Abstract: Ernest Sosa has done important work on epistemic circularity, epistemic virtue, and reflective knowledge. He holds that epistemic circularity need not be vicious and need not prevent us from knowing that our ways of forming beliefs are reliable. In this article, I briefly explore Sosa's defense of this view and raise some questions about what is required for reflective knowledge.
In this paper I defend epistemic circularity by arguing that the “No Self-Support” principle (NSS) is false. This principle, ultimately due to Fumerton ( 1995 ), states that one cannot acquire a justified belief in the reliability of a source of belief by trusting that very source. I argue that NSS has the skeptical consequence that the trustworthiness of all of our sources ultimately depends upon the trustworthiness of certain fundamental sources – sources that we cannot justifiably believe to (...) be reliable. This is a problem, I claim, because if the trustworthiness of all of our sources depends upon sources that we should not believe to be reliable, then a reflective individual should not trust any of his sources at all. The hidden cost of rejecting epistemic circularity is thus the unacceptable skeptical thesis that reflective individuals like you and I have no justified beliefs whatsoever. (shrink)
Reliabilists accept the possibility of basic knowledge—knowledge that p in virtue of the reliability of some belief-producing process r without antecedent knowledge that r is reliable. Cohen (Philos Phenomenol Res 65:309–329, 2002 , Philos Phenomenol Res 70:417–430, 2005 ) and Vogel (J Philos 97:602–623, 2000 , J Philos 105:518–539, 2008 ) have argued that one can bootstrap knowledge that r is reliable from basic knowledge. This paper provides a diagnosis of epistemic bootstrapping, and then shows that recent attempts at embracing (...) bootstrapped knowledge are found wanting. Instead it is argued that such arguments are afflicted by a novel kind of generalized epistemic circularity. The ensuing view is defended against various objections, and an explanation of the source of that circularity is offered. (shrink)
Sometimes we get what seem to be good reasons for believing that we’ve misevaluated our evidence for a proposition P. In those cases, can we use our evidence for P itself to show that we haven’t misevaluated our evidence for P? I show why doing so appears to employ viciously circular reasoning. However, I then argue that this appearance is illusory in certain cases and that we sometimes can legitimately reason in that way. This claim sheds new light on the (...) nature of epistemic undermining and epistemic circularity. In addition, it has implications for the current debate about the epistemic significance of disagreement. An important and influential position in that debate says that disagreement with others dramatically undermines our justification for a wide range of our opinions (e.g., political, religious, moral, economic, and philosophical opinions). My view on undermining and circularity implies that this position on disagreement rests on a mistake. (shrink)
Three basic positions regarding the nature of fundamental properties are: dispositional monism, categorical monism and the mixed view. Dispositional monism apparently involves a regress or circularity, while an unpalatable consequence of categorical monism and the mixed view is that they are committed to quidditism. I discuss Alexander Bird's defence of dispositional monism based on the structuralist approach to identity. I argue that his solution does not help standard dispositional essentialism, as it admits the possibility that two distinct dispositional properties (...) can possess the same stimuli and manifestations. Moreover, Bird's argument can be used to support the mixed view by relieving it of its commitment to quidditism. I briefly analyse an alternative defence of dispositional essentialism based on Leon Horsten's approach to the problem of circularity and impredicativity. I conclude that the best option is to choose Bird's solution but amend the dispositional perspective on properties. According to my proposal, the essences of dispositions are determined not directly by their stimuli and manifestations but by the role each property plays in the structure formed by the stimulus/manifestation relations. (shrink)
Tarski avoids the liar paradox by relativizing truth and falsehood to particular languages and forbidding the predication to sentences in a language of truth or falsehood by any sentences belonging to the same language. The Tarski truth-schemata stratify an object-language and indefinitely ascending hierarchy of meta-languages in which the truth or falsehood of sentences in a language can only be asserted or denied in a higher-order meta-language. However, Tarski’s statement of the truth-schemata themselves involve general truth functions, and in particular (...) the biconditional, defined in terms of truth conditions involving truth values standardly displayed in a truth table. Consistently with his semantic program, all such truth values should also be relativized to particular languages for Tarski. The objection thus points toward the more interesting problem of Tarski’s concept of the exact status of truth predications in a general logic of sentential connectives. Tarski’s three-part solution to the circularity objection which he anticipates is discussed and refuted in detail. (shrink)
