Evidentialism as its leading proponents describe it has two distinct senses, these being evidentialism as a conceptual analysis of epistemic justification, and as a prescriptive ethics of belief—an account of what one ‘ought to believe’ under different epistemic circumstances. These two senses of evidentialism are related, but in the work of leading evidentialist philosophers, in ways that I think are deeply problematic. Although focusing on Richard Feldman’s ethics of belief, this chapter is critical of evidentialism in (...) both senses. However, I share with authors like Feldman and Earl Conee, that epistemology has important prescriptive functions, and that a sound, civic ethics of belief is of more than merely philosophic importance. One reason why an ethics of belief might be important to problems of practice is the need we have for tools to more effectively mediate the renewed round of ‘culture wars’ we are experiencing in Anglo-American cultures. I mean especially that grand cultural clash between science and religion, reason and faith, secularist atheism and religious fundamentalism, etc. Let us start with the genealogical question of why there is such a grand cultural debate in the first place, and why the debate especially as played out in public and popular forums and even in the courtrooms seems so volatile and so often to confusedly drag everything—beliefs, values, passions, etc., with it. These are questions that I think Sigmund Freud’s classic Civilization and its Discontents can help us understand. Freud was a major voice in criticism of the stern and often hypocritical Victorian morality, a voice pointing out the price of its sometimes high-handed, guiltinducing curtailments of the satisfactions sought by the individual. But for Freud while there are real differences in the moral demands that different societies or traditions place upon people, there is something inevitable about the conflict itself, for “replacement of the power of the individual by the power of a community constitutes the decisive step of civilization... (shrink)
Deontological evidentialism is the claim that we ought to form and maintain our beliefs in accordance with our evidence. In this paper, I criticize two arguments in its defense. I begin by discussing Berit Broogard’s use of the distinction between narrow-scope and wide-scope requirements against W.K. Clifford’s moral defense of. I then use this very distinction against a defense of inspired by Stephen Grimm’s more recent claims about the moral source of epistemic normativity. I use this distinction once again (...) to argue that Hilary Kornblith’s criticism of Richard Feldman’s defense of is incomplete. Finally, I argue that Feldman’s defense is insensitive to the relation between normative requirements and privileged values: values that have normative authority over us. (shrink)
This paper is a defense of moral evidentialism, the view that we have a moral obligation to form the doxastic attitude that is best supported by our evidence. I will argue that two popular arguments against moral evidentialism are weak. I will also argue that our commitments to the moral evaluation of actions require us to take doxastic obligations seriously.
This paper shows that strict evidentialism about normative reasons for belief is inconsistent with taking truth to be the source of normative reasons for belief. It does so by showing that there are circumstances in which one can know what truth requires one to believe, yet still lack evidence for the contents of that belief.
In this paper I hope to demonstrate two different ways of interpreting the tenets of evidentialism and show why it is important to distinguish between them. These two ways correspond to those proposed by Feldman and Adler. Feldman’s way of interpreting evidentialism makes evidentialism a principle about epistemic justification, about what we ought to believe. Adler’s, on the other hand, makes evidentialism a principle about how we come to believe, what it is, broadly speaking, rational for (...) us to believe. Having identified this difference, I consider two complaints levied against evidentialism, namely what I call the threshold problem and what I call the availability problem, and hope to show that: only an independent, bracketed justification principle of evidentialism can deal with those problems; the rationality principle of evidentialism is not in fact independent from the justification principle; the rationality principle is hard to motivate; and that in the final analysis the argument for the justification principle depends on the rationality principle. I thus conclude that although it may be convenient for evidentialists to treat these two principles as independent, such an independence cannot be maintained. (shrink)
Phenomenal conservatism holds, roughly, that if it seems to S that P, then S has evidence for P. I argue for two main conclusions. The first is that phenomenal conservatism is better suited than is proper functionalism to explain how a particular type of religious belief formation can lead to non-inferentially justified religious beliefs. The second is that phenomenal conservatism makes evidence so easy to obtain that the truth of evidentialism would not be a significant obstacle to justified religious (...) belief. A natural objection to phenomenal conservatism is that it makes evidence too easy to obtain, but I argue this objection is mistaken. (shrink)
