What role, if any, does formal logic play in characterizing epistemically rational belief? Traditionally, belief is seen in a binary way - either one believes a proposition, or one doesn't. Given this picture, it is attractive to impose certain deductive constraints on rational belief: that one's beliefs be logically consistent, and that one believe the logical consequences of one's beliefs. A less popular picture sees belief as a graded phenomenon.
In this highly original study, Jerome Christensen reconstructs the career of a representative Enlightenment man of letters, David Hume. In doing so, Christensen develops a prototype for a post-structuralist biography. Christensen motivates the interplay between Hume’s texts as arguments and as symbolic acts by conceiving of Hume’s literary career as an adaptive discursive practice, the projected and performed narrative of his social life. Students and scholars of eighteenth-century English and French literature, feminist studies, political theory and (...) history, philosophy, and intellectual history will welcome this unprecedented and challenging view of David Hume and his times. (shrink)
How much should your confidence in your beliefs be shaken when you learn that others – perhaps 'epistemic peers' who seem as well-qualified as you are – hold beliefs contrary to yours? This article describes motivations that push different philosophers towards opposite answers to this question. It identifies a key theoretical principle that divides current writers on the epistemology of disagreement. It then examines arguments bearing on that principle, and on the wider issue. It ends by describing some outstanding questions (...) that thinking about this issue raises. (shrink)
Sometimes we get evidence of our own epistemic malfunction. This can come from finding out we’re fatigued, or have been drugged, or that other competent and well-informed thinkers disagree with our beliefs. This sort of evidence seems to seems to behave differently from ordinary evidence about the world. In particular, getting such evidence can put agents in a position where the most rational response involves violating some epistemic ideal.
Responding rationally to the information that others disagree with one’s beliefs requires assessing the epistemic credentials of the opposing beliefs. Conciliatory accounts of disagreement flow in part from holding that these assessments must be independent from one’s own initial reasoning on the disputed matter. I argue that this claim, properly understood, does not have the untoward consequences some have worried about. Moreover, some of the difficulties it does engender must be faced by many less conciliatory accounts of disagreement (and, more (...) generally, by accounts of rationally responding to evidence of one’s epistemic malfunction). (shrink)
Much contemporary epistemology is informed by a kind of confirmational holism, and a consequent rejection of the assumption that all confirmation rests on experiential certainties. Another prominent theme is that belief comes in degrees, and that rationality requires apportioning one's degrees of belief reasonably. Bayesian confirmation models based on Jeffrey Conditionalization attempt to bring together these two appealing strands. I argue, however, that these models cannot account for a certain aspect of confirmation that would be accounted for in any adequate (...) holistic confirmation theory. I then survey the prospects for constructing a formal epistemology that better accommodates holistic insights. (shrink)
A number of philosophers, from Thomas Reid1 through C. A. J. Coady2, have argued that one is justified in relying on the testimony of others, and furthermore, that this should be taken as a basic epistemic presumption. If such a general presumption were not ultimately dependent on evidence for the reliability of other people, the ground for this presumption would be a priori. Such a presumption would then have a status like that which Roderick Chisholm claims for the epistemic principle (...) that we are justified in believing what our senses tell us. (shrink)
The most immediately appealing model for formal constraints on degrees of belief is provided by probability theory, which tells us, for instance, that the probability of P can never be greater than that of (P v Q). But while this model has much intuitive appeal, many have been concerned to provide arguments showing that ideally rational degrees of belief would conform to the calculus of probabilities. The arguments most frequently used to make this claim plausible are the so-called "Dutch Book" (...) arguments. (shrink)
It is obvious that we would not want to demand that an agent' s beliefs at different times exhibit the same sort of consistency that we demand from an agent' s simultaneous beliefs; there' s nothing irrational about believing P at one time and not-P at another. Nevertheless, many have thought that some sort of coherence or stability of beliefs over time is an important component of epistemic rationality.
