Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 4, pp 1013–1029 | Cite as

This paper surely contains some errors

Article

Abstract

The preface paradox can be motivated by appealing to a plausible inference from an author’s reasonable assertion that her book is bound to contain errors to the author’s rational belief that her book contains errors. By evaluating and undermining the validity of this inference, I offer a resolution of the paradox. Discussions of the preface paradox have surprisingly failed to note that expressions of fallibility made in prefaces typically employ terms such as surely, undoubtedly, and bound to be. After considering what these terms mean, I show that the motivating inference is invalid. Moreover, I argue that a closer consideration of our expressions of fallibility suggest that epistemically responsible authors would not be rational to believe that their books contains errors. I conclude by considering alternative expressions of fallibility that employ terms such as possible and probable, and discuss the role that expressions of fallibility play in conversation.

Keywords

Preface paradox Rational belief Evidentiality Fallibilism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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