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This project aims to apply the powerful tools of decision theory to provide novel arguments for the epistemic norms that we take to govern what it is rational to believe; and to discover new epistemic norms. We treat the possible epistemic states of an agent as if they were epistemic actions between which that agent must choose. And we consider how we should measure the purely epistemic utility of being in such a state. We then apply the general apparatus of decision theory to determine which epistemic states are rational in a given situation from a purely epistemic point of view; and how our epistemic states should evolve over time. This allows us, often for the first time, to give formal justifications of epistemic norms without appealing to pragmatic considerations that seem intuitively irrelevant to the norms in question. These formal arguments have the great advantage that their assumptions are made mathematically precise and their conclusions are deduced from their assumptions by means of a mathematical theorem. We call their study epistemic utility theory.

'Epistemic Utility Theory: Foundations and Applications' is a four-year project funded by the European Research Council.  It will run January 2013 to December 2016 in the Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, UK.  The original project proposal is here.

The project team:  Richard Pettigrew, Jason Konek (May 2013 - August 2015), Ben Levinstein (Oct 2013 - Feb 2015), Patricia Rich (Sep 2015 - Aug 2016), Greg Gandenberger (Sep 2015 - Aug 2016), Chris Burr, and Pavel Janda.

During the course of the project, there will be conferences, workshops, visiting scholars, and reading groups.  Please let us know if you'd like to be added to the project's mailing list.

As a project, we support the Gendered Conference Campaign.  We apply its strategy to our conferences, workshops, visiting scholars, and the papers chosen for our reading groups.