I’m interested in candidates to be considered necessary and/or sufficient conditions for a particular instance of a “good” rule or method to “inherit” the “goodness” of that rule or method. I am particularly interested in this issue as it arises in the philosophy of scientific method, where many frequentists take specific conclusions to be licensed by the fact that they come from methods that have good long-run operating characteristics. However, I suspect that there are some discussions of the more general question in epistemology (where it’s relevant to debates between reliabilists and evidentialists) and in ethics (where it’s relevant to debates between act consequentialists and anyone who thinks that individual acts are justified by conforming to or “flowing from” good rules, maxims, character traits, social practices, etc.) I am familiar with some of the most important statements of reliabilist views and with Michael Thompson’s discussion of “transparency” (which is roughly the same as what I call “inheritance”) in his book. I’d love to know about other potentially relevant readings.
I’m inclined to regard “inheritance” as a default assumption that is subject to defeating conditions, e.g. that the instance in question belongs to a narrowest prospectively identifiable class of cases over which the characteristics in virtue of which the method is considered good are known not to hold (or something like that—I’d be grateful for help in improving this formulation). Is the absence of any such defeating conditions sufficient for inheritance?
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