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Utilitarian epistemology and the value of knowledge

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Information about Utilitarian epistemology and the value of knowledge

Published on September 8, 2007

Author: spetey

Source: slideshare.net

Description

A sort of prospectus for a purely utilitarian approach to epistemic value.
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Motivation Elaboration Application Utilitarian epistemology and the value of knowledge Stephen Petersen steve@stevepetersen.net Department of Philosophy Niagara University Value of Knowledge Conference Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 28 August 2007 Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Elaboration Application Outline Motivating utilitarian epistemology 1 Good thinking Against deontic and virtue epistemology Elaborating utilitarian epistemology 2 Utilitarian value and epistemology Secure true belief Value under uncertainty Applying utilitarian epistemology 3 Skepticism Justification Summary Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Good thinking Elaboration Against deontic and virtue epistemology Application Good thinking Epistemology as the study of “good thinking” Requires theory of value Should be a unified theory Leaves three going options Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Good thinking Elaboration Against deontic and virtue epistemology Application Quick potshots Deontic epistemology Accessibility issues Doxastic voluntarism Virtue epistemology Questionable Meno solution Odious brute facts Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Utilitarian value and epistemology Elaboration Secure true belief Application Value under uncertainty The instrumental value of epistemic states For utilitarianism, only welfare has final value Thus of course knowledge not of more final value than true belief The Meno problem: utilitarian version Why is knowledge of more expected utility than mere true belief? The original Socratic answer in this spirit Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Utilitarian value and epistemology Elaboration Secure true belief Application Value under uncertainty Secure true belief Secure true belief: version 1 Knowledge that p has more expected utility than the mere true belief because knowledge is more likely to stick around. Problems with the Socratic version Problems with Williamson version Knowledge requires good belief formation Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Utilitarian value and epistemology Elaboration Secure true belief Application Value under uncertainty Value under uncertainty A statue insured has more expected utility— until you stipulate the uninsured one is safe! Expected utility only makes sense under uncertainty Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Utilitarian value and epistemology Elaboration Secure true belief Application Value under uncertainty Uncertain futures, uncertain origins Belief with respect to p that’s acquired by good methods is worth more than one acquired randomly— until you stipulate that the randomly-acquired belief got the truth! Which statue has more expected utility: the one on sale in a flea market the one on auction at Sotheby’s What if it’s the same statue on sale? Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Utilitarian value and epistemology Elaboration Secure true belief Application Value under uncertainty Total cost of belief ownership The same statue will in fact cost more at Sotheby’s Perhaps it is reasonably valued higher Total cost of ownership as measure of assessed expected utility In this sense we value knowledge more than mere true belief Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Utilitarian value and epistemology Elaboration Secure true belief Application Value under uncertainty Secure true belief Secure true belief: version 2 Knowledge that p has more expected utility than mere true belief because knowledge will maintain the value of the true belief through a wider array of circumstances (including past circumstances). Compare Unger on non-accidentality: non-riskiness Nozick, safety, and cushions of possible worlds Closure problems Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Skepticism Elaboration Justification Application Summary Skepticism and risk All beliefs insecure Can choose skepticism or possible world quantifier restriction Compare: “is the bridge secure, or risky?” Whether truth or usefulness is the standard does not matter What matters: the details of the risks (i.e. the expected utility of crossing) Similarly, on this picture skepticism does not matter Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Skepticism Elaboration Justification Application Summary Utilitarianism and epistemic responsibility Non-risky true belief in the externalist, Nozick family Need a place for epistemic responsibility Compare the determinist approach to moral responsibility The real interest: expected utility of praise / blame Epistemic responsibility as special case Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Skepticism Elaboration Justification Application Summary Justification and epistemic agency So understood, the utilitarian can adopt the “justification as epistemic responsibility” slogan Agent as locus of control for best epistemic change explains justification’s tie to internalist intuitions explains justification’s tie to knowledge explains puzzles with justification post-Gettier The naturalistic epistemic agent Externalist revolutions in moral responsibility and epistemology Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Skepticism Elaboration Justification Application Summary Advantages of utilitarian epistemology compatibility with naturalism an answer to the Meno problem an account of the appeal behind Nozickian projects a novel insouciance about skepticism an explanatory account of justification a unified picture of epistemic value Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

Motivation Skepticism Elaboration Justification Application Summary Thanks Thanks to: Dennis Whitcomb, Western Washington University Marc Alspector-Kelly, Western Michigan University Ashley McDowell, Kalamazoo College Niagara University Value of Knowledge organizers You Steve Petersen Utilitarian epistemology

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