Let's have a look (because it's a Friday afternoon and nobody invited me to Happy Hour). Pessin writes that he's had an epiphany, to the effect that the Paradox of the Preface is the solution to all the world's problems. Here's how he explains the paradox (which is nicely explained and discussed here)--
Imagine an author writing something like this as a preface to her work:Some people seem to think this will all get cleared up by talking about degrees of belief. Maybe this is what they're thinking: if you believed each sentence in your book was just probably true, it would make sense that you would attach an even lower probability to the conjunction of them all. Likewise, If you think there's a 97% chance of each of a million things happening, you won't think there's as high a chance of them all happening.
I am certain, of each and every sentence in this work, that it is true, on the basis of various considerations including the careful arguments and use of evidence which led me to it. And yet I recognize that I am a fallible human being, likely to have made some error(s) in the course of this long work. Thus I am also quite certain that I have made some such error somewhere, even if I cannot say where.
Such a refreshingly honest preface! So what is the paradox?
Well, there is the implicit, apparent contradiction. To believe of each and every sentence that it is true is to believe, in effect, that not one of the sentences is false; but to believe that there is at least one error in the work is to believe that at least one of the sentences is false, and thus to contradict the first belief.
But it seems like this isn't what's going on. Your certainty in the totality of your book doesn't drop off in the orderly way that probability theory would suggest. It drops off because of evidence you have that you're fallible, that other smart people have different views, etc. All that doesn't come into play when you look at the sentences one at a time (you just ponder the evidence supporting each one), but does come into play with respect to the total.
Where do you--you the author--go wrong (as you must, if you have inconsistent beliefs)? It's not Pessin's goal to figure it out (there are lots of different views on this). Rather, he thinks there's a moral to the story. Believers in different religions (and atheism, and other things) would be well-advised to have the attitude of "humble absolutism" that characterizes the author writing a preface, even if that attitude is contradictory. Believers should both believe they're most definitely right, and believe they could be wrong. If they would do so, world peace would be just around the corner.
Of course, he's not going to object if someone wants to go further and not be an absolutist at all. He's just offering some advice to the very certain. He's saying something lie this: "Go ahead and be very certain--like the book author is of each sentence in his book; but also recognize your fallibility, like the book author does when he thinks of the book as a whole."
How strong can your convictions be, when you are aware of your fallibility and the differing views of people no less smart than you? Pessin seems to say "very strong." I say "very interesting question." FYI--I'll be discussing this in the next issue of The Philosopher's Magazine.
UPDATE: Brandon has a very illuminating post on the paradox of the preface, with lots of great links.