Epistemic dilemma and epistemic conflict

In Kevin McCain, Scott Stapleford & Matthias Steup (eds.), Epistemic Dilemmas: New Arguments, New Angles. Routledge. pp. 58-76 (2021)

Abstract

In this paper, I will examine the notion of an epistemic dilemma, its characterizations in the literature, and the different intuitions prompted by it. I will illustrate that the notion of an epistemic dilemma is expected to capture various phenomena that are not easily unified with one concept: while some aspects of these phenomena are more about the agent in a certain situation, other aspects seem to be more about the situation as such. As a consequence, incompatible intuitions emerge concerning the transparency of epistemic dilemmas as well as regarding the role that doxastic suspension plays in resolving cases of epistemic dilemma. I suggest to distinguish between the mental state of agents who find themselves in an epistemic dilemma and the normative situation that gives rise to a dilemma. I will refer to the agent’s mental state as epistemic conflict and will reserve the term epistemic dilemma for evidential situations in which epistemic principles either recommend incompatible doxastic responses or render all options impermissible. The concept of epistemic conflict not only captures the mental state of agents who find themselves in a genuine epistemic dilemma but also applies to agents who face difficult epistemic choices that they cannot resolve without substantial cognitive (and often pragmatic) effort, for example, via doxastic suspension.

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Verena Wagner
Universität Konstanz

References found in this work

A Paradox of Rejection.Thomas N. P. A. Brouwer - 2014 - Synthese 191 (18):4451-4464.

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Citations of this work

Agnosticism as Settled Indecision.Verena Wagner - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (2):671-697.

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