In his recent book, Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit propounds a version of the psychological criterion of personal identity.1 According to the variant he adopts, the numerical identity through time of persons consists in non-branching psychological continuity no matter how it is caused. One traditional objection to a view of this sort is that it is circular, since psychological continuity presupposes personal identity. Although Parfit frequently denies the importance of personal identity, he considers his own psychological account of identity important (...) enough to attempt to defend it against the charge of circularity. The aim of this paper is to argue that Parfit's attempted defence is unsuccessful because it ultimately rests on an analysis of the unity of consciousness that is itself either circular or otherwise inadequate. (shrink)
In this paper, I start by describing and examining the main results about the option of formalizing the Yablo Paradox in arithmetic. As it is known, although it is natural to assume that there is a right representation of that paradox in first order arithmetic, there are some technical results that give rise to doubts about this possibility. Then, I present some arguments that have challenged that Yablo’s construction is non-circular. Just like that, Priest (1997) has argued that such formalization (...) shows that Yablo’s Paradox involves implicit circularity. In the same direction, Beall (2001) has introduced epistemic factors in this discussion. Even more, Priest has also argued that the introduction of infinitary reasoning would be of little help. Finally, one could reject definitions of circularity in term of fixed-point adopting non-well-founded set theory. Then, one could hold that the Yablo paradox and the Liar paradox share the same non-well-founded structure. So, if the latter is circular, the first is too. In all such cases, I survey Cook’s approach (2006, forthcoming) on those arguments for the charge of circularity. In the end, I present my position and summarize the discussion involved in this volume. En este artículo, describo y examino los principales resultados vinculados a la formalización de la paradoja de Yablo en la aritmética. Aunque es natural suponer que hay una representación correcta de la paradoja en la aritmética de primer orden, hay algunos resultados técnicos que hacen surgir dudas acerca de esta posibilidad. Más aún, presento algunos argumentos que han cuestionado que la construcción de Yablo no sea circular. Así, Priest (1997) ha argumentado que la formalización de la paradoja de Yablo en la aritmética de primer orden muestra que la misma involucra implícitamente circularidad. En la misma dirección, Beall (2001) ha introducido factores epistémicos en esta discusión. Más aún, Priest ha también argumentado que la introducción de razonamiento infinitario como complemento de la formalización en la aritmética sería de poca ayuda. Finalmente, se podría rechazar todo intento de dar definiciones de circularidad en términos de puntos fijos adoptando teoría de conjuntos infundados. Entonces, se podría sostener que la paradoja de Yablo y la del mentiroso comparten la misma estructura infundada. Por eso, si la última es circular, también lo es la primera. En todos los casos, presento el enfoque de Roy Cook (2006, en prensa) sobre estos argumentos que atribuyen circularidad a la construcción de Yablo. En el final, presento mi posición y un breve resumen de la discusión involucrada en este volumen. (shrink)
If the reliability of a source of testimony is open to question, it seems epistemically illegitimate to verify the source’s reliability by appealing to that source’s own testimony. Is this because it is illegitimate to trust a questionable source’s testimony on any matter whatsoever? Or is there a distinctive problem with appealing to the source’s testimony on the matter of that source’s own reliability? After distinguishing between two kinds of epistemically illegitimate circularity—bootstrapping and self-verification—I argue for a qualified version (...) of the claim that there is nothing especially illegitimate about using a questionable source to evaluate its own reliability. Instead, it is illegitimate to appeal to a questionable source’s testimony on any matter whatsoever, with the matter of the source’s own reliability serving only as a special case. (shrink)
