How Doxastic Justification Helps Us Solve the Puzzle of Misleading Higher-Order Evidence

New paper coming out in


Abstract. Certain plausible evidential requirements and coherence requirements on ra- tionality seem to yield dilemmas of rationality (in a specific, objectionable sense) when put together with the possibility of misleading higher-order ev- idence. Epistemologists have often taken such dilemmas to be evidence that we’re working with some false principle. In what follows I show how one can jointly endorse an evidential requirement, a coherence requirement, and the possibility of misleading higher-order evidence without running afoul of dilemmas of rationality. The trick lies in observing the difference between attitudes it is rational to hold (= propositional justification) and rationally holding those attitudes (= doxastic justification).

Upcoming Talk: Oxford

We’ve often suspected that many of our beliefs are our beliefs because of our upbringing, and that we would have believed differently had things been different. Does learning this about yourself impact the rationality of continuing to hold your belief? My view is that it does, but not overly much.

I’ll explain why I think this in my paper “Etiology and Defeat” here:

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on 16 March 2015, Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University

What in the world is epistemic justification?

Ever wondered what epistemologists are on about in talking about “justification”? There is a dizzying array of normative terms used in connection with “justification” and I’ve often had the feeling that important differences were being overlooked. Finally, after years of employing the notion, I’ve tried to come to a settled view about just what justification is. HERE are my thoughts. And they will soon appear here: