There are currently two robust traditions in philosophy dealing with doxastic attitudes: the tradition that is concerned primarily with all-or-nothing belief, and the tradition that is concerned primarily with degree of belief or credence. This paper concerns the relationship between belief and credence for a rational agent, and is directed at those who may have hoped that the notion of belief can either be reduced to credence or eliminated altogether when characterizing the norms governing ideally rational agents. It presents a puzzle which lends support to two theses. First, that there is no formal reduction of a rational agent’s beliefs to her credences, because belief and credence are each responsive to different features of a body of evidence. Second, that if our traditional understanding of our practices of holding each other responsible is correct, then belief has a distinctive role to play, even for ideally rational agents, that cannot be played by credence. The question of which avenues remain for the credence-only theorist is considered.
KeywordsBelief Credence Probability Lockean view Statistical evidence Reactive attitudes
I would like to thank Matt Benton, Lindsey Crawford, Julien Dutant, Jane Friedman, Julian Jonker, Matthew Lee, Jennifer Nagel, Ted Poston, Jada Twedt Strabbing, and Jonathan Weisberg for comments on earlier versions of this paper. I would also like to thank Sherri Roush’s graduate seminar, Robert Audi’s graduate seminar, the philosophers at Leeds, and participants in Epistemology Above the Arctic Circle (sponsored by the Oslo Center for the Study of Mind and Nature) and the Harvard Workshop on Belief for helpful discussions of earlier versions of this paper.
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