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The Limitations of the Open Mind$
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Jeremy Fantl

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198807957

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198807957.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 January 2022

The Epistemic Efficacy of Amateurism

The Epistemic Efficacy of Amateurism

(p.49) 3 The Epistemic Efficacy of Amateurism
The Limitations of the Open Mind

Jeremy Fantl

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses when knowledge can survive exposure to counterarguments, even if you find each step compelling and can’t expose a flaw. One consequence of Bayesian epistemology is that knowledge can survive if you lack the expertise to reliably evaluate the counterargument. Knowers can retain knowledge in the face of an apparently flawless counterargument as long as the counterargument is too sophisticated for them, and as long as their knowledge has a basis with which they have sufficient facility (this is one of the lessons of the literature on higher-order evidence). This is one reason why it is so important, in academic writing, to emphasize the case for the opposition. If you train your reader adequately, and they still find the steps in your argument compelling and are unable to locate a flaw, then it becomes harder for them to closed-mindedly dismiss your argument while retaining knowledge that you’re wrong.

Keywords:   Bayesian epistemology, testimony, knowledge, expertise, counterarguments, academic writing

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