This paper explores what happens if we construe evidentialism as a thesis about the metaphysical grounds of justification. According to grounding evidentialism, facts about what a subject is justified in believing are grounded in facts about that subject’s evidence. At first blush, grounding evidentialism appears to enjoy advantages over a more traditional construal of evidentialism as a piece of conceptual analysis. However, appearances are deceiving. I argue that grounding evidentialists are unable to provide a satisfactory story (...) about what grounds the evidential facts, and that this provides good reason to reject grounding evidentialism. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the view that facts about whether or not an agent is justified in having a particular belief are entirely determined by facts about the agent’s evidence; the agent’s practical needs and interests are irrelevant. I examine an array of arguments against evidentialism (by Jeremy Fantl, Matthew McGrath, David Owens, and others), and demonstrate how their force is affected when we take into account the relation between degrees of belief and outright belief. Once we are sensitive to (...) one of the factors that secure thresholds for outright believing (namely, outright believing that p in a given circumstance requires, at the minimum, that one’s degree of belief that p is high enough for one to be willing to act as if p in the circumstances), we see how pragmatic considerations can be relevant to facts about whether or not an agent is justified in believing that p—but largely as a consequence of the pragmatic constraints on outright believing. (shrink)
Bernard Molyneux presents some new arguments against descriptive evidentialism about intuitions. Descriptive evidentialism is the thesis that philosophers use intuitions as evidence. Molyneux's arguments are that: the propositions that intuition putatively supports are treated as having a degree and kind of certainty and justification that they could not have got from being intuited; intuitions influence us in ways we cannot explain by supposing we treat them as evidence; and certain strong intuitions that persuade us of their contents are (...) treated as inadmissible in the context of justification. This article presents a partial defence of descriptive evidentialism against these new arguments. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis that all reasons to believe p are evidence for p. Pragmatists hold that pragmatic considerations – incentives for believing – can also be reasons to believe. Nishi Shah, Thomas Kelly and others have argued for evidentialism on the grounds that incentives for belief fail a ‘reasoning constraint’ on reasons: roughly, reasons must be considerations we can reason from, but we cannot reason from incentives to belief. In the first half of the paper, I show (...) that this argument fails: the claim that we cannot reason from incentives is either false or does not combine with the reasoning constraint to support evidentialism. However, the failure of this argument suggests an alternative route to evidentialism. Roughly, reasons must be premises of good reasoning, but it is not good reasoning to reason from incentives to belief. The second half of the paper develops and defends this argument for evidentialism. (shrink)
In this paper I introduce an objection to normative evidentialism about reasons for belief. The objection arises from difficulties that evidentialism has with explaining our reasons for belief in unstable belief contexts with a single fixed point. I consider what other kinds of reasons for belief are relevant in such cases.
We propose an approach to epistemic justification that incorporates elements of both reliabilism and evidentialism, while also transforming these elements in significant ways. After briefly describing and motivating the non-standard version of reliabilism that Henderson and Horgan call “transglobal” reliabilism, we harness some of Henderson and Horgan’s conceptual machinery to provide a non-reliabilist account of propositional justification (i.e., evidential support). We then invoke this account, together with the notion of a transglobally reliable belief-forming process, to give an account of (...) doxastic justification. (shrink)
This paper is a book review of Scott Aikin's (2014) Evidentialism and the Will to Believe. Beyond a brief summary of the text, the review focuses on the book's pedagogical merits. I conclude that the book would be worth adopting for graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses that cover the ethics of belief in detail, though the hardcover edition of the book is rather pricey.
In his “A new argument for evidentialism” (Shah, Philos Q 56(225): 481–498, 2006 ), Nishi Shah argues that the best explanation of a feature of deliberation whether to believe that p which he calls transparency entails that only evidence can be reason to believe that p. I show that his argument fails because a crucial lemma that his argument appeals to cannot be supported without assuming evidentialism to be true in the first place.
