•  23
    An important line of response to scepticism appeals to the best explanation. But anti-sceptics have not engaged much with work on explanation in the philosophy of science. I plan to investigate whether plausible assumptions about best explanations really do favour anti-scepticism. I will argue that there are ways of constructing sceptical hypotheses in which the assumptions do favour anti-scepticism, but the size of the support for anti-scepticism is small.
  •  34
    Bayesianism and Self-Doubt
    Synthese 1-19. forthcoming.
    How should we respond to evidence when our evidence indicates that we are rationally impaired? I will defend a novel answer based on the analogy between self-doubt and memory loss. To believe that one is now impaired and previously was not is to believe that one’s epistemic position has deteriorated. Memory loss is also a form of epistemic deterioration. I argue that agents who suffer from epistemic deterioration should return to the priors they had at an earlier time. I develop this argument re…Read more
  •  78
    There is a divide in epistemology between those who think that, for any hypothesis and set of total evidence, there is a unique rational credence in that hypothesis, and those who think that there can be many rational credences. Schultheis offers a novel and potentially devastating objection to Permissivism, on the grounds that Permissivism permits dominated credences. I will argue that Permissivists can plausibly block Schultheis' argument. The issue turns on getting clear about whether we shou…Read more
  •  68
    Ought-contextualism and Reasoning
    Synthese 1-23. forthcoming.
    What does logic tells us how about we ought to reason? If P entails Q, and you believe P, should you believe Q? There seem to be cases where you should not, for example, if you have evidence against Q, or the inference is not worth making. So we need a theory telling us when an inference ought to be made, and when not. I will argue that we should embed the issue in an independently motivated contextualist semantics for ‘ought’. With the contextualist machinery in hand we can give a theory of whe…Read more
  •  369
    Naturalness as a Constraint on Priors
    Mind 129 (513): 179-203. 2020.
    Many epistemological problems can be solved by the objective Bayesian view that there are rationality constraints on priors, that is, inductive probabilities. But attempts to work out these constraints have run into such serious problems that many have rejected objective Bayesianism altogether. I argue that the epistemologist should borrow the metaphysician’s concept of naturalness and assign higher priors to more natural hypotheses.
  •  512
    Are There Indefeasible Epistemic Rules?
    Philosophers' Imprint 19. 2019.
    What if your peers tell you that you should disregard your perceptions? Worse, what if your peers tell you to disregard the testimony of your peers? How should we respond if we get evidence that seems to undermine our epistemic rules? Several philosophers have argued that some epistemic rules are indefeasible. I will argue that all epistemic rules are defeasible. The result is a kind of epistemic particularism, according to which there are no simple rules connecting descriptive and normative fac…Read more
  •  315
    Self-Locating Belief and Updating on Learning
    Mind 129 (514): 579-584. 2020.
    Self-locating beliefs cause a problem for conditionalization. Miriam Schoenfield offers a solution: that on learning E, agents should update on the fact that they learned E. However, Schoenfield is not explicit about whether the fact that they learned E is self-locating. I will argue that if the fact that they learned E is self-locating then the original problem has not been addressed, and if the fact that they learned E is not self-locating then the theory generates implausible verdicts which S…Read more
  •  49
    What Is Bayesian Confirmation for?
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3): 229-241. 2017.
    Peter Brössel and Franz Huber in 2015 argued that the Bayesian concept of confirmation had no use. I will argue that it has both the uses they discussed—it can be used for making claims about how worthy of belief various hypotheses are, and it can be used to measure the epistemic value of experiments. Furthermore, it can be useful in explanations. More generally, I will argue that more coarse-grained concepts can be useful, even when we have more fine-grained concepts available.
  •  19
    Deutsch on the epistemic problem in Everettian Quantum Theory
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 57 111-114. 2017.
  •  436
    Should Explanations Omit the Details?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (3): 827-853. 2020.
