An important issue in epistemology concerns the source of epistemic normativity. Epistemic consequentialism maintains that epistemic norms are genuine norms in virtue of the way in which they are conducive to epistemic value, whatever epistemic value may be. So, for example, the epistemic consequentialist might say that it is a norm that beliefs should be consistent, in that holding consistent beliefs is the best way to achieve the epistemic value of accuracy. Thus epistemic consequentialism is structurally similar to the family (...) of consequentialist views in ethics. Recently, philosophers from both formal epistemology and traditional epistemology have shown interest in such a view. In formal epistemology, there has been particular interest in thinking of epistemology as a kind of decision theory where instead of maximizing expected utility one maximizes expected epistemic utility. In traditional epistemology, there has been particular interest in various forms of reliabilism about justification and whether such views are analogous to—and so face similar problems to—versions of consequentialism in ethics. This volume presents some of the most recent work on these topics as well as others related to epistemic consequentialism, by authors that are sympathetic to the view and those who are critical of it. (shrink)
Epistemic consequentialists maintain that the epistemically right (e.g., the justified) is to be understood in terms of conduciveness to the epistemic good (e.g., true belief). Given the wide variety of epistemological approaches that assume some form of epistemic consequentialism, and the controversies surrounding consequentialism in ethics, it is surprising that epistemic consequentialism remains largely uncontested. However, in a recent paper, Selim Berker has provided arguments that allegedly lead to a ‘rejection’ of epistemic consequentialism. In the present paper, it is shown (...) that reliabilism—the most prominent form of epistemic consequentialism, and one of Berker’s main targets—survives Berker’s arguments unscathed. (shrink)
Epistemic consequentialists maintain that the epistemically right is to be understood in terms of conduciveness to the epistemic good. Given the wide variety of epistemological approaches that assume some form of epistemic consequentialism, and the controversies surrounding consequentialism in ethics, it is surprising that epistemic consequentialism remains largely uncontested. However, in a recent paper, Selim Berker has provided arguments that allegedly lead to a?rejection? of epistemic consequentialism. In the present paper, it is shown that reliabilism—the most prominent form of epistemic (...) consequentialism, and one of Berker?s main targets—survives Berker?s arguments unscathed. (shrink)
We often evaluate belief-forming processes, agents, or entire belief states for reliability. This is normally done with the assumption that beliefs are all-or-nothing. How does such evaluation go when we’re considering beliefs that come in degrees? I consider a natural answer to this question that focuses on the degree of truth-possession had by a set of beliefs. I argue that this natural proposal is inadequate, but for an interesting reason. When we are dealing with all-or-nothing belief, high reliability leads to (...) high levels of truth-possession. However, when it comes to degrees of belief, reliability and truth-possession part ways. The natural answer thus fails to be a good way to evaluate degrees of belief for reliability. I propose and develop an alternative method based on the notion of calibration, suggested by Frank Ramsey, which does not have this problem and consider why we should care about such assessments of reliability even if they are not tied directly to truth-possession. (shrink)
Reliabilism—the view that a belief is justified iff it is produced by a reliable process—is often characterized as a form of consequentialism. Recently, critics of reliabilism have suggested that since it is a form of consequentialism, reliabilism condones a variety of problematic trade-offs involving cases where someone forms an epistemically deficient belief now that will lead her to more epistemic value later. In the present paper, we argue that the relevant argument against reliabilism fails because it equivocates. While there is (...) a sense in which reliabilism is a kind of consequentialism, it is not of a kind on which we should expect problematic trade-offs. (shrink)
Epistemic Consequentialism Consequentialism is the view that, in some sense, rightness is to be understood in terms conducive to goodness. Much of the philosophical discussion concerning consequentialism has focused on moral rightness or obligation or normativity. But there is plausibly also epistemic rightness, epistemic obligation, and epistemic normativity. Epistemic rightness is often denoted with talk … Continue reading Consequentialism Epistemic →.
