Classical Invariantism (CI): The truth-value of a given knowledge-ascribing (-denying) sentence is (a) invariant across conversational contexts and (b) independent of how important it is to the subject (S) that the relevant proposition (P) be true.
The Orthodox View (OV) of the relation between epistemic justification and knowledge has it that justification is conceptually prior to knowledge—and so, can be used to provide a noncircular account of knowledge. OV has come under threat from the increasingly popular “Knowledge First” movement (KFM) in epistemology. I assess several anti-OV arguments due to three of KFM’s most prominent members: Timothy Williamson, Jonathan Sutton, and Alexander Bird. I argue that OV emerges from these attacks unscathed.
This paper assesses several prominent recent attacks on the view that epistemic justification is conceptually prior to knowledge. I argue that this view—call it the Received View (RV)—emerges from these attacks unscathed. I start with Timothy Williamson’s two strongest arguments for the claim that all evidence is knowledge (E>K), which impugns RV when combined with the claim that justification depends on evidence. One of Williamson’s arguments assumes a false epistemic closure principle; the other misses some alternative (to E>K) explanations of (...) a putative fact about the evidence a particular subject has. Next, I neutralize each of Jonathan Sutton’s three recent arguments to the conclusion that any justified belief constitutes knowledge. Finally, I consider a recent analysis of justification due to Alexander Bird, according to which justified belief is possible knowledge. I argue that Bird’s analysis delivers neither a sufficient nor (more importantly) a necessary condition for justification. [Word count: 149]. (shrink)
Let’s say that you are omniprescient iff you always believe—occurrently and with maximal confidence—all and only truths, including ones about the future. Several philosophers have argued that an omniprescient being couldn’t engage in certain kinds of activity. In what follows, I present and assess the most promising such argument I know of—what I’ll call the Serious Deliberation Argument (SDA). It concludes that omniprescience rules out serious deliberation—i.e., trying to choose between incompatible courses of action once you know that none is (...) conclusively favored by your reasons. The SDA—which (I’ll argue) should disturb many traditional theists—derives from an argument due to Tomis Kapitan; and my favored objection to the SDA—roughly: that it fails because dependent on the alleged incompatibility of omniprescience and freedom—superficially resembles a reply to Kapitan’s argument due to David Hunt. Along the way, then, I’ll briefly discuss Kapitan’s argument, and Hunt’s reply, to show how they differ from the SDA and my favored objection to it. I begin by presenting the Serious Deliberation Argument. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that Richard Foley’s account of rational belief faces an as yet undefeated objection, then try to repair one of Foley’s two failed replies to that objection. In §§I-III, we explain Foley’s accounts of all-things-considered rational belief and responsible belief, along with his replies to two pressing objections to those accounts—what we call the Irrelevance Objection (to Foley’s account of rational belief) and the Insufficiency Objection (to his account of responsible belief). In §IV, we argue that (...) both of Foley’s replies to the Irrelevance Objection fail as currently developed, and raise the question whether either of his replies can be salvaged. In §V, we invoke cases involving religious beliefs (broadly construed) to show that one of Foley’s failed replies to the Irrelevance Objection conflicts with his reply to the Insufficiency Objection; and we provide reason to think Foley should resolve this conflict in the latter’s favor. We conclude in §VI by suggesting a way to repair Foley’s other failed reply to the Irrelevance Objection, yielding an improved overall defense of Foley’s accounts of rational and responsible belief. We look forward to discussing the important question to what extent this improved overall defense succeeds. I Let’s start with Foley’s account of all-things-considered rational belief (cf. 2008: 49, 2005a. (shrink)
In “The Nature of the Atonement”, Eleonore Stump explores the problem of human sin that the atonement is meant to solve, helpfully uncovering important adequacy conditions for theories of atonement. She then uses those conditions to critically evaluate Anselmian and Thomistic theories of atonement, arguing (among many other interesting things) that the Thomist has a leg up on the Anselmian when it comes to the atonement-motivating problem of human sin (pp.11-12 of ms.). I argue for two claims in what follows. (...) First, Stump’s two seemingly independent “further problems” for theorists of atonement (discussed in the penultimate section of her paper) in fact reduce to a single challenge, which suggests a strategy for future theorizing about the atonement. Second, Stump’s case that the Thomist outperforms the Anselmian on the problem of human sin is weaker than it initially appears. As we’ll see, Stump’s own account of shame implies that the Anselmian’s difficulties on this front are less serious than she thinks. (shrink)
Impropriety due to lack of a particular epistemic feature suffices for epistemic impropriety; and (2) Having justification to believe P suffices for having warrant to assert P. I present and defend arguments against both claims. These arguments undermine (among other things) (a) the main counterexamples to the view that knowledge suffices for warrant to assert; (b) a main argument that justified belief suffices for knowledge; and (c) a promising defense of the Credit Requirement on knowledge.
