Making Reflective Equilibrium Precise. A Formal Model

Beisbart, Claus; Betz, Gregor; Brun, Georg (2021). Making Reflective Equilibrium Precise. A Formal Model. Ergo : an open access journal of philosophy, 8(15), pp. 441-472. Univ. of Michigan Library 10.3998/ergo.1152

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Reflective equilibrium (RE) is often regarded as a powerful method in ethics, logic,
and even philosophy in general. Despite this popularity, characterizations of the
method have been fairly vague and unspecific so far. It thus may be doubted whether
RE is more than a jumble of appealing but ultimately sketchy ideas that cannot be
spelled out consistently. In this paper, we dispel such doubts by devising a formal
model of RE. The model contains as components the agent’s commitments and a
theory that tries to systematize the commitments. It yields a precise picture of how
the commitments and the theory are adjusted to each other. The model differentiates
between equilibrium as a target state and the dynamic equilibration process. First
solutions to the model, obtained by computer simulation, show that the method
allows for consistent specification and that the model’s implications are plausible in
view of expectations on RE. In particular, the mutual adjustment of commitments
and theory can improve one’s commitments, as proponents of RE have suggested.
We argue that our model is fruitful not only because it points to issues that need
to be dealt with for a better understanding of RE, but also because it provides the
means to address these issues.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy > Theoretical Philosophy

UniBE Contributor:

Beisbart, Claus, Brun, Georg


100 Philosophy
100 Philosophy > 120 Epistemology
100 Philosophy > 160 Logic
100 Philosophy > 170 Ethics




Univ. of Michigan Library


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation ; [UNSPECIFIED] German Science Foundation


Projects 182854 not found.




Georg Brun

Date Deposited:

05 Jan 2022 15:26

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:59

Publisher DOI:





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