• What's the Point of Authors?
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    Who should be the author(s) of an academic paper? This question is becoming increasingly pressing, due to the increasing prevalence and scale of scientific collaboration, and the corresponding diversity of authorship practices in different disciplines and subdisciplines. This paper addresses the conceptual issues underlying authorship, with an eye to ameliorating authorship practices. The first part of the paper distinguishes five roles played by authorship attributions: allocating credit, const…Read more
  • Strict propriety is weak
    Analysis 81 (1): 8-13. 2021.
    Considerations of accuracy – the epistemic good of having credences close to truth-values – have led to the justification of a host of epistemic norms. These arguments rely on specific ways of measuring accuracy. In particular, the accuracy measure should be strictly proper. However, the main argument for strict propriety supports only weak propriety. But strict propriety follows from weak propriety given strict truth directedness and additivity. So no further argument is necessary.
  • Epistemic repugnance four ways
    Synthese 1-22. forthcoming.
    Value-based epistemology sees epistemic norms as explained by or grounded in distinctively epistemic values. This paper argues that, no matter what epistemic value is, credences or beliefs about some topics have at most infinitesimal amounts of this value. This makes it hard to explain why epistemic norms apply at all to credences or beliefs on these topics. My argument is inspired by a recent series of papers on epistemic versions of Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion. The discussion in those papers…Read more
  • Du Bois’ democratic defence of the value free ideal
    Liam Bright
    Synthese 195 (5): 2227-2245. 2018.
    Philosophers of science debate the proper role of non-epistemic value judgements in scientific reasoning. Many modern authors oppose the value free ideal, claiming that we should not even try to get scientists to eliminate all such non-epistemic value judgements from their reasoning. W. E. B. Du Bois, on the other hand, has a defence of the value free ideal in science that is rooted in a conception of the proper place of science in a democracy. In particular, Du Bois argues that the value free i…Read more
  • An argument against causal decision theory
    Analysis 81 (1): 52-61. 2021.
    This paper develops an argument against causal decision theory. I formulate a principle of preference, which I call the Guaranteed Principle. I argue that the preferences of rational agents satisfy the Guaranteed Principle, that the preferences of agents who embody causal decision theory do not, and hence that causal decision theory is false.
  • Support for Geometric Pooling
    Review of Symbolic Logic 1-40. forthcoming.
    Supra-Bayesianism is the Bayesian response to learning the opinions of others. Probability pooling constitutes an alternative response. One natural question is whether there are cases where probability pooling gives the supra-Bayesian result. This has been called the problem of Bayes-compatibility for pooling functions. It is known that in a common prior setting, under standard assumptions, linear pooling cannot be non-trivially Bayes-compatible. We show by contrast that geometric pooling can be…Read more
  • Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
  • Updating as Communication
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2): 225-248. 2012.
    Traditional procedures for rational updating fail when it comes to self-locating opinions, such as your credences about where you are and what time it is. This paper develops an updating procedure for rational agents with self-locating beliefs. In short, I argue that rational updating can be factored into two steps. The first step uses information you recall from your previous self to form a hypothetical credence distribution, and the second step changes this hypothetical distribution to reflect…Read more
  • Epistemology Formalized
    Philosophical Review 122 (1): 1-43. 2013.
    This paper argues that just as full beliefs can constitute knowledge, so can properties of your credence distribution. The resulting notion of probabilistic knowledge helps us give a natural account of knowledge ascriptions embedding language of subjective uncertainty, and a simple diagnosis of probabilistic analogs of Gettier cases. Just like propositional knowledge, probabilistic knowledge is factive, safe, and sensitive. And it helps us build knowledge-based norms of action without accepting …Read more
  • Credal Dilemmas
    Noûs 48 (3): 665-683. 2014.
