The Decision-Theoretic Lockean Thesis

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (1):28-54 (2014)
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Certain philosophers maintain that there is a ‘constitutive threshold for belief’: to believe that p just is to have a degree of confidence that p above a certain threshold. On the basis of this view, these philosophers defend what is known as ‘the Lockean Thesis ’, according to which it is rational to believe that p just in case it is rational to have a degree of confidence that p above the constitutive threshold for belief. While not directly speaking to the controversy over the Lockean Thesis, this paper defends the general idea behind it—namely, the thesis that there is some threshold such that it is rational to believe that p if and only if it is rational to have a degree of confidence great than that threshold. This paper identifies the threshold in question—not with the alleged constitutive threshold for belief—but with what I call ‘the practical threshold for rational belief’. Roughly, the thesis defended here is that it is rational to believe that p if and only if it is rational to have a degree of confidence that p that rationalizes engaging in certain types of practical reasoning.



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Dustin Locke
Claremont McKenna College

Citations of this work

Belief, Credence, and Evidence.Elizabeth Jackson - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):5073-5092.
Belief and Credence: Why the Attitude-Type Matters.Elizabeth Grace Jackson - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2477-2496.
Who Cares What You Accurately Believe?Clayton Littlejohn - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):217-248.

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References found in this work

A Materialist Theory of the Mind.D. M. Armstrong - 1968 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Ted Honderich.
Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
An essay concerning human understanding.John Locke - 1689 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Pauline Phemister.
Belief, Credence, and Pragmatic Encroachment.Jacob Ross & Mark Schroeder - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):259-288.
What is Justified Belief?Alvin I. Goldman - 1979 - In George Pappas (ed.), Justification and Knowledge. Boston: D. Reidel. pp. 1-25.

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