Consider the view – call it the steadfast view – that it can be reasonable to believe p in the face of peer disagreement about p. There are several challenges to this view that arise in connection with serial disagreement, i.e. disagreement about a series of propositions. Here we discuss and defend one of those challenges, which is articulated by Peter van Inwagen, in a recent paper (2010, pp. 27-8). We show that van Inwagen’s challenge relies on an assumption that (...) is motivated by the same principle that generates the preface paradox. Given this, we argue that his challenge fails to threaten the steadfast view. (shrink)
Harry Frankfurt (1988, 1998, 2004) defends an ethical ideal of wholeheartedness. We follow Frankfurt in distinguishing between ambivalence (a species of incoherence in desire) and wholeheartedness (the absence of ambivalence), but part ways with him by arguing against the idea that wholeheartedness is an ethical ideal. Our argument is based on cases of ethically valuable ambivalence – cases in which ambivalence contributes to the wellbeing of the ambivalent person.
In this paper I propose a relativistic version of entitlement theory about reasonable belief (§2) and argue that this vindicates naïve liberalism (§1): the view that there can be mutually recognized reasonable disagreements in religion and politics. I describe the conditions for mutually recognized reasonable disagreement (§3), and consider some objections to the proposed view (§4).
I define a property of beliefs - that of being structure-limning, or of “carving nature at the joints” - and propose three epistemological applications: (i) that limning structure has pro tanto epistemic value, (ii) that a species of understanding can be defined by appeal to the notion of limning structure, and (iii) that a distinction between important and trivial truths can be articulated by appeal to the notion of limning structure.
There seems to be a special relationship between belief and truth that can be metaphorically expressed by saying that belief “aims” at truth or that belief’s “direction of fit” is “to fit the world.” There is an Aristotelian thesis, according to which the special relationship between belief and truth is the same as the special relationship between desire and goodness. Assuming that belief “aims” at truth, then, desire “aims” at goodness. This contrasts with a Humean thesis, on which, while belief (...) “aims” at truth, desire has no analogous “aim.” This paper defends the Aristotelian thesis. (shrink)
David Lewis maintained that epistemological contextualism (on which the truth-conditions for utterances of “S knows p” change in different contexts depending on the salient “alternative possibilities”) could solve the problem of skepticism as well as the Gettier problem. Contextualist approaches to skepticism have become commonplace, if not orthodox, in epistemology. But not so for contextualist approaches to the Gettier problem: the standard approach to this has been to add an “anti-luck” condition to the analysis of knowledge.
This is a critical study of the value of true belief: I argue that true belief is at most sometimes eudaimonically valuable (i.e. valuable vis-à-vis the wellbeing of the believer), and criticize realist accounts of the "epistemic" value of true belief that appeal to the thesis that belief "aims at truth.".
Consider the claim that openmindedness is an epistemic virtue, the claim that true belief is epistemically valuable, and the claim that one epistemically ought to cleave to one’s evidence. These are examples of what I’ll call “epistemic discourse.” In this paper I’ll propose and defend a view called “conventionalism about epistemic discourse.” In particular, I’ll argue that conventionalism is superior to its main rival, expressivism about epistemic discourse. Expressivism and conventionalism both jibe with anti-realism about epistemic normativity, which is motivated (...) by appeal to philosophical naturalism (§1). Conventionalism says that epistemic discourse describes how things stands relative to a conventional set of “epistemic” values; such discourse is akin to normative discourse relative to the conventional rules of a club (§2). I defend conventionalism by appeal to a “reverse open question argument,” which says, pace expressivism, that epistemic discourse leaves the relevant normative questions open (§3). (shrink)
: Contemporary common sense holds that authenticity is an ethical ideal: that there is something bad about inauthenticity, and something good about authenticity. Here we criticize the view that authenticity is bad because it detracts from the wellbeing of the inauthentic person, and propose an alternative moral account of the badness of inauthenticity, based on the idea that inauthentic behaviour is potentially misleading.
