Synthese 141 (1):97 - 122 (2004)

Hamid Vahid
Institute for Fundamental Sciences
According to the thesis of epistemic conservatism it would be unreasonable to change one's beliefs in the absence of any good reasons. Although it is claimed that epistemic conservatism has informed and resolved a number of positions and problems in epistemology, it is difficult to identify a single representative view of the thesis. This has resulted in advancing a series of disparate and largely unconnected arguments to establish conservatism. In this paper, I begin by casting doubt on the claim of widespread and genuine applications of the conservative policy. I then distinguish between three main varieties of epistemic conservatism, namely, differential, perseverance and generation conservatism Having evaluated various arguments that have been offered or may be considered on behalf of the conservative thesis, I close by concluding that those versions of the thesis that survive critical scrutiny fail to live up to the aspirations of the thesis as a substantive canon of rationality, that to the extent that principles of conservatism are epistemically promising, they are not plausible. While to the extent that they are plausible, they are not of much epistemic interest.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/B:SYNT.0000035849.62840.e8
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: 62,363
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Judgement and Justification.William G. Lycan - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. V. Quine - 1951 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 202-220.
Internalism Exposed.Alvin I. Goldman - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (6):271-293.
Radical Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Dialectica 27 (3-4):313-328.
Methodological Conservatism.Lawrence Sklar - 1975 - Philosophical Review 84 (3):374-400.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

In Defence of Error Theory.Chris Daly & David Liggins - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (2):209-230.
Platitudes and Metaphysics.Daniel Nolan - 2009 - In David Braddon-Mitchell & Robert Nola (eds.), Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism. MIT Press.
The Virtues of Epistemic Conservatism.Kevin McCain - 2008 - Synthese 164 (2):185-200.

View all 27 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
143 ( #73,284 of 2,445,471 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #457,259 of 2,445,471 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes