Certain combinations of attitudes are manifestly unreasonable. It is unreasonable to believe that dogs bark, for example, if one concedes that one has no justification to believe this. Why are the irrational combinations irrational? One suggestion is that these are attitudes that a subject cannot have justification to have. If this is right, we can test claims about the structure of propositional justification by relying on our observations about which combinations of attitudes constitute Moorean absurd pairs. In a recent defense (...) of access internalism, Smithies argues that only access internalism can explain why various combinations of attitude are irrational. In this paper, I shall argue that access internalism cannot explain the relevant data. Reflection on Moore’s Paradox will not tell us much of anything about propositional justification and cannot support access internalism. (shrink)
Abstract: Belief does aim at the truth. When our beliefs do not fit the facts, they cannot do what they are supposed to do because they cannot provide us with reasons. We cannot plausibly deny that a truth norm is among the norms that govern belief. What we should not say is that the truth norm is the fundamental epistemic norm. In this paper, I shall argue that knowledge is the norm of belief and that the truth norm has a (...) derivative status. Only a knowledge-first approach to epistemic normativity can explain why epistemic assessment has its inward looking focus. (shrink)
Cases of reasonable, mistaken belief figure prominently in discussions of the knowledge norm of assertion and practical reason as putative counterexamples to these norms. These cases are supposed to show that the knowledge norm is too demanding and that some weaker norm (e.g., a justification or reasonable belief norm) ought to put in its place. These cases don't show what they're intended to. When you assert something false or treat some falsehood as if it's a reason for action, you might (...) deserve an excuse. You often don't deserve even that. (shrink)
In trying to distinguish the right kinds of reasons from the wrong, epistemologists often appeal to the connection to truth to explain why practical considerations cannot constitute reasons. The view they typically opt for is one on which only evidence can constitute a reason to believe. Talbot has shown that these approaches don’t exclude the possibility that there are non-evidential reasons for belief that can justify a belief without being evidence for that belief. He thinksthat there are indeed such reasons (...) and that they are theright kind of reasons to justify belief. The existence of such truth promoting non-epistemic reasons is said tofollow from the fact that we have an epistemic end that involves the attainment of true belief. I shall argue thatthere are no such reasons precisely because there is anepistemic end that has normative authority. (shrink)
The equal weight view says that if you discover that you disagree with a peer, you should decrease your confidence that you are in the right. Since peer disagreement seems to be quite prevalent, the equal weight view seems to tell us that we cannot reasonably believe many of the interesting things we believe because we can always count on a peer to contest the interesting things that we believe. While the equal weight view seems to have skeptical implications, few (...) epistemologists worry about these implications because the equal weight view is quickly falling out of favor. In this paper, I present an analogical argument for the view and defend it from critics who think that we can justifiably retain confidence in the face of peer disagreement. (shrink)
In recent work, Thomas Kroedel has proposed a novel solution to the lottery paradox. As he sees it, we are permitted/justified in believing some lottery propositions, but we are not permitted/justified in believing them all. I criticize this proposal on two fronts. First, I think that if we had the right to add some lottery beliefs to our belief set, we would not have any decisive reason to stop adding more. Suggestions to the contrary run into the wrong kind of (...) reason problem. Reflection on the preface paradox suggests as much. Second, while I agree with Kroedel that permissions do not agglomerate, I do not think that this fact can help us solve the lottery paradox. First, I do not think we have any good reason to think that we’re permitted to believe any lottery propositions. Second, I do not see any good reason to think that epistemic permissions do not agglomerate. (shrink)
If evidence is propositional, is one’s evidence limited to true propositions or might false propositions constitute evidence? In this paper, I consider three recent attempts to show that there can be ‘false evidence,’ and argue that each of these attempts fails. The evidence for the thesis that evidence consists of truths is much stronger than the evidence offered in support of the theoretical assumptions that people have relied on to argue against this thesis. While I shall not defend the view (...) that evidence is propositional, I shall defend the view that any propositional evidence must be true. (shrink)
According to ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ (OIC), your obligation can never be to do what you cannot do. In a recent attack on OIC, Graham has argued that intuitions about justified intervention can help us determine whether the agent whose actions we use force to prevent would have acted permissibly or not. These intuitions, he suggests, cause trouble for the idea that you can be obligated to refrain from doing what you can refrain from doing. I offer a defense of OIC (...) and explain how non-consequentialists can accommodate his intuitions about his cases. (shrink)
Thomas Kroedel argues that we can solve a version of the lottery paradox if we identify justified beliefs with permissible beliefs. Since permissions do not agglomerate, we might grant that someone could justifiably believe any ticket in a large and fair lottery is a loser without being permitted to believe that all the tickets will lose. I shall argue that Kroedel’s solution fails. While permissions do not agglomerate, we would have too many permissions if we characterized justified belief as sufficiently (...) probable belief. If we reject the idea that justified beliefs can be characterized as sufficiently probably beliefs, Kroedel’s solution is otiose because the paradox can be dissolved at the outset. (shrink)
