P, But I Lack Sufficient Evidence For P: A Reply to Douven

Ars Disputandi 3 (2003)

In his ‘Review of Belief’s Own Ethics,’ Ars Disputandi 3 , Igor Douven argued that ‘P, but I lack sufficient evidence for p’ is heard as odd not for conceptual reasons, but for pragmatic reasons. We hear this sentence as odd, because we are not regularly exposed to it. In this reply, the author argues that the assertion ‘P, but I lack sufficient evidence for p’ sounds contradictory, because the two parts of the assertion refuse combination on conceptual grounds. We are not regularly exposed to such assertions, because people normally find that a speaker can only be taken to assert p, if she beliefs that p. And people normally find that if one believes that p, then this is because, by one’s own lights, one has sufficient evidence for p. One may not be fully aware of this evidence. But it would certainly be contradictory to believe sincerely that p, while also believing that one lacks sufficient evidence for p
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