Many now countenance the idea that certain groups can have beliefs, or at least belief-like states. If groups can have beliefs like these, the question of whether such beliefs are justified immediately arises. Recently, Goldman Essays in collective epistemology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014) has considered what a reliability-based account of justified group belief might look like. In this paper I consider his account and find it wanting, and so propose a modified reliability-based account of justified group belief. Lackey :341–396, (...) 2016) has also criticized Goldman’s proposal, but for very different reasons than I do. Some of her objections, however, can be lodged against the modified account that I propose here. I also respond to these objections. Finally, I note how some formal and experimental work is relevant to those who are attracted to the kind of reliability-based account of justified group belief I develop here. (shrink)
David Lewis ([1986b]) gives an attractive and familiar account of counterfactual dependence in the standard context. This account has recently been subject to a counterexample from Adam Elga (). In this article, I formulate a Lewisian response to Elga’s counterexample. The strategy is to add an extra criterion to Lewis’s similarity metric, which determines the comparative similarity of worlds. This extra criterion instructs us to take special science laws into consideration as well as fundamental laws. I argue that the Second (...) Law of Thermodynamics should be seen as a special science law, and give a brief account of what Lewisian special science laws should look like. If successful, this proposal blocks Elga’s counterexample. (shrink)
ABSTRACTSuppose that beliefs come in degrees. How should we then measure the accuracy of these degrees of belief? Scoring rules are usually thought to be the mathematical tool appropriate for this job. But there are many scoring rules, which lead to different ordinal accuracy rankings. Recently, Fallis and Lewis  have given an argument that, if sound, rules out many popular scoring rules, including the Brier score, as genuine measures of accuracy. I respond to this argument, in part by noting (...) that the argument fails to account for verisimilitude—that certain false hypotheses might be closer to the truth than other false hypotheses are. Oddie [forthcoming], however, has argued that no member of a very wide class of scoring rules can appropriately handle verisimilitude. I explain how to respond to Oddie's argument, and I recommend a class of weighted scoring rules that, I argue, genuinely measure accuracy while escaping the arguments of Fallis and Lewis as well as Oddie. (shrink)
Consider the multi-user virtual worlds of online games such as EVE and World of Warcraft, or the multi-user virtual world of Second Life. Suppose a player performs an action in one of these worlds, via his or her virtual character, which would be wrong, if the virtual world were real. What is the moral status of this virtual action? In this paper I consider arguments for and against the Asymmetry Thesis: the thesis that such virtual actions are never wrong. I (...) also explain how the truth of the Asymmetry Thesis is closely aligned with the possibility of what Edward Castronova has called closed synthetic worlds. With some qualifications, the ultimate conclusion is that the Asymmetry Thesis is false and that these closed worlds are impossible. (shrink)
Consider: -/- The Evidence Question: When, and under what conditions does an agent have proposition E as evidence (at t)? -/- Timothy Williamson's (2000) answer to this question is the well-known E = K thesis: -/- E = K: E is a member of S's evidence set at t iff S knows E at t. -/- I will argue that this answer is inconsistent with the version of Bayesianism that Williamson advocates. This is because E = K allows an agent (...) to garner evidence via inductive inference whereas standard Bayesian views disallow such a thing. Since Williamson's version of Bayesianism shares the key features with the standard Bayesian view, there is an inconsistency. (shrink)
Critics have recently argued that reliabilists face trade-off problems, forcing them to condone intuitively unjustified beliefs when they generate lots of true belief further downstream. What these critics overlook is that reliabilism entails that there areside-constraintson belief-formation, on account of which there are some things you should not believe, even if doing so would have very good epistemic consequences. However, we argue that by embracing side-constraints the reliabilist faces a dilemma: she can either hold on to reliabilism, and with it (...) aforementioned side-constraints, but then needs to explain why we should allow the pursuit of justification to get in the way of the acquisition of true belief; or she can deny that there are side-constraints – and in effect give up on reliabilism. We'll suggest that anyone moved by the considerations that likely attract people to reliabilism in the first place – the idea the true belief is good, and as such should be promoted – should go for the second horn, and instead pursue a form ofepistemic utilitarianism. (shrink)
Finding disjunctivist versions of direct realism unexplanatory, Mark Johnston [(2004). Philosophical Studies, 120, 113–183] offers a non-disjunctive version of direct realism in its place and gives a defense of this view from the problem of hallucination. I will attempt to clarify the view that he presents and then argue that, once clarified, it either does not escape the problem of hallucination or does not look much like direct realism.