Cartesian skepticism about epistemic justification (‘skepticism’) is the view that many of our beliefs about the external world – e.g., my current belief that I have hands – aren’t justified. I examine the two most influential arguments for skepticism – the Closure Argument and the Underdetermination Argument – from an evidentialist perspective. For both arguments it is clear which premise the anti-skeptic must deny. The Closure Argument, I argue, is the better argument in that its key premise is weaker than (...) the Underdetermination Argument’s key premise. However, it’s also likely that the motivation for accepting both key premises is exactly the same. So there may be a sense in which both arguments provide exactly the same motivation for skepticism. Then I argue that if I I’m right about what the motivation for accepting the arguments’ key premises is, then neither argument succeeds in providing a good reason to accept skepticism. I conclude by explaining why I think epistemologists are right to expend a lot of time and effort on refuting these arguments, even if neither argument provides any motivation for skepticism. (shrink)
Many stored beliefs, like beliefs in one’s personal data or beliefs in one’s area of expertise, intuitively amount to knowledge, and so are justified. This uncontroversial datum arguably tells against evidentialism, the position according to which a belief is justified if it fits the available evidence: stored beliefs are normally not sustained by one’s available evidence. Conee and Feldman have tried to meet this potential objection by relaxing the notion of available evidence. According to their proposal, stored beliefs are (...) dispositionally justified, because they are justified by the evidence one has the disposition to retrieve; such evidence, as a consequence, is to be characterize as available, though in a derivative sense. Goldman has criticized this proposal, by offering a counterexample to the claim that a disposition to generate a piece of evidence may qualify as a justifier. In this paper I critically examine two possible replies to Goldman’s example stemming from Conee and Feldman, and finally propose my own, based on a distinction, inspired by Audi, between dispositional evidence and the disposition to have evidence. Though this proposal differs from Conee and Feldman’s one, I will conclude that it fits pretty well their intuitions. (shrink)
When is a person justified in believing a proposition? In this paper, I defend a view according to which a person is justified in believing a proposition just in case the person’s evidence sufficiently supports the proposition and the person responsibly acquired and sustained the evidence that supports the proposition. This view overcomes a deficiency in a prominent theory of epistemic justification. As championed by Earl Conee and Richard Feldman, Evidentialism is a theory subject to counterexamples at the hands (...) of cases involving epistemic irresponsibility. I critically discuss such a case as put forward by Jason Baehr. After providing an argument that clarifies why the case is problematic for Evidentialism, I defend my argument from a response by Earl Conee. Then I develop a theory of epistemic justification capable of handling cases involving epistemic irresponsibility, and I defend this theory from evidentialist objections. (shrink)
William Kingdon Clifford famously argued that "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." His ethics of belief can be construed as involving two distinct theses—a moral claim (that it is wrong to hold beliefs to which one is not entitled) and an epistemological claim (that entitlement is always a function of evidential support). Although I reject the (universality of the) epistemological claim, I argue that something deserving of the name "ethics of belief" can (...) nevertheless be preserved. However, in the second half of the paper I argue that Clifford's response to the problem of unethical belief is insufficiently attentive to the role played by self-deception in the formation of unethical beliefs. By contrasting the first-person perspective of a doxastic agent with the third-person perspective of an outside observer, I argue that unethical belief is a symptom of deficiencies of character: fix these, and belief will fix itself. I suggest that the moral intuitions implicit in our response to examples of unethical belief (like Clifford's famous example of the ship owner) can better be accounted for in terms of a non-evidentialist virtue ethics of belief-formation, and that such an account can survive the rejection of strong versions of doxastic voluntarism. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against what I call ‘strict evidentialism’, the view that evidence is the sole factor for determining the normative status of beliefs. I argue that strict evidentialism fails to capture the uniquely subjective standpoint of believers and as a result it fails to provide us with the tools necessary to apply its own epistemic norms. In its place I develop an interest-relative theory of justification which I call quasi-evidentialism, according to which S has (...) a justified belief that P at time t if and only if S’s evidence at time t supports P in proportion to S’s interest in P. I take interests as fixed and argue that adjusting our confidence in a proposition in the right way, given our interests, is fine-tuned through the exercise of intellectual virtue, in particular the virtue of epistemic conscientiousness. This theory refocuses epistemic responsibility in the subject and by locating agency in the cultivation of epistemic virtue it also provides a handy solution to the problem of doxastic voluntarism, insofar as the development of our epistemic virtue guides our responsiveness to reason. (shrink)
