Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

Epistemology (Ep)

Higher-order evidence will be the general theme of the 2021/22 Epistemology Reading Group at least until the Christmas break. 

Topic description

We form our beliefs following the evidence we have available. For instance, a police officer tells you that the butler's alibi has holes and you then see the butler with a bloody knife in his hand. Drawing on this evidence, you come to believe that the butler did it. Such evidence is first-order, i.e., evidence that directly bears on the proposition that the butler did it. Sometimes, however, we also come across higher-order evidence, i.e., "evidence for or against the truth of a proposition about the first-order evidence" (Whiting 2020). As Whiting puts it, higher-order evidence comes in different forms, including evidence concerning (i) what evidence one has available; (ii) the strength and valence of one’s evidence; (ii) the normative import of one’s evidence; or (iv) one’s capacities and dispositions for assessing one or more of (i-iv), or for rationally responding to one's first-order evidence. 

The epistemic significance of higher-order evidence is a matter of heated debate. Some cases suggest that it not only makes a difference "to what one believes about the first-order evidence but also to one's beliefs about the world itself (Kelly 2014). But in some other cases (especially those where one's higher-order evidence is misleading), it is unclear what its epistemic significance for one's beliefs about the world should be. Suppose that someone cleverly misleads you into thinking that you've been given "a judgement-distorting drug that has been shown through many trials to cause 99% of the people who take it to make mistakes in tasks like dosage" (Christensen 2007). Would you now administer a covid-19 vaccine to your patient? What are we rationally required (or permitted) to believe in such cases? 

In this reading group, we will address these kinds of puzzles about rationality. Yet, as the latest research on the topic shows, discussions about higher-order evidence also have ramifications for other important debates in epistemology (e.g., peer disagreement, epistemic defeat) and beyond (e.g., ethics, aesthetics; see especially Whiting (2020) in this regard). During the course of the reading group, we will decide what specific subtopics we shall focus on.

Work-in-progress sessions

In addition, participants will also have the opportunity to present their work in progress, either in full two-hour-sessions (research papers, dissertation chapters), or else 15-30 min before or after the main discussion (sections of papers/chapters, more or less formal arguments or objections that are not sections themselves, reviewer comments). PhD students are especially encouraged to take this opportunity. 

We will decide an appropriate ratio of reading group sessions to work-in-progress sessions so that we get new input in a systematic fashion that allows us all to deepen our understanding of the reading group's topic while also benefiting from the participants' feedback on our work.

Frequency

Weekly (both semesters). 

Day & time 

Thursdays, 11:30-13:30

Where?

Until further notice, all meetings will be held online (Zoom).



Sessions

  • Whiting, Daniel. 2020. Recent Work in Higher-Order Evidence. Analysis 80: 789–807

    04 November 2021

    11:30, online

  • Christensen, David. 2010. Higher Order Evidence. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81: 185-215.

    11 November 2021

    11:30, online

  • Lasonen-Aarnio, Maria. 2014. Higher‐Order Evidence and the Limits of Defeat. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88: 314-345.

    18 November 2021

    11:30, online

  • Bradley, Darren 2019. Are There Indefeasible Epistemic Rules? Philosophers' Imprint

    25 November 2021

    11:30, online

  • Hughes, Nick (forthcoming). Epistemology Without Guidance. Philosophical Studies.

    16 December 2021

    11:30, online

  • Worsnip, A. 2018. The conflict of evidence and coherence. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 96(1), 3–44.

    20 January 2022

    11:30, online

  • Palmira, Michele (manuscript). The Higher-Order and the Zetetic

    03 February 2022

    11:30, online

  • Christensen, David (2016). Conciliation, Uniqueness, and Rational Toxicity. Noûs 50 (3):584-603.

    10 February 2022

    11:30, online

  • Titelbaum, Michael G. (2015). Rationality’s Fixed Point. Oxford Studies in Epistemology 5.

    17 February 2022

    11:30, online

  • Titelbaum, Michael G. (2015). Rationality’s Fixed Point. Oxford Studies in Epistemology 5.

    21 February 2022

    12:00, online

  • Titelbaum, Michael G. (2015). Rationality’s Fixed Point. Oxford Studies in Epistemology 5.

    28 February 2022

    12:00, online

  • Horowitz, Sophie (2014). Epistemic Akrasia. Noûs 48 (4):718-744.

    07 March 2022

    12:00, online

  • Hawthorne, John ; Isaacs, Yoaav & Lasonen-Aarnio, Maria (2021). The rationality of epistemic akrasia. Wiley: Philosophical Perspectives 35 (1):206-228.

    14 March 2022

    12:00, online

  • Hawthorne, John ; Isaacs, Yoaav & Lasonen-Aarnio, Maria (2021). The rationality of epistemic akrasia. Wiley: Philosophical Perspectives 35 (1):206-228.

    21 March 2022

    12:00, online

  • Clayton, Littlejohn (2018). Stop Making Sense? On a Puzzle about Rationality. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:257-272.

    28 March 2022

    12:00, online

  • Silva, Paul (2018). Explaining enkratic asymmetries: knowledge-first style. Philosophical Studies 175 (11):2907-2930

    04 April 2022

    12:00, online

  • Matthew Jope (manuscript). Beyond Evidentialism and Non-evidentialism About Rational Trust

    25 April 2022

    12:00, online

  • Silva, Paul (2018). Explaining enkratic asymmetries: knowledge-first style. Philosophical Studies 175 (11):2907-2930

    02 May 2022

    12:00, online

  • Giovanni Dusi (manuscript). Process reliabilism meets bounded rationality

    09 May 2022

    12:00, online