Putting Logic in Its Place: Formal Constraints on Rational Belief by David Christensen | 9780199204311 | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Putting Logic in Its Place: Formal Constraints on Rational Belief

Putting Logic in Its Place: Formal Constraints on Rational Belief

by David Christensen
     
 

ISBN-10: 0199204314

ISBN-13: 9780199204311

Pub. Date: 04/12/2007

Publisher: Oxford University Press

What role, if any, does formal logic play in characterizing epistemically rational belief? Traditionally, belief is seen in a binary way-either one believes a proposition, or one doesn't. Given this picture, it is attractive to impose certain deductive constraints on rational belief: that one's beliefs be logically consistent, and that one believe the logical

Overview

What role, if any, does formal logic play in characterizing epistemically rational belief? Traditionally, belief is seen in a binary way-either one believes a proposition, or one doesn't. Given this picture, it is attractive to impose certain deductive constraints on rational belief: that one's beliefs be logically consistent, and that one believe the logical consequences of one's beliefs. A less popular picture sees belief as a graded phenomenon. This picture (explored more by decision-theorists and philosophers of science than by mainstream epistemologists) invites the use of probabilistic coherence to constrain rational belief. But this latter project has often involved defining graded beliefs in terms of preferences, which may seem to change the subject away from epistemic rationality.

Putting Logic in its Place explores the relations between these two ways of seeing beliefs. It argues that the binary conception, although it fits nicely with much of our commonsense thought and talk about belief, cannot in the end support the traditional deductive constraints on rational belief. Binary beliefs that obeyed these constraints could not answer to anything like our intuitive notion of epistemic rationality, and would end up having to be divorced from central aspects of our cognitive, practical, and emotional lives.

But this does not mean that logic plays no role in rationality. Probabilistic coherence should be viewed as using standard logic to constrain rational graded belief. This probabilistic constraint helps explain the appeal of the traditional deductive constraints, and even underlies the force of rationally persuasive deductive arguments. Graded belief cannot be defined interms of preferences. But probabilistic coherence may be defended without positing definitional connections between beliefs and preferences. Like the traditional deductive constraints, coherence is a logical ideal that humans cannot fully attain. Nevertheless, it furnishes a compelling way of understanding a key dimension of epistemic rationality.

About the Author:
David Christensen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vermont

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199204311
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/12/2007
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 5.30(h) x 0.50(d)

Table of Contents


Logic and Rational Belief     1
Logic and Reason     1
Pragmatic vs Epistemic Rationality     4
Diachronic vs Synchronic Rationality     5
Local vs Global Rationality     8
Two Models of Belief     12
Models of Belief and Models of Rationality     12
Unification Accounts     18
Bifurcation Accounts     27
Deductive Constraints: Problem Cases, Possible Solutions     33
Intuitive Counterexamples     33
Consistency Without Closure?     39
Extent and Severity of the Intuitive Problem     44
Extent and Severity, cont.: Downstream Beliefs and Everyday Situations     49
Undermining the Counterexamples?     55
Arguments for Deductive Cogency     69
...and Nothing but the Truth     70
Keeping your Story Straight     74
The Argument Argument     79
Rational Binary Belief     96
Logic, Graded Belief, and Preferences     106
Graded Beliefs and Preferences     106
Dutch Book Arguments and Pragmatic Consistency     109
Dutch Book Arguments Depragmatized     116
Representation Theorem Arguments     124
De-metaphysicized Representation Theorem Arguments     135
Preferences and Logic     139
Logic and Idealization     143
Vague Beliefs and Precise Probabilities     143
The Unattainability of Probabilistic Perfection     150
Logical vs Factual Omniscience     153
Rationality and Deontology     157
Cognitive Advice and the Interest of Epistemic Idealization     164
Epistemic Ideals and Human Imperfection     176
References     179
Index     185

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