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Here is an argument against reliabilism. Grateful for comments. Also, is this argument already out there? Wouldn’t be surprised. The argument proceeds in two parts. Here’s part A, an analogy.

1. Suppose I’m imprisoned permanently in a windowless prison cell. However there is a large TV screen. My jailer tells me it shows, by cameras that focus on various events in the world outside, what is really happening.

2. As my life continues I believe that the events on the screen are accurate, but naturally I have doubts–maybe I’m being shown old reruns or computer generated confabulations or...– and I wonder if what I’m seeing is really going on. Sometimes images appear on the screen of how the system itself works–the cameras, their construction, the lens, examples of them capturing events in the world, the way the images are relayed accurately to the screen in my cell...I believe these are accurate but it’s hardly unreasonable to continue to wonder whether what I’m seeing is really going on–th ... (read more)
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7941 Reply


I am unsure if this is the correct forum for this. Kant is famous for asking what the conditions are for the possibility of knowledge in the Critique of Pure Reason. I  think that his answers are more right than not.

    How can we apply this question to the phenomenology of Sartre or Heidegger? That is, what, are the conditions for knowledge, if any, for some of the claims in Being and Time and Being and Nothingness. I refer to the assertions about Being, Dasein, Nothingness, authenticity and the terminology therein. I realize that this is a huge and difficult question that is worthy of a book. My reason for asking is to challenge the entire projects of these texts. Their conclusions, after all, are not empirical and little or no evidence is given because that is not the intention, except with Husserl, arguably. Their claims are speculative and perhaps fallacious.
. Would you consider their assertions non-propositional in that no definite truth or falsity can be known? I think Ayer would a ... (read more)
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7933 Reply

Hi Jack,

Nice paper!. However, if I may, I wasn't convinced by your response to objection five. The objection, I take it, is that the intuitions you are marshaling about incoherence derive from a non-moral standpoint, that is, they are intuitions that arise when one is doing metaethics and not when one is actually moralizing.  And it seems undeniable that Moore paradoxical sentences are straightforwardly bizarre when uttered by persons in the context of actual moralizing (just imagine actually having the relevant conversation). At the outset of your paper, you correctly note that expressivism is a theory about actual moralizing, so it seems like this is one objection to which you should be very sensitive.  You respond:

This is not really a rejection of C3, but a rejection of C1, since it admits that it is not always the case that affective or conative attitudes are expressed by moral assertions. If non-cognitive mental states are only sometimes expressed by moral assertions, then the clai ... (read more)

Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7909 Reply

Your article is very interesting.

In the same spirit I propose a more modal formalism to speak about "true announcements" and "learning" : http://philpapers.org/rec/MARFPS

This representation allow to make the difference between a world before and after the learning act. Then it becomes easier to deal with expression about knowledge and learning.

Hi Matt,

This is a very interesting paper.  I am in agreement with the basic premise, namely, that we should be suspicious of moral intuitions which are highly contingent or "flippable".  However, I have one or two questions about the argument.

In one section, you're dealing with the problem of "typing" mechanisms.  The point, as I understand it, is to show that your argument defeats demandingness intuitions but does not defeat other moral intuitions (such as those concerning the wrongness of slavery).  You say:

Given these considerations, how generally should we type the testimonial process behind my moral belief that slavery is wrong? The reliability of (say) my mother’s anti-racist moral testimony in the actual world should not necessarily be impugned by the unreliability of her moral testimony were she a racist bigot, for her epistemic situation (i.e., her foundational moral beliefs) in the latter case would be radically mistaken. The two types of testimonial processes, then, are plausibl ... (read more)

Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7812 Reply

One of the correlations I find interesting in the survey is of a predominance (among the target group) of atheists with a predominance of moral cognitivists. This conforms to the several books that have come out in the last decade by so-called New Atheists who nevertheless continue staunchly to defend morality (and often as well their particular moral take on things). While the correlation in the survey is therefore not surprising to me, it is surprising to me in a kind of normative sense, in that I have latterly come to see morality as but a relic of "that old time religion." Of course the correlation has an honored and ancient pedigree, beginning with Plato's "Euthyphro." But isn't it about time that the analytic consensus moved towards a robust moral abolitionism, in the manner of, say, Richard Garner, rather than forever attempting to salvage a way of speaking that perpetuates attitudes we seem more than happy to discard in the case of religion?
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7772 Reply


This may be a commonplace in statistical science, but it came as a pleasant surprise to me to see "It is surprising" operationally defined in this paper, namely as reaching a level of dashed expectation by philosophers who took the metasurvey. "It is surprising" is one of countless expressions that, in my view, are used to subtly and illicitly but powerfully and even unawares used to bring others around to seeing things the way oneself does. I described an example in this passage: 

