SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

On Certainty, Doubt and Confidence
(Epistemology, English)

A popular idea is to treat confidence, doubt and certainty as metacognitive epistemic feelings/emotions (Proust 2013, Arango-Munoz 2014). But what is the precise relation between the two? According to one account (Lutrell et al 2013, Moon 2018), psychological certainty represents the strongest form of confidence, which can vary from extreme doubt to absolute certainty. Thus, Certainty1: S is certain that p iff S has the highest degree of confidence that p, where confidence is defined on an interval between 0 and 1. But this account faces a serious problem with the fact that, presumably, one's confidence is influenced by one's newly gathered evidence and, given that one can gather more and more evidence for a certain belief, the highest degree of confidence (confidence 1) is hardly achieved.
My proposal is to treat certainty as the total absence of doubt, but not the highest degree of certainty. One can be more or less confident, but certainty can occur at any level, as long as the subject is doubtless. Thus, Confidence: S believes that she is justified to believe p. Doubt: S believes that she is justified to disbelieve p. Certainty: S is highly confident that p and does not have doubts that p. Namely, S believes that she is highly justified to believe p, and not at all justified to disbelieve p. This account can solve both the puzzle about confidence and doubt presented by Moon (2018), and can have significant consequences for the way we take into consideration (or not) skeptical scenarios. According to this account, a salient skeptical scenario makes one doubt that p only if one believes she is justified to disbelieve p. But this second-order belief usually comes about only to the more conspiratorial people, and not to all of us. For most of us, learning about the matrix and evil demons hypotheses does not induce much doubt about daily propositions. I am still certain this sort of propositions, precisely because I am very confident about them, and I lack any doubts.

Chair: Wout Bisschop
Time: 15:20-15:50, 12 September 2018 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.004

Sergiu Spatan 
(Universität Hamburg, Germany)

I am a 1st year PhD student and research associate at the University of Hamburg. Previously I did my master degree at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. I did my bachelor in my home-country, Romania, at West University of Timisoara.



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