Epistemic Teleology

I mentioned in passing last week Selim Berker’s work on epistemic teleology. This post is basically a link dump, to list a few other sources that seem relevant to thinking about epistemic teleology.

What I’m interested in primarily is how these criticisms of teleology affect our assessment of Jim Joyce’s accuracy domination argument for probabilism.

In his Justification and the Truth Condition, Clayton Littlejohn also argues against epistemic teleology, or as he calls it, epistemic consequentialism. Littlejohn and Berker use similar arguments, but different enough that it’s worth considering both. (Also, yay that Clayton’s book is available as a Kindle edition, and boo that it costs $67. This was one of two books that I went looking for Kindle editions of today, and was put off by the insane price tags.)

Branden Fitelson and Kenny Easwaran have an objection to Joyce that you can see, I think, as turning on the separateness of propositions intuition that Berker and Littlejohn appeal to. Their idea is that it is wrong to use holistic considerations (such as accuracy dominance) to move away from the correct attitude towards a particular proposition. So I suspect there are interesting connections to be made between their objection, and the Berker and Littlejohn objections.

I also suspect, though I don’t know how to argue for this right now, that there will be interesting connections between the right response to the anti-teleologists, and the right response to Michael Caie’s very different kind of objection to Joyce. But that’s for another post; for now I just wanted to keep note of some papers and books that seem relevant to thinking about the connections between epistemic teleology in general, and Joyce’s accuracy arguments in particular.

Some Links

There’s a common way that a blog dies. For whatever reason, the author(s) can’t find time to make a post for a little while. Then there’s a feeling that given the time since the last post, any posting has to be a big deal. After all, if it was a little post, it could have been done earlier. But there’s never any time for that post, or never anything to say that’s a big deal, and possible to say in a blog post. So nothing gets written. The end.

That’s a sad way to go, and there’s an easy solution. Just don’t give in to the feeling that the first post after a hiatus must be substantial.

That’s a very long winded way of introducing a links post. Here are a few things I’m reading, along with some comments on why they seem interesting.

  • Selim Berker’s Epistemic Teleology and the Separateness of Propositions and The Rejection of Epistemic Consequentialism. I like Selim’s project here, which is to generalise the kind of “truth fairy” considerations Carrie Jenkins has raised to argue against a whole class of theories. But I suspect he over-reaches. I think Joyce-style accuracy approaches to credal epistemology are both (a) teleological in the sense Selim is interested in, and (b) immune to his objections. I’d like to think more about this over the summer.
  • Richard Pettigrew’s blog posts on accuracy dominance, which are relevant to the previous bullet point.
  • Wolfgang Schwarz’s Against Magnetism is, I just saw, forthcoming in the AJP. This is fantastic; it’s one of the best papers I’ve read in recent years. It’s just about the only paper which both (a) has me as a target, and (b) convinced me to change my mind on substantial questions. My reply/follow-up is now out in the Journal for the History of Analytic Philosophy
  • There’s a symposium on Timothy Williamson’s recent work on margin of error principles in Inquiry. I’m not particularly fond of the title of the issue; I think it contributes to the confusion about what is a “Gettier case”. But the papers are great.
  • Teddy Seidenfeld’s When Normal and Extensive Form Decisions Differ is relevant to some work about decision making under indeterminacy.
  • Katya Tentori did a fantastic paper at FEW on evidence that subjects are systematically better at making confirmation judgments than probability judgments. Here’s one sample of the experiments she was reporting, though there was a lot more data in the talk than that.
  • And finally two papers that look interesting, but I haven’t read yet so can’t comment on. Brad Armendt’s Pragmatic Interests and Imprecise Belief, and Hannes Leitgeb’s A Lottery Paradox for Counterfactuals Without Agglomeration