Veritism, epistemic risk, and the Swamping Problem

Authors
Richard Pettigrew
Bristol University
Abstract
Veritism says that the fundamental source of epistemic value for a doxastic state is the extent to which it represents the world correctly—that is, its fundamental epistemic value is determined entirely by its truth or falsity. The Swamping Problem says that Veritism is incompatible with two pre-theoretic beliefs about epistemic value (Zagzebski, 2003; Kvanvig, 2003): (I) a true justified belief is more (epistemically) valuable than a true unjustified belief; (II) a false justified belief is more (epistemically) valuable than a false unjustified belief. In this paper, I consider the Swamping Problem from the vantage point of decision theory. I note that the central premise in the argument is what Stefansson & Bradley (2015) call Chance Neutrality in Richard Jeffrey’s decision-theoretic framework. And I describe their argument that it should be rejected. Using this insight, I respond to the Swamping Problem on behalf of the veritist.
Keywords veritism  reliabilism  Swamping Problem  Value Problem  accuracy  epistemic utility  epistemic value  risk  risk-weighted utility theory
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