Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
In discussions of whether and how pragmatic considerations can make a difference to what one ought to believe, two sets of cases feature. The first set, which dominates the debate about pragmatic reasons for belief, is exemplified by cases of being financially bribed to believe (or withhold from believing) something. The second set, which dominates the debate about pragmatic encroachment on epistemic justification, is exemplified by cases where acting on a belief rashly risks some disastrous outcome if the belief turns out to be false. Call those who think that pragmatic considerations make a difference to what one ought to believe in the second kind of case, but not in the first, ‘moderate pragmatists’. Many philosophers – in particular, most advocates of pragmatic and moral encroachment – are moderate pragmatists. But moderate pragmatists owe us an explanation of exactly why the second kind of pragmatic consideration makes a difference, but the first kind doesn’t. I argue that the most promising of these explanations all fail: they are either theoretically undermotivated, or get key cases wrong, or both. Moderate pragmatism may be an unstable stopping point between a more extreme pragmatism, on one hand, and an uncompromising anti-pragmatism on the other.
Keywords Pragmatism  Reasons for belief  Pragmatic encroachment  Moral encroachment  Epistemic normativity  Evidentialism
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Reprint years 2020
DOI 10.1111/phpr.12673
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