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Logos & Episteme

Volume 2, Issue 3, 2011

Jonathan Matheson
Pages 359-373

The Case for Rational Uniqueness

The Uniqueness Thesis, or rational uniqueness, claims that a body of evidence severely constrains one’s doxastic options. In particular, it claims that for any body of evidence E and proposition P, E justifies at most one doxastic attitude toward P. In this paper I defend this formulation of the uniqueness thesis and examine the case for its truth. I begin by clarifying my formulation of the Uniqueness Thesis and examining its close relationship to evidentialism. I proceed to give some motivation for this strong epistemic claim and to defend it from several recent objections in the literature. In particular I look at objections to the Uniqueness Thesis coming from considerations of rational disagreement (can’t reasonable people disagree?), the breadth of doxastic attitudes (can’t what is justified by the evidence encompass more than one doxastic attitude?), borderline cases and caution (can’t it be rational to be cautious and suspend judgment even when the evidence slightly supports belief?), vagueness (doesn’t the vagueness of justification spell trouble for the Uniqueness Thesis?), and degrees of belief (doesn’t a finegrained doxastic picture present additional problems for the Uniqueness Thesis?).

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