The Conflict of Evidence and Coherence

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (1):3-44 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

For many epistemologists, and for many philosophers more broadly, it is axiomatic that rationality requires you to take the doxastic attitudes that your evidence supports. Yet there is also another current in our talk about rationality. On this usage, rationality is a matter of the right kind of coherence between one's mental attitudes. Surprisingly little work in epistemology is explicitly devoted to answering the question of how these two currents of talk are related. But many implicitly assume that evidence -responsiveness guarantees coherence, so that the rational impermissibility of incoherence will just fall out of the putative requirement to take the attitudes that one's evidence supports, and so that coherence requirements do not need to be theorized in their own right, apart from evidential reasons. In this paper, I argue that this is a mistake, since coherence and evidence -responsiveness can in fact come into conflict. More specifically, I argue that in cases of misleading higher-order evidence, there can be a conflict between believing what one's evidence supports and satisfying a requirement that I call “inter-level coherence ”. This illustrates why coherence requirements and evidential reasons must be separated and theorized separately.

Similar books and articles

Respecting all the evidence.Paulina Sliwa & Sophie Horowitz - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (11):2835-2858.
How Does Coherence Matter?Niko Kolodny - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt3):229 - 263.
Rational Requirements and 'Rational' Akrasia.Edward S. Hinchman - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (3):529-552.
Reasons and Rationality.Jonathan Way - 2018 - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press.
Higher Order Evidence.David Christensen - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (1):185-215.
Moral reasons, epistemic reasons, and rationality.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):341-361.
Why be rational.Niko Kolodny - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):509-563.
What evidence do you have?Ram Neta - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (1):89-119.
Coherence as an ideal of rationality.Lyle Zynda - 1996 - Synthese 109 (2):175 - 216.
The Importance of Being Rational.Errol Lord - 2013 - Dissertation, Princeton University
Accuracy, Coherence and Evidence.Branden Fitelson & Kenny Easwaran - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 5:61-96.

Analytics

Added to PP
2015-07-22

Downloads
629 (#26,255)

6 months
60 (#71,284)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Citations of this work

The Normativity of Rationality.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Basing Relation.Ram Neta - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (2):179-217.
Epistemic Dilemmas: A Guide.Nick Hughes - forthcoming - In Essays on Epistemic Dilemmas. Oxford University Press.

View all 129 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Rationality Through Reasoning.John Broome (ed.) - 2013 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Justification and the Truth-Connection.Clayton Littlejohn - 2012 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Epistemology and cognition.Alvin I. Goldman - 1986 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Knowledge in an uncertain world.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Matthew McGrath.

View all 82 references / Add more references