Defending Shah’s Evidentialism from his Pragmatist Critics: the Carnapian Link

in Contemporary Pragmatism
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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.



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