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Ben Levinstein
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  1. Deference Done Better.Kevin Dorst, Benjamin A. Levinstein, Bernhard Salow, Brooke E. Husic & Branden Fitelson - 2021 - Philosophical Perspectives 35 (1):99-150.
    There are many things—call them ‘experts’—that you should defer to in forming your opinions. The trouble is, many experts are modest: they’re less than certain that they are worthy of deference. When this happens, the standard theories of deference break down: the most popular (“Reflection”-style) principles collapse to inconsistency, while their most popular (“New-Reflection”-style) variants allow you to defer to someone while regarding them as an anti-expert. We propose a middle way: deferring to someone involves preferring to make any decision (...)
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  2. The Foundations of Epistemic Decision Theory.Jason Konek & Benjamin A. Levinstein - 2019 - Mind 128 (509):69-107.
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  3. A Pragmatist’s Guide to Epistemic Utility.Benjamin Anders Levinstein - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (4):613-638.
    We use a theorem from M. J. Schervish to explore the relationship between accuracy and practical success. If an agent is pragmatically rational, she will quantify the expected loss of her credence with a strictly proper scoring rule. Which scoring rule is right for her will depend on the sorts of decisions she expects to face. We relate this pragmatic conception of inaccuracy to the purely epistemic one popular among epistemic utility theorists.
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  4. Permissive Rationality and Sensitivity.Benjamin Levinstein - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):342-370.
    Permissivism about rationality is the view that there is sometimes more than one rational response to a given body of evidence. In this paper I discuss the relationship between permissivism, deference to rationality, and peer disagreement. I begin by arguing that—contrary to popular opinion—permissivism supports at least a moderate version of conciliationism. I then formulate a worry for permissivism. I show that, given a plausible principle of rational deference, permissive rationality seems to become unstable and to collapse into unique rationality. (...)
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  5. The Foundations of Epistemic Decision Theory.Jason Konek & Ben Levinstein - 2017
    According to accuracy-first epistemology, accuracy is the fundamental epistemic good. Epistemic norms — Probabilism, Conditionalization, the Principal Principle, etc. — have their binding force in virtue of helping to secure this good. To make this idea precise, accuracy-firsters invoke Epistemic Decision Theory (EpDT) to determine which epistemic policies are the best means toward the end of accuracy. Hilary Greaves and others have recently challenged the tenability of this programme. Their arguments purport to show that EpDT encourages obviously epistemically irrational behavior. (...)
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    Cheating Death in Damascus.Benjamin A. Levinstein & Nate Soares - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (5):237-266.
    Evidential Decision Theory and Causal Decision Theory are the leading contenders as theories of rational action, but both face counterexamples. We present some new counterexamples, including one in which the optimal action is causally dominated. We also present a novel decision theory, Functional Decision Theory, which simultaneously solves both sets of counterexamples. Instead of considering which physical action of theirs would give rise to the best outcomes, FDT agents consider which output of their decision function would give rise to the (...)
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    Strict Propriety is Weak.Catrin Campbell-Moore & Benjamin A. Levinstein - 2021 - Analysis 81 (1):8-13.
    Considerations of accuracy – the epistemic good of having credences close to truth-values – have led to the justification of a host of epistemic norms. These arguments rely on specific ways of measuring accuracy. In particular, the accuracy measure should be strictly proper. However, the main argument for strict propriety supports only weak propriety. But strict propriety follows from weak propriety given strict truth directedness and additivity. So no further argument is necessary.
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    Leitgeb and Pettigrew on Accuracy and Updating.Benjamin Anders Levinstein - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (3):413-424.
    Leitgeb and Pettigrew argue that (1) agents should minimize the expected inaccuracy of their beliefs and (2) inaccuracy should be measured via the Brier score. They show that in certain diachronic cases, these claims require an alternative to Jeffrey Conditionalization. I claim that this alternative is an irrational updating procedure and that the Brier score, and quadratic scoring rules generally, should be rejected as legitimate measures of inaccuracy.
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  9. With All Due Respect: The Macro-Epistemology of Disagreement.Benjamin Anders Levinstein - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
    In this paper, I develop a new kind of conciliatory answer to the problem of peer disagreement. Instead of trying to guide an agent’s updating behaviour in any particular disagreement, I establish constraints on an agent’s expected behaviour and argue that, in the long run, she should tend to be conciliatory toward her peers. I first claim that this macro-approach affords us new conceptual insight on the problem of peer disagreement and provides an important angle complementary to the standard micro-approaches (...)
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  10. An Objection of Varying Importance to Epistemic Utility Theory.Benjamin Levinstein - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):2919-2931.
    Some propositions are more epistemically important than others. Further, how important a proposition is is often a contingent matter—some propositions count more in some worlds than in others. Epistemic Utility Theory cannot accommodate this fact, at least not in any standard way. For EUT to be successful, legitimate measures of epistemic utility must be proper, i.e., every probability function must assign itself maximum expected utility. Once we vary the importance of propositions across worlds, however, normal measures of epistemic utility become (...)
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  11. Accuracy Uncomposed: Against Calibrationism.Ben Levinstein - 2017 - Episteme 14 (1):59-69.
    Pettigrew offers new axiomatic constraints on legitimate measures of inaccuracy. His axiom called ‘Decomposition’ stipulates that legitimate measures of inaccuracy evaluate a credence function in part based on its level of calibration at a world. I argue that if calibration is valuable, as Pettigrew claims, then this fact is an explanandum for accuracy-rst epistemologists, not an explanans, for three reasons. First, the intuitive case for the importance of calibration isn’t as strong as Pettigrew believes. Second, calibration is a perniciously global (...)
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  12. Act Consequentialism Without Free Rides.Preston Greene & Benjamin A. Levinstein - 2020 - Philosophical Perspectives 34 (1):88-116.
    Consequentialist theories determine rightness solely based on real or expected consequences. Although such theories are popular, they often have difficulty with generalizing intuitions, which demand concern for questions like “What if everybody did that?” Rule consequentialism attempts to incorporate these intuitions by shifting the locus of evaluation from the consequences of acts to those of rules. However, detailed rule-consequentialist theories seem ad hoc or arbitrary compared to act consequentialist ones. We claim that generalizing can be better incorporated into consequentialism by (...)
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  13. Facts, Interpretation, and Truth in Fiction.Ben Levinstein - 2007 - British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (1):64-75.
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