” derives from a conflict between the following: (1) a plausible principle of epistemic modesty, and (2) “Rational Reflection”, a principle saying how one’s beliefs about what it is rational to believe constrain the rest of one’s beliefs. An independently motivated improvement to Rational Reflection preserves its spirit while resolving the conflict.
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  • A Defense of Temperate Epistemic Transparency.Eleonora Cresto - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 41 (6):923-955.
    Epistemic transparency tells us that, if an agent S knows a given proposition p , then S knows that she knows that p . This idea is usually encoded in the so-called KK principle of epistemic logic. The paper develops an argument in favor of a moderate version of KK , which I dub quasi-transparency , as a normative rather than a descriptive principle. In the second Section I put forward the suggestion that epistemic transparency is not a demand of (...)
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  • Very Improbable Knowing.Timothy Williamson - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (5):971-999.
    Improbable knowing is knowing something even though it is almost certain on one’s evidence at the time that one does not know that thing. Once probabilities on the agent’s evidence are introduced into epistemic logic in a very natural way, it is easy to construct models of improbable knowing, some of which have realistic interpretations, for instance concerning agents like us with limited powers of perceptual discrimination. Improbable knowing is an extreme case of failure of the KK principle, that is, (...)
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  • Vagueness, Uncertainty and Degrees of Clarity.Paul Égré & Denis Bonnay - 2010 - Synthese 174 (1):47 - 78.
    In this paper we compare different models of vagueness viewed as a specific form of subjective uncertainty in situations of imperfect discrimination. Our focus is on the logic of the operator “clearly” and on the problem of higher-order vagueness. We first examine the consequences of the notion of intransitivity of indiscriminability for higher-order vagueness, and compare several accounts of vagueness as inexact or imprecise knowledge, namely Williamson’s margin for error semantics, Halpern’s two-dimensional semantics, and the system we call Centered semantics. (...)
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  • Indicative Conditionals Without Iterative Epistemology.Ben Holguín - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper argues that two widely accepted principles about the indicative conditional jointly presuppose the falsity of one of the most prominent arguments against epistemological iteration principles. The first principle about the indicative conditional, which has close ties both to the Ramsey test and the “or-to-if” inference, says that knowing a material conditional suffices for knowing the corresponding indicative. The second principle says that conditional contradictions cannot be true when their antecedents are epistemically possible. Taken together, these principles entail that (...)
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  • 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 (...)
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  • The Archimedean Urge.Amia Srinivasan - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):325-362.
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  • Epistemic Authority: Preemption Through Source Sensitive Defeat.Jan Constantin & Thomas Grundmann - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    Modern societies are characterized by a division of epistemic labor between laypeople and epistemic authorities. Authorities are often far more competent than laypeople and can thus, ideally, inform their beliefs. But how should laypeople rationally respond to an authority’s beliefs if they already have beliefs and reasons of their own concerning some subject matter? According to the standard view, the beliefs of epistemic authorities are just further, albeit weighty, pieces of evidence. In contrast, the Preemption View claims that, when one (...)
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  • Epistemic Akrasia and Higher-Order Beliefs.Timothy Kearl - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-15.
    According to the Fragmentation Analysis, epistemic akrasia is a state of conflict between beliefs formed by the linguistic and non-linguistic belief-formation systems, and epistemic akrasia is irrational because it is a state of conflict between beliefs so formed. I argue that there are cases of higher-order epistemic akrasia, where both beliefs are formed by the linguistic belief-formation system. Because the Fragmentation Analysis cannot accommodate this possibility, the Fragmentation Analysis is incorrect. I consider three objections to the possibility of higher-order epistemic (...)
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  • Williamson on Gettier Cases and Epistemic Logic.Stewart Cohen & Juan Comesaña - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):15-29.
    Timothy Williamson has fruitfully exploited formal resources to shed considerable light on the nature of knowledge. In the paper under examination, Williamson turns his attention to Gettier cases, showing how they can be motivated formally. At the same time, he disparages the kind of justification he thinks gives rise to these cases. He favors instead his own notion of justification for which Gettier cases cannot arise. We take issue both with his disparagement of the kind of justification that figures in (...)
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  • Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):1-14.
    The possibility of justified true belief without knowledge is normally motivated by informally classified examples. This paper shows that it can also be motivated more formally, by a natural class of epistemic models in which both knowledge and justified belief (in the relevant sense) are represented. The models involve a distinction between appearance and reality. Gettier cases arise because the agent's ignorance increases as the gap between appearance and reality widens. The models also exhibit an epistemic asymmetry between good and (...)
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  • Iteration Principles in Epistemology II: Arguments Against.Daniel Greco - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (11):765-771.
    The prequel to this paper introduced the topic of iteration principles in epistemology and surveyed some arguments in support of them. In this sequel, I'll consider two influential families of objection to iteration principles. The first turns on the idea that they lead to some variety of skepticism, and the second turns on ‘margin for error’ considerations adduced by Timothy Williamson.
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  • Higher-Order Defeat and Intellectual Responsibility.Ru Ye - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    It’s widely accepted that higher-order defeaters, i.e., evidence that one’s belief is formed in an epistemically defective way, can defeat doxastic justification. However, it’s yet unclear how exactly such kind of defeat happens. Given that many theories of doxastic justification can be understood as fitting the schema of proper basing on propositional justifiers, we might attempt to explain the defeat either by arguing that a higher-order defeater defeats propositional justification or by arguing that it defeats proper basing. It has been (...)
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