On February 5th, Jason Konek (University of Bristol) is invited in the seminar Choice Group organised by the London School of Economics (from 5.30 to 7.00 pm, LAK.2.06, 2nd floor of the Lakatos Building, Portugal Street). The title of his presentation will be “Why Accuracy-First Epistemology Does Not Sanction Epistemic Bribe-Taking?”.
Abstract: Hilary Greaves (2013) and Selim Berker (2013) pose a serious challenge to a popular brand of epistemic consequentialism. On the view in question, which we call accuracy-first epistemology, accuracy is the fundamental epistemic good. Epistemic norms — probabilism, conditionalisation, the principal principle, etc. — have their binding force in virtue of helping to secure this good. Greaves and Berker argue that accuracy-first epistemology sanctions an obviously irrational sort of epistemic bribe-taking. It sanctions coming to believe a small number of known falsehoods in order to increase overall accuracy. We defend accuracy-first epistemology. Greaves and Berker assume that proponents of this approach are committed to treating epistemic states and the action of adopting such a state as interchangeable. This is false. Epistemic states and acts are properly evaluated according to different standards. As a result, rational preferences over those states and acts do not, in general, agree. Neither do the choices that those preferences license. Distinguishing between epistemic states and acts, and carefully delineating how our evaluations of the two figure into an accuracy-first epistemology makes clear why epistemic bribe-taking is irrational.