Bound by the Evidence

In Scott Stapleford & Kevin McCain (eds.), Epistemic Duties: New Arguments, New Angles. New York: Routledge. pp. 113–124 (2020)
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Abstract

An evidentialist can be extreme about epistemic requirements in a couple of different ways. At the reductionist end of the spectrum are those who think our epistemic obligations are fully satisfied by the mere having of evidential fit—where having implies nothing about doing. Your beliefs ought to align with your evidence, in other words, but there’s nothing you’re obligated to do in order to get yourself into the epistemically optimal position. At the expansionist end of the spectrum are those who think we ought to do more—epistemically-speaking—than just bring about a state of evidential fit. We ought to get more evidence, for instance, if it’s somehow relevant to our beliefs. Rather leery of extremists, we prefer a moderate account of epistemic obligation. It’s a conjunction of three theses: (1) We never have an epistemic duty to believe any particular proposition; (2) We’re epistemically obligated to reflect on our evidence in order to produce a state of evidential fit; (3) We’re never epistemically obligated to acquire any additional evidence. Our aim is to make these plausible.

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Author Profiles

Kevin McCain
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Scott Stapleford
St. Thomas University

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