Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)

Abstract

Suppose we learn that we have a poor track record in forming beliefs rationally, or that a brilliant colleague thinks that we believe P irrationally. Does such input require us to revise those beliefs whose rationality is in question? When we gain information suggesting that our beliefs are irrational, we are in one of two general cases. In the first case we made no error, and our beliefs are rational. In that case the input to the contrary is misleading. In the second case we indeed believe irrationally, and our original evidence already requires us to fix our mistake. In that case the input to that effect is normatively superfluous. Thus, we know that information suggesting that our beliefs are irrational is either misleading or superfluous. This, I submit, renders the input incapable of justifying belief revision, despite our not knowing which of the two kinds it is.

Abstract

Should conciliating with disagreeing peers be considered sufficient for reaching rational beliefs? Thomas Kelly argues that when taken this way, Conciliationism lets those who enter into a disagreement with an irrational belief reach a rational belief all too easily. Three kinds of responses defending Conciliationism are found in the literature. One response has it that conciliation is required only of agents who have a rational belief as they enter into a disagreement. This response yields a requirement that no one should follow. If the need to conciliate applies only to already rational agents, then an agent must conciliate only when her peer is the one irrational. A second response views conciliation as merely necessary for having a rational belief. This alone does little to address the central question of what is rational to believe when facing a disagreeing peer. Attempts to develop the response either reduce to the first response, or deem necessary an unnecessary doxastic revision, or imply that rational dilemmas obtain in cases where intuitively there are none. A third response tells us to weigh what our pre-disagreement evidence supports against the evidence from the disagreement itself. This invites epistemic akrasia.

Abstract

The Self-Intimation thesis has it that whatever justificatory status a proposition has, i.e., whether or not we are justified in believing it, we are justified in believing that it has that status. The Infallibility thesis has it that whatever justificatory status we are justified in believing that a proposition has, the proposition in fact has that status. Jointly, Self-Intimation and Infallibility imply that the justificatory status of a proposition (bottom-level justification) closely aligns with the justification we have about that justificatory status (top-level justification). Self-Intimation has two noteworthy implications. First, assuming that we never have sufficient justification for a proposition and for its negation, we can derive Infallibility from Self-Intimation. Interestingly, there seems to be no equivalently simple way to derive Self-Intimation from Infallibility. This asymmetry provides reason for thinking that bottom-level justification rather than top-level justification drives the explanation for why the levels of justification align. Second, Self-Intimation suggests a counterintuitive treatment of information concerning what justificatory status a proposition has (higher-order evidence). It follows from Self-Intimation that we always have justification for the truth about whether a proposition is justified for us, and therefore, that higher-order evidence could change what we should believe on this matter only by misleading us. This permits forming beliefs about whether a proposition is justified for us without regard to higher-order evidence, and thus reveals a reason for thinking that top-level justification is evidentially inert.

Abstract

We examine whether the "evidence of evidence is evidence" principle is true. We distinguish several different versions of the principle and evaluate recent attacks on some of those versions. We argue that, whatever the merits of those attacks, they leave the more important rendition of the principle untouched. That version is, however, also subject to new kinds of counterexamples. We end by suggesting how to formulate a better version of the principle that takes into account those new counterexamples.