Moral encroachment holds that the epistemic justification of a belief can be affected by moral factors. If the belief might wrong a person or group more evidence is required to justify the belief. Moral encroachment thereby opposes evidentialism, and kindred views, which holds that epistemic justification is determined solely by factors pertaining to evidence and truth. In this essay I explain how beliefs such as ‘that woman is probably an administrative assistant’—based on the evidence that most women employees at (...) the firm are administrative assistants—motivate moral encroachment. I then describe weaknesses of moral encroachment. Finally I explain how we can countenance the moral properties of such beliefs without endorsing moral encroachment, and I argue that the moral status of such beliefs cannot be evaluated independently from the understanding in which they are embedded. (shrink)
I argue that the following theses are both popular among evidentialists but also jointly inconsistent with evidentialism: 1) Time-Slice Mentalism: one’s justificational properties at t are grounded only by one’s mental properties at t; 2) Experience Ultimacy: all ultimate evidence is experiential; and 3) Sleep Justification: we have justified beliefs while we have dreamless, nonexperiential sleep. Although I intend for this paper to be a polemic against evidentialists, it can also be viewed as an opportunity for them to clarify (...) their views. Furthermore, the paper is not only relevant to evidentialists. For example, the arguments of this paper could give Time-Slice Mentalists a reason to deny evidentialism. (shrink)
Metacognition is the monitoring and controlling of cognitive processes. I examine the role of metacognition in ‘ordinary retrieval cases’, cases in which it is intuitive that via recollection the subject has a justiﬁed belief. Drawing on psychological research on metacognition, I argue that evidentialism has a unique, accurate prediction in each ordinary retrieval case: the subject has evidence for the proposition she justiﬁedly believes. But, I argue, process reliabilism has no unique, accurate predictions in these cases. I conclude that (...) ordinary retrieval cases better support evidentialism than process reliabilism. This conclusion challenges several common assumptions. One is that non-evidentialism alone allows for a naturalized epistemology, i.e., an epistemology that is fully in accordance with scientiﬁc research and methodology. Another is that process reliabilism fares much better than evidentialism in the epistemology of memory. (shrink)
I formulate a resilient paradox about epistemic rationality, discuss and reject various solutions, and sketch a way out. The paradox exemplifies a tension between a wide range of views of epistemic justification, on the one hand, and enkratic requirements on rationality, on the other. According to the enkratic requirements, certain mismatched doxastic states are irrational, such as believing p, while believing that it is irrational for one to believe p. I focus on an evidentialist view of justification on which a (...) doxastic state regarding a proposition p is epistemically rational or justified just in case it tracks the degree to which one’s evidence supports p. If it is possible to have certain kinds of misleading evidence, then evidentialism and the enkratic requirements come into conflict. Yet, both have been defended as platitudinous. After discussing and rejecting three solutions, I sketch an account that rejects the enkratic requirements, while nevertheless explaining our sense that epistemic akrasia is a distinct kind of epistemic failure. Central to the account is distinguishing between two evaluative perspectives, one having to do with the relevant kind of success, the other having to do with manifesting good dispositions. The problem with akratic subjects, I argue, is that they manifest dispositions to fail to correctly respond to a special class of conclusive and conspicuous reasons. (shrink)
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)
Evidentialism as Earl Conee and Richard Feldman present it is a philosophy with distinct aspects or sides: Evidentialism as a conceptual analysis of epistemic justification, and as a prescriptive ethics of belief. I argue that Conee and Feldman's ethics of belief has 'weak roots and sour fruits.' It has weak roots because it is premised on their account of justification qua synchronic rationality, and I undercut this account. It has sour fruits because the austere evidentialist ethic of belief (...) is unable to support reasonable disagreement, and eventuates in prescribing agnosticism in most cases of disagreement. I contrast this with John Rawls' understanding of "reasonable pluralism" and of the many sources of faultless disagreement over what Rawls termed comprehensive conceptions of the good. (shrink)
Epistemic defeat is standardly understood in either evidentialist or responsibilist terms. The seminal treatment of defeat is an evidentialist one, due to John Pollock, who famously distinguishes between undercutting and rebutting defeaters. More recently, an orthogonal distinction due to Jennifer Lackey has become widely endorsed, between so-called doxastic (or psychological) and normative defeaters. We think that neither doxastic nor normative defeaters, as Lackey understands them, exist. Both of Lackey’s categories of defeat derive from implausible assumptions about epistemic responsibility. Although Pollock’s (...) evidentialist view is superior, the evidentialism per se can be purged from it, leaving a general structure of defeat that can be incorporated in a reliabilist theory that is neither evidentialist nor responsibilist in any way. (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)
