In Igor Douven (ed.), Lotteries, Knowledge, and Rational Belief. Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)

Julia Staffel
University of Colorado, Boulder
In this article, I discuss three distinct but related puzzles involving lotteries: Kyburg’s lottery paradox, the statistical evidence problem, and the Harman-Vogel paradox. Kyburg’s lottery paradox is the following well-known problem: if we identify rational outright belief with a rational credence above a threshold, we seem to be forced to admit either that one can have inconsistent rational beliefs, or that one cannot rationally believe anything one is not certain of. The statistical evidence problem arises from the observation that people seem to resist forming outright beliefs whenever the available evidence for the claim under consideration is purely statistical. We need explanations of whether it is in fact irrational to form such beliefs, and of whether a clear distinction can be drawn between statistical and non-statistical evidence. The Harman-Vogel paradox is usually presented as a paradox about knowledge: we tend to assume that we can know so-called ordinary propositions, such as the claim that I will be in Barcelona next spring. Yet, we hesitate to make knowledge claims regarding so-called lottery propositions, such as the claim that I won’t die in a car crash in the next few months, even if these lottery propositions are obviously entailed by the ordinary propositions we claim to know. Depending on one’s view about the relationship between rational belief and knowledge, the Harman-Vogel paradox has ramifications for a theory of rational outright belief. Formal theories of the relationship between rational credence and rational belief, such as Leitgeb’s stability theory, tend to focus mostly on handling Kyburg’s lottery paradox, but not the other two puzzles I mention. My aim in this article is to draw out relationships and differences between the puzzles, and to examine to what extent existing formal solutions to Kyburg’s lottery paradox help with answering the statistical evidence problem and the Harman-Vogel paradox.
Keywords Lottery  rational belief  credence  stability  belief
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,199
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2003 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Probability and the Logic of Rational Belief.Henry Ely Kyburg - 1961 - Middletown, CT, USA: Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan University Press.
The Stability Theory of Belief.Hannes Leitgeb - 2014 - Philosophical Review 123 (2):131-171.
Accuracy, Coherence and Evidence.Branden Fitelson & Kenny Easwaran - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 5:61-96.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Probability 1.Daniel Greco - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):179-201.

View all 18 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Belief, Credence, and Norms.Lara Buchak - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (2):1-27.
Belief, Credence, and the Preface Paradox.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):549-562.
Lotteries and Prefaces.Matthew A. Benton - 2017 - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism. New York: Routledge. pp. 168-176.
Belief, Credence, and Faith.Elizabeth Jackson - 2019 - Religious Studies 55 (2):153-168.


Added to PP index

Total views
80 ( #146,355 of 2,518,075 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #206,126 of 2,518,075 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes