In an important 2006 paper, Nishi Shah defends ‘evidentialism’, the position that only evidence for a proposition’s truth constitutes a reason to believe this proposition. In opposition to Shah, Anthony Robert Booth, Andrew Reisner and Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen argue that things other than evidence of truth, so-called non-evidential or ‘pragmatic’ reasons, constitute reasons to believe a proposition. I argue that we can effectively respond to Shah’s pragmatist critics if, following Shah, we are careful to distinguish the evaluation of the reasons for a belief from the process of actually forming a belief and allowing it to influence action. Drawing this distinction is assisted if we utilize Rudolf Carnap’s probabilistic interpretation of what it means to be disposed to believe a claim.
CarnapRudolf. 1971. “Inductive Logic and Rational Decisions,” in Studies in Inductive Logic and Probability, Volume 1, ed. Rudolf Carnap and Richard Jeffrey (Los Angeles: University of California Press), pp. 5–31.
MitchellSandra D. 2004. “The Prescribed and Proscribed Values in Science Policy”, in Science, Values, and Objectivity, ed. Gereon Wolters and Peter Machamer (Pittsburgh:University of Pittsburgh Press), pp. 245–255.
ParfitDerek. 2001. “Reasons and Rationality”, in Exploring Practical Philosophy: From Action to Values, ed. EgonssonDan, PeterssonBjörn, JoselfssonJonas and Rønnow-RasmussenToni (Aldershot: Ashgate), pp. 17–39.