Coin Trials
Smith (Martin)
Source: Forthcoming (as of November 2017) in Canadian Journal of Philosophy
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. According to the JUSTIFIED FAIR COINS principle, if I know that a coin is fair, and I lack justification for believing that it won’t be flipped, then I lack justification for believing that it won’t land tails. What this principle says, in effect, is that the only way to have justification for believing that a fair coin won’t land tails, is by having justification for believing that it won’t be flipped at all.
  2. Although this seems a plausible and innocuous principle, in a recent paper Dorr, Goodman and Hawthorne use it in devising an intriguing puzzle which places all justified beliefs about the future in jeopardy. They point out, further, that one very widespread theory of justification predicts that JUSTIFIED FAIR COINS is false, giving us additional reason to reject it.
  3. In this paper, I will attempt to turn this dialectic around. I will argue that JUSTIFIED FAIR COINS does not inevitably lead to scepticism about the future, and the fact that it is incompatible with a widespread theory of justification may give us reason to doubt the theory. I will outline an alternative theory of justification that predicts both that JUSTIFIED FAIR COINS is true and that we have justification for believing much about the future.


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