Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 2, pp 367–386 | Cite as

When propriety is improper

  • Kevin Blackwell
  • Daniel DruckerEmail author


We argue that philosophers ought to distinguish epistemic decision theory and epistemology, in just the way ordinary decision theory is distinguished from ethics. Once one does this, the internalist arguments that motivate much of epistemic decision theory make sense, given specific interpretations of the formalism (for example, that epistemic utility functions be at least as psychologically real as ordinary utility functions are for decision theory). Making this distinction also causes trouble for the principle called Propriety, which says, roughly, that the only acceptable epistemic utility functions make probabilistically coherent credence functions immodest (expect themselves to be least inaccurate). We cast doubt on this requirement, but then argue that epistemic decision theorists should never have wanted such a strong principle in any case.


Epistemic decision theory Propriety Immodesty 



Thanks to Sara Aronowitz, Zoë Johnson King, Sarah Moss, Cat Saint Croix, Eric Swanson, an audience at Michigan, and especially Boris Babic, Jim Joyce, and an anonymous referee for this journal. Daniel Drucker also gratefully acknowledges the support of the Postdoctoral Fellow program at UNAM.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Postdoctoral Fellow, Instituto de Investigaciones FilosóficasUNAMMexico CityMexico

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