Both Representation Theorem Arguments and Dutch Book Arguments support taking probabilistic coherence as an epistemic norm. Both depend on connecting beliefs to preferences, which are not clearly within the epistemic domain. Moreover, these connections are standardly grounded in questionable definitional/metaphysical claims. The paper argues that these definitional/metaphysical claims are insupportable. It offers a way of reconceiving Representation Theorem arguments which avoids the untenable premises. It then develops a parallel approach to Dutch Book Arguments, and compares the results. In each case (...) preferencedefects serve as a diagnostic tool, indicating purely epistemic defects. (shrink)
The main appeal of the currently popular "bootstrap" account of confirmation developed by Clark Glymour is that it seems to provide an account of evidential relevance. This account has, however, had severe problems; and Glymour has revised his original account in an attempt to solve them. I argue that this attempt fails completely, and that any similar modifications must also fail. If the problems can be solved, it will only be by radical revisions which involve jettisoning bootstrapping's basic approach to (...) theories. Finally, I argue that there is little reason to think that even such drastic modifications will lead to a satisfactory account of relevance. (shrink)
It is commonly acknowledged that, in order to test a theoretical hypothesis, one must, in Duhem' s phrase, rely on a "theoretical scaffolding" to connect the hypothesis with something measurable. Hypothesis-confirmation, on this view, becomes a three-place relation: evidence E will confirm hypothesis H only relative to some such scaffolding B. Thus the two leading logical approaches to qualitative confirmation--the hypothetico-deductive (H-D) account and Clark Glymour' s bootstrap account--analyze confirmation in relative terms. But this raises questions about the philosophical interpretation (...) of the technical conditions these accounts describe. What does it mean to say that E confirms H "relative to B"? How should we interpret the relation we are trying to analyze? (shrink)
Jarrett Leplin’s paper is multifaceted; it’s rich with ideas, and I won’t even try to touch on all of them. Instead, I’d like to raise three questions about the paper: one about its definition of reliable method, one about its solution to the generality problem, and one about its answer to clairvoyance-type objections.
Glymour's "bootstrap" account of confirmation is designed to provide an analysis of evidential relevance, which has been a serious problem for hypothetico-deductivism. As set out in Theory and Evidence, however, the "bootstrap" condition allows confirmation in clear cases of evidential irrelevance. The difficulties with Glymour's account seem to be due to a basic feature which it shares with hypothetico-deductive accounts, and which may explain why neither can give a satisfactory analysis of evidential relevance.
In this paper, I discuss connections between self-directedness, integration and higher cognition. I present a model of self-directedness as a basis for approaching higher cognition from a situated cognition perspective. According to this model increases in sensorimotor complexity create pressure for integrative higher order control and learning processes for acquiring information about the context in which action occurs. This generates complex articulated abstractive information processing, which forms the major basis for higher cognition. I present evidence that indicates that the same (...) integrative characteristics found in lower cognitive process such as motor adaptation are present in a range of higher cognitive process, including conceptual learning. This account helps explain situated cognition phenomena in humans because the integrative processes by which the brain adapts to control interaction are relatively agnostic concerning the source of the structure participating in the process. Thus, from the perspective of the motor control system using a tool is not fundamentally different to simply controlling an arm. (shrink)
Oregon is the only state in the United States where a physician may legally prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturate for a patient intending suicide. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act was passed by voters in 1994 and came into effect after much legal wrangling in October of 1997. At the same time, a cabinetmaker named Pat Matheny was struggling with progressive weakness from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. I met with Pat and his family for a lengthy interview in (...) October 1998 in Coos Bay, Oregon, for a television news report on his decision to get a lethal prescription. Below is an extract from that interview. On the day this introduction was written, 10 March 1999, Pat took the prescribed lethal overdose of barbiturates and died at home. His illness was taking his voice, he could not move his hands or legs, and breathing was becoming very difficult. His mother told me he knew that was for him. (shrink)
Formally-inclined epistemologists often theorize about ideally rational agents--agents who exemplify rational ideals, such as probabilistic coherence, that human beings could never fully realize. This approach can be defended against the well-know worry that abstracting from human cognitive imperfections deprives the approach of interest. But a different worry arises when we ask what an ideal agent should believe about her own cognitive perfection (even an agent who is in fact cognitively perfect might, it would seem, be uncertain of this fact). Consideration (...) of this question reveals an interesting feature of the structure of our epistemic ideals: for agents with limited information, our epistemic ideals turn out to conflict with one another. (shrink)
Ethics research literature often uses Rest’s Four Component Model of ethical behavior as a framework to teach business and accounting ethics. Moral motivation, including resolve to have moral courage, is the third component of the model and is the least-tested component in ethics research. Using a quasi-experimental design with pretest and posttest measurements, we compare the effectiveness of several methods (traditional, exhortation, reflection, moral exemplar) for developing resolve to have moral courage in 211 accounting students during one semester. Results show (...) that traditional, reflection, moral exemplar methods increased resolve to have moral courage, and that the reflection and moral exemplar methods were more effective than the other methods. (shrink)
David Lewis's book 'On the Plurality of Worlds' mounts an extended defense of the thesis of modal realism, that the world we inhabit the entire cosmos of which we are a part is but one of a vast plurality of worlds, or cosmoi, all causally and spatiotemporally isolated from one another. The purpose of this article is to provide an accessible summary of the main positions and arguments in Lewis's book.