This paper observes that in the midst of a thickening debate over the concept of “epistemic possibility,” nearly every philosopher assumes that the concept is equivalent to a mere absence of epistemic impossibility, that a proposition is epistemically possible if and only if our knowledge does not entail that it is false. I suggest that it is high time that we challenge this deeply entrenched assumption. I assemble an array of data that singles out the distinctive meaning and function of (...) epistemic possibility, which suggest it to be distinct from other modals and an attitude toward a proposition, not a part of the content of a proposition. I suggest that this data is best explained by a positive evidentialist conception of epistemic possibility, one which maintains that a proposition is epistemically possible to a subject only if there is evidence specifically in support of that proposition that is cognitively available to that subject. I suggest that this view not only offers a superior explanation of the data, but also offers a unique and straightforward strategy for undermining skeptical arguments. (shrink)
This paper articulates and defends a novel version of internalist evidentialism which employs dispositions to account for the relation of evidentialsupport. In section one, I explain internalist evidentialist views generally, highlighting the way in which the relation of evidential support stands at the heart of these views. I then discuss two leading ways in which evidential support has been understood by evidentialists, and argue that an account of support which employs what I call epistemic dispositions remedies difficulties arguably faced (...) by these two leading accounts. In sections two and three, I turn to advantages that my dispositionalist account of evidential support offers evidentialists beyond its remedying apparent difficulties with rival accounts of support. In section two, I show that the account is well-suited to help the evidentialist respond to the problem of forgotten evidence. And, in section three, I show that adopting my dispositional account makes possible an attractive and natural synthesis of evidentialism and virtue epistemology which is superior to the leading contemporary synthesis of these views. (shrink)
Michael Bergmann seeks to motivate his externalist, proper function theory of epistemic justification by providing three objections to the mentalism and mentalist evidentialism characteristic of nonexternalists such as Richard Feldman and Earl Conee. Bergmann argues that (i) mentalism is committed to the false thesis that justification depends on mental states; (ii) mentalism is committed to the false thesis that the epistemic fittingness of an epistemic input to a belief-forming process must be due to an essential feature of that input, (...) and, relatedly, that mentalist evidentialism is committed to the false thesis that the epistemic fittingness of doxastic response B to evidence E is an essential property of B–E; and (iii) mentalist evidentialism is “unmotivated”. I object to each argument. The argument for (i) begs the question. The argument for (ii) suffers from the fact that mentalist evidentialists are not committed to the consequences claimed for them; nevertheless, I show that there is, in the neighborhood, a substantive dispute concerning the nature of doxastic epistemic fittingness. That dispute involves what I call “Necessary Fittingness”, the view that, necessarily, exactly one (at most) doxastic attitude ( belief , or disbelief , or suspension of judgment ) toward a proposition is epistemically fitting with respect to a person’s total evidence at any time. Reflection on my super-blooper epistemic design counterexamples to Bergmann’s proper function theory reveals both the plausibility of Necessary Fittingness and a good reason to deny (iii). Mentalist evidentialism is thus vindicated against the objections. (shrink)
Evidentialism is a view about the conditions under which a person is epistemically justified in having a particular doxastic attitude toward a proposition. Evidentialism holds that the justified attitudes are determined entirely by the person's evidence. This is the traditional view of justification. It is now widely opposed. The essays included in this volume develop and defend the tradition. Evidentialism has many assets. In addition to providing an intuitively plausible account of epistemic justification, it helps to resolve (...) the problem of the criterion, helps to disentangle epistemic and ethical evaluations, and illuminates the relationship between epistemic evaluations of beliefs and the evaluation of the methods used to form beliefs. These issues are all addressed in the essays presented here. External world skepticism poses the classic problem for an epistemological theory. The final essay in this volume argues that evidentialism is uniquely well qualified to make sense of skepticism and to respond to its challenge. Evidentialism is a version of epistemic internalism. Recent epistemology has included many attacks on internalism and has seen the development of numerous externalist theories. The essays included here respond to those attacks and raise objections to externalist theories, especially the principal rival, reliabilism. Internalism generally has been criticized for having unacceptable deontological implications, for failing to connect epistemic justification to truth, and for failing to provide an adequate account of what makes basic beliefs justified. Each of these charges is answered in these essays. The collection includes two previously unpublished essays and new afterwords to five of the reprinted essays; it will be the definitive resource on evidentialism for all epistemologists. (shrink)
In their most recent co-authored work, Conee and Feldman (2008) suggest that epistemic support should be understood in terms of best explanations. Although this suggestion is plausible, Conee and Feldman admit that they have not provided the necessary details for a complete account of epistemic support. This article offers an explanationist account of epistemic support of the kind that Conee and Feldman suggest. It is argued that this account of epistemic support yields the intuitively correct results in a wide variety (...) of cases. Further, this explanationist account of epistemic support is not susceptible to objections that Lehrer (1974) and Goldman (2011) have raised for similar accounts of epistemic support. (shrink)