This paper examines the Buddhist’s answer to one of the most famous (and more intuitive) objections against the semantic theory of “exclusion” ( apoha ), namely, the charge of circularity. If the understanding of X is not reached positively, but X is understood via the exclusion of non-X, the Buddhist nominalist is facing a problem of circularity, for the understanding of X would depend on that of non-X, which, in turn, depends on that of X. I distinguish in (...) this paper two strategies aiming at “breaking the circle”: (i) conceding the precedence of a positive understanding of X, from which a negative understanding (i.e., the understanding of “non-X”) is derived by contrast, and (ii) denying any precedence by proposing a simultaneous understanding of both X and non-X. I consider how these two options are articulated respectively by Dharmakīrti in his Pramāṇavārttika cum Svavṛtti and by one of his Tibetan interpreters, Sa skya Paṇḍita, and examine the requirements for their workability. I suggest that Sa skya Paṇḍita’s motivation to opt for an alternative solution has to do with his criticism of notions shared by his Tibetan predecessors, an outline of which is given in Appendix 1. In Appendix 2, I present the surprising use of the charge of circularity by an early Tibetan logician against his coreligionists. (shrink)
Karl Popper defines an ad hoc hypothesis as one that is introduced to immunize a theory from some (or all) refutation but which cannot be tested independently. He has also attempted to explicate ad hocness in terms of certain other allegedly undesirable properties of hypotheses or of the explanations they would provide, but his account is confused and mistaken. The first such property is circularity, which is undesirable; the second such property is reduction in empirical content, which need not (...) be. In the former case, I argue that non-circularity is in any event preferable to non-ad hocness as a necessary condition for a satisfactory explanation or an explanans, as the case may be, and I try to sort out various persistent errors surrounding this comparison. In the latter case, I suggest that Popper is barking up the wrong tree, that important scientific progress sometimes does consist in just such reductions in empirical content as he proscribes. This provides a further reason for not taking ad hoc hypotheses as Popper conceives them to pose the danger for science he believes they do. (shrink)
Ernest Sosa's virtue perspectivism can be thought of as an attempt to capture as much as possible of the Cartesian project in epistemology while remaining within the framework of externalist fallibilism. I argue (a) that Descartes's project was motivated by a desire for intellectual stability and (b) that his project does not suffer from epistemic circularity. By contrast, Sosa's epistemology does entail epistemic circularity and, for this reason, proves unable to secure the sort of intellectual stability Descartes wanted. (...) I then argue that this leaves Sosa's epistemology vulnerable to an important kind of skepticism. (shrink)
The problem of epistemic circularity maintains that we cannot know that our central belief-forming practices (faculties) are reliable without vicious circularity. Ernest Sosa's Reflective Knowledge (2009) offers a solution to this problem. Sosa argues that epistemic circularity is virtuous rather than vicious: it is not damaging. Contra Sosa, I contend that epistemic circularity is damaging. Section 1 provides an overview of Sosa's solution. Section 2 focuses on Sosa's reply to the Crystal ballgazer Objection. Section 2 also (...) contends that epistemic circularity does not prevent us from tóng justified in (e. g.) perceptual beliefs, or from being justified in believing that (e. g.) sense perception is reliable. But, Sect. 3 argues that it does prevent us from being able to satisfactorily show that our central belief-forming practices (faculties) are reliable. That is, epistemic circularity prevents us from distinguishing between reliable and unreliable practices, from guiding ourselves to use reliable practices and avoid unreliable ones, and from defending reliable practices against skepticism. Hence, epistemic circularity is still damaging. The concluding section suggests that this has repercussions for Sosa's analysis of the value of reflective knowledge. (shrink)
Can we show that our senses are reliable sources of information about the world? To show this, we need to establish that most of our perceptual judgments have been true. But we cannot determine these inductive instances without relying upon sense perception. Thus, it seems, we cannot establish the reliability of sense perception by means of an argument without falling into epistemic circularity. In this paper, I argue that this consequence is not an epistemological disaster. For this purpose, I (...) defend a normative claim that it is reasonable to accept the general reliability of our perceptual judgments, instead of a factual claim that our perceptual judgments are generally reliable. More specifically, I offer a normative practical argument which explains why it is reasonable to accept the general reliability of our perceptual judgments, even though we cannot establish the general reliability of our perceptual judgments by means of theoretical reasoning. (shrink)