    There is a widely shared belief that the higher-level sciences can provide better explanations than lower-level sciences. But there is little agreement about exactly why this is so. It is often suggested that higher-level explanations are better because they omit details. I will argue instead that the preference for higher-level explanations is just a special case of our general preference for informative, logically strong, beliefs. I argue that our preference for informative beliefs entirely ac…Read more
  •  329
    Philosophers should prefer simpler theories
    Philosophical Studies 175 (12): 3049-3067. 2018.
    Should philosophers prefer simpler theories? Huemer (Philos Q 59:216–236, 2009) argues that the reasons to prefer simpler theories in science do not apply in philosophy. I will argue that Huemer is mistaken—the arguments he marshals for preferring simpler theories in science can also be applied in philosophy. Like Huemer, I will focus on the philosophy of mind and the nominalism/Platonism debate. But I want to engage with the broader issue of whether simplicity is relevant to philosophy.
  •  170
    © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Analysis Trust. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com‘Carnap is not completely unknown to us’ comments Richard Creath in his contribution to this book. ‘We often know just enough to be baffled’. It will be no surprise to anyone when I say that this book will not unbaffle us. But it does give us a collection of rewarding papers that each wrestle with the legacy Carnap has left us. T…Read more
  •  449
    I argue that there is a flaw in the way that response-dependence has been formulated in the literature, and this flawed formulation has been correctly attacked by Mark Johnston’s Missing Explanation Argument (1993, 1998). Moving to a better formulation, which is analogous to the move from behaviourism to functionalism, avoids the Missing Explanation Argument.
  •  812
    When betting odds and credences come apart: more worries for Dutch book arguments
    with Hannes Leitgeb
    Analysis 66 (2): 119-127. 2006.
    If an agent believes that the probability of E being true is 1/2, should she accept a bet on E at even odds or better? Yes, but only given certain conditions. This paper is about what those conditions are. In particular, we think that there is a condition that has been overlooked so far in the literature. We discovered it in response to a paper by Hitchcock (2004) in which he argues for the 1/3 answer to the Sleeping Beauty problem. Hitchcock argues that this credence follows from calculating he…Read more
  •  628
    Justified Concepts and the Limits of the Conceptual Approach to the A Priori
    Croatian Journal of Philosophy 11 (3): 267-274. 2011.
    Carrie Jenkins (2005, 2008) has developed a theory of the a priori that she claims solves the problem of how justification regarding our concepts can give us justification regarding the world. She claims that concepts themselves can be justified, and that beliefs formed by examining such concepts can be justified a priori. I object that we can have a priori justified beliefs with unjustified concepts if those beliefs have no existential import. I then argue that only beliefs without existential …Read more
  •  1472
    Self-location is no problem for conditionalization
    Synthese 182 (3): 393-411. 2011.
    How do temporal and eternal beliefs interact? I argue that acquiring a temporal belief should have no effect on eternal beliefs for an important range of cases. Thus, I oppose the popular view that new norms of belief change must be introduced for cases where the only change is the passing of time. I defend this position from the purported counter-examples of the Prisoner and Sleeping Beauty. I distinguish two importantly different ways in which temporal beliefs can be acquired and draw some gen…Read more
  •  302
    The main argument given for relevant alternatives theories of knowledge has been that they answer scepticism about the external world. I will argue that relevant alternatives also solve two other problems that have been much discussed in recent years, a) the bootstrapping problem and b) the apparent conflict between semantic externalism and armchair self-knowledge. Furthermore, I will argue that scepticism and Mooreanism can be embedded within the relevant alternatives framework.
  •  752
    Everettian Confirmation and Sleeping Beauty: Reply to Wilson: Figure 1
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3): 683-693. 2015.
