•  205
    Assertion is Weak
    Philosophers' Imprint. forthcoming.
    Recent work has argued that belief is weak: the level of rational credence required for belief is relatively low. That literature has contrasted belief with assertion, arguing that the latter requires an epistemic state much stronger than (weak) belief—perhaps knowledge or even certainty. We argue that this is wrong: assertion is just as weak as belief. We first present a variety of new arguments for this claim, and then show that the standard arguments for stronger norms are not convincing. Fin…Read more
  •  492
    Predictable polarization is everywhere: we can often predict how people’s opinions—including our own—will shift over time. Empirical studies suggest that this is so when evidence is ambiguous. That fact is often thought to demonstrate human irrationality. It doesn’t. Bayesians will predictably polarize iff their evidence is ambiguous. And ours often is: the process of cognitive search—searching a cognitively-accessible space for an item of a particular profile—yields ambiguous evidence that can …Read more
  •  226
    Be modest: you're living on the edge
    Analysis. forthcoming.
    Many have claimed that whenever an investigation might provide evidence for a claim, it might also provide evidence against it. Similarly, many have claimed that your credence should never be on the edge of the range of credences that you think might be rational. Surprisingly, both of these principles imply that you cannot rationally be modest: you cannot be uncertain what the rational opinions are.
  •  171
    Epistemic Consequentialism (review)
    Philosophical Review 129 (3): 484-489. 2020.
  •  246
    Given the laws of our universe, the initial conditions and cosmological constants had to be "fine-tuned" to result in life. Is this evidence for design? We argue that we should be uncertain whether an ideal agent would take it to be so—but that given such uncertainty, we should react to fine-tuning by boosting our confidence in design. The degree to which we should do so depends on our credences in controversial metaphysical issues.
  •  1142
    Good Guesses
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    This paper is about guessing: how people respond to a question when they aren’t certain of the answer. Guesses show surprising and systematic patterns that the most obvious theories don’t explain. We argue that these patterns reveal that people aim to optimize a tradeoff between accuracy and informativity when forming their guess. After spelling out our theory, we use it to argue that guessing plays a central role in our cognitive lives. In particular, our account of guessing yields new theories…Read more
  •  418
    Higher-Order Evidence
    In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton Littlejohn (eds.), The Routledge Handbook for the Philosophy of Evidence, Routledge. forthcoming.
    On at least one of its uses, ‘higher-order evidence’ refers to evidence about what opinions are rationalized by your evidence. This chapter surveys the foundational epistemological questions raised by such evidence, the methods that have proven useful for answering them, and the potential consequences and applications of such answers
  •  766
    Do people tend to be overconfident in their opinions? Many think so. They’ve run studies to test whether people are calibrated: whether their confidence in their opinions matches the proportion of those opinions that are true. Under certain conditions, people are systematically “over-calibrated”—for example, of the opinions they’re 80% confident in, only 60% are true. From this observed over-calibration, it’s inferred that people are irrationally overconfident. My question: When—and why—is this …Read more
  •  315
    Why Rational People Polarize
    The Phenomenal World. 2019.
    I argue that several of the psychological tendencies that drive polarization could arise from purely rational mechanisms, due to the fact that some types of evidence are predictably more ambiguous than others.
  •  690
    Abominable KK Failures
    Mind 128 (512): 1227-1259. 2019.
    KK is the thesis that if you can know p, you can know that you can know p. Though it’s unpopular, a flurry of considerations has recently emerged in its favour. Here we add fuel to the fire: standard resources allow us to show that any failure of KK will lead to the knowability and assertability of abominable indicative conditionals of the form ‘If I don’t know it, p’. Such conditionals are manifestly not assertable—a fact that KK defenders can easily explain. I survey a variety of KK-denying re…Read more
  •  479
    Higher-Order Uncertainty
    In Mattias Skipper & Asbjørn Steglich Petersen (eds.), Higher-Order Evidence: New Essays. forthcoming.
    You have higher-order uncertainty iff you are uncertain of what opinions you should have. I defend three claims about it. First, the higher-order evidence debate can be helpfully reframed in terms of higher-order uncertainty. The central question becomes how your first- and higher-order opinions should relate—a precise question that can be embedded within a general, tractable framework. Second, this question is nontrivial. Rational higher-order uncertainty is pervasive, and lies at the foundatio…Read more
  •  1690
    Evidence: A Guide for the Uncertain
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3): 586-632. 2020.
    Assume that it is your evidence that determines what opinions you should have. I argue that since you should take peer disagreement seriously, evidence must have two features. (1) It must sometimes warrant being modest: uncertain what your evidence warrants, and (thus) uncertain whether you’re rational. (2) But it must always warrant being guided: disposed to treat your evidence as a guide. Surprisingly, it is very difficult to vindicate both (1) and (2). But diagnosing why this is so leads to a…Read more
  •  144
    Can the Knowledge Norm Co‐Opt the Opt Out?
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (4): 273-282. 2014.
    The Knowledge Norm of Assertion claims that it is proper to assert that p only if one knows that p. Though supported by a wide range of evidence, it appears to generate incorrect verdicts when applied to utterances of “I don't know.” Instead of being an objection to KNA, I argue that this linguistic data shows that “I don't know” does not standardly function as a literal assertion about one's epistemic status; rather, it is an indirect speech act that has the primary illocutionary force of optin…Read more
  •  934
    Lockeans Maximize Expected Accuracy
    Mind 128 (509): 175-211. 2019.
    The Lockean Thesis says that you must believe p iff you’re sufficiently confident of it. On some versions, the 'must' asserts a metaphysical connection; on others, it asserts a normative one. On some versions, 'sufficiently confident' refers to a fixed threshold of credence; on others, it varies with proposition and context. Claim: the Lockean Thesis follows from epistemic utility theory—the view that rational requirements are constrained by the norm to promote accuracy. Different versions of th…Read more