Diachronic Normativity

Abstract: There is a tension in our thinking about changing one’s mind. On the one hand, changing one’s mind is often permissible, perhaps even required. On the other hand, agents who are fickle seem less than perfectly rational. In this paper, I try to make sense of each of these claims. In particular, I argue that agents who change their mind without a change in their evidence violate a process-norm governing rationality. I argue for the existence of process-norms in general, and a norm against fickleness in particular, based on considerations from function-first and non-ideal epistemology. Moreover, I argue that when an agent violates this process-norm, she violates a higher-order reason to not to re-open inquiry. Nonetheless, if she were to re-open inquiry, she would be permitted to change her mind. I end with some reflections about the relationship between responding to such reasons and being fully rational, as well as whether one is ever all things considered permitted to change her mind without a change in her evidence.

Please email me for a draft.