Consider the Evidence Question: When and under what conditions is proposition P evidence for some agent S? Silins (Philos Perspect 19:375–404, 2005) has recently offered a partial answer to the Evidence Question. In particular, Silins argues for Evidential Internalism (EI), which holds that necessarily, if A and B are internal twins, then A and B have the same evidence. In this paper I consider Silins’s argument, and offer two response on behalf of Evidential Externalism (EE), which is the denial of (...) Evidential Internalism. The first response claims that the allegedly unattractive consequence for EE is not so unattractive. The second response takes the form of a tu quoque, demonstrating that a structurally similar argument can be constructed against EI. The two responses play off one another: objecting to the first puts pressure on one to accept the other. Taken together, the two responses have important ramifications for how we answer the Evidence Question, and how we think about evidence in general. (shrink)
Veritists maintain that true belief and only true belief is of fundamental epistemic value. They very often go on to derive epistemic norms based on considerations about what promotes this value. A standard objection is that many truths are pointless: there is no value in believing them. In response, veritists often distinguish between significant and insignificant truths, holding that the former are much more valuable (perhaps even incomparably more valuable) than the latter. But critics cry foul: veritists who say this (...) give up on their claim that it is true belief per se that is of fundamental epistemic value. In this paper I evaluate this dispute by comparing it to the well known dispute over J.S. Mill’s doctrine of higher and lower pleasures. I conclude that the veritist can escape the objection, but that the escape route breeds a new, and different problem. (shrink)
Bayesian Epistemology is a general framework for thinking about agents who have beliefs that come in degrees. Theories in this framework give accounts of rational belief and rational belief change, which share two key features: (i) rational belief states are represented with probability functions, and (ii) rational belief change results from the acquisition of evidence. This dissertation focuses specifically on the second feature. I pose the Evidence Question: What is it to have evidence? Before addressing this question we must have (...) an understanding of Bayesian Epistemology. The first chapter argues that we should understand Bayesian Epistemology as giving us theories that are evaluative and not action-guiding. I reach this verdict after considering the popular ‘ought’-implies-‘can’ objection to Bayesian Epistemology. The second chapter argues that it is important for theories in Bayesian Epistemology to answer the Evidence Question, and distinguishes between internalist and externalist answers. The third and fourth chapters present and defend a specific answer to the Evidence Question. The account is inspired by reliabilist accounts of justification, and attempts to understand what it is to have evidence by appealing solely to considerations of reliability. Chapter 3 explains how to understand reliability, and how the account fits with Bayesian Epistemology, in particular, the requirement that an agent’s evidence receive probability 1. Chapter 4 responds to objections, which maintain that the account gives the wrong verdict in a variety of situations including skeptical scenarios, lottery cases, scientific cases, and cases involving inference. After slight modifications, I argue that my account has the resources to answer the objections. The fifth chapter considers the possibility of losing evidence. I show how my account can model these cases. To do so, however, we require a modification to Conditionalization, the orthodox principle governing belief change. I present such a modification. The sixth and seventh chapters propose a new understanding of Dutch Book Arguments, historically important arguments for Bayesian principles. The proposal shows that the Dutch Book Arguments for implausible principles are defective, while the ones for plausible principles are not. The final chapter is a conclusion. (shrink)
Epistemic Consequentialism Consequentialism is the view that, in some sense, rightness is to be understood in terms of conduciveness to goodness. Much of the philosophical discussion concerning consequentialism has focused on moral rightness or obligation or normativity. But there is plausibly also epistemic rightness, epistemic obligation, and epistemic normativity. Epistemic rightness is often denoted with … Continue reading Consequentialism Epistemic →.
Sometimes we are interested in how groups are doing epistemically in aggregate. For instance, we may want to know the epistemic impact of a change in school curriculum or the epistemic impact of abolishing peer review in the sciences. Being able to say something about how groups are doing epistemically is especially important if one is interested in pursuing a consequentialist approach to social epistemology of the sort championed by Goldman. According to this approach we evaluate social practices and institutions (...) from an epistemic perspective based on how well they promote the aggregate level of epistemic value across a community. The aim of this paper is to investigate this concept of group epistemic value and defend a particular way of measuring it. (shrink)