Woodward’s interventionist theory of causation is beset by a problem of circularity: the analysis of causes is in terms of interventions, and the analysis of interventions is in terms of causes. This is not in itself an argument against the correctness of the analysis. But by requiring us to have causal knowledge prior to making any judgements about causation, Woodward’s theory does make it mysterious how we can ever start acquiring causal knowledge. We present a solution to this problem (...) by showing how the interventionist notion of causation can be rationally generated from a more primitive agency notion of causation. The agency notion is easily and non-circularly applicable, but fails when we attempt to capture causal relations between non-actions. We show that the interventionist notion of causation serves as an appropriate generalisation of the agency notion. Furthermore, the causal judgements based on the latter generally remain true when rephrased in terms of the former, which allows one to use the causal knowledge gained by applying the agency notion as a basis for applying Woodward’s interventionist theory. We then present an overview of relevant empirical evidence from developmental psychology which shows that our proposed rational reconstruction lines up neatly with the actual development of causal reasoning in children. This gives additional plausibility to our proposal. The article thus provides a solution to one of the main problems of interventionism while keeping Woodward’s analysis intact. (shrink)
Pretheoretically we hold that we cannot gain justification or knowledge through an epistemically circular reasoning process. Epistemically circular reasoning occurs when a subject forms the belief that p on the basis of an argument A, where at least one of the premises of A already presupposes the truth of p. It has often been argued that process reliabilism does not rule out that this kind of reasoning leads to justification or knowledge (cf. the so-called bootstrapping-problem or the easy-knowledge-problem). For some (...) philosophers, this is a reason to reject reliabilism. Those who try to defend reliabilism have two basic options: (I) accept that reliabilism does not rule out circular reasoning (or bootstrapping), but argue that this kind of reasoning is not as epistemically “bad” as it seems, or (II) hold on to the view that circular reasoning (or bootstrapping) is epistemically “bad”, but deny that reliabilism really allows this kind of reasoning. Option (I) has been spelled out in several ways, all of which have found to be problematic. Option (II) has not been discussed very widely. Vogel (J Philos 97:602–623, 2000) considers and quickly dismisses it on the basis of three reasons. Weisberg (Philos Phenomenol Res 81:525–548, 2010) has shown in detail that one of these reasons is unconvincing. In this paper I argue that the other two reasons are unconvincing as well and that therefore option (II) might in fact be a more promising starting point to defend reliabilism than option (I). (shrink)
Is perception cognitively penetrable, and what are the epistemological consequences if it is? I address the latter of these two questions, partly by reference to recent work by Athanassios Raftopoulos and Susanna Seigel. Against the usual, circularity, readings of cognitive penetrability, I argue that cognitive penetration can be epistemically virtuous, when---and only when---it increases the reliability of perception.
David Lewis’s semantics for counterfactuals remains the standard view. Yet counter-examples have emerged, which suggest a need to invoke causal independence, and thus threaten conceptual circularity. I will review some of these counter-examples (§§1–2), illustrate how causal independence proves useful (§3), and suggest that any resulting circularity is unproblematic (§4).
It is often argued that the combination of deflationism about truth and the truth-conditional theory of meaning is impossible for reasons of circularity. I distinguish, and reject, two strains of circularity argument. Arguments of the first strain hold that the combination has a circular account of the order in which one comes to know the meaning of a sentence and comes to know its truth condition. I show that these arguments fail to identify any circularity. Arguments of (...) the second strain hold that the combination has a circular explanation of the ideas or concepts of meaning and truth. I show that these arguments identify a genuine, but acceptable, circularity. (shrink)
Important sceptical arguments by Sextus Empiricus, Hume and Boghossian (concerning disputes, induction, and relativism respectively) are based on circularities and infinite regresses. Yet, philosophers' practice does not keep circularities and infinite regresses clearly apart. In this metaphilosophical paper I show how circularity and infinite regress arguments can be made explicit, and shed light on two powerful tools of the sceptic.
