DEFENDING THE UNIQUENESS THESIS: A REPLY TO LUIS ROSA (pages 129-139)

Muralidharan ANANTHARAMAN

ABSTRACT: The Uniqueness Thesis (U), according to Richard Feldman and Roger White, says that for a given set of evidence E and a proposition P, only one doxastic attitude about P is rational given E. Luis Rosa has recently provided two counterexamples against U which are supposed to show that even if there is a sense in which choosing between two doxastic attitudes is arbitrary, both options are equally and maximally rational. Both counterexamples work by exploiting the idea that ‘ought implies can’ and trying to spell out situations in which some inferences are beyond the capabilities of some reasoners. I argue that on a descriptive account of doxastic rationality, questions of whether ‘epistemic ought implies can’ can be bracketed and that at least one of the inferential moves that Rosa describes in his cases is irrational. I further argue that a descriptive account of doxastic rationality is the appropriate notion of rationality that is to be considered when evaluating U. If my argument for a descriptive account of rationality is successful, then we have reason to revise our use of the term rationality to fit this descriptive understanding.

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