The epistemic poverty objection is commonly levelled by externalists against deontological conceptions of epistemic justification. This is that an “oughts” based account of epistemic justification together with “ought” implies “can” must lead us to hold to be justified, epistemic agents who are objectively not truth-conducive cognizers. The epistemic poverty objection has led to a common response from deontologists, namely to embrace accounts of bounded rationality—subjective, practical or regulative accounts rather than objective, absolute or theoretical accounts. But the bounds deontological epistemologists (...) and their opponents entertain rarely include cultural limitations. This paper considers neo-Vygotskian arguments that we must consider such cultural limits in defending deontologism, and thus that any deontologically motivated perspectivism must be in part a cultural perspectivism. The dangers of strong relativism are flagged and an attempt is made to steer a.. (shrink)
The paper begins by drawing a number of ‘levels’ distinctions in epistemology. It notes that a theory of knowledge must be an attempt to obtain knowledge . It is suggested that we can make sense of much of the work found in analytic theory of knowledge by seeing three framework assumptions as underpinning this work. First, that to have philosophical knowledge of knowledge requires us to have an analysis. Second, that much of what we require from a theory of knowledge (...) may be obtained by developing such analyses of first-order, concrete, empirical, propositional knowledge. Third, that the final arbiter of the correctness of such analyses is to be the carefully examined intuitions of the epistemologist. The paper attacks each aspect of this framework on the ground that this methodology will precisely not give us knowledge . In passing, comparisons are drawn with arguments that led to the demise of phenomenalism. The paper concludes with remarks about realism/anti-realism and consensus/disagreement in analytic epistemology. The paper recommends that we seek to develop theories of knowledge rather than analyses, and defends the position that such theories will precisely not be analyses. (shrink)
The distinction between the regulative (‘practical’, ‘subjective’, ‘decision-procedural’) and the theoretical (‘objective’, ‘absolute’) pertains to the aims (the desiderata) of an account of justification. This distinction began in ethics and spread to epistemology. Each of internalism, externalism, is separately forced to draw this distinction to avoid a stock, otherwise fatal, argument levelled against them by the other. Given this situation however, we may finesse much partisan conflict in epistemology by simply seeing differing accounts of justification as answering to radically distinct (...) desiderata of adequacy. We should see knowledge as answering to the theoretical desideratum of adequacy alone; and rationality as answering to the regulative desideratum of adequacy alone. Objections to this ‘Gordian’ [knot] approach to epistemology (from virtues theorists and others) are rejected. Such an approach may make for accounts that violate our ordinary language intuitions; but in developing an epistemological axiology, any such intuitions are not to the point. (shrink)
Three recent ‘state of the art’ Frankfurt cases are responded to: Widerker’s Brain-Malfunction-W case and Pereboom’s Tax Evasion cases (2 & 3). These cases are intended by their authors to resurrect the neo-Frankfurt project of overturning the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) in the teeth of the widespread acceptance of some combination of the WKG (Widerker-Kane-Ginet) dilemma, the Flicker of Freedom strategy and the revised PAP response (‘Principle of Alternative Blame’, ‘Principle of Alternative Expectations’). The three neo-Frankfurt cases of Pereboom (...) and Widerker shown to be insufficient for their intended purpose. Of central importance to any account of responsibility is that this applies at the level of the Right and not the Good. Arguments of Carlos Moya are expanded and augmented by considerations from Chisholm, Lucas, Dummett and Lockie (2003) to show that a number of severe problems remain for anyone attempting to resurrect the Frankfurt project. (shrink)
This paper identifies and criticizes certain fundamental commitments of virtue theories in epistemology. A basic question for virtues approaches is whether they represent a ‘third force’––a different source of normativity to internalism and externalism. Virtues approaches so-conceived are opposed. It is argued that virtues theories offer us nothing that can unify the internalist and externalist sub-components of their preferred success-state. Claims that character can unify a virtues-based axiology are overturned. Problems with the pluralism of virtues theories are identified––problems with pluralism (...) and the nature of the self; and problems with pluralism and the goals of epistemology. Moral objections to virtue theory are identified––specifically, both the idea that there can be a radical axiological priority to character and the anti-enlightenment tendencies in virtues approaches. Finally, some strengths to virtue theory are conceded, while the role of epistemic luck is identified as an important topic for future work. (shrink)
This Article is a short response to Anders Tolland's "Iterated Non-Refutation: Robert Lockie on Relativism", International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol. 14, no. 2, 245-254, 2006. Tolland's article was itself a response to Lockie, R (2003) "Relativism and Reflexivity", International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol. 11, no. 3, 319-339.