Bootstrapping, evidentialist internalism, and rule circularity Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9876-9 Authors Anthony Brueckner, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
In this paper I argue that warrant for Lewis’ Modal Realism is unobtainable. I consider two familiar objections to Lewisian realism – the modal irrelevance objection and the epistemological objection – and argue that Lewis’ response to each is unsatisfactory because they presuppose claims that only the Lewisian realist will accept. Since, I argue, warrant for Lewisian realism can only be obtained if we have a response to each objection that does not presuppose the truth of Lewisian realism, this (...) class='Hi'>circularity is vicious. I end by contrasting Lewis’ methodology with Forrest’s in order to illustrate a rival method that does not fall victim to the objection I lay against Lewis. (shrink)
The conditional analysis of phenomenal concepts purports to give physicalists a way of understanding phenomenal concepts that will allow them to (1) accept the zombie intuition, (2) accept that conceivability is generally a good guide to possibility, and yet (3) reject the conclusion that zombies are metaphysically possible. It does this by positing that whether phenomenal concepts refer to physical or nonphysical states depends on what the actual world is like. In this paper, I offer support for the Chalmers/Alter objection (...) that the conditional analysis fails to accommodate the true zombie intuition, and develop a new and far more powerful argument against the conditional analysis. I argue that, as stated, the conditional analysis is radically incomplete. But when fully fleshed out, the analysis becomes viciously circular. The only way to avoid this circularity is to adopt a species of analytic functionalism, on which it’s a priori that phenomenal concepts refer to the state (perhaps physical, perhaps nonphysical) that actually plays so-and-so functional role. While this rigidified analytic functionalism is coherent, it is highly unattractive, running contrary to both the intuitions that motivate functionalism and the intuitions that motivated the conditional analysis. (shrink)
Bergmann argues that we should accept epistemically circular reasoning since, he claims, it is a consequence of the plausible assumption that some justification is noninferential (Bergmann, M. "Epistemic Circularity, Malignant and Benign", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research forthcoming). I show that epistemically circular reasoning does not follow merely from the assumption that some justification is noninferential, but only from that view combined with the assumption of basic justification or knowledge. Thus, we have reason to endorse epistemically circular reasoning only to (...) the extent that basic knowledge or justification can be defended. (shrink)
George Mason University, USA It has been suggested that the production of public goods through a government involves a circularity problem. Since government itself is a public good, how can we use government to produce other public goods? Several solutions to this supposed circularity are offered. Government is a unique kind of public good with some potentially self-generating and self-supporting features. The public goods theory of government remains intact, and this enterprise helps shed some light on the special (...) features of government. Key Words: public goods theory of the state free riders circularity problem. (shrink)
For the claim that the satisfaction of certain conditions is sufficient for the application of some concept to serve as part of the (`reductive') analysis of that concept, we require the conditions to be specified without employing that very concept. An account of the application conditions of a concept not meeting this requirement, we call analytically circular. For such a claim to be usable in determining the extension of the concept, however, such circularity may not matter, since if the (...) concept figures in a certain kind of intensional context in the specification of the conditions, the satisfaction of those conditions may not itself depend on the extension of the concept. We put this by saying that although analytically circular, the account may yet not be inferentially circular. (shrink)
This article assesses two major conceptual arguments against theories of choice.The first argument concerns the circularity of belief-desire psychology, on which decision theory is based. The second argument concerns the normativity arising from the concept of rationality. Each argument is evaluated against experimental practice in economics and psychology, and it is concluded that both arguments fail to establish their skeptical conclusion that there can be no science of intentional human actions.
