•  1300
    The Open Handbook of Formal Epistemology (edited book)
    PhilPapers Foundation. 2019.
    In formal epistemology, we use mathematical methods to explore the questions of epistemology and rational choice. What can we know? What should we believe and how strongly? How should we act based on our beliefs and values? We begin by modelling phenomena like knowledge, belief, and desire using mathematical machinery, just as a biologist might model the fluctuations of a pair of competing populations, or a physicist might model the turbulence of a fluid passing through a small aperture. Then, w…Read more
  •  1004
    Transformative Experience and Decision Theory
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (3): 766-774. 2015.
    This paper is part of a book symposium for L. A. Paul (2014) Transformative Experience (OUP).
  •  820
    Choosing for Changing Selves
    Oxford University Press. 2019.
    What we value, like, endorse, want, and prefer changes over the course of our lives. Richard Pettigrew presents a theory of rational decision making for agents who recognise that their values will change over time and whose decisions will affect those future times.
  •  695
    When is a belief justified? There are three families of arguments we typically use to support different accounts of justification: arguments from our intuitive responses to vignettes that involve the concept; arguments from the theoretical role we would like the concept to play in epistemology; and arguments from the practical, moral, and political uses to which we wish to put the concept. I focus particularly on the third sort, and specifically on arguments of this sort offered by Clayton Littl…Read more
  •  549
    What is justified credence?
    Episteme 18 (1): 16-30. 2021.
    In this paper, we seek a reliabilist account of justified credence. Reliabilism about justified beliefs comes in two varieties: process reliabilism (Goldman, 1979, 2008) and indicator reliabilism (Alston, 1988, 2005). Existing accounts of reliabilism about justified credence comes in the same two varieties: Jeff Dunn (2015) proposes a version of process reliabilism, while Weng Hong Tang (2016) offers a version of indicator reliabilism. As we will see, both face the same objection. If they are ri…Read more
  •  501
    Identity and discernibility in philosophy and logic
    with James Ladyman and Øystein Linnebo
    Review of Symbolic Logic 5 (1): 162-186. 2012.
    Questions about the relation between identity and discernibility are important both in philosophy and in model theory. We show how a philosophical question about identity and dis- cernibility can be ‘factorized’ into a philosophical question about the adequacy of a formal language to the description of the world, and a mathematical question about discernibility in this language. We provide formal definitions of various notions of discernibility and offer a complete classification of their logica…Read more
  •  496
    On the Accuracy of Group Credences
    Oxford Studies in Epistemology 6. 2020.
    to appear in Szabó Gendler, T. & J. Hawthorne (eds.) Oxford Studies in Epistemology volume 6 We often ask for the opinion of a group of individuals. How strongly does the scientific community believe that the rate at which sea levels are rising increased over the last 200 years? How likely does the UK Treasury think it is that there will be a recession if the country leaves the European Union? What are these group credences that such questions request? And how do they relate to the individual c…Read more
  •  495
    Category theory as an autonomous foundation
    Philosophia Mathematica 19 (3): 227-254. 2011.
    Does category theory provide a foundation for mathematics that is autonomous with respect to the orthodox foundation in a set theory such as ZFC? We distinguish three types of autonomy: logical, conceptual, and justificatory. Focusing on a categorical theory of sets, we argue that a strong case can be made for its logical and conceptual autonomy. Its justificatory autonomy turns on whether the objects of a foundation for mathematics should be specified only up to isomorphism, as is customary in …Read more
  •  403
    to appear in Lambert, E. and J. Schwenkler (eds.) Transformative Experience (OUP) L. A. Paul (2014, 2015) argues that the possibility of epistemically transformative experiences poses serious and novel problems for the orthodox theory of rational choice, namely, expected utility theory — I call her argument the Utility Ignorance Objection. In a pair of earlier papers, I responded to Paul’s challenge (Pettigrew 2015, 2016), and a number of other philosophers have responded in similar ways (Doughe…Read more
  •  391
    What is conditionalization, and why should we do it?
    Philosophical Studies 177 (11): 3427-3463. 2020.
    Conditionalization is one of the central norms of Bayesian epistemology. But there are a number of competing formulations, and a number of arguments that purport to establish it. In this paper, I explore which formulations of the norm are supported by which arguments. In their standard formulations, each of the arguments I consider here depends on the same assumption, which I call Deterministic Updating. I will investigate whether it is possible to amend these arguments so that they no longer de…Read more
  •  387
    An Objective Justification of Bayesianism I: Measuring Inaccuracy
    Philosophy of Science 77 (2): 201-235. 2010.
