Recent Conferences

Spring 2014 Conference
Hume and Causation

Spring 2013 Conference
Justice and Virtue in Kant

Spring 2012 Conference
Intentions and Belief


Summer 2011 Conference
Philosophy in an Age of Science: A Conference in Honor of Hilary Putnam's 85th Birthday

Spring 2011 Conference
Varieties of Normative Experience

Spring 2010 Conference
Intersections with the Philosophy of Language

Spring 2015 Mini-Conference


The 4th Annual Brandeis Philosophy Department Spring Mini-Conference co-sponsored by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada:


Rational Belief and Higher Order Evidence

March 21, 2015

In the Mandel Center for the Humanities, G-12

10:00 AM

David Christensen, Brown University

“Disagreement, Drugs, etc.: from Accuracy to Akrasia”

We often get evidence about the reliability of our own thinking about some particular matter. This can come from the disagreement of others, or from information about our being subject to the effects of drugs, fatigue, emotional ties, implicit biases, etc. Accounts that make rational belief sensitive to such evidence depend on reliability-assessments of the agent’s thinking about the matter in question. But specific proposals about how such assessments rationally constrain agents’ credences seem to yield unintuitive results—especially in cases where the agent’s first-order thinking does fall short rationally. This paper sketches a possible approach to this problem, one which would unify our treatment of disagreement evidence and other evidence about the reliability of our thinking. It has the consequence that epistemic akrasia should occur more frequently than is sometimes supposed. But it helps us see why this might be OK after all.

2:00 PM

Miriam Schoenfield, University of Texas, Austin

“An Accuracy Based Approach to Higher Order Evidence”

It’s frequently thought that the requirements of rationality are in same sense aimed at aiding our pursuit of accuracy.  In this paper I consider how thinking of rationality as aimed towards accuracy bears on the debate about higher order evidence.  I show that the standard accuracy framework that is relied on by those who make accuracy-based arguments favors a non-conciliatory view about higher order evidence.  I then propose an alternative way of conceiving of the connection between rationality and accuracy and show how it motivates a more conciliatory position.

4:30 PM

Sophie Horowitz, Rice University

“Predictably Misleading Evidence”

According to a plausible and widely accepted picture of rationality, we should believe what our evidence supports because doing so is the best way to get true beliefs, from our own perspective. But higher-order evidence appears to go against this view: I'll argue that it is predictably misleading. So why should we believe what it supports? I will look at some ways out of the puzzle, and argue that our best shot is to reconceive the role of evidence in our theory of rational belief.