August 19, 2006

Epistemic Value Conference (Day 0)

Today was the pre-conference workshop on epistemic value at the University of Stirling. Stephen Grimm set up a dilemma for epistemic value monism. Either epistemic appraisals apply only to "interesting truths" (Alston, Goldman) or they apply to all truths equally (Lynch). If the former, then absurdly epistemic appraisals such as 'is justified' do not apply to uninteresting true beliefs. If the latter, then believing that there are n blades of grass in the yard is absurdly as valuable as any other belief.

Jason Baehr argued that the guiding intuition behind the value problem does not warrant the standard formality and generality constraints on a solution. That is, the intuition that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief does not motivate the traditional thought that one or more components of knowledge must have "truth-independent" value or the thought that knowledge is always more valuable than true belief.

Jay Wood discussed a wide spectrum of epistemic values and argued against a sharp distinction between epistemic and moral value.


Carrie Jenkins said...

Thanks for the conference report! Wish I could be there.

I don't see what the second horn of Grimm's dilemma is meant to be. Surely it can happen that two beliefs have equal epistemic value while one of them is more valuable in other (e.g. pragmatic) ways. If so, this would be enough to account for the intuition that many beliefs are more valuable (in *some* sense) than the n-blades-of-grass belief without requiring more than one kind of *epistemic* value.

Joe Salerno said...

I think Grimm wants to say that the pragmatic ways that a belief can be valuable will be purely "extrinsic" matters. Grimm argued that the range of views at the center of his discussion require that it is only a belief's relationship to distinctively epistemic "intrinsic" value that the belief can inhereit its epistemic value. Btw, the paper appears here.

Carrie Jenkins said...

I'm not trying to suggest that a belief's pragmatic value is a kind of epistemic value. Just that the intuition that Grimm appeals to, ie the intuition that some (presumably: true, justified, knowledgeable etc.) beliefs are more valuable than the n-blades-of-grass belief, is well-enough accounted for as an intuition that this belief has less pragmatic value than most others, and is therefore irrelevant to the question of whether or not there is more than one kind of epistemic value.