Analytic theories of knowledge have traditionally maintained that the provenance of a true belief is critically important to deciding whether it is knowledge. However, a comparably widespread view is that it is our beliefs alone, regardless of their (potentially dubious) provenance which feature in psychological explanation, including the explanation of action: thus, that knowledge itself and as such is irrelevant in psychological explanation. The paper gives initial reasons why the ‘beliefs alone’ view of explanation should be resisted—arguments deriving ultimately from (...) the Meno indicate that the provenance of a true belief may be relevant to the explanation of action. However, closer scrutiny of these arguments shows that they are incapable of according provenance anything like as central a role in action explanation as provenance has traditionally been given in the theory of knowledge. A consideration of the history of science suggests anyway that all knowledge has a compromised provenance if one looks back any significant distance. It is concluded that the importance of the provenance of our beliefs is something that has been seriously over-emphasised in epistemology. (shrink)
This paper argues that self-deception cannot be explained without employing a depth-psychological ("psychodynamic") notion of the unconscious, and therefore that mainstream academic psychology must make space for such approaches. The paper begins by explicating the notion of a dynamic unconscious. Then a brief account is given of the "paradoxes" of self-deception. It is shown that a depth-psychological self of parts and subceptive agency removes any such paradoxes. Next, several competing accounts of self-deception are considered: an attentional account, a constructivist account, (...) and a neo-Sartrean account. Such accounts are shown to face a general dilemma: either they are able only to explain unmotivated errors of self-perception--in which case they are inadequate for their intended purpose--or they are able to explain motivated self-deception, but do so only by being instantiation mechanisms for depth-psychological processes. The major challenge to this argument comes from the claim that self-deception has a "logic" different to other-deception--the position of Alfred Mele. In an extended discussion it is shown that any such account is explanatorily adequate only for some cases of self-deception--not by any means all. Concluding remarks leave open to further empirical work the scope and importance of depth-psychological approaches. (shrink)
This paper develops a version of the self-refutation argument against relativism in the teeth of the prevailing response by relativists: that this argument begs the question against them. It is maintained that although weaker varieties of relativism are not self-refuting, strong varieties are faced by this argument with a choice between making themselves absolute (one thing is absolutely true - relativism); or reflexive (relativism is 'true for' the relativist). These positions are in direct conflict. The commonest response, Reflexive Relativism, is (...) shown to be vulnerable to an iterated version of the self-refutation argument. As a result, Reflexive Relativism possesses only the appearance of content, being either incoherent, or a regressively disguised version of Absolute Relativism. Concluding remarks on Absolute Relativism acknowledge this to be a bare, formal possibility, but claim that in fact it must represent one of a range of weaker varieties of relativism that alone remain tenable. (shrink)
Eliminativism was targeted by transcendental arguments from the first. Three responses to these arguments have emerged from the eliminativist literature, the heart of which is that such arguments are question-begging. These responses are shown to be incompatible with the position, eliminativism, they are meant to defend. Out of these failed responses is developed a general transcendental argument against eliminativism (the "Paradox of Abandonment"). Eliminativists have anticipated this argument, but their six different attempts to counter it are shown to be separately (...) inadequate, mutually incompatible, and, again, incompatible with the position that they are seeking to defend. (shrink)
Moral Internalism is the claim that it is a priori that moral beliefs are reasons for action. At least three conceptions of 'reason' may be disambiguated: psychological, epistemological, and purely ethical. The first two conceptions of Internalism are false on conceptual, and indeed empirical, grounds. On a purely ethical conception of 'reasons', the claim is true but is an Externalist claim. Positive arguments for Internalism — from phenomenology, connection and oddness — are found wanting. Three possible responses to the stock (...) Externalist objections are uncovered and overturned. In so doing a close relation between Internalism and Behaviourism is revealed, and some stock anti-behaviouristic arguments are co-opted for Externalism. The likely dependence of Internalism on an Atomistic Associationism is uncovered and criticised. Internalism is seen as being ultimately a type of Ethical Determinism. Finally, a sketch of an Anti-Associative Externalism is given whereby the notion of self determination of action is put forward as an account of moral motivation fit to resist both the internalist and the belief-desire psychology premises of the stock non-cognitivist argument. (shrink)
I here respond to four SERRC commentators on my paper ‘Perspectivism, Deontologism and Epistemic Poverty’: Shira Elqayam, Nikolaj Nottelmann, Rik Peels and Hamid Vahid. I maintain that all accounts of epistemic justification must be constrained by two limit positions which have to be avoided. One is Conceptual Limit Panglossianism. The other is Conceptual Limit meliorism. Within these bounds one may offer an account of rationality or epistemic justification that is closer to Meliorism or Panglossianism. Remarked upon are my respondents’ considerations (...) on Alston, on suggestions for a separation between a more-subjective epistemic justification and a more-objective rationality, and objections to my position based on the assumption that we must embrace a very objective and truth-conducive concept of epistemic justification. (shrink)
This is a discussion piece in a popular philosophy magazine which nevertheless, is a intended as an intellectually serious work of metaphilosophy. The paper asks reflexive questions about the value of philosophy, addressing these, in the first instance, via the critical, polemical title question.