Sunday, March 04, 2007

Necessitarian Gambit

(*) If epistemic principle P is justified for S (by necessary rule of inference I and S’s experiences E) then any proposition which P states is rational based on S’s experience is justified for S.

The idea is that Chisholm’s EP’s actually only state contingent connections, but the rationally-supports relation should be necessary. I’m just going to assume these two things. In that case what I’m trying to do is to argue that direct acquaintance (some kind of awareness between e-type and n-type, thus a similar goal as your work) with facts which are such that a necessary rules of inference—whether inductive or deductive—yield that a propositional is rational for one.

Here’s an example of the kind of think I have in mind.

I’ve seen lots of people get koplik spots and later get measles. I’ve never consciously put 2 and 2 together but the next time I see someone get koplik spots I form the belief that they are coming down with measles. The explanation of why I form this belief is that I’ve seen the correlation a bunch of times (though, like I said, I’ve never gone through the inference consciously) and my acquaintance with the correlation is causing me to form the belief about measles on the (causal but not doxastic) basis of the spots.

I’m inclined at this point to see this as a justified belief. I want to explain its justification by reference to (*).

Depending on how chicken sexing works, this would make some chicken sexing beliefs justified. I’m OK with that as long as there is the relevant kind of awareness or acquaintance.

Waddaya think?

2 Comment(s):

  • Some clarification.

    In the example case you give, you actually form the belief that x has measles and you form it via acquaintance and a causal path. I'm not sure how integral you take that to be to your story. I don't think it should be integral at all. Suppose we question your episetmic relation to the proposition that x has measles before any causal belief is formed in you. It would be really weird I think if your coming to believe it in the right way somehow birthed your justification for that proposition. It seems that if that proposition has some sort of positive epistemic status after you believe it then it should have some before you believe it. I am here just looking to preserve some sort of well-founded/justifed distinction that I don't think can exist if you take forming the belief in the right way to be necessary for its justification.

    You are going to need to spell out 'acquaintance with a proposition'. Is the idea that it serves as a connector between pieces of one's evidence and a conclusion, but it just need not be conscious?

    By Blogger jon, at 3/05/2007 8:26 AM  

  • Jon, right, I absolutely want to preserve the distinction. I just happened to give an example of actual belief.

    Not that (*) does *not* entail forming the belief in the right way. Indeed, (*) does not state a necessary condition on justification at all, but rather a sufficient one because it is what Chisholm would call a material epistemic principle.

    I think the proposition is justified prior to belief simply because--as the antecedent of (*) says there is a necessary rule of inference such that there are facts with which S is aquainted which the rule of inference says support p.

    By Blogger Trent_Dougherty, at 3/07/2007 1:14 AM