Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


This paper discusses Schoenfield’s arguments in favor of permissivism as discussed in “Permission to Believe,” including its main intuitive and theoretical motivations. The focus is specifically on critically evaluating the arguments combating objections that cite permissivists’ worrying arbitrariness in determining a truth-conducive method to lead to a conclusion based on a body of evidence. I argue that Schoenfield, in her defense of permissivism, uses instances of peer disagreement that do not qualify as permissivism due to inconclusive evidence, and that she does a better job showing alternative epistemic attitudes as implausible rather than strengthening the case for permissivism by overcoming major reasons to reject it. I also draw upon Horowitz’s “Epistemic Value and Jamesian Goals” and Roger White’s “Epistemic Permissiveness” to demonstrate that Schoenfield’s arguments ultimately do not resolve permissivism’s arbitrariness and question-begging.

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