What is the aim of models in formal epistemology?


  • Matheus de Lima Rui UFSC




Belief, idealization, formal-epistemology, models, rationality


It is certainly well accepted that formal models play a key role in scientific job. Its use goes from natural sciences like physics and even to social sciences like economics and politics. Using mathematics allows the researcher to consider more complicated scenarios involving several variables. Some models are developed to make predictions, others to describe a phenomena, or just to improve the explanation of events in the world. But what has all this to do with philosophy? The aim of the present paper is to investigate debates on the role of formal models in a specific philosophical subject, precisely, the epistemology of rationality. Are we able to explain why models are needed in epistemological work? This answer will be addressed on the assumptions that epistemological theorizing is committed with normative statements. More specifically, epistemologists are concerned with normative questions about what rationality requires from epistemic agents. The first goal is to discuss some assumptions about the role of mathematical models in formal epistemology undertaking. And secondly, I will argue for the following two claims: (i) formal models are useful tools for predicting consequences of normative assumption about what is intuitively required by rationality; and (ii) insofar rationality theory is normative in virtue of being instrumentalist and aiming at truth, formal models are means-end tools, therefore, for rationality, mathematical models are devices for maximizing truth in doxastic states.



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Special Issue: Models and Modeling in the Sciences