SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Extrarational Permissivism
(Epistemology, English)

Part of what can make disagreement intractable is not that the people with whom we disagree are totally irrational and embracing a "post-truth" disregard for evidence, but, rather, they are sometimes reasoning from the same evidence and reaching different conclusions (Nguyen 2018). Consider a stipulated, static body of evidence that is isolated from your background information and has some relation to a proposition p. Following Li 2019, I include epistemic standards in background information. Agents adopt a rational doxastic response to p given the body of evidence: belief that p, disbelief that p, and withholding or suspending judgement that p. Permissivism is the view that some body of evidence permits more than one rational doxastic attitude towards p. Uniqueness (also called "impermissivism") is the view that any body of evidence permits at most one rational doxastic attitude towards p. This debate cuts across many issues in epistemology, including the demands of evidentialism (White 2013, Kelly 2013, McGrath 2019), the normativity of rationality (Greco and Hedden 2016, Schoenfield 2019, Ye 2021), voluntarism (Roeber 2019, 2020), disagreement (Christensen 2016, Levinstein 2017, Jung 2017, Daoust 2021), pragmatic encroachment (Feldman 2000, Rubin 2015, Podgorski 2016, Jackson 2021), and more. In this paper, I assume a strong form of traditional evidentialism where what is rational given the available evidence is fixed by epistemic factors that bear on whether p is true. I argue for uniqueness by challenging the inference to permissivism from cases of underdetermination. Jackson and Turnbull (forthcoming) argue that a single case of underdetermination is sufficient to establish the truth of permissivism because a case of underdetermination, trivially, just is a case of permissivism. They then describe a case of scientific underdetermination from Turnbull 2017 as a putative case of permissivism. I argue that such cases ultimately permit a unique doxastic response of agnosticism towards whether p. My focus is on full belief, and I leave open the possibility that withholding full belief in p may be consistent with multiple credences toward p. Cases of underdetermination are plausibly the best candidates for permissivism, and if the best cases for permissivism fail, then the weaker cases are likely to fail, too. However, while I argue that underdetermination by evidence requires agnosticism, I make space for pragmatic considerations to shape our inquiry (cf. McGrath 2019, Friedman 2017), especially where inquiry requires coordination.

Chair: Christian Vulpe
Time: 12:00-12:30, 09. September 2022 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.003

Paige Massey 
(University of Colorado Boulder, USA)

Testability and Meaning deco