Rational Action without Knowledge (and vice versa)

Synthese 194 (6):1901-1917 (2017)
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Abstract

It has been argued recently that knowledge is the norm of practical reasoning. This norm can be formulated as a bi-conditional: it is appropriate to treat p as a reason for acting if and only if you know that p. Other proposals replace knowledge with warranted or justified belief. This paper gives counter-examples of both directions of any such bi-conditional. To the left-to-right direction: scientists can appropriately treat as reasons for action propositions of a theory they believe to be false but good approximations to the truth for present purposes. Cases based on a variant of Pascal’s Wager and actions performed by a skeptic also illustrate the point. To the right-to-left direction: in certain circumstances, it can be unreasonable for a scientist to reason from propositions of a theory she knows to be true.

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Jie Gao
Zhejiang University

Citations of this work

Who's Afraid Of Epistemic Dilemmas?Nick Hughes - forthcoming - In Scott Stapleford, Mathias Steup & Kevin McCain (eds.), Epistemic Dilemmas: New Arguments, New Angles.
Is there an epistemic norm of practical reasoning?Davide Fassio - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (9):2137-2166.
Newcomb meets Gettier.Ittay Nissan-Rozen - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4799-4814.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2003 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Rationality Through Reasoning.John Broome - 2013 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
Knowledge in an Uncertain World.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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