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    In the space of reasonable doubt

    Vorms, Marion and Hahn, Ulrike (2019) In the space of reasonable doubt. Synthese 198 (S15), pp. 3609-3633. ISSN 0039-7857.

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    This paper explores ‘reasonable doubt’ as an enlightening notion to think of reasoning and decision-making generally, beyond the judicial domain. The paper starts from a decision-theoretic understanding of the notion, whereby it can be defined in terms of degrees of belief and a probabilistic confirmation threshold for action. It then highlights some of the limits of this notion, and proposes a richer analysis of epistemic states and reasoning through the lens of ‘reasonable doubt’, which in turn is likely to supplement the DT framework. The strategy consists in fighting on two fronts: with DT, the paper claims that there is no absolute (i.e. decision-independent) notion of ‘reasonable doubt’ but, pace DT, it shows that reasonable doubt cannot be accounted for only in terms of degrees of belief and probabilistic threshold. We argue that the lens of reasonable doubt sheds light on aspects of belief dynamics, as well as of the nature of epistemic attitudes, which are often obscured by belief-centred approaches. In particular, when it comes to acknowledging the necessary ignorance and irreducible uncertainty that we face in our everyday-life decisions, studying the various facets of doubt rather than focusing on what can be believed, enables one to do justice to the richness and diversity of the mental states in play.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Doubt, Belief, Acceptance, Decision theory, Reasoning, Jurors
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Cognition, Computation and Modelling, Centre for
    Depositing User: Ulrike Hahn
    Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2020 14:41
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:56


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