When we deliberate whether to believe some proposition, we feel immediately compelled to look for evidence of its truth. Philosophers have labelled this feature of doxastic deliberation 'transparency'. I argue that resolving the disagreement in the ethics of belief between evidentialists and pragmatists turns on the correct explanation of transparency. My hypothesis is that it reflects a conceptual truth about belief: a belief that p is correct if and only if p. This normative truth entails that only evidence can be (...) a reason for belief. Although evidentialism does not follow directly from the mere psychological truth that we cannot believe for non-evidential reasons, it does follow directly from the normative conceptual truth about belief which explains why we cannot do so. (shrink)
Evidentialism is a view about the conditions under which a person is epistemically justified in having a particular doxastic attitude toward a proposition. Evidentialism holds that the justified attitudes are determined entirely by the person's evidence. This is the traditional view of justification. It is now widely opposed. The essays included in this volume develop and defend the tradition.Evidentialism has many assets. In addition to providing an intuitively plausible account of epistemic justification, it helps to resolve the (...) problem of the criterion, helps to disentangle epistemic and ethical evaluations, and illuminates the relationship between epistemic evaluations of beliefs and the evaluation of the methods used to form beliefs. These issues are all addressed in the essays presented here. External world skepticism poses the classic problem for an epistemological theory. The final essay in this volume argues that evidentialism is uniquely well qualified to make sense of skepticism and to respond to its challenge.Evidentialism is a version of epistemic internalism. Recent epistemology has included many attacks on internalism and has seen the development of numerous externalist theories. The essays included here respond to those attacks and raise objections to externalist theories, especially the principal rival, reliabilism. Internalism generally has been criticized for having unacceptable deontological implications, for failing to connect epistemic justification to truth, and for failing to provide an adequate account of what makes basic beliefs justified. Each of these charges is answered in these essays. The collection includes two previously unpublished essays and new afterwords to five of the reprinted essays; it will be the definitive resource on evidentialism for all epistemologists. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis that a person is justified in believing a proposition iff the person's evidence on balance supports that proposition. In discussing epistemological issues associated with disagreements among epistemic peers, some philosophers have endorsed principles that seem to run contrary to evidentialism, specifying how one should revise one's beliefs in light of disagreement. In this paper, I examine the connection between evidentialism and these principles. I argue that the puzzles about disagreement provide no reason to (...) abandon evidentialism and that there are no true general principles about justified responses to disagreement other than the general evidentialist principle. I then argue that the puzzles about disagreement are primarily puzzles about the evidential impact of higher - order evidence – evidence about the significance or existence of ordinary, or first- order, evidence. I conclude by arguing that such higher - order evidence can often have a profound effect on the justification of first- order beliefs. (shrink)
Few concepts have been considered as essential to the theory of knowledge and rational belief as that of evidence. The simplest theory which accounts for this is evidentialism, the view that epistemic justification for belief--the kind of justification typically taken to be required for knowledge--is determined solely by considerations pertaining to one's evidence. In this ground-breaking book, leading epistemologists from across the spectrum challenge and refine evidentialism, sometimes suggesting that it needs to be expanded in quite surprising directions. (...) Following this, the twin pillars of contemporary evidentialism--Earl Conee and Richard Feldman--respond to each essay. This engaging debate covers a vast number of issues, and will illuminate and inform. (shrink)
Evidentialism is a popular theory of epistemic justification, yet, as early proponents of the theory Earl Conee and Richard Feldman admit, there are many elements that must be developed before Evidentialism can provide a full account of epistemic justification, or well-founded belief. It is the aim of this book to provide the details that are lacking; here McCain moves past Evidentialism as a mere schema by putting forward and defending a full-fledged theory of epistemic justification. In this (...) book McCain offers novel approaches to several elements of well-founded belief. Key among these are an original account of what it takes to have information as evidence, an account of epistemic support in terms of explanation, and a causal account of the basing relation that is far superior to previous accounts. The result is a fully developed Evidentialist account of well-founded belief. (shrink)
Nishi Shah has recently argued that transparency in doxastic deliberation supports a strict version of evidentialism about epistemic reasons. I argue that Shah's argument relies on a principle that is incompatible with the strict version of evidentialism Shah wishes to advocate.
