Epistemic Value

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Horwich on Value of Truth

Paul Horwich has a really nice essay out in the latest Nous "The Value of Truth." The thesis is

VT It is desirable to believe what is true and only what is true.

and the first footnote is very interesting:

The intended logical form of VT is as follows:(x) [One should desire that (one believe x iff x is true)].Certain alternative principles might seem tempting:—e.g. S ought to believe x iff x is true S ought to want to believe x iff x is true S’s believing x is objectively right iff x is trueBut it seems to me that the first and second of these alternatives—even merely the ‘only if’component of them—are simply wrong, since what we ought to believe (and ought to want tobelieve) depends on our evidence rather than on what is true.

This sounds right to my evidentialist ears but runs counter, I think, to the way that Williamson treats norms. I think W. would say that our primary norm was to believe the truth and the secondary norm was to believe what the evidence suggests. Clayton and I had quite a discussion about this kind of thing here, to which Duncan previously referred.

The article will be of interest to readers of this blog.


  • At 7:32 PM, Blogger Aidan said…

    I must be missing something, but the second norm looks pretty redundant given Williamson's subscription to E=K, and given that he doesn't deny that knowledge implies belief.

    Of course, it depends on what's meant by 'what the evidence suggests', and it's hard to assess the claim being made here without some gloss on that phrase.

  • At 10:50 PM, Blogger Dennis Whitcomb said…

    I would have thought W. would take the constitutive norm of belief to be "believe only what you know", since he takes belief to be the inner analog of assertion.

  • At 6:20 PM, Blogger Clayton said…

    Well, W does deny that for a belief to be justified, it has to constitute knowledge. He thinks that only knowledge can justify belief but this is odd given his remark that assertion is the outer analogue of belief. Sutton argues in a recent Nous that he should have said that you should believe only what you know (here).


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