Outright belief

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Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

What is the relation between (a) 'full' or 'outright' belief and (b) the various levels of confidence that agents can have in the propositions that concern them? This paper argues for a new answer to this question. Decision theory implies that in making decisions, rational agents must treat certain propositions as though they were completely certain; but on most forms of decision theory, these propositions are not ones for which any finite agent could have maximal justification - the agent will clearly have less justification for these propositions than for elementary logical truths. Thus, every adequate model of a finite rational agent's belief-system must involve two set of credences - theoretical credences (the belief-states that keep track of how much justification the agent has for the propositions in question) and practical credences (the belief-states on which the agent bases her practical decisions). A full or outright belief in p can be defined as the state of being stably disposed to assign a practical credence of 1 to p, for all normal practical purposes. This definition allows for a kind of reconciliation between the pragmatist and intellectualist approaches in epistemology.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-329
Number of pages21
JournalDialectica
Volume66
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012