Art & Photos

Believable Evidence

Review of Veli Mitova's 'Believable Evidence'.
of 6
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Philosophical Papers ISSN: 0556-8641 (Print) 1996-8523 (Online) Journal homepage: Believable Evidence Tess Dewhurst To cite this article:  Tess Dewhurst (2019) Believable Evidence, Philosophical Papers, 48:2,321-325, DOI: 10.1080/05568641.2019.1616605 To link to this article: Published online: 11 Sep 2019.Submit your article to this journal View related articles View Crossmark data  Book Reviews  Veli Mitova,  Believable Evidence   (Cambridge University Press, 2017). In her book   Believable Evidence  , Veli Mitova takes on the challenge of pinning down the ontology of epistemic reasons. She defends the thesis that evi-dence (epistemic good reason) is true belief  —  what she calls  ‘ truthy psycho-logism ’ . The thesis is minimalist and clean, as are the arguments Mitovaoffers to defend her claim. Despite the difficulty of the topic, her engaging and accessible style, combined with its structural clarity, make this book highly readable and, potentially, very convincing.In Part One,  ‘ Solid Metaethical Foundations ’ , Mitova presents theproblem of the ontology of epistemic reasons in a metaethical framework. According to the Standard Story in metaethics, as Mitova sets it up, thereare two kinds of reason: motivating reasons and normative reasons. Motivat-ing reasons are the reasons that explain an action, the reason  for which   oneacted. Normative reasons, or  good   reasons, are reasons that justify an action,or show why the action was good or appropriate. The ontology of thesereasons, according to the Standard Story, is that a motivating reason willbe psychological; for example, I took my umbrella today because I  believed  it was raining. A normative reason will usually be a fact; for example, Itook my umbrella today because it was raining. The rain is what makes my action good or appropriate.It is this problematic ontology that Mitova takes on. If normative andmotivating reasons are two different kinds of things (motivating=psycho-logical states; normative =facts), then it becomes hard to make sense of the intuitively obvious idea that the reasons for which we act (or believe)can be good reasons, and that good reasons can be the reasons for which we act (or believe). In her second chapter, Mitova argues that, to accommo-date this, we ought to recognize that normative and motivating reasons areof the  same ontological kind  , what she calls the  ‘ Beast of Two Burdens Thesis ’ (BTB). Staying neutral, for the moment, on what that ontology is, Mitovaargues that the reasons  for which   we act must also be able to be thereasons that make the action appropriate.If BTB is right, her argument goes, then reasons must be facts, or they must be psychological states. In the third chapter she argues that allreasons must be psychological. Firstly, anti-psychologism is  ‘ ontologically  Philosophical Papers  Vol. 48, No. 2 (July 2019): 321 – 333 ISSN 0556-8641 print/ISSN 1996-8523 online© 2019, The Editorial Board,  Philosophical Papers  DOI: 10.1080/05568641.2019.1616605  too costly  ’  (65), having some counterintuitive results, such as: beliefs aremere enabling conditions for action or belief, not explanations in them-selves. Furthermore, if the different kinds of reasons share an ontology,that ontology must be psychological, because, she argues, only psychologicalstates can motivate on their own. Psychological states, unlike facts, are thekind of thing that   ‘ represent the agent in her action ’  (76). Let us say my reason for taking an umbrella is the fact that it is raining. But, now let  ’ ssay that it is not raining  — I just believe that it is. If it is not raining, it cannot be the  fact   of the rain that explains my bringing my umbrella. It israther my   belief    that it is raining that explains my behaviour. It is my belief that makes my behaviour intelligible. If we accept BTB, and that only beliefs can motivate on their own, then we must accept that the ontology of reasons is psychological. She calls this  ‘ extreme psychologism ’ .Her fourth chapter refocuses on reasons for belief or, more specifically, evidence  . Evidence for a belief is a good reason to believe it. Following fromthe previous chapters, if motivating reasons are psychological, and motivat-ing and normative reasons are of the same ontological kind, then normativereasons are psychological. However, false beliefs (non-veridical psychologi-cal states)  ‘ don ’ t genuinely speak in favour of the truth of a proposition ’ (86). Veridical states, on the other hand, can provide the normativesupport necessary, and thus a true belief can be both a motivating and a nor-mative reason. The  ‘ truthy  ’  condition on reasons allows Mitova to concludethat good reasons are ontologically psychological, but can also have norma-tive status.In these first four chapters (Part One), Mitova moves carefully throughthe arguments to establish her central claim. What is clear is that thereare powerful incentives to maintain that only psychological states can motiv-ate and explain our beliefs, but also that only   veridical   states can genuinely speak in favour of adopting a belief. Mitova argues that we can have ourcake and eat it. A true belief is both wholly psychological — is in a positionto explain our beliefs — and yet has the property of being true, and canthus satisfy the normative constraint on reasons. So, for example, my belief that the butler committed the crime can be based on the  true belief   that his fingerprints were all over the murder weapon. This true belief counts as evidence because it is both explanatory (psychological), and justi-fying (veridical).In Part Two of the book ( ‘ Sound Epistemological Structure ’ ), Mitovaoffers further support for her thesis by defining it more carefully, andseeing off competing views. In the fifth chapter, she points out that not alltrue beliefs are evidence (good reason for belief), but that there alsoneeds to be a  relevance relation   