Book (Edited Collection)

Epistemic Consequentialism (2018) Ahlstrom-Vij & Dunn (eds.), Oxford University Press. 

Epistemic consequentialism maintains that epistemic norms are genuine norms in virtue of the way in which they are conducive to epistemic value, whatever epistemic value may be. So, for example, the epistemic consequentialist might say that it is a norm that beliefs should be consistent, in that holding consistent beliefs is the best way to achieve the epistemic value of accuracy. Thus epistemic consequentialism is structurally similar to the family of consequentialist views in ethics. This volume presents new work on this topic in both formal and traditional epistemology, by authors that are sympathetic to the view and those who are critical of it. Contributors include: Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij, Amanda Askell, Michael Caie, Julia Driver, Jeffrey Dunn, Sophie Horowitz, James Joyce, Hilary Kornblith, Clayton Littlejohn, Christopher Meacham, Alejandro Pérez Carballo, Richard Pettigrew, Nancy Snow, and Ralph Wedgwood.


Published Articles

“Accuracy, Verisimilitude, and Scoring Rules” (forthcomingAustralasian Journal of Philosophy (penultimate draft)

Fallis & Lewis (2016) have recently argued against many popular scoring rules (such as the Brier score) as genuine measures of accuracy for degrees of belief. I respond to this argument, in part by noting that it fails to account for verisimilitude–that certain false hypotheses might be closer to the truth than other false hypotheses. Along the way I address Oddie’s (forthcoming) recent arguments that no proper score can account for verisimilitude.


“Epistemic Free-Riding” (2018) in Epistemic Consequentialism, Ahlstrom-Vij & Dunn (eds.), Oxford University Press. (penultimate draft)

I argue that if we adopt a version of epistemic consequentialism then there are realistic cases of epistemic free-riding. These are cases where each member of a group pursuing the goal of individual accuracy leads the group to overall be less accurate.


Is Reliabilism a Form of Consequentialism?” (2017) American Philosophical Quarterly, 54: 183-194 (with Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij). (penultimate draft)

Consequentialists in ethics famously face certain sorts of seemingly objectionable trade-offs (e.g., killing one healthy patient to save five who will otherwise die). Some have alleged that epistemic consequentialists face similar sorts of objectionable trade-offs. Some of these same people have alleged that reliabilism about justification is a form of epistemic consequentialism. Hence, reliabilists face objectionable trade-offs. We argue that this conclusion is too quick and indeed equivocates on ‘consequentialism’.


Epistemic Consequentialism“, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Consequentialism is the view that, in some sense, rightness is to be understood in terms conducive to goodness. Much of the philosophical discussion concerning consequentialism has focused on moral rightness. But there is plausibly also epistemic rightness. Epistemic rightness is often denoted with talk of justification, rationality, or by merely indicating what should be believed. The epistemic consequentialist claims, roughly, that these kinds of facts about epistemic rightness depend solely on facts about the goodness of the consequences. In slogan form, such a view holds that the epistemic good is prior to the epistemic right. This peer-reviewed encyclopedia entry surveys consequentialist approaches in epistemology.


Reliability for Degrees of Belief” (2016) Philosophical Studies, 172: 1929-1952. (penultimate draft)

We often evaluate belief-forming processes, agents, or entire belief states for reliability. This is normally done with the assumption that beliefs are all-or-nothing. How does such evaluation go when we’re considering beliefs that come in degrees? I argue that a natural answer to this question is incorrect, and propose in its place an alternative answer that is based on the notion of calibration.


A Defence of Epistemic Consequentialism” (2014) Philosophical Quarterly, 64: 541-551 (with Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij). (penultimate draft)

Epistemic consequentialists maintain that the epistemically right (e.g. the justified) is to be understood in terms of conduciveness to the epistemic good (e.g. true belief). In a recent paper, Selim Berker has provided arguments that allegedly lead to a ‘rejection’ of epistemic consequentialism. In the present paper we show that reliabilism—the most prominent form of epistemic consequentialism, and one of Berker’s main targets—survives Berker’s arguments unscathed.


Inferential Evidence” (2014) American Philosophical Quarterly, 51 (3): 203-213. (penultimate draft)

Can a proposition that you infer be evidence for you? Williamson’s E=K thesis says that it can. However, I show that the standard Bayesian framework is inconsistent with such inferential evidence. Since Williamson adopts this framework, this reveals an inconsistency in his view. I conclude by considering the wider ramifications of this inconsistency and note two ways one might respond.


Virtual Worlds and Moral Evaluation” (2012) Ethics & Information Technology, 14: 255-265. (penultimate draft)

Consider the multi-user virtual worlds of online games such as EVE and World of Warcraft, or the multi-user virtual world of Second Life. Suppose a player performs an action in one of these worlds, via his or her virtual character, which would be wrong, if the virtual world were real. What is the moral status of this virtual action? In this paper I consider this question.


Reliabilism: Holistic or Simple” (2012) Episteme, 9: 225-233. (penultimate draft)

In “What Is Justified Belief?” Alvin Goldman proposed a simple form of reliabilism about justification. In Epistemology and Cognition, Goldman offered a more complicated version of reliabilism, which he has endorsed as superior to the simple version. In this paper I clarify both versions of reliabilism, and argue that the simpler model is preferable.

In this paper I consider this question.


Evidential Externalism” (2012) Philosophical Studies, 158: 435-455. (penultimate draft)
When and under what conditions is a proposition P evidence for some agent A? Nicholas Silins has recently argued that any answer must be a version of Evidential Internalism: necessarily, if A and B are internal twins, then A and B have the same evidence. I argue against this and draw some conclusions about evidence.


Fried Eggs, Thermodynamics, and the Special Sciences” (2011) British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 62: 71-98. (penultimate draft)

Adam Elga presents a problem for Lewis’s account of the truth-conditions of counterfactuals. This paper offers a Lewisian response, making key use of special science laws.


The Obscure Act of Perception” (2008) Philosophical Studies, 139: 367-393. (penultimate draft)

Mark Johnston offers a direct realist account of hallucination. I argue that it is either not a direct realist account or that it does not sufficiently take account of hallucination.




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