Pablo Zendejas Medina

Hi there! I’m a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. My research is mostly in epistemology and decision theory, but really I'm interested in anything to do with reasons and rationality.

In my dissertation, I develop an account of rational reasoning that is sensitive to certain cognitive limitations, like our inability to reason with all of our beliefs at once, and our inability to always recognize the logical relationships between our beliefs.

I also work on the justification of Bayesian updating, the value of learning, and the role of decision theory in ethics.

You can contact me at zendejas.pablo [at] gmail.com.


Publications

Just As Planned: Bayesianism, Externalism, and Plan Coherence [abstract] [draft]. Forthcoming. Philosopher's Imprint.

Two of the most influential arguments for Bayesian updating (“Conditionalization”) --- Hilary Greaves' and David Wallace's Accuracy Argument and David Lewis' Diachronic Dutch Book Argument --- seem to impose a strong and surprising limitation on rational uncertainty: that one can never be rationally uncertain of what one's evidence is. Many philosophers (“externalists”) reject that claim, and now seem to face a difficult choice: either to endorse the arguments and give up Externalism, or to reject the arguments and lose some of the best justifications of Conditionalization. The author argues that the key to resolving this conflict lies in recognizing that both arguments are plan-based, in that they argue for Conditionalization by first arguing that one should plan to conditionalize. With this in view, it is argued that the conflict with Externalism only arises if one misconceives the requirement to carry out a plan made at an earlier time. They should therefore not persuade us to reject Externalism. Furthermore, rethinking the nature of this requirement allows us to give two new arguments for Conditionalization that don't rule out rational uncertainty about one's evidence and that can thus serve as common ground in the debate between externalists and their opponents.

Papers

(email for drafts - any comments would be greatly appreciated!)

A paper on dogmatism and the rationality of gathering evidence [abstract]

If you believe something, you are also committed to believing that any future evidence to the contrary will be misleading. Thus, it would seem irrational for someone who cares about the accuracy of their belief to gather evidence, since it exposes them to the risk of believing falsely. This is a version of the Dogmatism Paradox. This paper gives the question of whether to gather evidence a decision-theoretic treatment, but given a qualitative conception of belief, as opposed to the quantitative conception which is presupposed in Bayesian discussions of evidence-gathering. Its main result is that it is always rationally permissible to learn the answer to a question for someone who cares only about accuracy, and always rationally required as long as the question is relevant to their belief. To show this, I assume, inter alia, two principles of belief revision, which also turn out to be necessary for learning to be rational — a result that speaks in the favour of these principles. I then show that these results help resolve different versions of the Dogmatism paradox. The paper ends with a discussion of the consequences of my view for the possibility of rationally believing without evidence, and for the aim of inquiry.

A paper on Consequentialism and deontological prohibitions [abstract]

It is widely held that Consequentialism, in its traditional, agent-neutral form, is inconsistent with deontological prohibitions, such as those on killing or breaking promises. However, the standard argument for this claim is incomplete, which has led some to make the surprising claim that Consequentialism and Deontology can be reconciled. I argue for the orthodox view, by showing that there are possible situations, deontological judgments about which cannot be incorporated into a consequentialist moral theory (``consequentialized''), on pain of generating axiological cycles. As my argument shows, the orthodox view is also right about the reason for the incompatibility: Consequentialism, being agent-neutral, gives everyone the same moral goal, whereas deontological prohibitions, being agent-relative, give everyone different goals.

Courses Taught (as teaching assistant)

  • Concepts of Human Nature (Spring 2022)
  • Introduction to Philosophical Problems (Fall 2021 and Fall 2020)
  • Introduction to Ethics (Spring 2021 and Fall 2018)
  • Philosophy and Public Issues (Spring 2019)
  • Introduction to Logic (Spring 2017)
  • Philosophy and Science (Fall 2016)