MichaelPlant comments on In defence of epistemic modesty - Effective Altruism Forum

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (40)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 30 October 2017 04:20:52PM 2 points [-]

Gregory, thanks for writing this up. Your writing style is charming and I really enjoy reading the many deft turns of phrase.

Moving on to the substance, I think I share JH's worries. What seems missing from your account is why people have the credences they have. Wouldn't it be easiest just to go and assess the object level reasons people have for their credences? For instance, with your Beatrice and Adam example, one (better?) way to make progress on finding out whether it's an oak or not is ask them for their reasons, rather than ask them to state their credences and take those on trust. If Beatrice says "I am tree expert but I've left my glasses at home so can't see the leaves" (or something) whereas Adam gives a terrible explanation ("I decided every fifth tree I see must be an oak tree"), that would tell us quite a lot.

Perhaps, we should defer to others either when we don't know what their reasons are but need to make a decision quickly, or we think they have the same access to object levels reasons as we do (potential example: two philosophers who've read everything but still disagree).