    One of the fundamental problems of epistemology is to say when the evidence in an agent’s possession justifies the beliefs she holds. In this paper and its sequel, we defend the Bayesian solution to this problem by appealing to the following fundamental norm: Accuracy An epistemic agent ought to minimize the inaccuracy of her partial beliefs. In this paper, we make this norm mathematically precise in various ways. We describe three epistemic dilemmas that an agent might face if she attempts to f…Read more
  •  367
    What we talk about when we talk about numbers
    Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 169 (12): 1437-1456. 2018.
    In this paper, I describe and motivate a new species of mathematical structuralism, which I call Instrumental Nominalism about Set-Theoretic Structuralism. As the name suggests, this approach takes standard Set-Theoretic Structuralism of the sort championed by Bourbaki and removes its ontological commitments by taking an instrumental nominalist approach to that ontology of the sort described by Joseph Melia and Gideon Rosen. I argue that this avoids all of the problems that plague other versions…Read more
  •  341
    The Dutch Book Argument for Probabilism assumes Ramsey's Thesis (RT), which purports to determine the prices an agent is rationally required to pay for a bet. Recently, a new objection to Ramsey's Thesis has emerged (Hedden 2013, Wronski & Godziszewski 2017, Wronski 2018)--I call this the Expected Utility Objection. According to this objection, it is Maximise Subjective Expected Utility (MSEU) that determines the prices an agent is required to pay for a bet, and this often disagrees with Ramsey'…Read more
  •  332
    Logical ignorance and logical learning
    Synthese 198 (10): 9991-10020. 2021.
    According to certain normative theories in epistemology, rationality requires us to be logically omniscient. Yet this prescription clashes with our ordinary judgments of rationality. How should we resolve this tension? In this paper, I focus particularly on the logical omniscience requirement in Bayesian epistemology. Building on a key insight by Hacking :311–325, 1967), I develop a version of Bayesianism that permits logical ignorance. This includes: an account of the synchronic norms that gove…Read more
  •  316
    Accuracy, Chance, and the Principal Principle
    Philosophical Review 121 (2): 241-275. 2012.
    In ‘A Non-Pragmatic Vindication of Probabilism’, Jim Joyce attempts to ‘depragmatize’ de Finetti’s prevision argument for the claim that our partial beliefs ought to satisfy the axioms of probability calculus. In this paper, I adapt Joyce’s argument to give a non-pragmatic vindication of various versions of David Lewis’ Principal Principle, such as the version based on Isaac Levi's account of admissibility, Michael Thau and Ned Hall's New Principle, and Jenann Ismael's Generalized Principal Prin…Read more
  •  314
    Jim Joyce has presented an argument for Probabilism based on considerations of epistemic utility [Joyce, 1998]. In a recent paper, I adapted this argument to give an argument for Probablism and the Principal Principle based on similar considerations [Pettigrew, 2012]. Joyce’s argument assumes that a credence in a true proposition is better the closer it is to maximal credence, whilst a credence in a false proposition is better the closer it is to minimal credence. By contrast, my argument in tha…Read more
  •  309
    What Chance‐Credence Norms Should Not Be
    Noûs 47 (3): 177-196. 2013.
    A chance-credence norm states how an agent's credences in propositions concerning objective chances ought to relate to her credences in other propositions. The most famous such norm is the Principal Principle (PP), due to David Lewis. However, Lewis noticed that PP is too strong when combined with many accounts of chance that attempt to reduce chance facts to non-modal facts. Those who defend such accounts of chance have offered two alternative chance-credence norms: the first is Hall's and Thau…Read more
  •  304
    Veritism, Epistemic Risk, and the Swamping Problem
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4): 761-774. 2019.
    Veritism says that the fundamental source of epistemic value for a doxastic state is the extent to which it represents the world correctly: that is, its fundamental epistemic value is deter...
  •  289
    Epistemic Utility and the Normativity of Logic
    Logos and Episteme 8 (4): 455-492. 2017.
    How does logic relate to rational belief? Is logic normative for belief, as some say? What, if anything, do facts about logical consequence tell us about norms of doxastic rationality? In this paper, we consider a range of putative logic-rationality bridge principles. These purport to relate facts about logical consequence to norms that govern the rationality of our beliefs and credences. To investigate these principles, we deploy a novel approach, namely, epistemic utility theory. That is, we a…Read more
  •  242
    One of the fundamental problems of epistemology is to say when the evidence in an agent’s possession justifies the beliefs she holds. In this paper and its prequel, we defend the Bayesian solution to this problem by appealing to the following fundamental norm: Accuracy An epistemic agent ought to minimize the inaccuracy of her partial beliefs. In the prequel, we made this norm mathematically precise; in this paper, we derive its consequences. We show that the two core tenets of Bayesianism follo…Read more
  •  236
    Indispensability arguments and instrumental nominalism
    Review of Symbolic Logic 5 (4): 687-709. 2012.
