Lockeans Maximize Expected Accuracy

Mind 128 (509):175-211 (2019)
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Abstract

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 Lockeanism; moreover, a plausible version of epistemic utility theory meshes with natural language considerations, yielding a new Lockean picture that helps to model and explain the role of beliefs in inquiry and conversation. Your beliefs are your best guesses in response to the epistemic priorities of your context. Upshot: we have a new approach to the epistemology and semantics of belief. And it has teeth. It implies that the role of beliefs is fundamentally different than many have thought, and in fact supports a metaphysical reduction of belief to credence.

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Author's Profile

Kevin Dorst
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Citations of this work

Evidence: A Guide for the Uncertain.Kevin Dorst - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):586-632.
Belief and Credence: Why the Attitude-Type Matters.Elizabeth Jackson - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2477-2496.
Credence: A Belief-First Approach.Andrew Moon & Elizabeth Jackson - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (5):652–669.
Thinking, Guessing, and Believing.Ben Holguin - 2022 - Philosophers' Imprint 22 (1):1-34.

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