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)
Susanna Rinard has recently offered a new argument for pragmatism and against evidentialism. According to Rinard, evidentialists must hold that the rationality of belief is determined in a way that is different from how the rationality of other states is determined. She argues that we should instead endorse a view she calls Equal Treatment, according to which the rationality of all states is determined in the same way. In this paper, I show that Rinard’s claims are mistaken, and that (...)evidentialism is more theoretically virtuous than its opponents sometimes give it credit for. Not only does evidentialism not make an exception for belief, but it fits naturally into a unified, explanatorily powerful account of the rationality of intentional mental states. According to such an account, the rationality of all intentional mental states, including belief, is determined by the right kind of reasons for those states. Since the right kind of reasons for belief just are evidential considerations, this unified account entails evidentialism. I conclude, contra Rinard, that evidentialism can be situated within a general account of rationality that is at least as theoretically virtuous as pragmatism, if not more so. (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)
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.
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)
Deontological evidentialism is the claim that S ought to form or maintain S’s beliefs in accordance with S’s evidence. A promising argument for this view turns on the premise that consideration c is a normative reason for S to form or maintain a belief that p only if c is evidence that p is true. In this paper, I discuss the surprising relation between a recently influential argument for this key premise and the principle that ought implies can. I (...) argue that anyone who antecedently accepts or rejects this principle already has a reason to resist either this argument’s premises or its role in support of deontological evidentialism. (shrink)
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 the first section of this paper I present epistemic evidentialism and, in the following two sections, I discuss that view with counterexamples. I shall defend that adequately supporting evidence is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for epistemic justification. Although we need epistemic elements other than evidence in order to have epistemic justification, there can be no epistemically justified belief without evidence. However, there are other kinds of justification beyond the epistemic justification, such as prudential or moral (...) justification; therefore, there is room for justified beliefs (in a prudential or moral sense) without evidence. (shrink)
Sometimes it is practically beneficial to believe what is epistemically unwarranted. Philosophers have taken these cases to raise the question are there practical reasons for belief? Evidentialists argue that there cannot be any such reasons. Putative practical reasons for belief are not reasons for belief, but reasons to manage our beliefs in a particular way. Pragmatists are not convinced. They accept that some reasons for belief are practical. The debate, it is widely thought, is at an impasse. But this debate (...) fails to address what is puzzling and interesting about the cases. By focusing on reasons for belief, the debate completely overlooks the role of action in relation to belief. We should be talking about the reasons for actions that shape our beliefs, which I will call belief management. I argue for three related theses: the interesting cases that motivate the debate are about belief management; Evidentialism is irrelevant to belief management; agents have practical reasons to manage their beliefs with the aim of forming true beliefs. These reasons are categorical in nature and result in the tension of conflict cases. (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)
Knowledge-first evidentialism combines the view that it is rational to believe what is supported by one's evidence with the view that one's evidence is what one knows. While there is much to be said for the view, it is widely perceived to fail in the face of cases of reasonable error—particularly extreme ones like new Evil Demon scenarios (Wedgwood, 2002). One reply has been to say that even in such cases what one knows supports the target rational belief (Lord, (...) 201x, this volume). I spell out two versions of the strategy. The direct one uses what one knows as the input to principles of rationality such as conditionalization, dominance avoidance, etc. I argue that it fails in hybrid cases that are Good with respect to one belief and Bad with respect to another. The indirect strategy uses what one knows to determine a body of supported propositions that is in turn the input to principles of rationality. I sketch a simple formal implementation of the indirect strategy and show that it avoids the difficulty. I conclude that the indirect strategy offers the most promising way for knowledge-first evidentialists to deal with the New Evil Demon problem. (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.
