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Knowledge of Our Own Beliefs

Roush, Sherrilyn (2016) Knowledge of Our Own Beliefs. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 96 (1). pp. 45-69.

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There is a widespread view that in order to be rational we must mostly know what we believe. In the probabilistic tradition this is defended by arguments that a person who failed to have this knowledge would be vulnerable to sure loss, or probabilistically incoherent. I argue that even gross failure to know one’s own beliefs need not expose one to sure loss, and does not if we follow a generalization of the standard bridge principle between first-order and second-order beliefs. This makes it possible for a subject to use probabilistic decision theory to manage in a rational way cases of potential failure of this self-knowledge, as we find in implicit bias. Through such cases I argue that it is possible for uncertainty about what our beliefs are to be not only rationally permissible but advantageous.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Keywords: Coherence, Sure loss, Second-order beliefs, Implicit bias, Uncertainty
Subjects: General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: Sherrilyn Roush
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2020 03:23
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2020 03:23
Item ID: 17397
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Publisher: Wiley
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1111/phpr.12274
Subjects: General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: February 2016
Page Range: pp. 45-69
Volume: 96
Number: 1

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