Value beyond truth-value: a practical response to skepticism

Synthese 198 (9):8601-8619 (2020)
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I aim to offer a practical response to skepticism. I begin by surveying a family of responses to skepticism that I term “dogmatic” and argue that they are problematically evasive; they do not address what I take to be a question that is central to many skeptics: Why am I justified in maintaining some beliefs that fail to meet ordinary standards of doxastic evaluation? I then turn to a discussion of these standards of evaluation and to the different kinds of doxastic value to which they appeal. While there is something good about having a true belief and something bad about having a false one, I argue the value of true beliefs is not intrinsic or final. Truth and knowledge are valuable because they contribute to both individual and collective flourishing. But if contributing to flourishing is what ultimately provides truth with its value, then we have discovered another doxastic value. I call this kind of doxastic value “practical.” The practical response addresses the skeptic’s question by claiming that some beliefs can be justified by appealing to their practical, rather than alethic, value. In fleshing out this practical response I contrast it both with dogmatic responses as well as some seemingly similar “practical” alternatives, namely Crispin Wright’s appeals to entitlements and Susanna Rinard’s “pragmatic skepticism.” I end by addressing some objections.

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References found in this work

Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Harvard University Press.
On Certainty (ed. Anscombe and von Wright).Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1969 - New York and London: Harper Torchbooks.
A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40).David Hume - 1978 - Oxford University Press.
The skeptic and the dogmatist.James Pryor - 2000 - Noûs 34 (4):517–549.

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