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Res Philosophica

Volume 94, Issue 2, April 2017

Special Conference Issue: Bridging Formal and Traditional Epistemology

Julia Staffel
Pages 301-324
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.1536

Should I Pretend I'm Perfect?

Ideal agents are role models whose perfection in some normative domain we try to approximate. But which form should this striving take? It is well known that following ideal rules of practical reasoning can have disastrous results for non-ideal agents. Yet, this issue has not been explored with respect to rules of theoretical reasoning. I show how we can extend Bayesian models of ideally rational agents in order to pose and answer the question of whether non-ideal agents should form new degrees of belief in the same way as their ideal counterparts. I demonstrate that the epistemic and the practical case are parallel: following ideal rules does not always lead to optimal outcomes for non-ideal agents.