    Recently many have argued that agents must sometimes have credences that are imprecise, represented by a set of probability measures. But opponents claim that fans of imprecise credences cannot provide a decision theory that protects agents who follow it from foregoing sure money. In particular, agents with imprecise credences appear doomed to act irrationally in diachronic cases, where they are called to make decisions at earlier and later times. I respond to this claim on behalf of imprecise c…Read more
  • Probabilistic Knowledge
    Oxford University Press. 2016.
    Sarah Moss argues that in addition to full beliefs, credences can constitute knowledge. She introduces the notion of probabilistic content and shows how it plays a central role not only in epistemology, but in the philosophy of mind and language. Just you can believe and assert propositions, you can believe and assert probabilistic contents.
  • Groupthink
    Philosophical Studies 172 (5): 1287-1309. 2015.
    How should a group with different opinions (but the same values) make decisions? In a Bayesian setting, the natural question is how to aggregate credences: how to use a single credence function to naturally represent a collection of different credence functions. An extension of the standard Dutch-book arguments that apply to individual decision-makers recommends that group credences should be updated by conditionalization. This imposes a constraint on what aggregation rules can be like. Taking c…Read more
  • Risk and Rationality
    Oxford University Press. 2013.
    Lara Buchak sets out a new account of rational decision-making in the face of risk. She argues that the orthodox view is too narrow, and suggests an alternative, more permissive theory: one that allows individuals to pay attention to the worst-case or best-case scenario, and vindicates the ordinary decision-maker.
  • What You Can't Expect When You're Expecting'
    Res Philosophica 92 (2): 1-23. 2015.
    It seems natural to choose whether to have a child by reflecting on what it would be like to actually have a child. I argue that this natural approach fails. If you choose to become a parent, and your choice is based on projections about what you think it would be like for you to have a child, your choice is not rational. If you choose to remain childless, and your choice is based upon projections about what you think it would be like for you to have a child, your choice is not rational. This su…Read more
  • Transformative Treatments
    L. A. Paul and Kieran Healy
    Noûs 320-335. 2017.
    Contemporary social-scientific research seeks to identify specific causal mechanisms for outcomes of theoretical interest. Experiments that randomize populations to treatment and control conditions are the “gold standard” for causal inference. We identify, describe, and analyze the problem posed by transformative treatments. Such treatments radically change treated individuals in a way that creates a mismatch in populations, but this mismatch is not empirically detectable at the level of counter…Read more
  • Transformative Experience
    Oxford University Press. 2014.
    How should we make choices when we know so little about our futures? L. A. Paul argues that we must view life decisions as choices to make discoveries about the nature of experience. Her account of transformative experience holds that part of the value of living authentically is to experience our lives and preferences in whatever ways they evolve.
  • A nonpragmatic vindication of probabilism
    Philosophy of Science 65 (4): 575-603. 1998.
    The pragmatic character of the Dutch book argument makes it unsuitable as an "epistemic" justification for the fundamental probabilist dogma that rational partial beliefs must conform to the axioms of probability. To secure an appropriately epistemic justification for this conclusion, one must explain what it means for a system of partial beliefs to accurately represent the state of the world, and then show that partial beliefs that violate the laws of probability are invariably less accurate th…Read more
  • Epistemic Deference: The Case of Chance
    James Joyce
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (2). 2007.
  • A defense of imprecise credences in inference and decision making1
    Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1): 281-323. 2010.
    Peer Reviewed.
  • The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory
    Cambridge University Press. 1999.
    This book defends the view that any adequate account of rational decision making must take a decision maker's beliefs about causal relations into account. The early chapters of the book introduce the non-specialist to the rudiments of expected utility theory. The major technical advance offered by the book is a 'representation theorem' that shows that both causal decision theory and its main rival, Richard Jeffrey's logic of decision, are both instances of a more general conditional decision the…Read more
  • In this paper, I develop a new kind of conciliatory answer to the problem of peer disagreement. Instead of trying to guide an agent’s updating behaviour in any particular disagreement, I establish constraints on an agent’s expected behaviour and argue that, in the long run, she should tend to be conciliatory toward her peers. I first claim that this macro-approach affords us new conceptual insight on the problem of peer disagreement and provides an important angle complementary to the standard m…Read more
  • Permissive Rationality and Sensitivity
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2): 342-370. 2017.
