Univocal Reasoning and Inferential Presuppositions

Erkenntnis 76 (3):373-394 (2012)
Abstract
I pursue an answer to the psychological question “what is it for S to presuppose that p?” I will not attempt a general answer. Rather, I will explore a particular kind of presuppositions that are constituted by the mental act of reasoning: Inferential presuppositions. Indeed, I will consider a specific kind of inferential presuppositions—one that is constituted by a specific reasoning competence: The univocality competence. Roughly, this is the competence that reliably governs the univocal thought-components’ operation as univocal in a line of reasoning. I will argue that the exercise of this reasoning competence constitutes certain inferential presuppositions. More specifically, I outline a conception of an inferential presupposition as a non-attitudinal but genuinely psychological and rationally committing relation that holds between a reasoner and a proposition. Thus, inferential presuppositions may be distinguished from tacit or standing attitudes that function as premise-beliefs in reasoning. Likewise inferential presuppositions may be distinguished from other kinds of presuppositions. In conclusion, I note some features of inferential presuppositions that bear on the epistemology of inference.
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