Epistemic anxiety and adaptive invariantism

Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):407-435 (2010)
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Abstract

Do we apply higher epistemic standards to subjects with high stakes? This paper argues that we expect different outward behavior from high-stakes subjects—for example, we expect them to collect more evidence than their low-stakes counterparts—but not because of any change in epistemic standards. Rather, we naturally expect subjects in any condition to think in a roughly adaptive manner, balancing the expected costs of additional evidence collection against the expected value of gains in accuracy. The paper reviews a body of empirical work on the automatic regulation of cognitive effort in response to stakes, and argues that we naturally see high- and low-stakes subjects as experiencing different levels of ‘epistemic anxiety’, and anticipate different levels of cognitive effort from them for this reason. If unresolved epistemic anxiety always bars an ascription of knowledge, then we can explain our responses to cases involving shifting stakes without positing any variation in the standards of intuitive knowledge ascription.

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Author's Profile

Jennifer Nagel
University of Toronto, Mississauga

Citations of this work

Rape Culture and Epistemology.Bianca Crewe & Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa - 2021 - In Jennifer Lackey (ed.), Applied Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 253–282.
Belief, Credence, and Evidence.Elizabeth Jackson - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):5073-5092.
Belief and Credence: Why the Attitude-Type Matters.Elizabeth Jackson - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2477-2496.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2003 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
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.
Alief and Belief.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (10):634-663.
Contextualism and Knowledge Attributions.Keith Derose - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4):913-929.

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