Bootstrapping, evidentialist internalism, and rule circularity Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9876-9 Authors Anthony Brueckner, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Evidentialists maintain that epistemic justification is strictly a function of the evidence one has at the moment of belief. I argue here, on the basis of two kinds of cases, that the possession of good evidence is an insuflicient basis for justification. I go on to propose a modification of evidentialism according to which justification sometimes requires intellectually virtuous agency. The discussion thereby underscores an important point of contact between evidentialism and the more recent enterprise of virtue epistemology.
That theistic evidentialist philosophers have failed to make the evidential case for theism to atheistic evidentialist philosophers raises a problem—a question to be answered. I argue here that—of the most plausible possible solutions to this problem—each is either inadequate or, when adequate, in conflict with the theistic evidentialist philosophers’ defining beliefs. I conclude that the problem of the theistic evidentialist philosophers—the question of why theistic evidentialist philosophers have failed to make their case to atheistic evidentialist philosophers—is a problem for theistic (...) evidentialist philosophers—an objection to their defining beliefs. (shrink)
Evidentialism says that a subject S’s justification is entirely determined by S’s evidence. The plausibility of evidentialism depends on what kind of entities constitute a subject S’s evidence and what one takes the support relation to consist in. Conee and Feldman’s mainstream evidentialism incorporates a psychologist answer to and an explanationist answer to. ME naturally accommodates perceptual justification. However, it does not accommodate intuitive cases of inferential justification. In the second part of the paper, I consider and (...) reject a reply based on a refined explanationist theory of the support relation proposed by K McCain. (shrink)
Defeaters can prevent a perceptual belief from being justified. For example, when you know that red light is shining at the table before you, you would typically not be justified in believing that the table is red. However, can defeaters also destroy a perceptual experience as a source of justification? If the answer is ‘no’, the red light defeater blocks doxastic justification without destroying propositional justification. You have some-things-considered, but not all-things-considered, justification for believing that the table is red. If (...) the answer is ‘yes’, the red light defeater blocks doxastic justification by destroying propositional justification. You have neither all-things-considered nor some-things-considered justification for believing that the table is red. According to dogmatism, the justificational force of perceptual experiences is indestructible. According to conservatism about sense experience, a perceptual experience ceases to have justificational force if there is evidence against its reliability. Finally, according to meta-evidentialism, a perceptual experience is blocked from being a source of justification is there is no evidence of its reliability. I argue that, of these three theories, meta-evidentialism is the most plausible. (shrink)
Two recent arguments purport to find a new and firmer foundation for evidentialism in the very nature of the concept of belief. Evidentialism is claimed to be a conceptual truth about belief, and pragmatism to be ruled out, conceptually. But can the conclusion of such conceptual arguments be regarded as the denial of pragmatism? The pragmatist traditionally conceived belief through its motivational role. Therefore, when confronted with conceptual evidentialism, the pragmatist should cede the term ‘belief,’ but insist (...) that pragmatism be understood as a claim about another attitude, a motivational duplicate of belief. Thus, the original dispute is simply relocated terminologically. (shrink)
The “problem of forgotten evidence” is a common objection to evidentialist theories of epistemic justification. This objection is motivated by cases where someone forms a belief on the basis of supporting evidence and then later forgets this evidence while retaining the belief. Critics of evidentialist theories argue that in some of these cases the person's belief remains justified. So, these critics claim that one can have a justified belief that is not supported by any evidence the subject possesses. I argue (...) that these critics are mistaken. (shrink)