According to time-slice epistemology, what attitudes you should have at a time supervenes on features of you—like your evidence or mental states—at that time. Evidentialism is commonly assumed to be an instance of time-slice epistemology. I argue that if an influential argument against time-slice epistemology—that responding to evidence takes time—is sound, evidentialism is not an instance of time-slice epistemology. Therefore, evidentialism survives that argument even if time-slice epistemology doesn’t. Evidentialists must say that your evidence at a time (...) is what can serve as a proper basis of your attitudes at that time. Therefore, if it takes time to properly base attitudes on your evidence, your evidence must predate your attitudes, in which case evidentialism is not an instance of time-slice epistemology. This doesn’t violate evidentialism’s internalist spirit, because if proper basing takes time, internalism itself is committed to the denial of time-slice epistemology. Contra some arguments from Brian Hedden and Andrew Moon, neither internalism nor evidentialism entails time-slice epistemology. If time-slice epistemology is false because proper basing takes time, then anything that internalists or evidentialists say justifies your attitudes must predate those attitudes. (shrink)
In contemporary debates in religious epistemology, theistic philosophers provide differing responses to the evidentialist argument against religious beliefs. Plantinga’s strategy is to argue that evidence is not needed to justify religious beliefs while Swinburne’s strategy is to argue that religious beliefs can be justified by evidence. However, in Aquinas’ account of religious epistemology, he seems to employ both strategies. In his account of religious knowledge by faith, he argues that evidence is unnecessary for religious beliefs. But in his account of (...) religious knowledge by science, he argues that there is evidence for religious beliefs. In this paper, I argue that there is no real dichotomy between Plantinga’s and Swinburne’s responses to the evidentialist argument. From a Thomistic perspective, Reformed Epistemology and Natural Theology are different but compatible responses to Evidentialism. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
According to evidentialism, a belief is propositionally justified just in case it fits one’s evidence. A fully developed evidentialist theory of justification will require an account of the evidential fit relation. Some evidentialists have embraced an explanationist account of this relation. Some of these accounts, such as Kevin McCain’s, place an awareness requirement on evidential fit. That is, they claim that a proposition, p, fits a subject’s evidence, e, only if the subject is aware of the explanatory connection between (...) p and e. I argue by way of example that this version of explanationism fails. As a result, I suggest a friendly revision of explanationism that excludes an awareness condition. Finally, I field some objections to my version of explanationism. (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.
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)
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. (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)
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)
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)
In this chapter I defend Explanationist Evidentialism, the theory developed and argued for in Evidentialism and Epistemic Justification, from the objections raised by Richard Fumerton, Jonathan Kvanvig, and Matthias Steup. Ultimately, I conclude that although each of these philosophers presents interesting challenges, none of the challenges succeed in undermining Explanationist Evidentialism. It remains a viable theory of epistemic justification.
Given the sheer vastness of the totality of contemporary human knowledge and our individual epistemic finitude it is commonplace for those of us who lack knowledge with respect to some proposition(s) to appeal to experts (those who do have knowledge with respect to that proposition(s)) as an epistemic resource. Of course, much ink has been spilled on this issue and so concern here will be very narrowly focused on testimony in the context of epistemological views that incorporate evidentialism and (...) internalism, and which are either reductivist or non-reductivist in nature. Also, as the main question about testimony addressed here is whether or not testimony can provide any basic justification at all, attention will be narrowly focused on the simple case where one is presented with testimony that something is the case from only one source and on one occasion. It turns out that there are some seriously odd epistemic features of such appeals to expertise that arise both for those who intend to accept internalism, evidentialism and reductivism about justification by testimony and for those who intend to accept internalism, evidentialism and non-reductivism about justification by testimony. (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)
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)
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)
Should religious believers proportion their religious beliefs to their evidence? They should: Religious faith is better, ceteris paribus, when the beliefs accompanying it are evidence-proportioned. I offer two philosophical arguments and a biblical argument. The philosophical arguments conclude that love and trust, two attitudes belonging to faith, are better, ceteris paribus, when accompanied by evidence-proportioned belief, and that so too is the faith in question. The biblical argument concludes that beliefs associated with faith, portrayed in the Hebrew Bible and the (...) New Testament, are typically, and normatively, exhorted on the basis of evidence. I hope to convince religious believers and nonbelievers alike that religious beliefs should be evidence-proportioned. (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)
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 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)