Toward a Synthesis of Reliabilism and Evidentialism?Or: Evidentialism's Troubles, Reliabilism's Rescue Package [chapter]

Alvin I. Goldman
2012 Reliabilism and Contemporary EpistemologyEssays  
For most of their respective existences, reliabilism and evidentialism (that is, process reliabilism and mentalist evidentialism) have been rivals. They are generally viewed as incompatible, even antithetical, theories of justification. 1 But a few people are beginning to re-think this notion. Perhaps an ideal theory would be a hybrid of the two, combining the best elements of each theory. Juan Comesana (forthcoming) takes this point of view and constructs a position called "Evidentialist
more » ... ilism." He tries to show how each theory can profit by borrowing elements from the other. Comesana concentrates on reliabilism's problems and how it might be improved by infusions from evidentialism. This paper follows a similar tack. My emphasis, however, is the reverse of Comesana's. I highlight problems for evidentialism and show how it could benefit by incorporating reliabilist themes. I am not sanguine that evidentialists will see it my way. They might even view my proposals as an insidious attempt to convert evidentialists to reliabilism. Well, I won't debate the best way to formulate this paper's recipe. At any rate, it began with the idea (which anteceded my reading of Comesana) of creating a synthesis of reliabilism and evidentialism. It retains significant strands of that idea, although the synthesis theme does not pervade the entire paper. What is mentalist evidentialism? Its original formulation was succinct: [EJ] Doxastic attitude D toward proposition p is epistemically justified for S at t if and only if having D toward p fits the evidence S has at t. (Feldman & Conee, 1985 / 2004 . I begin by raising worries about the notions of evidence and fittingness that are crucial to evidentialism as formulated by [EJ]. To help with many of the problems raised, I recommend supplements borrowed from reliabilism. As we proceed I shall also present reasons why reliabilism might be improved by doses of evidentialism. * I have received valuable comments from Holly Smith, from Richard Feldman and other discussants at the 2008 Rochester graduate epistemology conference, and from audiences at other venues where earlier versions of this paper were presented, i.e., Brown University, Union College, and the Metropolitan University of Mexico City.
doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812875.003.0006 fatcat:fceiez23hzflfehu267u2laaim