In this paper I undertake an in-depth examination of an oft mentioned but rarely expounded upon state: suspended judgment. While traditional epistemology is sometimes characterized as presenting a “yes or no” picture of its central attitudes, in fact many of these epistemologists want to say that there is a third option: subjects can also suspend judgment. Discussions of suspension are mostly brief and have been less than clear on a number of issues, in particular whether this third option should be thought of as an attitude or not. In this paper I argue that suspended judgment is (or at least involves) a genuine attitude.
KeywordsEpistemology Doxastic attitudes Suspended judgment Withholding belief Agnosticism Indecision Belief
I would like to thank audiences in Oxford, at the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society in Norwich, and at a conference on the nature of belief in Odense for helpful discussion. I would also like to thank referees for this journal, as well as John Hawthorne, Jennifer Nagel, Scott Sturgeon, and especially Tim Williamson for invaluable comments and criticism.
- Bach, K. (2009). Refraining, omitting, and negative acts. In T. O’Connor & C. Sandis (Eds.), Companion to the philosophy of action. Oxford: Wiley–Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Brand, M. (1971). The language of not doing. American Philosophical Quarterly, 8, 45–53.Google Scholar
- Chisholm, R. (1976). Person and object. La Salle, IL: Open Court.Google Scholar
- Conee, E., & Feldman, R. (2004). Evidentialism—Essays in epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Empricus, S. (1933). Outlines of Pyrrhonism. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Friedman, J. (2011). The Doxastic attitudes and evidential norms. D.Phil Thesis, University of Oxford.Google Scholar
- Russell, B. (1997). What is an agnostic? In J. G. Slater (Ed.), Bertrand Russell: His works (Vol. 11: Last Philosophical Testament, 1943–1968). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Soames, S. (1995). Beyond singular propositions? Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 25, 515–550.Google Scholar
- Sturgeon, S. (2010). Confidence and coarse-grained attitudes. In Oxford studies in Epistemology (Vol. 3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Wedgwood, R. (2002). The aim of belief. Philosophical Perspectives, 16, 267–297.Google Scholar