Timothy Williamson has fruitfully exploited formal resources to shed considerable light on the nature of knowledge. In the paper under examination, Williamson turns his attention to Gettier cases, showing how they can be motivated formally. At the same time, he disparages the kind of justification he thinks gives rise to these cases. He favors instead his own notion of justification for which Gettier cases cannot arise. We take issue both with his disparagement of the kind of justification that figures in (...) Gettier cases and the specifics of the formal motivation. (shrink)
By “epistemic pragmatism” in general I will understand the claim that whether propositions instantiate certain key epistemic properties (such as being known orbeing justifiably believed) depends not just on factors traditionally recognized as epistemic, but also on pragmatic factors, such as how costly it would be to the subject if the proposition were false. In what follows I consider two varieties of epistemic pragmatism. According to what I shall call moderate epistemic pragmatism, how much evidence we need in favor of (...) a proposition in order to know that the proposition is true depends on our preferences. According to what I shall call extreme epistemic pragmatism, on the other hand, our preferences influence our epistemic position at a more basic level, because they help determinehow much justification we actually have in favor of the proposition in question. Simplifying brutally, moderate epistemic pragmatism has it that the more worried we are about a proposition’s being false, the more justification we need in order to know it, whereas extreme epistemic pragmatism has it that the more worried we are about a proposition’s being false, the less justification we have for it. Recently, Fantl and McGrath have presented an interesting argument for moderate epistemic pragmatism, an argument which relies on the principle that (roughly) knowledge is sufficient for action (KA). In this paper I argue that KA, together with a plausible principle about second-order evidence, entails extreme epistemic pragmatism. (shrink)
What should your reaction be when you find out that someone that you consider an "epistemic peer" disagrees with you? Two broad approaches to this question have gained support from different philosophers. Precise characterizations of these approaches will be given later, but consider for now the following approximations. First, there is the "conciliatory" approach, according to which the right reaction to a disagreement is to move one's opinion towards that of one's peer, in proportion to the degree of trust that (...) one accords to that peer—for instance, if you thought that, in case of disagreement, you are equally likely to be right, then the conciliatory approach would have it that you should meet your epistemic peer halfway. The other, "nonconciliatory" approach, holds that one's reaction to a disagreement need not be perfectly in line with one's prior degree of trust in the other party. Notice an important asymmetry between these two approaches: the conciliatory approach has it that conciliation is the right reaction to any disagreement, whereas the nonconciliatory approach has it that there are some possible disagreements the correct reaction to which is not to conciliate (or not to the extent mandated by conciliatory views). This article examines the dispute between conciliatory and nonconciliatory views by distinguishing and examining possible answers to four different questions. (shrink)
We argue that if evidence were knowledge, then there wouldn’t be any Gettier cases, and justification would fail to be closed in egregious ways. But there are Gettier cases, and justification does not fail to be close in egregious ways. Therefore, evidence isn’t knowledge.
It can often be heard in the hallways, and occasionally read in print, that reliabilism runs into special trouble regarding lottery cases. My main aim in this paper is to argue that this is not so. Nevertheless, lottery cases do force us to pay close attention to the relation between justification and probability.
Many philosophers think that, necessarily, any material objects have a fusion (let’s call that doctrine “Universalism”). In this paper I point out a couple of strange consequences of Universalism and related doctrines, and suggest that they are strange enough to constitute a powerful argument against those views.
What relation must hold between a fact p and the corresponding belief that p for the belief to amount to knowledge? Many authors have recently proposed that the relation can be captured by subjunctive conditionals. In this paper I critically evaluate the main proposals along those lines.
According to reliabilists about epistemic justification, what makes a belief epistemically justified is that it was produced by a reliable process of belief-formation. Earl Conee and Richard Feldman have forcefully presented a problem for such reliabilism, "the generality problem."? The generality problem arises once we realize that the notion of reliability applies straightforwardly only to types of process--for only types of process are repeatable entities which can produce true or false beliefs in each of their instances. Moreover, any token process (...) will be an instance of indefinitely many types of process. Which of these types must be reliable for my belief to be justified, according to reliabilism? That question, generalized to cover every case of belief-formation, is the generality problem for reliabilism. In this paper I propose a solution to the generality problem. The solution makes use of the basing relation, and so, given that it isn't clear how to characterize that relation, it might be thought to replace one problem with another. I argue that, however difficult it is to characterize the basing relation, every adequate epistemological theory must make use of it implicitly or explicitly. Therefore, it is perfectly legitimate to appeal to the basing relation in solving a problem for an epistemological theory. (shrink)
Ernest Sosa has argued that if someone knows that p, then his belief that p is “safe”. and Timothy Williamson has agreed. In this paper I argue that safety, as defined by Sosa, is not a necessary condition on knowledge – that we can have unsafe knowledge. I present Sosa’s definition of safety and a counterexample to it as a necessary condition on knowledge. I also argue that Sosa’s most recent refinements to the notion of safety don’t help him to (...) avoid the counterexample. I consider three replies on behalf of the defender of safety, and find them all wanting. Finally, I offer a tentative diagnosis of my counterexample. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Mentalism, the claim that all the factors that contribute to the epistemic justification of a doxastic attitude towards a proposition by a subject S are mental states of S. My objection to mentalism is that there is a special kind of fact (what I call a "support fact") that contributes to the justification of any belief, and that is not mental. My argument against mentalism, then, is the following: Anti-mentalism argument: 1. If mentalism is (...) true, then support facts are mental. 2. Support facts are not mental. Therefore, 3. Mentalism is not true. In what follows I explain what support facts are, and then defend each of the premises of my argument. I conclude with some remarks regarding the relevance of my argument for the larger internalism/externalism debate(s) in epistemology. (shrink)
Reliabilism about epistemic justification – thethesis that what makes a belief epistemicallyjustified is that it was produced by a reliableprocess of belief-formation – must face twoproblems. First, what has been called ``the newevil demon problem'', which arises from the ideathat the beliefs of victims of an evil demonare as justified as our own beliefs, althoughthey are not – the objector claims – reliablyproduced. And second, the problem of diagnosingwhy skepticism is so appealing despite beingfalse. I present a special version ofreliabilism, (...) ``indexical reliabilism'', based ontwo-dimensional semantics, and show how it cansolve both problems. (shrink)