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Munton, Jessie. IV—Lost in (Modal) Space: Demographic Base-Rate Neglect in the Service of Modal Knowledge
2023, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 123(1) 73–96
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Added by: Petronella Randell

Are there ever good epistemic reasons to neglect base rates? Assuming an empiricist modal epistemology, I argue that we face an interesting tension between some very plausible epistemic norms: a norm requiring us to proportion our beliefs to the evidence may facilitate knowledge of the actual world, whilst inhibiting our acquisition of modal knowledge—knowledge of how things could be, but are not. The potential for this tension in our epistemic norms is a significant result in its own right. It can also rationalize certain forms of demographic base-rate neglect.

Comment: Munton provides an insightful, thought-provoking argument about why demographic base rates are epistemically criticisable, using modal knowledge. It could be used to explain why demographic base rates can be bad epistemically speaking, or to prompt discussion of the value of modal vs. actual knowledge, or, on the value of evidence more generally.

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