My research work title is “A Philosophical Study of the Concept of Mind (with special reference to Rene Descartes, David Hume and Gilbert Ryle).” In this study we have discussed three conceptions of mind presented by Rene Descartes, David Hume and Gilbert Ryle. All the three thinkers are related to different philosophical traditions known as Rationalism, Empiricism and Analytical Philosophy respectively. Each of these various approaches can be seen as at least partly successful, each provides answers to questions (...) regarded as especially pressing, each apparently solved certain problems. Notoriously, however, each leaves unanswered and unsolved a host of distinct problems as well. (shrink)
David Phillips’s Sidgwickian Ethics is a penetrating contribution to the scholarly and philosophical understanding of Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics. This note focuses on Phillips’s understanding of (aspects of) Sidgwick’s argument for utilitarianism and the moral epistemology to which he subscribes. In § I, I briefly outline the basic features of the argument that Sidgwick provides for utilitarianism, noting some disagreements with Phillips along the way. In § II, I raise some objections to Phillips’s account of the epistemology (...) underlying the argument. In § III, I reply to the claim that there is a puzzle at the heart of Sidgwick’s epistemology. In § IV, I respond to Phillips’s claim that Sidgwick is unfair in his argument against the (deontological) morality of common sense. (shrink)
The concept of the self is a highly contested topic. Traditionally it belonged to speculative metaphysics. Almost every philosopher, whether Western or Indian, has tried to explore the nature of self. Generally, the self is taken as a substance which has permanent existence, which is eternal and non-specio-temporal. In some traditions, like the Hindu tradition, it is believed to take rebirth as the body perishes. Many Western philosophers also think that it is immortal. The nature of the self also has (...) then ethical implications. The views of David Hume and Gautama Buddha on the self, which I have chosen to discuss here, are similar. Though both belong to different traditions, both are skeptical of any permanent existence of self. This is not to say that one has borrowed from the other. For the nature and purpose of denial of the self in both the philosophers is different. So a comprehensive and comparative study of their views is very interesting. It is the intention of this article to analyze and compare the philosophical positions of Gautama and Hume on the self—a problem which was of central concern to both and which has since exercised a continuing fascination for philosophers, both of the East and the West. (shrink)
David Lewis claims that his theory of modality successfully reduces modal items to nonmodal items. This essay will clarify this claim and argue that it is true. This is largely an exercise within ‘Ludovician Polycosmology’: I hope to show that a certain intuitive resistance to the reduction and a set of related objections misunderstand the nature of the Ludovician project. But these results are of broad interest since they show that would-be reductionists have more formidable argumentative resources than is (...) often thought. Lewis’s reduction depends on a set of methodological commitments each of which is fairly plausible or at least currently popular, and none of which is particular to modality. The choice of which of these commitments to reject I leave to the discerning antireductionist. The essay proceeds as follows: §1 discusses reduction generally and one or two relevant puzzles; §2 discusses Lewis’s reduction in particular; the longest section, §3 replies to four objections. (shrink)
Primary Works -/- Hume, David(1997) An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, from Philosophical Classics from Plato to Nietzsche, Ed. By Forrest E. Baired & Walter Kaufmann, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. -/- ___________ (1978) A Treatise of Human Nature, Edited by L.A. Selby-Bigge Oxford University Press, London. -/- :___________( 2006) The Understanding(Treatise :Book I), Ed. by Bennettt, Jonathan , The, Radical Academy, -/- Link:http;//www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/humebig.pdf.Citation:20-10-2006 -/- Flew, Antony(1962) Hume on Human Nature and the Understanding, Edi. ,Collier Books, New York.
This article argues that there is a great divide between semantics and metaphysics. Much of what is called metaphysics today is still stuck in the linguistic turn. This is illustrated by showing how Fraser MacBride misunderstands David Armstrong's theory of modality.
To enhance the plausibility of naturalistic moral realism, David Copp develops an argument from epistemic defeaters aiming to show that strongly a priori synthetic moral truths do not exist. In making a case for the non-naturalistic position, I locate Copp’s account within the wider literature on peer disagreement; I identify key points of divergence between Copp’s doctrine and conciliatorist doctrines; I introduce the notion of ‘minimal moral competence’; I contend that some plausible benchmarks for minimal moral competence are grounded (...) in substantive moral considerations; and I discuss two forms of spinelessness that Copp’s moral naturalism could result in. (shrink)