The Benefit of the Doubt

A blog about Dialogue, Doubts, and Christian Faith ~Travis Dickinson~

The Epistemology of Doubt


Here’s a talk I gave at our recent Stand Firm conference entitled The Epistemology of Doubt. I argue that doubting can have instrumental value because it can lead to further truth and knowledge. But this value is only realized when we investigate and evaluate our doubts. To make this case, I argue that the nature (the epistemology) of doubt must be understood so that we know how to properly approach it. In short, I say that

S doubts that p when S is finding an idea plausible that S believes is contrary to p.

This provides a way to investigate and evaluate our doubts since, for one, the doubt may not be plausible upon further investigation. Or, a second possibility is that it may not be contrary to p upon further investigation. One upshot of this account is that we see it is entirely rational to have doubts and maintain our beliefs while we investigate them. That is, merely having doubts shouldn’t straightaway defeat our beliefs, especially when the beliefs are otherwise very rational.

In any case, here’s the talk…


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