Epistemic Value

Thursday, May 04, 2006

On-Line Philosophy Conference

The On-Line Philosophy Conference is taking place here. Readers of this blog might be particularly interested in Julia Driver's paper on "Luck and Fortune in Moral Evaluation", which makes a number of points relevant to epistemology.


  • At 7:37 AM, Anonymous nenad miscevic said…

    I commented Julia's paper, but the comment is equally germane to your proposal on veritic luck. Here it is:
    There is a problem with modal definition when it comes to necessary states of affairs.
    Here is a proposal about epistemic luck. Consider a simple situation of miscalculation (or a faulty attempt at proving a theorem) which yield the correct result by fluke: two mistakes cancel each other and a happy end ensues. Imagine now that calculations (or the proofs) are very difficult, and that the calculator (or the theorem prover), call her Jane, is a good mathematician, who normally has reason to trust her capacities. Jane arrives at correct result R, which is further corroborated in application. In fact, it takes a genius to detect two subtle mistakes that have cancelled each other. Then, Jane is a priori justified in believing the result R. She thus has a true justified belief, which is, by most people’s lights not a piece of knowledge. Since the result is arrived at in the armchair, and R is a necessary proposition, we have an example of armchair luck.
    The possibility of luck in a priori domain shows that the modal definition as offered in the literature is inadequate, since it relies on the possibility of it being the case that not-p. When p is necessary, such a definition should be supplemented by one pointing to variation in belief, not in the fact believed. For instance, veritic armchair luck, i.e. that it “is a matter of luck that the agent's belief is true” can be captured thus:
    The agent's belief is true in the actual world, but in a wide class of nearby possible worlds in which the relevant initial conditions are almost the same as in the actual world—and this will mean, in the basic case, that the agent at the very least forms her belief in the sufficiently similar way as in the actual world—the agent has a false belief.

    A further issue is the one that Julia Driver would describe more as fortune than as luck arises when the agent’s cognitive structure might have differed in a minimal way from the actual one, and beliefs.

  • At 2:22 PM, Blogger Duncan Pritchard said…

    Thanks for this Nenad. As it happens, my account of veritic luck was only ever applied to "fully" contingent propositons anyway (i.e., propositions which aren't necessary in any sense), precisely for the reason you give. As you say, to deal with necessary propositions it would be essential to focus on the beleif rather than on what is actually beleived.




Post a Comment

<< Home