The point I want to make in the present chapter is that the natural tendency to objectify what is essentially subjective is pervasive in our experience, even beyond morality. Consider the seemingly innocuous sentence, “The results were surprising,” which I quote from a book about the physiology and psychology of marine animals. The context is the discussion of an experiment to determine whether crustaceans can feel pain. The subjects were hermit crabs living inside abandoned snail shells that had been outfitt ... (read more)

Occasionally I have been asked by students what I myself believe, especially when it come to more sensitive topics dealing with a  religious outlook.  My answer typically is that I do not want to influence their own classroom discussion by intruding my personal outlook.  In this way I can continue to play Socrates,constantly challenging positions put forward without having to defend any stand of my own.

The truth of the matter, though, is that I am very uncomfortable with that term "belief."  Again, in the classroom, I will often cite as an axiom the idea from William James that beliefs are rules for action so that the content of a belief matters less to me than how it determines someone's behavior.  Consequently, I am far less interested in many of the standard debates dealing with metaphysical or epistemological issues than I am with discussions involving ethics and political theory.   At the same time, though, I understand full well that there are certa ... (read more)
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7763 Reply

The majority of the correlational research published in the experimental psychology journals is based on correlations with r values ranging from .40 upwards. According to the authors of the popular elementary book Psychology—Gleitman, Gross, and Reisberg—these numbers reflect relationships strong enough to produce recognizable patterns in the data. When we are working with r values much less than .40, we begin to grasp at straws. However rock solid the inferential statistical analysis in this paper, the foundation of the inferences is the correlations. When we have correlations that are drastically below the r values acceptable for publication in the experimental journals, one should seriously question what to make of inferential analyses of them. Using inferential statistics to make any broad claims based on such low r values is bad, and I worry that people unacquainted with statistical research will use the analysis provided in the paper for more than satisfying their curiosity. If&n ... (read more)

Dear authors,

Thank you for this very interesting and illuminative paper and a chance to get acquainted with it. I'm interested in one particular moment. How many philosophers did describe themselves as a 'followers' of Wittgenstein? I'm investigating the problem of unpopularity of Wittgenstein in contemporary Analytic philosophy and I would very appreciate if you could make the result of your survey on the question stated above available.

Thank you in advance.

Sincerely yours,
Iurii Kozik
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7753 Reply

What possible significance could this article have? I'm surprised that it has even been accepted for publication. If it is publishable anywhere, it belongs in a sociology journal. Its methods are sociological, not philosophical, and terminally flawed by their lack of comprehensiveness with regard to formulating the survey.

Its questions are simplistic, dichotomous, and non-exhaustive. Moreover, many of these dichotomies are false, e.g., "analytic" vs. "continental" juxtaposes a conceptual category with a geographical category, i.e., it should be either "analytic" vs. "speculative" or "Anglo-American" vs. "continental."

Another example: "Theistic" vs. "atheistic" made me laugh. There are just so many other unmentioned options here. Maybe the high-school-educated-person-in-the-street could answer that question, but how could a philosopher answer it?
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7747 Reply

I must commend you both on a well written and superbly organized piece. Though I must confess I did not read the entirety of the work (Due largely to the fact that I am still a neophyte as it pertains to the majority of philosophical concepts surveyed among the participants.) it is clear that you two put forth much effort and time into this piece. What I actually did want to discuss though were two particular results that captured my interest. The first being that 72.8% of respondents are Atheist. Now doing the math, we see that 72.8% of the 931 philosophers who responded to this survey equates to 678 people rounding up. Though I did not formally submit a survey I belong to this camp. These results are surely indicative that philosophical thought has all but breezed past the likes of Kant, Spinoza, Aquinas, etc.
     The result that I found far more fascinating and admittedly somewhat perplexing, was the popularity of Egalitarianism. 34.8% of people partake in Egalit ... (read more)

I have only just skimmed the paper. I noticed that det/indeterminism is not a category. Is this because determinism is viewed as subsumed under the other categories (free will, physicalism, laws of nature, etc)? 
Again, I have only just skimmed the paper, so there may be discussion on this I missed. 

Kind regards,
Clint Ballinger 

(I am interested as your work will be very useful when I get the chance to update "Determinism and the Antiquated Deontology of the Social Sciences

R. Swinburne claims that "And, finally, basic propositions include very general propositions about what there is in the world and how things work—‘the Earth is hundreds of millions of years old’, ‘China is a big country’ [...] We normally do not recall how we came to learn these things, but we believe that we did learn them, have been told them often, and that everything else we learn fits well with them. They have the status of basic propositions to which the believer ascribes a high degree of prior probability, and often form our background beliefs (or ‘background evidence’ or ‘background knowledge’) which we take into account in judging the probability of beliefs of more limited scope." (Faith and Reason, p.21).

