Rational Self-Doubt and the Failure of Closure

Philosophical Studies 163 (2):428-452 (2013)
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Abstract

Closure for justification is the claim that thinkers are justified in believing the logical consequences of their justified beliefs, at least when those consequences are competently deduced. Many have found this principle to be very plausible. Even more attractive is the special case of Closure known as Single-Premise Closure. In this paper, I present a challenge to Single-Premise Closure. The challenge is based on the phenomenon of rational self-doubt – it can be rational to be less than fully confident in one's beliefs and patterns of reasoning. In rough outline, the argument is as follows: Consider a thinker who deduces a conclusion from a justified initial premise via an incredibly long sequence of small competent deductions. Surely, such a thinker should suspect that he has made a mistake somewhere. And surely, given this, he should not believe the conclusion of the deduction even though he has a justified belief in the initial premise.

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Joshua Schechter
Brown University

Citations of this work

Higher‐Order Evidence and the Limits of Defeat.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (2):314-345.
Epistemic Modesty Defended.David Christensen - 2013 - In David Christensen & Jennifer Lackey (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 77.
Justified Inference.Ralph Wedgwood - 2012 - Synthese 189 (2):273-295.
Evidence and Inductive Inference.Nevin Climenhaga - 2021 - In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton Littlejohn (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evidence. Routledge.
Rational Reflection.David Christensen - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):121-140.

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Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Harvard University Press.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2003 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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