It is a widely shared view among philosophers of science that the theory-dependence (or theory-ladenness) of observations is worrying, because it can bias empirical tests in favour of the tested theories. These doubts are taken to be dispelled if an observation is influenced by a theory independent of the tested theory and thus circularity is avoided, while (partially) circular tests are taken to require special attention. Contrary to this consensus, it is argued that the epistemic value of theory-dependent tests (...) has nothing to do with the circularity or non-circularity of the test, but is instead based on the minimal empiricality and reliability of observations. Since theory-dependence does not in general prevent observations fulfilling these requirements, it should not be regarded as a phenomenon that is basically detrimental, but as neutral with respect to successful scientific knowledge gathering. (shrink)
In this article we aim to reconstruct some aspects of Davidson's idea of triangulation, and against this reconstruction, ask whether the idea is viciously circular. We begin by looking at the claim that without a triangularn setting, there is no saying what the cause of a being's responses is. In the first section we discuss the notion of relevant similarity, and what difference the presence of a second non?linguistic being could make for the individuation of a common focus of attention. (...) In the second section we look at the role of a second person in language?acquisition. It is important that being corrected to ?go on as others do? does not yet presuppose thought, and similarity standards can be applied to a learner's reactions even before she is aware of these standards. We also show why Davidson is not committed to any consensus view of correctness. In the last section we discern three charges of circularity that can be levelled against the idea of triangulation. We argue that Davidson can respond to the first two charges, and point to a way of answering the third. But the response we propound raises a new question, namely, why does the second being have to be a speaker or thinker even before the learner is aware of the three points of the triangle? (shrink)
Abstract This paper examines the kind of epistemic circularity which, according to Ernest Sosa, is unavoidably entailed whenever one has what he calls ?reflective? knowledge (that is, knowledge that p such that the knower reflectively endorses the reliability of the epistemic sources by which she came to her belief that p). I begin by describing the relevant kind of circularity and its role in Sosa's epistemology, en route presenting and resisting Sosa's arguments that this kind of circularity (...) is not vicious. Then I consider the somewhat complex relationship between Sosa's views on epistemic circularity and his response to the Problem of Easy Knowledge, arguing that (on one interpretation of Sosa, at least) a complete solution to that problem cannot be extracted from Sosa's work unless the aforementioned epistemic circularity can be proved non-vicious. (shrink)
According to the view that Peacocke elaborates in A Study of Concepts (1992), a concept can be individuated by providing the conditions a thinker must satisfy in order to possess that concept. Hence possessions conditions for concepts should be specifiable in a way that respects a non-circularity constraint. In a more recent paper “Implicit Conceptions, Understanding and Rationality” (1998a) Peacocke argues against his former view, in the light of the phenomenon of rationally accepting principles which do not follow from (...) what the thinker antecedently accepts. In this paper I defend the view of the book from his more recent criticisms, claiming that the noncircularity constraint should be respected, and that Peacocke's more recent insights could be accommodated in the framework of his former theory of concepts. (shrink)
Epistemic circularity occurs when a subject forms the belief that a faculty F is reliable through the use of F. Although this is often thought to be vicious, externalist theories generally don't rule it out. For some philosophers, this is a reason to reject externalism. However, Michael Bergmann defends externalism by drawing on the tradition of common sense in two ways. First, he concedes that epistemically circular beliefs cannot answer a subject's doubts about her cognitive faculties. But, he argues, (...) subjects don't have such doubts, so epistemically circular beliefs are rarely called upon to play this role. Second, following Thomas Reid, Bergmann argues that we have noninferential, though epistemically circular, knowledge that our faculties are reliable. I argue, however, that Bergmann's view is undermined by doubts a subject should have and that there is no plausible explanation for how we can have noninferential knowledge that our faculties are reliable. (shrink)
I begin by highlighting the importance of the step size in the induction step of the sorites paradox. A careful analysis reveals that the step size can be characterised as a proper instance of the concept very small . After having accurately described the structure of sorites-susceptible predicates, I argue that the structure of the induction step in the Sorites Paradox is inherently circular. This circularity emerges in the structure of Wang's paradox and also of the classical variations of (...) the paradox with the young, bald, etc. predicates. (shrink)
Gupta's and Belnap's Revision Theory of Truth defends the legitimacy of circular definitions. Circularity, however, forces us to reconsider our conception of meaning. A readjustment of some standard theses about meaning is here proposed, by relying on a novel version of the sense-reference distinction.
Abstract This article raises a worry concerning Ernest Sosa's way of solving the problem of epistemic circularity. Sosa's solution to the problem of epistemic circularity relies on the following claim of sufficiency: for S to deserve to be credited for his true belief, it is sufficient that his belief is, in a sense to be made clear, ?apt?. I argue that this solution undersells the notion of credit. I present three kinds of cases in which the attribution of (...) credit to a believer requires more than the possession of apt beliefs and I defend these cases against possible misinterpretations. (shrink)
This paper asks whether a good philosophical account of something can ever be circular. It explores the kind of circumstances in which an account of F might involve F itself while still serving the functions of and meeting the requirements on a philosophical account. The paper discusses two criteria for acceptable circularity, based on ideas from Humberstone 1997. And it illustrates the surprisingly wide variety of kinds of accounts in which circularity need not be bad.
