DebateLab@KIT computational philosophy projects

Making Reflective Equilibrium Precise

[📝 Paper]

In “Making Reflective Equilibrium Precise: A Formal Model,” co-authored with Claus Beisbart and Georg Brun, we present a formal, computational model of reflective equilibrium (RE). The basic thrust is to explicate the method of RE as a process of step-wise “belief” revision that modifies – alternately – an agent’s current commitments and her provisional theory. Such step-wise processes seek to equilibrate the conflicting desiderata of faithfulness, account and systematicity.

Do such RE-processes reach a fixed point?

We show that, in our model, this is necessarily so. Moreover, we define a full RE-state as an ideal epistemic situation (roughly: the theory fully accounts for all commitments, faithfulness plus systematicity reaches a maximum). Simulations of multiple RE processes suggest that step-wise equilibration is likely to lead to a full reflective equilibrium state. This amounts to an instrumental justification of the method of RE.

The model presented in this paper has been the starting point for our joint project “How Far Does Reflective Equilibrium Take Us?”.