The nature of doubt and a new puzzle about belief, doubt, and confidence
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In this paper, I present and defend a novel account of doubt. In Sect. 2, I make some preliminary observations about the nature of doubt. In Sect. 3, I introduce a new puzzle about the relationship between three psychological states: doubt, belief, and confidence. I present this puzzle because my account of doubt emerges as a possible solution to it. Lastly, in Sect. 4, I elaborate on and defend my account of doubt. Roughly, one has doubt if and only if one believes one might be wrong; I argue that this is superior to the account that says that one has doubt if and only if one has less than the highest degree of confidence.
KeywordsDoubt Belief Confidence Credence
I am thankful for helpful feedback from the audience at Dalhousie University’s philosophy colloquium (10/2013), the philosophy faculty of Western Washington University (12/2013), the audience at the Central APA (2/2014) (especially my commentator, Earl Conee), the participants of the Notre Dame Belief and Credence reading group (9/2016) (including Hugh Burling, Brian Cutter, Liz Jackson, Ross Jensen, Ting Cho Lau, and James Nguyen), and the audience at a Saint Louis epistemology brown bag session (9/2016) (especially Jonathan Nebel, Jonathan Reibseman, and Julia Staffel). Thanks to Jon Kvanvig, Daniel Howard-Snyder, and Trent Dougherty, for allowing me to participate in the Summer Seminar on the Nature of Faith (6/2014–7/2014). The paper benefitted from discussions with the following participants of that seminar: Kenny Boyce, Daniel McKaughan, Rik Peels, and especially Daniel Howard-Snyder. Thanks to the Center for Philosophy of Religion at Rutgers University and the Center for Philosophy of Religion at University of Notre Dame for research time and funding for this project. Thanks to Peter Markie, Jon Matheson, Kevin McCain, Matthew McGrath, and Paul Weirich for helpful written comments on Sect. 3. In addition to those mentioned in the footnotes throughout the paper, I am also thankful for helpful conversations with Bob Beddor, Chris Gadsden, Richard Fumerton, Simon Goldstein, Peter Markie, Kevin McCain, Matthew McGrath, Andrew Melnyk, J.L. Schellenberg, Hayoung Shin, John Turri, Peter van Elswyk, Jonathan Vertanen, Paul Weirich, and Julie Zykan. Lastly, I am thankful to Ting Cho Lau for helpful editing that led to clarifications and improvements in the paper.
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