Under Review / R&R

Conciliatory Views and Higher-Order Disagreements


Conciliatory views on disagreement say, roughly, that it’s rational for you to become less confident in your well-reasoned opinion in case you find out that an epistemic peer holds the opposite opinion. These views are intuitively appealing, but there are also well-known worries about their behavior in scenarios involving what we might call higher-order disagreements, including disagreements over conciliatory views themselves and disagreement over the peerhood of the person you’re in disagreement with. This paper does two things. First, it explains how the core idea behind conciliatory views can be expressed in a defeasible logic framework. The result is a formal model that’s particularly useful for understanding the behavior of conciliatory views in cases involving higher-order disagreements. And second, the paper uses this model to resolve three paradoxes that are said to arise when conciliationism attempts to deal with disagreements over epistemic peerhood.

Conciliatory Reasoning, Self-Defeat, and Defeasible Logic


According to conciliatory views on the epistemic significance of disagreement, it’s rational for you to become less confident in your take on some question in case you’re disagreeing over it with an epistemic peer. These views are intuitively appealing, but they are also known to face a powerful objection: In scenarios that involve disagreements over their own correctness, conciliatory views appear to self-defeat and, thereby, issue inconsistent recommendations. The main goal of this paper is to respond to this objection. Drawing on the work from defeasible logic paradigm, I develop a formal model of conciliatory reasoning and focus on its behavior in the troubling scenarios. The model suggests that the recommendations that conciliatory views issue in such scenarios are actually perfectly reasonable—even though outwardly they may look odd.

Epistemic Rules: Hedged or Contributory?


It’s almost too easy to imagine cases where such epistemic rules as “If you perceive that X, then you ought to believe that X” and “If you have outstanding testimony that X, then you ought to believe that X” come into conflict. One popular way to avoid having to classify such cases as dilemmas is to hold that rules have built-in hedged, or unless clauses specifying the conditions under which they fail to apply. Another one is to hold that rules are contributory, or that they do not, in fact, specify what beliefs one ought to have, but only what counts in favor or against having them. This paper presents a formal result suggesting that these two seemingly very different views on rules are much closer than one may think—indeed, there’s a clear sense in which they are equivalent. It also explores some of the ramifications of this result, for the two views on rules and claims about them advanced in the literature.

Deontic Reasoning on the Basis of Consistency Considerations, with Christian Stra├čer and Joke Meheus, R&R, Review of Symbolic Logic


Deontic conflicts pose an important challenge to deontic logicians. The standard account, standard deontic logic, is not apt for addressing this challenge since it trivializes conflicts. Two main stratagems for gaining conflict-tolerance have been proposed: to weaken standard deontic logic in various ways, and to contextualize its reign to consistent subsets of the premise set. The latter began with the work of van Fraassen and has been further developed by Horty. In this paper we characterize this second approach in general terms. We also study three basic ways to contextualizes standard deontic logic and supplement each of these with a dynamic proof theory in the framework of adaptive logics.

Working papers

A follow-up to the Epistemic Rules paper

.. that focuses more on ethical principles than epistemic rules and explores what I call mixed views on rules / principles, that is, views on which rules / principles are contributory, but can also have hedges.