    In Bradley, I offered an analysis of Sleeping Beauty and the Everettian interpretation of quantum mechanics. I argued that one can avoid a kind of easy confirmation of EQM by paying attention to observation selection effects, that halfers are right about Sleeping Beauty, and that thirders cannot avoid easy confirmation for the truth of EQM. Wilson agrees with my analysis of observation selection effects in EQM, but goes on to, first, defend Elga’s thirder argument on Sleeping Beauty and, second,…Read more
  •  79
    The Doomsday Argument says we should increase our subjective probability that Doomsday will occur once we take into account how many humans have lived before us. One objection to this conclusion is that we should accept the Self-Indication Assumption (SIA): Given the fact that you exist, you should (other things equal) favor hypotheses according to which many observers exist over hypotheses on which few observers exist. Nick Bostrom argues that we should not accept the SIA, because it can be use…Read more
  •  1097
    We give an analysis of the Monty Hall problem purely in terms of confirmation, without making any lottery assumptions about priors. Along the way, we show the Monty Hall problem is structurally identical to the Doomsday Argument.
  •  339
    Conditionalization and Belief De Se
    Dialectica 64 (2): 247-250. 2010.
    Colin Howson (1995 ) offers a counter-example to the rule of conditionalization. I will argue that the counter-example doesn't hit its target. The problem is that Howson mis-describes the total evidence the agent has. In particular, Howson overlooks how the restriction that the agent learn 'E and nothing else' interacts with the de se evidence 'I have learnt E'.
  •  413
    Carnap’s epistemological critique of metaphysics
    Synthese 195 (5): 2247-2265. 2018.
    Many who take a dismissive attitude towards metaphysics trace their view back to Carnap’s ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’. But the reason Carnap takes a dismissive attitude to metaphysics is a matter of controversy. I will argue that no reason is given in ‘Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology’, and this is because his reason for rejecting metaphysical debates was given in ‘Pseudo-Problems in Philosophy’. The argument there assumes verificationism, but I will argue that his argument survives t…Read more
  •  954
    Functionalism and The Independence Problems
    Noûs 47 (1): 545-557. 2013.
    The independence problems for functionalism stem from the worry that if functional properties are defined in terms of their causes and effects then such functional properties seem to be too intimately connected to these purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the independence problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, analytic connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious problems. Instead, they bring out some impor…Read more
  •  446
    Cian Dorr (2002) gives an argument for the 1/3 position in Sleeping Beauty. I argue this is based on a mistake about Sleeping Beauty's epistemic position.
  •  1191
    Weisberg on Design: What Fine-Tuning’s Got to Do with It
    Erkenntnis 77 (3): 435-438. 2012.
    Jonathan Weisberg (2010 ) argues that, given that life exists, the fact that the universe is fine-tuned for life does not confirm the design hypothesis. And if the fact that life exists confirms the design hypothesis, fine-tuning is irrelevant. So either way, fine-tuning has nothing to do with it. I will defend a design argument that survives Weisberg’s critique — the fact that life exists supports the design hypothesis, but it only does so given fine-tuning.
  •  473
    Dynamic Beliefs and the Passage of Time
    In A. Capone & N. Feit (eds.), Attitudes De Se, University of Chicago. 2013.
    How should our beliefs change over time? Much has been written about how our beliefs should change in the light of new evidence. But that is not the question I’m asking. Sometimes our beliefs change without new evidence. I previously believed it was Sunday. I now believe it’s Monday. In this paper I discuss the implications of such beliefs for philosophy of language. I will argue that we need to allow for ‘dynamic’ beliefs, that we need new norms of belief change to model how they function, and …Read more
  •  1258
    Confirmation in a Branching World: The Everett Interpretation and Sleeping Beauty
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2): 323-342. 2011.
    Sometimes we learn what the world is like, and sometimes we learn where in the world we are. Are there any interesting differences between the two kinds of cases? The main aim of this article is to argue that learning where we are in the world brings into view the same kind of observation selection effects that operate when sampling from a population. I will first explain what observation selection effects are ( Section 1 ) and how they are relevant to learning where we are in the world ( Sectio…Read more