Lewis thought concessive knowledge attributions (e.g., ‘I know that Harry is a zebra, but it might be that he’s just a cleverly disguised mule’) caused serious trouble for fallibilists. As he saw it, CKAs are overt statements of the fallibilist view and they are contradictory. Dougherty and Rysiew have argued that CKAs are pragmatically defective rather than semantically defective. Stanley thinks that their pragmatic response to Lewis fails, but the fallibilist cause is not lost because Lewis was wrong about the (...) commitments of fallibilism. There are problems with Dougherty and Rysiew’s response to Stanley and there are problems with Stanley’s response to Lewis. I’ll offer a defense of fallibilism of my own and show that fallibilists needn’t worry about CKAs. (shrink)
According to the phenomenal conservatives, beliefs are justified by non-doxastic states we might speak of as ‘appearances’ or ‘seemings’. Those who defend the view say that there is something self-defeating about believing that phenomenal conservatism is mistaken. They also claim that the view captures an important internalist insight about justification. I shall argue that phenomenal conservatism is indefensible. The considerations that seem to support the view commit the phenomenal conservatives to condoning morally abhorrent behavior. They can deny that their view (...) forces them to condone morally abhorrent behavior, but then they undercut the defenses of their own view. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall discuss a problem that arises when you try to combine an attractive account of what constitutes evidence with an independently plausible account of the kind of access we have to our evidence. According to E = K, our evidence consists of what we know. According to the principle of armchair access, we can know from the armchair what our evidence is. Combined, these claims entail that we can have armchair knowledge of the external world. Because (...) it seems that the principle of armchair access is supported by widely shared intuitions about epistemic rationality, it seems we ought to embrace an internalist conception of evidence. I shall argue that this response is mistaken. Because externalism about evidence can accommodate the relevant intuitions about epistemic rationality, the principle of armchair access is unmotivated. We also have independent reasons for preferring externalism about evidence to the principle of armchair access. (shrink)
According to Williamson, your evidence consists of all and only what you know (E = K). According to his critics, it doesn’t. While E = K calls for revision, the revisions it calls for are minor. E = K gets this much right. Only true propositions can constitute evidence and anything you know non-inferentially is part of your evidence. In this paper, I defend these two theses about evidence and its possession from Williamson’s critics who think we should break more (...) radically from E = K. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a non-skeptical intuitionist approach to moral epistemology from recent criticisms. Starting with Sinnott-Armstrong's skeptical attacks, I argue that a familiar sort of skeptical argument rests on a problematic conception of the evidential grounds of our moral judgments. The success of his argument turns on whether we conceive of the evidential grounds of our moral judgments as consisting entirely of non-normative considerations. While we cannot avoid skepticism if we accept this conception of our evidential grounds, that's (...) because accepting this conception of our evidential grounds is tantamount to accepting the skeptic's conclusion. We have nothing to fear from arguments for skepticism from skepticism. (shrink)
There has been a considerable amount of debate about the norms of belief, but little discussion to date about what the reasons associated with these norms demand from us. By working out an account of what reasons demand, we can better understand the nature of justification.
We shall evaluate two strategies for motivating the view that knowledge is the norm of belief. The first draws on observations concerning belief's aim and the parallels between belief and assertion. The second appeals to observations concerning Moore's Paradox. Neither of these strategies gives us good reason to accept the knowledge account. The considerations offered in support of this account motivate only the weaker account on which truth is the fundamental norm of belief.
What relation is there between knowledge and action? According to Hawthorne and Stanley, where your choice is p-dependent, it is appropriate to treat the proposition that p as a reason for acting iff you know that p (RKP). In this paper, I shall argue that it is permissible to treat something as a reason for action even if it isn't known to be true and address Hawthorne and Stanley's arguments for RKP.
Some recent defenses of the 'ought' implies 'can' (OIC) principle try to derive that principle from uncontroversial claims about reasons for action. Reasons for action, it's said, are reasons only for 'potential' actions, which are actions that an agent can perform. Given that 'ought' implies 'reasons', it seems we have our proof of OIC. In this paper, I argue that this latest strategy for defending OIC fails.
In this paper, I shall evaluate a strategy recently used to try to demonstrate the impossibility of behaviorally undetectable spectrum inversion. After showing that the impossibility proof proves too much, I shall identify where it goes wrong. In turn, I shall explain why someone attracted to functionalist and representationalist assumptions might rightly remain agnostic about the possibility of inversion.
In a recent article Dylan Dodd has argued that anyone who holds that all knowledge is evidence must concede that we know next to nothing about die external world. The argument is intended to show that any infallibilist account of knowledge is committed to scepticism, and that anyone who identifies our evidence with the propositions we know is committed to infallibilism. I shall offer some reasons for thinking Dodd's argument is unsound, and explain where his argument goes wrong.