In “The Myth of Factive Verbs” (Hazlett 2010), I had four closely related goals. The first (pp. 497-99, p. 522) was to criticize appeals to ordinary language in epistemology. The second (p. 499) was to criticize the argument that truth is a necessary condition on knowledge because “knows” is factive. The third (pp. 507-19) – which was the intended means of achieving the first two – was to defend a semantics for “knows” on which <S knows p> can be true (...) even if p isn’t true. The fourth (Ibid.) – which seemed necessary for the success of the third – was to defend a pragmatic account of the fact that utterances of <S knows p> typically imply p, on which the implication in those cases is down to conversational implicature. In this paper I’ll go after these goals again, with an emphasis on the second. Our topic will be whether the factivity of “knows” (whatever this amounts to) supports the truth condition on knowledge. A new goal will be to defend my argument against some criticisms from John Turri (2011) and Savas Tsohatzidis (forthcoming). We’ll first look at the truth condition (§1) and factive presupposition (§§2 – 3), before turning to replies to Turri and Tsohatzidis (§§4 – 7). (shrink)
This paper concerns would-be necessary connections between doxastic attitudes about the epistemic statuses of your doxastic attitudes, or , and the epistemic statuses of those doxastic attitudes. I will argue that, in some situations, it can be reasonable for a person to believe p and to suspend judgment about whether believing p is reasonable for her. This will set the stage for an account of the virtue of intellectual humility, on which humility is a matter of your higher-order epistemic attitudes. (...) Recent discussions in the epistemology of disagreement have assumed that the question of the proper response to disagreement about p concerns whether you ought to change your doxastic attitude towards p. My conclusion here suggests an alternative approach, on which the question of the proper response to disagreement about p concerns the proper doxastic attitude to adopt concerning the epistemic status of your doxastic attitude towards p. (shrink)
There is, I shall assume, such a thing as moral evil (more on which below). My question is whether is also such a thing as non-moral evil, and in particular whether there are such things as aesthetic evil and epistemic evil. More exactly, my question is whether there is such a thing as moral evil but not such a thing as non-moral evil, in some sense that reveals something special about the moral, as opposed to such would-be non-moral domains as (...) the aesthetic and the epistemic. The philosophical issue at stake here is that of the nature of these different normative domains, and the nature and extent of their difference. (shrink)
Objectivism and projectivism are standardly taken to be incompatible theories of color. Here we argue that this incompatibility is only apparent: objectivism and projectivism, properly articulated so as to deal with basic objections, are in fundamental agreement about the ontology of color and the phenomenology of color perception.
It is often said that, according to common sense, there is a fundamental asymmetry between the past and future; namely, that the past is closed and the future is open. Eternalism in the ontology of time is often seen as conflicting with common sense on this point. Here I argue against the claim that common sense is committed to this fundamental asymmetry between the past and the future, on the grounds that facts about the past often depend on facts about (...) the future.1. (shrink)
In this paper, we develop an analysis of unrealistic fiction that captures the everyday sense of ‘unrealistic’. On our view, unrealistic fictions are a species of inconsistent fictions, but fictions for which such inconsistency, given the supporting role we claim played by genre, needn’t be a critical defect. We first consider and reject an analysis of unrealistic fiction as fiction that depicts or describes unlikely events; we then develop our own account and make an initial statement of it: unrealistic fictions (...) are those that invite us to believe something false. We further develop this account and restate it in terms of the notion of “import-export inconsistency.” That is, unrealistic fictions invite us to import certain propositions true in the actual world then invite us to export propositions entailing the negation of those imported. Finally, we consider whether for fiction being unrealistic is always an aesthetic flaw. (shrink)
Here I defend response moralism, the view that some emotional responses to fi ctions are morally right, and others morally wrong, from the objection that responses to merely fi ctional characters and events cannot be morally evaluated. I defend the view that emotional responses to fi ctions can be morally evaluated only to the extent that said responses are responses to real people and events.
Grice’s Razor is a principle of parsimony which states a preference for linguistic explanations in terms of conversational implicature, to explanations in terms of semantic context-dependence. Here I propose a Gricean theory of knowledge attributions, and contend on the basis of Grice’s Razor that it is superior to contextualism about ‘knows’.
A number of epistemologists have recently concluded that a piece of reasoning may be epistemically permissible even when it is impossible for the reasoning subject to present her reasoning as an argument without begging the question. I agree with these epistemologists, but argue that none has sufficiently divorced the notion of begging the question from epistemic notions. I present a proposal for a characterization of begging the question in purely pragmatic terms.
I defend the view that there is a privileged class of propositions – that there is an external world, among other such 'hinge propositions'– that possess a special epistemic status: justified belief in these propositions is not defeated unless one has sufficient reason to believe their negation. Two arguments are given for this conclusion. Finally, three proposals are offered as morals of the preceding story: first, our justification for hinge propositions must be understood as defeatable, second, antiskeptics must explain our (...) knowledge in the face of 'actual world' skepticism (like dreaming skepticism) as much as in the face of the usual sort (like brain-in-vat skepticism), and, finally, our justification for hinge propositions is basic (i.e. non-inferential). (shrink)
I consider an objection to Lewisian modal realism: the view entails that there are a great many real evils that we ought to care about, but in fact we shouldn’t care about these evils. I reply on behalf of the modal realist – we should and do care about possible evils, and this is shown in our reactions to fictions about evils, which (plausibly, for the modal realist) are understood as making certain possible evils salient.