Conditionalization, Reflection, and Self-Knowledge

Philosophical Studies, 2007, 135(2): 179–97

Van Fraassen famously endorses the Principle of Reflection as a constraint on rational credence, and argues that Reflection is entailed by the more traditional principle of Conditionalization. He draws two morals from this alleged entailment. First, that Reflection can be regarded as an alternative to Conditionalization—a more lenient standard of rationality. And second, that commitment to Conditionalization can be turned into support for Reflection. Van Fraassen also argues that Reflection implies Conditionalization, thus offering a new justification for Conditionalization.

I argue that neither principle entails the other, and thus neither can be used to motivate the other in the way van Fraassen says. There are ways to connect Conditionalization to Reflection, but these connections depend on poor assumptions about our introspective access, and are not tight enough to draw the sorts of conclusions van Fraassen wants. Upon close examination, the two principles seem to be getting at two quite independent epistemic norms.