between the evidence and the belief that it  322 Book Reviews  is evidence for. Evidence also needs to  probilify   and  explain   the resulting belief in order for it to count as evidence. So, here a more completepicture emerges. Inthe sixth chapter, she shows how this picture of evidenceas relevant true belief can fulfil all the demands that we intuitively make ongood reason, for example, evidence is a guide to truth, and evidence is that  which rational thinkers respect.The seventh and eighth chapters argue for the conditionals  ‘ If evidence,then (relevant) true belief  ’  and  ‘ If (relevant) true belief, then evidence ’ respectively. So in Chapter 7 she argues against those who might claim wecan have evidence when we don ’ t have a relevant true belief, for examplethose who think that a false belief could count as evidence. In Chapter 8she argues against those who would have it that we can have a relevant true belief without it counting as evidence. For example, some couldclaim that a mere true belief is insufficient for evidence, we need knowledgeor justification for evidence to play the right kind of probilifying role.The third part of the book ( ‘ Fruitful Metaepistemic Soil ’ ) is what shecalls the  ‘ cherry on top ’ , if we have accepted her arguments thus far. Inthis part she gives reason for thinking that truthy psychologism can alsogive a good answer to the meta-epistemological question of why we shouldcare about evidence.This summary is over-simplified, and the arguments are more complexthan I can do justice to here. But the pull of her arguments is strong, andthe reward, should weaccept them, is great. She can accommodate the intui-tion that evidence can explain belief formation,  and   it can stand in the right kind of normative relation to our resultant belief by objectively favouring it.This is a tough challenge to meet, and, on the face of it, Mitova succeeds.However,oneshouldalwaysbecautiouswhentoldthatonecanhaveone ’ scake and eat it. For me, the problem begins to arise right at the beginning, with theStandard Story.Ifonewere to accept theStandard Story  — thatmotiv-ating and normative reasons are different kinds of things — it would not bepossible to act or believe for good reason. The motivating reasons (whichare neither good nor bad) do all the explanatory work. That is, the existenceof   good   reasons is neither here nor there when it comes to explaining our be-haviour. Mitova ’ s aim is to overcome this by claiming that motivating reasonsand normative reasons are of the same ontological kind; normativity can beattached to motivating reasons (beliefs) via the property of   being true  .Our motivating reasons can  be   normative reasons: the reasons for which we act or believe can be good reasons. On the face of it, this does overcomethe problems facing the Standard Story. However, although Mitova makes it technically the case that we can act or believe for good reason, it seems that the  goodness of the reason   is still explanatorily idle. It is just the belief that is Book Reviews 323  doing all the motivating/explanatory work. Yes, some of those beliefs will betrue, and thus will be good reasons, but whether or not they are true has noimpact on whether or not we act or believe for them. As an analogy, if moths were attracted to candles whether or not they  were lit (hypothetically), it would be true, but misleading, to say they wereattracted to lit candles. In the same way, under Mitova ’ s account of evidence,it is true, but misleading, to say that we can believe for good reason. We arebelieving for the reason, it is neither here nor there whether or not it is agood one. This is less than we want from the idea that we can believe forgood reason. Intuitively, when we say one believes for good reason, thegoodness of the reason itself contributes to the explanation for the belief.However, if we accept that normativity only comes from factivity, andmotivation only from mental states, perhaps this is a metaphysically insur-mountable problem. Perhaps it is asking for too much to say we want it tobe not only possible to believe for good reason, but for the goodness of the reason to be explanatorily relevant. But I believe that we do not needto accept this: we do not need to accept the Standard Story  ’ s initial distinc-tion between motivating and normative reasons. We could, for example,reject the idea that motivating reasons are a kind of thing in their ownright. We could say that what Mitova would call mere motivating reasons(i.e., reasons that are not normative) are nothing more than  explanations  for action or belief, not reasons at all.If this were the case, reasons would be essentially normative (they wouldalways  objectively favour   a particular action or belief). This would support anexternalist account of motivation, such as the factualist  ’ s account (e.g.,Dancy  2000 and Alvarez 2010), or the knowledge-first account (where knowledge is understood as a factive state) (e.g., Williamson 2000 and Little- john 2013). Perhaps what we have when a false belief explains our action ismerely an apparent reason, not an actual reason. The benefit of taking thisroute, and rejecting Mitova ’ s srcinal set up of the problem, is that it makesit possible for us to act or believe for good reason in the thicker sense, wherethe goodness of the reason plays a role in explaining our behaviour.However, this would mean that there is no unified ontology for the thing that explains our behaviour. In some cases, we will act or believe for areason, and in other cases we will act or believe for an apparent reason,and an apparent reason does not share the ontology of an actual reason.Contra this, Mitova ’ s view is that it is always belief itself that does the motiv-ating work, whether the belief is true or false. In both cases, we have a reasonto act or believe what we do, the difference lies in that when the belief istrue, one has a good reason; when it is false, a bad one. 324 Book Reviews

mrm-final (1)

Sep 22, 2019
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!