This paper proposes a novel answer to the question of what attitude agents should adopt when they receive misleading higher-order evidence that avoids the drawbacks of existing views. The answer builds on the independently motivated observation that there is a difference between attitudes that agents form as conclusions of their reasoning, called terminal attitudes, and attitudes that are formed in a transitional manner in the process of reasoning, called transitional attitudes. Terminal and transitional attitudes differ both in their descriptive and in their normative properties. When an agent receives higher-order evidence that they might have reasoned incorrectly to a belief or credence towards p, then their attitude towards p is no longer justified as a terminal attitude towards p, but it can still be justified as a transitional attitude. This view, which I call the unmooring view, allows us to capture the rational impact of misleading higher-order evidence in a way that integrates smoothly with a natural picture of epistemic justification and the dynamics of deliberation.
Professor Staffel specializes in epistemology, with a focus on formal epistemology. She also has research and teaching interests in philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, logic, and metaethics.
Her work focuses, among other things, on the question of how to make idealized formal models in epistemology applicable and relevant to human, non-ideal thinkers. Her book "Unsettled Thoughts: A Theory of Degrees of Rationality" was published by Oxford University Press in 2020. In it, she explains how Bayesian theories of ideal rationality can be used to account for the idea that rationality comes in degrees. Imperfect reasoners can approximate ideal rationality more or less. The guiding questions for her investigation are: Why should imperfect reasoners approximate ideal rationality if they can never fully reach the ideal? Why is it better to be closer to being ideally rational than farther away from it? How exactly should we characterize approximations to ideal rationality? She is currently working on a new book called "Unfinished Business", which is about the dynamics of complex reasoning processes.