David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies 166 (2):243-256 (2013)
Recent years have seen a rekindling of interest in the method of reflective equilibrium. Most of this attention has been suspicious, however. Critics have alleged that the method is nothing more than a high-minded brand of navel-gazing, that it suffers from all the classic problems of inward-looking coherence theories, and that it overestimates the usefulness of self-scrutiny. In this paper I argue that these criticisms miss their mark because they labor under crucial misconceptions about the method of reflective equilibrium. In defending reflective equilibrium I put forward a handful of theses about the nature of inquiry (or, more generally, norm-governed enterprises) that form the backdrop to the method. The critics’ objections fall short, I argue, because they do not recognize reflective equilibrium’s embrace of these theses. Confronting these objections and understanding why they fail brings us to a better understanding what, exactly, the method of reflective equilibrium is. The answer I come to in the final section of the paper is that the method of reflective equilibrium is not, exactly, anything. It is a mistake to try to give a positive characterization of the view, to identify it with a concern with a particular species of data, particular procedures and methods, or even a particular conception of normative success. Instead, it should be understood as the denial of essentialism about just these matters—as a form of anti-essentialism about our epistemic inputs, methods, and goals.
|Keywords||Reflective equilibrium Justification Coherence Normativity|
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References found in this work BETA
Timothy Williamson (2007). The Philosophy of Philosophy. Blackwell Pub..
John Rawls (1971/2005). A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press.
Nelson Goodman (1983). Fact, Fiction, and Forecast. Harvard University Press.
Christine M. Korsgaard (1996). The Sources of Normativity. Cambridge University Press.
David K. Lewis (1983). Philosophical Papers. Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin (2015). The Platonic Model: Statement, Clarification and Defense. Philosophical Explorations 18 (3):378-392.
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