While in Being and Time Heidegger criticizes Kant for presupposing the very objects that he then goes on to examine, in his 1935–1936 lecture course What Is a Thing? he argues that the differentiation of subject and object with which Kant begins enables him to point to the temporal nature of thought. In following Kant’s own description of his project, Heidegger deems the presupposition of the objects of experience not detrimental to the inquiry, but determinative of its circular method. In (...) this paper I investigate whether such circularity offers an entrance to Heidegger’s own hermeneutic circle. (shrink)
Is it possible to argue that one’s memory is reliable without using one’s memory? I argue that it is not. Since it is not, it is impossible to defend the reliability ofone’s memory without employing reasoning that is epistemically circular. Hence, if epistemic circularity is vicious, it is impossible to succeed in producing a cogent argument for the reliability of one’s memory. The same applies to any other one of one’s cognitive faculties. I further argue that, if epistemic (...) class='Hi'>circularity is vicious, it is impossible to produce a cogent argument for the reliability of anything. For example, if epistemic circularity were vicious, a cogent argument for the reliability of one’s car would not be possible. The seeming viciousness of epistemic circularity even threatens, I propose, the possibility of justification and knowledge. Much, therefore, hangs one the question of whether epistemic circularity is indeed bad. I argue that epistemic circularity, or bootstrapping, need not be bad. When we use a crystal ball—a source perspicuously guilty of unreliability—to confirm its own reliability, bootstrapping is foolish. When we attribute reliability to a witness solely because the witness says he is reliable, bootstrapping is dogmatic. Foolish and dogmatic bootstrapping are bad. However, when a witness provides a rich body of testimony, using that testimony to gauge the witness’s reliability need not be a vicious form of circularity. When done critically, I argue, such reasoning exemplifies a form of bootstrapping that is benign. (shrink)
This paper is a reply to James Keller's criticisms of my Foundationalism, Coherentism and the Levels Gambit (Synthese 55, April 1983).Foundationalists have often claimed that, within a foundationalist framework, one can justify beliefs about epistemic principles in a mediate, empirical fashion, while escaping the charge of vicious circularity that is usually thought to afflict such methods of justification. In my original paper I attacked this foundationalist strategy; I argued that once mediate, empirical justification of epistemic principles is allowed, (...) the foundationalist must also allow circular patterns of justification of the sort that he typically criticizes coherentists for espousing. Here I argue that Keller's reply only makes matters worse for the foundationalist. At several points, his reply turns out to be inconsistent either with reliabilism or with the foundationalist strategy he is trying to defend. (shrink)
This paper disputes the widely held view that one cannot establish the reliability of a belief-forming process with the use of belief's that are obtained by that very process since such self-dependent justification is circular. Harold Brown () argued in this journal that some cases of self-dependent justification are legitimate despite their circularity. I argue instead that under appropriate construal many cases of self-dependent justification are not truly circular but are instances of ordinary Bayesian confirmation, and hence they can (...) raise the probability of the hypothesis as legitimately as any such confirmation does. I shall argue in particular that despite its dependence on perception we can use naturalized epistemology to confirm the reliability of a perceptual process without circularity. (shrink)
According to the view that Peacocke elaborates in _A Study of Concepts_ (1992), a concept can be individuated by providing the conditions a thinker must satisfy in or- der to possess that concept. Hence possessions conditions for concepts should be specifiable in a way that respects a non-circularity constraint. In a more recent paper.