    Permissivism about rationality is the view that there is sometimes more than one rational response to a given body of evidence. In this paper I discuss the relationship between permissivism, deference to rationality, and peer disagreement. I begin by arguing that—contrary to popular opinion—permissivism supports at least a moderate version of conciliationism. I then formulate a worry for permissivism. I show that, given a plausible principle of rational deference, permissive rationality seems to…Read more
  • A Pragmatist’s Guide to Epistemic Utility
    Philosophy of Science 84 (4): 613-638. 2017.
    We use a theorem from M. J. Schervish to explore the relationship between accuracy and practical success. If an agent is pragmatically rational, she will quantify the expected loss of her credence with a strictly proper scoring rule. Which scoring rule is right for her will depend on the sorts of decisions she expects to face. We relate this pragmatic conception of inaccuracy to the purely epistemic one popular among epistemic utility theorists.
  • Pettigrew offers new axiomatic constraints on legitimate measures of inaccuracy. His axiom called ‘Decomposition’ stipulates that legitimate measures of inaccuracy evaluate a credence function in part based on its level of calibration at a world. I argue that if calibration is valuable, as Pettigrew claims, then this fact is an explanandum for accuracy-rst epistemologists, not an explanans, for three reasons. First, the intuitive case for the importance of calibration isn’t as strong as Pettigr…Read more
  • Probabilistic Knowledge and Cognitive Ability
    Jason Konek
    Philosophical Review 125 (4): 509-587. 2016.
    Sarah Moss argues that degrees of belief, or credences, can amount to knowledge in much the way that full beliefs can. This essay explores a new kind of objective Bayesianism designed to take us some way toward securing such knowledge-constituting credences, or “probabilistic knowledge.” Whatever else it takes for an agent's credences to amount to knowledge, their success, or accuracy, must be the product of cognitive ability or skill. The brand of Bayesianism developed here helps ensure this ab…Read more
  • Single premise deduction and risk
    Philosophical Studies 141 (2). 2008.
    It is tempting to think that multi premise closure creates a special class of paradoxes having to do with the accumulation of risks, and that these paradoxes could be escaped by rejecting the principle, while still retaining single premise closure. I argue that single premise deduction is also susceptible to risks. I show that what I take to be the strongest argument for rejecting multi premise closure is also an argument for rejecting single premise closure. Because of the symmetry between the …Read more
  • Knowledge and Objective Chance
    In Patrick Greenough & Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Williamson on Knowledge, Oxford University Press. pp. 92--108. 2009.
    We think we have lots of substantial knowledge about the future. But contemporary wisdom has it that indeterminism prevails in such a way that just about any proposition about the future has a non-zero objective chance of being false.2, 3 What should one do about this? One, pessimistic, reaction is scepticism about knowledge of the future. We think this should be something of a last resort, especially since this scepticism is likely to infect alleged knowledge of the present and past. One anti-s…Read more
  • Distorted reflection
    Philosophical Review 118 (1): 59-85. 2009.
    Diachronic Dutch book arguments seem to support both conditionalization and Bas van Fraassen's Reflection principle. But the Reflection principle is vulnerable to numerous counterexamples. This essay addresses two questions: first, under what circumstances should an agent obey Reflection, and second, should the counterexamples to Reflection make us doubt the Dutch book for conditionalization? In response to the first question, this essay formulates a new "Qualified Reflection" principle, which s…Read more
  • Immoderately rational
    Philosophical Studies 167 (1): 41-56. 2014.
    Believing rationally is epistemically valuable, or so we tend to think. It’s something we strive for in our own beliefs, and we criticize others for falling short of it. We theorize about rationality, in part, because we want to be rational. But why? I argue that how we answer this question depends on how permissive our theory of rationality is. Impermissive and extremely permissive views can give good answers; moderately permissive views cannot.