2.84 Formal Epistemology

Category: Epistemology

Keywords: credences, subjunctive, dutch, credence, bet, conditionals, conditionalization, conditional, ticket, jeffrey, indicative, lottery, win, heads, consequent

Number of Articles: 375
Percentage of Total: 1.2%
Rank: 38th

Weighted Number of Articles: 255.4
Percentage of Total: 0.8%
Rank: 64th

Mean Publication Year: 1994.2
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1992.5
Median Publication Year: 1997
Modal Publication Year: 2012

Topic with Most Overlap: Chance (0.048)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Decision Theory (0.0264)
Topic with Least Overlap: Heidegger and Husserl (2e-04)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Life and Value (0.00014)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the formal epistemologytopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 2012 when 3.8% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1899 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.84 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.192: Formal epistemology.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Formal Epistemologytopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.8%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.4%. Ethics - 0.1%. Philosophical Review - 1.0%. Analysis - 1.7%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.1%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.7%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.3%. Philosophy of Science - 0.8%. Noûs - 1.0%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 0.7%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 1.1%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 2012 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 4.0% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1899 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.193: Formal epistemology articles in each journal.

Table 2.203: Characteristic articles of the formal epistemology topic.
Table 2.204: Highly cited articles in the formal epistemology topic.


When I was a graduate student, this was the stuff I worked on—indicative conditionals and probabilistic models of rational agents. At the time, I thought of myself as working at the intersection of philosophy of science and philosophy of language. It was only when I started applying for jobs that I thought, well, since what I’m doing is working on stuff about rationality, maybe I should just insist that it counts as epistemology and see if I get away with it. Twenty-something years later, no one in my position has such worries; this is clearly part of epistemology.

One way to see how much it has changed is to look at where the papers are being published. Here’s a version of the facet graph above but restricted to the period since 1980, and with trendlines added.

A version of figure 2.188 restricted to the years from 1980-2013. The data shows that this topic stayed relatively flat in nine journals, but took off in Mind, Philosophical Review, and Noûs.

Figure 2.194: Recent formal epistemology.

I think this makes clear something that was intuitively plausible: that it’s the generalist journals leading the charge here. As work on Bayesianism has moved from being philosophy of science to epistemology, it has become a much bigger part of what Mind, Philosophical Review and Noûs have published. (Though, to be sure, a lot of what’s happened in Noûs has been since 2013.) I’m a little surprised there isn’t more movement on the Analysis graph; I would have guessed the Sleeping Beauty debate alone would have pushed it higher. But otherwise this looks like a case where the general picture—that this went from something of a specialist topic to a “generalist” one—is borne out by the data.