For more than a century, it has been a standard ploy to argue against relativism on the grounds of self-referential incoherence (e.g., “if the relativists say that beliefs have no objective validity then that belief itself has none,” etc.). This paper determines the particular form this sort of charge takes when applied to a problematic passage in which Kuhn defends his relativistic theory of science by applying that theory to the debate between his critics and hirnself. If Kuhn were to (...) give up relativism with respect to facts and truth but retain it with respect to the strength of reasons, a pair of dilemmas charging circularity andinconsistency could be circumvented. (shrink)
The third section of the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals presents a particularly acute interpretative problem that has perplexed generations of Kant commentators. Having devoted the two preceding sections of the work to identifying the supreme principle of morality, Kant, in this section, turns to the task of justifying the principle for rational yet sensually affected beings like humans. However, in the middle of this famous “deduction,” he suddenly confesses that “there is a hidden circle” from which “there is (...) no escape.” Kant’s abrupt confession of the circle leaves the reader deeply puzzled, partly because Kant has so confidently presented his arguments for our subjection to the constraints of the supreme principle of morality up to that point, and partly because no clues are readily apparent as to what the mistake in the arguments might be. Where is the circle located? In this paper I tackle Kant’s problem of the hidden circle in the Foundations. In particular, I will identify and critically discuss three influential interpretations of the fallacy of circularity and offer an alternative reading of Kant’s way out of the problem. (shrink)
The central Fodorian objections to Inferential Role Semantics (IRS) can be taken to include an ‘Analyticity Challenge’ and a ‘Circularity Challenge’, which are ultimately challenges to IRS explanations of concept possession. In this paper I present inferential role theories, critically examine those two challenges and point out two misunderstandings to which the challenges are exposed. I then state in detail a rationalist version of IRS and argue that this version meets the Fodorian challenges head on. If sound, this line (...) of argument shows that there is no problem of principle in the consideration of IRS as a good candidate for a theory of concepts.Las objeciones fodorianas en contra de una Semántica del Papel Inferencial (SPI) pueden concebirse como incluyendo un ‘Reto de la Analiticidad’ y un ‘Reto de la Circularidad’, los cuales son principalmente retos a las explicaciones que SPI proporciona sobre la posesión de conceptos. En este artículo presento las teorías del papel inferencial, examino críticamente estos retos y señalo dos malentendidos a los cuales están expuestos. A continuación, presento con detalle una versión racionalista de SPI y defiendo que esta versión supera los retos fodorianos directamente. Si es correcta, esta línea argumentativa muestra que no hay un problema de principio en la consideración de SPI como una buena candidata para una teoría de los conceptos. (shrink)
Epistemic circularity is a problem of arguments purporting to establish the reliability of our different sources of belief‐acquisition. For example:(TRA)At t1, S formed the perceptual belief that p, and p.At t2, S formed the perceptual belief that q, and q.At t3, …Therefore, sense perception is reliable source of beliefs.The problem is that any arguer putting forth this argument is ompelled to rely on the thing to be proven in establishing the second conjuncts of each premise. But relying on the (...) thing to be proven is begging the question; therefore, the argument is fallacious. This has been argued to have serious skeptical implications: if there is no other way to establish the conclusion, we have no way of showing the reliability of, e.g., sense perception. Different authors have tried to resist this result. Frederick F. Schmitt (2004) argues that sense perception skepticism only follows from epistemic circularity if certain questionable assumptions are granted. He also argues that epistemic circularity is a specific type of circularity that is not vicious in the way logically circular arguments are. I argue thatSchmitt’s dismissal of the discussed assumptions is questionable and that the argument (TRA) is viciously circular under very minimal assumptions about inferential justification. Therefore, Schmitt fails to dissolve the problematic nature of (TRA). (shrink)
In this paper we shall try to understand what it is to beg the question, and since begging the question is generally believed to be linked with circularity, we shall also explore this relationship. Finally, we shall consider whether certain forms of valid argument can go through smoothly in anepistemio context without begging the question. We shall consider, especially, the claims of the disjunctive syllogism in this regard.
Cook (forthcoming) presents a paradox which he says is not circular. I see no reasons to doubt the non-circularity claim, but I do have some concerns regarding its paradoxicality. My point will be that his proposal succeeds in offering a formalization, but fails in providing a formal paradox, at least of the same type and strength as the Liar. Cook (en prensa) presenta una paradoja que según él no es circular. No veo motivos para cuestionar la pretensión de no (...) circularidad, pero sí me resulta algo problemática la cuestión de su paradojicidad. El punto que intentaré defender será que la propuesta de Cook es exitosa en ofrecer una formalización, pero fracasa en proveer una paradoja formal, al menos del mismo tipo y fuerza que el mentiroso. (shrink)