Thursday, November 6, 2008


(1) If you intend to A and it's not the case that you shouldn't so intend, it's not the case that you shouldn't A.

(2) If you believe that you should A and it's not the case that you shouldn't so believe, it's not the case that you shouldn't intend to A.

It's wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything on insufficient evidence. Sure, let's take that as given. Is it wrong ever, anywhere, for anyone to believe on sufficient evidence?

That depends on what 'sufficient' means, I suppose, but on any non-sceptical view, it's possible to permissibly judge that p is true having only non-entailing evidence. If two subjects have the same evidence, if it is sufficient for the first to judge that p, I take it that the evidentialists ought to say the same for the second. (To bracket worries about pragmatic encroachment, fix all the rest of the mental states, too.)

Suppose that there's some fact f such that it meets these conditions:
(i) this fact doesn't supervene on the subject's evidence;
(ii) this isn't a fact the subject can reasonably take to be a fact given her evidence;
and (iii) in light of this fact the subject oughtn't A.

If such a fact exists, I think we've refuted evidentialism about epistemic permissibility. But, maybe there are counterexamples to (1) and (2).


Mike Almeida said...

(1) If you intend to A and it's not the case that you shouldn't so intend, it's not the case that you shouldn't A.

It might be true I should intend to do A, since doing so will maximize overall value (or maximize prudential value, etc.), but should not perform A, since doing so will minimize overall value. This was more or less the idea behind mutally assured destruction. I should intend to launch missles, if you launch yours. This intention might be sufficient to prevent you from ever launching yours. But if you do in fact launch yours, I should not launch mine. After all, in that case I'm certainly dead and my launching will only kill more people.


1. I should intend to do A, if B.
2. I should not do A, if B.

Clayton said...

Hey Mike,

It's a nice example. I was wondering if this or a toxin example might come up. I know some say that a lesson to take from the toxin puzzle is that the reasons that bear on whether to A bear on whether to intend to A, and so I wanted to say the same about beliefs about whether to A and subsequent intentions.

What if I just say this: in the case you describe, there are reasons to cause yourself to acquire the intention to A, but there is not a reason to A.

I'm assuming that not every reason to cause yourself to intend to A is thereby a reason to intend to A, not unless it is also a reason to A.