When Rational Reasoners Reason Differently


Different people reason differently, which means that sometimes they reach different conclusions from the same evidence. We maintain that this is not only natural, but rational. In this essay we explore the epistemology of that state of affairs. First we will canvass arguments for and against the claim that rational methods of reasoning must always reach the same conclusions from the same evidence. Then we will consider whether the acknowledgment that people have divergent rational reasoning methods should undermine one’s confidence in one’s own reasoning. Finally we will explore how agents who employ distinct yet equally rational methods of reasoning should respond to interactions with the products of each others’ reasoning. We find that the epistemology of multiple reasoning methods has been misunderstood by a number of authors writing on epistemic permissiveness and peer disagreement.



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Author Profiles

Michael Titelbaum
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Matthew Kopec
Harvard University

Citations of this work

Permissivism, Underdetermination, and Evidence.Elizabeth Jackson & Margaret Greta Turnbull - 2022 - In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton Littlejohn (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evidence. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 358–370.
Permissivist Evidentialism.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - In Scott Stapleford, Kevin McCain & Matthias Steup (eds.), Evidentialism at 40: New Arguments, New Angles. Routledge.

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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
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Logical foundations of probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]: Chicago University of Chicago Press.

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