In Without Justification, Jonathan Sutton undermines the orthodox view that a justified belief needn’t constitute knowledge; develops a battery of arguments for the unorthodox thesis that you justifiedly believe P iff you know P; and explores the topics of testimony and inference in light of his equation of justification and knowledge (J=K). This book is essential reading at epistemology’s cutting edge. In §I, we’ll take an extended tour of the book, raising various questions and objections along the way. In §II, (...) we’ll assess Sutton’s three main arguments for J=K, which form the heart of his project. (shrink)
This paper fortifies and defends the so called Sufficiency Argument (SA) against Classical Invariantism . In Sect. 2, I explain the version of the SA formulated but then rejected by Brown ( 2008a ). In Sect. 3, I show how cases described by Hawthorne ( 2004 ), Brown ( 2008b ), and Lackey (forthcoming) threaten to undermine one or the other of the SA’s least secure premises. In Sect. 4, I buttress one of those premises and defend the reinforced SA (...) from the objection developed in Sect. 3. (shrink)
Two theses are central to recent work on the epistemology of disagreement: Conciliationism:?In a revealed peer disagreement over P, each thinker should give at least some weight to her peer's attitude. Uniqueness:?For any given proposition and total body of evidence, the evidence fully justifies exactly one level of confidence in the proposition. 1This paper is the product of full and equal collaboration between its authors. Does Conciliationism commit one to Uniqueness? Thomas Kelly 2010 has argued that it does. After some (...) scene-setting (?1), in ?2 we explain and criticize Kelly's argument, thereby defeating his larger argument that Conciliationism deserves no dialectical special treatment. But we argue further that Conciliationists are committed to a disjunction, one of whose disjuncts is Uniqueness, that amounts to an ?extremely strong and unobvious position? (??3?4). If we are correct, theorists should not treat Conciliationism as a default position in debates about the epistemic significance of disagreement. (shrink)
Two theses figure centrally in work on the epistemology of disagreement: Equal Weight (‘EW’) and Uniqueness (‘U’). According to EW, you should give precisely as much weight to the attitude of a disagreeing epistemic peer as you give to your own attitude. U has it that, for any given proposition and total body of evidence, some doxastic attitude is the one the evidence makes rational (justifies) toward that proposition. Although EW has received considerable discussion, the case for U has not (...) been critically evaluated. Endorsing U, we argue, commits one to the highly controversial thesis that whatever fixes your rational attitudes can do so only by fixing what evidence you have. This commitment imposes a relatively demanding requirement on justified belief in U, one that we argue is not satisfied by what is currently the strongest available case for U, due to Roger White . Our challenge to U makes more trouble for its proponents than do the worries about U expressed by Gideon Rosen  and Thomas Kelly . Moreover, if Kelly  is correct in thinking that EW “carries with it a commitment to” U—a claim which we accept for reasons similar to Kelly’s but is beyond this paper’s scope (but see Ballantyne and Coffman [forthcoming])—then our challenge to U bears importantly on EW: to the extent that our challenge to U succeeds, EW also suffers. (shrink)
In his (2004), Randolph Clarke assesses an important version of an influential argument against libertarianism about metaphysical freedom. Clarke calls the anti-libertarian argument he evaluates the Contrast Argument. It targets the following claim: there could be an undetermined free act done by S such that S would have freely done something else had S not done the act in question. This modal claim will be endorsed not only by proponents of main brands of libertarianism, but also by action theorists of (...) other stripes – including many compatibilists. Clarke aims to defend the Contrast Argument from a prominent objection by developing a novel case for the premise under attack. I show that Clarke's attempted defense of the Contrast Argument fails, thereby protecting the relevant libertarian and compatibilist positions. In brief, Clarke's argument depends on an ambiguous principle, each available reading of which leaves some or other premise of his argument unjustified. (shrink)
