Sandy Goldberg: On the Epistemic Significance of Knowledge You Should Have Had

Professor Sandy Goldberg (Northwestern) speaks at a workshop on Social Epistemology, University of Edinburgh, 24th June 2015.

Abstract: Elsewhere I and others have argued that evidence one should have had can bear on the justification of one’s belief, in the form of defeating one’s justification. In this paper, I am interested in knowing how evidence one should have had (on the one hand) and one’s higher-order evidence (on the other) interact in determinations of the justification of belief. In doing so I aim to address two types of scenario that previous discussions have left open. In one type of scenario, there is a clash between a subject’s higher-order evidence and the evidence she should have had: S’s higher-order evidence is misleading as to the existence or likely epistemic bearing of further evidence she should have. In the other, while there is further evidence S should have had, this evidence would only have offered additional support for S’s belief that p. The picture I offer derives from two “epistemic ceiling” principles linking evidence to justification: one’s justification for the belief that p can be no higher than it is on one’s total evidence, nor can it be higher than what it would have been had one had all of the evidence one should have had. Together, these two principles entail what I call the doctrine of Epistemic Strict Liability: insofar as one fails to have evidence one should have had, one is epistemically answerable to that evidence whatever reasons one happened to have regarding the likely epistemic bearing of that evidence. I suggest that such a position can account for the battery of intuitions elicited in the full range of cases I will be considering.