I wonder why he describes these propositions as basic beliefs?! This view seems to have important consequences. Does anybody know what is the origin of this view or any articles related to this issue? 
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7689 Reply

On So-called Myth of the given

Chaohui Zhuang

Myth of the given by Sellars is an important topic in contemporary analytical philosophy. I will show that Sellars’s argument is invalid.

1. First, Sellars found ambiguities in some sense-datum theories, but these ambiguities could be clarified. I will present a clearer sense-datum theory.

1.1 Sellars said:

“The sense-datum theorist, it would seem, must choose between saying:

(a) It is particulars which are sensed. Sensing is not knowing. The existence of sense-data does not logically imply the existence of knowledge.

(b) Sensing is a form of knowing. It is facts rather than particulars which are sensed.”

For a sense-datum theory, the answer is quite easy: (a) is right. The next question is: Sensing is not knowing, then where is knowledge? The answer is also quite easy: After sensing, knowing occurs. Sensing and Knowing are different events, they are not one thing.

In our sense-datum theory, there are two activities:

a.   Sensing activity ... (read more)


I'm interested in belief formation.

Spinoza, and also the psychologist Daniel Gilbert, have argued that we automatically believe whatever enters our mind, rather than after an assessment of truth, and that it's merely disbelief that requires an assessment of truth.

However, such disbelief may occur within a fraction of a second of the formation of the belief - hence our unawareness of our initial complete credulity.

I've come to the conclusion that, from a logical point of view, belief can actually never be the product of an assessment of truth:

The content of any belief is a claim, whether it’s something profound, like ‘There’s an afterlife’, or something mundane, like ‘Tomorrow is Monday’.

However, when we assess whether a claim is true, all we can ever do is assess whether it agrees with our understanding of the matter in question at the moment that we reach our conclusion - which means assessing whether it agrees with what we believe about the matter in question at that moment.

For exa ... (read more)
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7087 Reply

In "Wright contra McDowell on Perceptual Knowledge and Scepticism" by Duncan Pritchard we read: << ..once one notices that the "prima facie" evidence that S has for believing the type-II proposition -encapsulated in the type-I proposition - is only "ultima facie" good evidence inthis regard provided that S already has independent grounds for believing that she is not a
My question regards the notion of prima facie ultima facie justification and evidence in the context of epistemology; what do they refer to and what is the reason to distinguish them?
thank you very much for your consideration
Hossein Rahmani

notation : I use ! for 'not'

Perhaps you can avoid paradox but you have to admit this very strange proposition :
K !K x ->  !P K x
If you know that you ignore (x) it's impossible that you know (x)

I don't see how it could be compatible with the knowability principle :
x ->  P K x
else you can't have
(x) and (K !K x)

(excuse me if this message is out of place, I ignore the policy of tis forum,
excuse also my probable mistakes in english)
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/6605 Reply

Quine criticized the so-called two dogmas of Empiricism, and Davidson criticized the so-called third dogma of Empiricism. Then, McDowell criticized the existence of non-conceptual content of experience. we will show that their arguments are all wrong. Their arguments are some kind of proof by contradiction. If we accept some principle of Empiricism, then we have to face some problems, thus we could not accept some principle of Empiricism. We will show that these problems could be solved. In fact, Wittgenstein had solved these problems. Therefore, their arguments are all invalid. At last, we will examine proof by contradiction. What contradictions can tell us? What about ability and inability of conceptual analysis?

1. The first So-called dogmas of Empiricism

Quine criticize Frege's definition of analyticity, but it doesnot mean that there are no other definition s of analyticity. In fact, Wittgenstein had given another definition of analyticity: logically true statements are analyti ... (read more)

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Is the world that we experience around us, the real world itself, experienced out there where it lies? Or is our experience of the world a "picture" generated by our brain inside our head?

I posed this question in Lehar( 2003 ) and Lehar( 2003 }, and I have posted an informal cartoon outlining the issue here:

A Cartoon Epistemology

What is the current state of consensus in the community on this subject? Are there more naive realists out there, or is representationalism the dominant paradigm yet?

And why is this most central and foundational issue not discussed more widely? Surely just about everything else in philosophy and psychology depends critically on getting this profound epistemological issue right. The issue is by no means irrelevant or insignificant. What is your view on this?

  Steve Lehar

Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/6262 Reply

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