Knowledge and Belief Seminar
Guest Speaker: Paul Silva (University of Cologne)
Title: 'Knowledge, Belief, and the Possession of Reasons'
Abstract. Lottery cases, cases of naked statistical evidence, fine-tuning arguments, and profiling evidence can provide a thinker with evidence that ensures a high probability in some claim p. Yet it's widely believed that p's being very probable on one's evidence is insufficient for justified belief that p and therefore also insufficient for knowing that p. Accordingly, lottery cases (etc.) are cases where justified belief and knowledge are inaccessible. This lesson seems to naturally extend to fine-tuning arguments (for theism or a multiverse) as well as profiling cases.
In this paper I provide cases where one's evidence is "statistical" in a way that parallels lottery cases (etc.) but, shockingly, our intuitions are reversed: these parallel cases are cases where high probability justifies belief and holds the promise of knowledge. Existing accounts of what goes wrong in cases of "merely statistical evidence" cannot explain the justificatory asymmetry between the parallel cases of statistical evidence. I examine two explanations. One builds on insights from Timothy Williamson. Another builds on insights from David Lewis. Lessons are drawn about the flaws and limitations of fine-tuning arguments as well as a certain class of arguments for the existence of moral encroachment on justification.