When in Doubt, Withhold: A Defense of Two Rational Grounds for Withholding

In Kevin McCain, Scott Stapleford & Matthias Steup (eds.), Epistemic Dilemmas: New Angles, New Arguments. Routledge (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Recent work has argued that there may be cases where no attitude – including withholding – is rationally permissible. In this paper, I consider two such epistemic dilemmas, John Turri’s Dilemma from Testimony and David Alexander’s Dilemma from Doubt. Turri presents a case where one’s only evidence rules out withholding (without warranting belief or disbelief). Alexander presents a case where higher order doubt means one must withhold judgment over whether withholding judgment is rational. In both cases, the authors conclude that no doxastic attitude is warranted. In this paper, I argue against the possibility of these epistemic dilemmas. I argue that withholding cannot be irrational in either case. But meditating on the dilemmas gives us an important – and overlooked – insight into the nature of rational withholding. First, rational withholding is a function of evidence failing to sufficiently support belief or disbelief. As a result, withholding is not symmetrical to belief and disbelief. Second, there can be two distinct grounds for rational withholding. First, propositional withholding, which arises when our evidence does not support belief or disbelief in p. And second, doxastic withholding, which arises when we cannot determine whether our evidence supports belief or disbelief in p. Accepting two grounds of rational withholding licenses a kind of Weak Permissivism. But this Weak Permissivism should not be troubling to anyone.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Disbelief is a distinct doxastic attitude.Joshua Smart - 2020 - Synthese 198 (12):11797-11813.
A Puzzle about withholding.John Turri - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):355-364.
On a Puzzle About Withholding.Juan Comesaña - 2013 - Philosophical Quarterly 63 (251):374-376.
Epistemic dilemmas and rational indeterminacy.Nick Leonard - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):573-596.
What passive euthanasia is.Iain Brassington - 2020 - BMC Medical Ethics 21 (1):1-13.


Added to PP

311 (#62,773)

6 months
94 (#43,850)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

A. K. Flowerree
Texas Tech University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Higher‐Order Evidence and the Limits of Defeat.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):314-345.
Higher Order Evidence.David Christensen - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (1):185-215.
Why Suspend Judging?Jane Friedman - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):302-326.
Epistemic Akrasia.Sophie Horowitz - 2013 - Noûs 48 (4):718-744.

View all 25 references / Add more references