For most of their respective existences, reliabilism and evidentialism (that is, process reliabilism and mentalist evidentialism) have been rivals. They are generally viewed as incompatible, even antithetical, theories of justification.1 But a few people are beginning to re-think this notion. Perhaps an ideal theory would be a hybrid of the two, combining the best elements of each theory. Juan Comesana (forthcoming) takes this point of view and constructs a position called “Evidentialist Reliabilism.” He tries to show how each (...) theory can profit by borrowing elements from the other. Comesana concentrates on reliabilism’s problems and how it might be improved by infusions from evidentialism. This paper follows a similar tack. My emphasis, however, is the reverse of Comesana’s. I highlight problems for evidentialism and show how it could benefit by incorporating reliabilist themes. I am not sanguine that evidentialists will see it my way. They might even view my proposals as an insidious attempt to convert evidentialists to reliabilism. Well, I won’t debate the best way to formulate this paper’s recipe. At any rate, it began with the idea (which anteceded my reading of Comesana) of creating a synthesis of reliabilism and evidentialism. It retains significant strands of that idea, although the synthesis theme does not pervade the entire paper. What is mentalist evidentialism? Its original formulation was succinct. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the view that subjects should believe neither more than nor contrary to what their current evidence supports. I will critically present two arguments for the view. A common source of resistance to evidentialism is that there are intuitive cases where subjects should believe contrary to their evidence. I will present modest evidentialism as the view that subjects should believe in accord with what their evidence supports, but that this norm may be overridden under certain conditions. (...) As such, a modest evidentialismaccommodates the intuitions behind a good deal of traditional anti-evidentialism. (shrink)
O evidencialismo é, primordialmente, uma tese sobre a justificação epistêmica e, secundariamente, uma tese sobre o conhecimento. Sustenta que a justificação epistêmica é superveniente da evidência. As versões do evidencialismo diferem quanto ao que conta como evidência, quanto ao que seja possuir algo como evidência e quanto ao que um dado corpo de evidência apóia. A tese secundária é a de que o apoio evidencial é necessário ao conhecimento. O evidencialismo ajuda a formular as questões epistemológicas de uma forma que (...) é ótima para que se perceba o núcleo dos problemas. Oferece soluções, sem mascarar as dificuldades. Nós fornecemos ilustração disso através da consideração dos problemas da justificação a priori e do ceticismo. O evidencialismo também oferece a base para que se compreenda uma grande variedade de fatos e conceitos epistemológicos. Nós fornecemos ilustração disso, mostrando que o evidencialismo pode explicar como a justificação pode ser anulada, como as atitudes distintas da crença podem ser objeto de avaliação e como a própria prática da filosofia é epistemicamente valiosa. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Evidencialismo. Evidência. Justificação. Conhecimento. A priori. Ceticismo. ABSTRACT Evidentialism is primarily a thesis about epistemic justification and secondarily a thesis about knowledge. It holds that epistemic justification supervenes on evidence. Versions of evidentialism differ about what counts as evidence, what it is to have something as evidence, and what a particular body of evidence supports. The secondary thesis is that evidential support is necessary for knowledge. Evidentialism helps to frame epistemological issues in a way that is optimal for seeing the heart of the problems. It offers solutions without disguising the difficulties. We illustrate this by considering the problems of a priori justification and skepticism. Evidentialism also provides the basis for understanding a variety of epistemological facts and concepts. We illustrate this by showing that evidentialism can explain how justification can be defeated, how attitudes other than belief can be the object of evaluation, and how the practice of philosophy itself is epistemically valuable. KEY WORDS – Evidentialism. Evidence. Justification. Knowledge. A priori. Skepticism. (shrink)
William James' main argument in “The Will to Believe” against evidentialism is that there are facts that cannot come to be without a preliminary faith in their coming. James primarily makes this case with the argument from friendship. I will critically present James' argument from friendship and show that the argument does not yield a counter-example to evidentialism and is in the end unsound.
Scott Aikin’s Evidentialism and the Will to Believe is the first book-length discussion of W.K. Clifford’s 1877 “The Ethics of Belief ” and William James’s 1896 “The Will to Believe.” Except for twenty pages, the book splits evenly between a detailed discussion of the two essays. A good book demands some good criticism, and I am hoping that the comments I make are read in that light. Evidentialism and the Will to Believe appears in the Bloomsbury Research in (...) Analytic Philosophy series. Presumably because the book was written for this series, the discussion of historical context is kept to a minimum, and references to other writings of Clifford and James, and to the secondary literature, are scant. They pretty much.. (shrink)