    In the philosophy of mathematics, indispensability arguments aim to show that we are justified in believing that abstract mathematical objects exist. I wish to defend a particular objection to such arguments that has become increasingly popular recently. It is called instrumental nominalism. I consider the recent versions of this view and conclude that it has yet to be given an adequate formulation. I provide such a formulation and show that it can be used to answer the indispensability argumen…Read more
  •  225
    Accuracy, Risk, and the Principle of Indifference
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (1): 35-59. 2016.
    In Bayesian epistemology, the problem of the priors is this: How should we set our credences (or degrees of belief) in the absence of evidence? That is, how should we set our prior or initial credences, the credences with which we begin our credal life? David Lewis liked to call an agent at the beginning of her credal journey a superbaby. The problem of the priors asks for the norms that govern these superbabies. The Principle of Indifference gives a very restrictive answer. It demands that such…Read more
  •  215
    An Improper Introduction to Epistemic utility theory
    In Henk de Regt, Samir Okasha & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Proceedings of EPSA: Amsterdam '09, Springer. pp. 287--301. 2011.
    Beliefs come in different strengths. What are the norms that govern these strengths of belief? Let an agent's belief function at a particular time be the function that assigns, to each of the propositions about which she has an opinion, the strength of her belief in that proposition at that time. Traditionally, philosophers have claimed that an agent's belief function at any time ought to be a probability function (Probabilism), and that she ought to update her belief function upon obtaining new…Read more
  •  200
    The foundations of arithmetic in finite bounded Zermelo set theory
    Cahiers du Centre de Logique 17 99-118. 2010.
    In this paper, I pursue such a logical foundation for arithmetic in a variant of Zermelo set theory that has axioms of subset separation only for quantifier-free formulae, and according to which all sets are Dedekind finite. In section 2, I describe this variant theory, which I call ZFin0. And in section 3, I sketch foundations for arithmetic in ZFin0 and prove that certain foundational propositions that are theorems of the standard Zermelian foundation for arithmetic are independent of ZFin0.<…Read more
  •  193
    (This is for the Cambridge Handbook of Analytic Philosophy, edited by Marcus Rossberg) In this handbook entry, I survey the different ways in which formal mathematical methods have been applied to philosophical questions throughout the history of analytic philosophy. I consider: formalization in symbolic logic, with examples such as Aquinas’ third way and Anselm’s ontological argument; Bayesian confirmation theory, with examples such as the fine-tuning argument for God and the paradox of the ra…Read more
  •  191
    Michael Rescorla (2020) has recently pointed out that the standard arguments for Bayesian Conditionalization assume that whenever you take yourself to learn something with certainty, it's true. Most people would reject this assumption. In response, Rescorla offers an improved Dutch Book argument for Bayesian Conditionalization that does not make this assumption. My purpose in this paper is two-fold. First, I want to illuminate Rescorla's new argument by giving a very general Dutch Book argument …Read more
  •  188
    In a series of papers over the past twenty years, and in a new book, Igor Douven has argued that Bayesians are too quick to reject versions of inference to the best explanation that cannot be accommodated within their framework. In this paper, I survey their worries and attempt to answer them using a series of pragmatic and purely epistemic arguments that I take to show that Bayes’ Rule really is the only rational way to respond to your evidence.
  •  188
    The short abstract: Epistemic utility theory + permissivism about attitudes to epistemic risk => permissivism about rational credences. The longer abstract: I argue that epistemic rationality is permissive. More specifically, I argue for two claims. First, a radical version of interpersonal permissivism about rational credence: for many bodies of evidence, there is a wide range of credal states for which there is some individual who might rationally adopt that state in response to that evidence…Read more
  •  178
    Two types of abstraction for structuralism
    Philosophical Quarterly 64 (255): 267-283. 2014.
    If numbers were identified with any of their standard set-theoretic realizations, then they would have various non-arithmetical properties that mathematicians are reluctant to ascribe to them. Dedekind and later structuralists conclude that we should refrain from ascribing to numbers such ‘foreign’ properties. We first rehearse why it is hard to provide an acceptable formulation of this conclusion. Then we investigate some forms of abstraction meant to purge mathematical objects of all ‘foreign’…Read more
  •  173
    Accuracy-first epistemology without additivity
    Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    Accuracy arguments for the core tenets of Bayesian epistemology differ mainly in the conditions they place on the legitimate ways of measuring the inaccuracy of our credences. The best existing arguments rely on three conditions: Continuity, Additivity, and Strict Propriety. In this paper, I show how to strengthen the arguments based on these conditions by showing that the central mathematical theorem on which each depends goes through without assuming Additivity.