SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Is it rational to believe that I am wrong? A critical discussion of the Preface Paradox
(Epistemology, English)

This essay will examine the Preface Paradox and offer a solution. Along the way, we will discuss the Lottery Paradox, which will inform our discussion. In particular, it will show us that high credence is insufficient for belief, but that this fact does not on its own resolve the Preface Paradox. This will prompt us to search for another necessary condition for rational belief, which, it will be argued, is the epistemic possibility of knowing what is believed. This is motivated by the view that knowledge is successful belief; believing is trying to know, which is pointless when knowledge is impossible. This idea that it is irrational to believe a proposition that cannot be known drives our solution: the author should not believe what is written in the preface, for it leads them to believe unknowable propositions. Specifically, for each proposition in the main text of the book, they are forced to believe that it is true and might be false. We will prove this to be unknowable and also show why this does not apply to agents in normal circumstances who believe without absolute certainty.

Chair: Andrea Togni
Time: 11:15-11:45, 14 September 2017 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.005

Thomas Mitchell 
(University of Oxford, UK)

I attained a BA in philosophy from the University of Birmingham last year. I am now studying for a BPhil at Oxford, with a view to undertaking doctoral studies in the future and becoming a professional academic.

Testability and Meaning deco