In some of the most important recent work in religious epistemology, Paul Moser (2002, 2004, 2008) develops a multifaceted reply to a prominent attack on belief in God—what we’ll call the Hiddenness Argument. This paper raises a number of worries about Moser’s novel treatment of the Hiddenness Argument. After laying out the version of that argument Moser most explicitly engages, we explain the four main elements of Moser’s reply and argue that it stands or falls with two pieces in particular—what (...) we call the Purposively Available Evidence Argument and the Cognitive Idolatry Argument. We then show that the Cognitive Idolatry Argument fails, leaving the Purposively Available Evidence Argument as Moser’s only potentially viable objection to the Hiddenness Argument. We conclude that Moser’s treatment of the Hiddenness Argument depends crucially on some controversial epistemological claims about certain of our moral beliefs, and is thus considerably more vulnerable than many have recognized. (shrink)
The Luck Argument is among the most influential objections to the main brand of libertarianism about metaphysical freedom and moral responsibility. In his work, Alfred Mele [2006. Free will and luck . Oxford: Oxford University Press] develops - and then attempts to defeat - the literature's most promising version of the Luck Argument. After explaining Mele's version of the Luck Argument, I present two objections to his novel reply to the argument. I argue for the following two claims: (1) Mele's (...) reply is either otiose or undermined by his own defense of the Luck Argument from a different objection and (2) Mele's reply turns out to lack the form required to engage the step of the Luck Argument it targets. Having shown that the failure of Mele's novel attack is overdetermined, I close by defending a different (and, I believe, decisive) objection to the Luck Argument - which, as it happens, lurks right under Mele's nose. (shrink)
This paper has two main parts. In the first part, I argue that prominent moves in two related current debates in epistemology—viz., the debates over classical invariantism and the knowledge first movement—depend on one or the other of two claims about epistemic propriety: (1) Impropriety due to lack of a particular epistemic feature suffices for epistemic impropriety; and (2) Having justification to believe P suffices for having warrant to assert P. In the second part, I present and defend novel arguments (...) against both claims. (shrink)
Gettiered beliefs are those whose agents are subject to the kind of epistemologically significant luck illustrated by Gettier Cases. Provided that knowledge requires ungettiered belief, we can learn something about knowledge by figuring out how luck blocks it in Gettier Cases. After criticizing the most promising of the going approaches to gettiered belief—the Risk of False Belief Approach—, I explain and defend a new approach: the Risk of Misleading Dispositions Approach.Roughly, this view says that a belief is gettiered just in (...) case its unfortunate subject has at best just luckily avoided being disposed by his belief’s actual grounds to believe a wide class of falsehoods about his environment. I then show how this approach undercuts an influential recent argument that knowledge has no more value than certain subsets of its components. (shrink)
Many philosophers hold that luck excludes control-more precisely, that an event is lucky for you only if that event lies beyond your control. Call this the Lack of Control Requirement (LCR) on luck. Jennifer Lackey  has recently argued that there is no such requirement on luck. Should such an argument succeed, it would (among other things) disable a main objection to the "libertarian" position in the free will debate. After clarifying the LCR, I defend it against both Lackey's argument (...) and a novel argument different in kind from Lackey's. I undermine each of these arguments by sketching a plausible error theory for its key intuition. For each argument, there's a natural reply available to its proponents. I show that these natural replies depend on certain mistaken general principles about luck. Neither Lackey's argument nor the novel argument I consider casts serious doubt on the LCR. [Word count: 147]. (shrink)
This paper advances the debate over the question whether false beliefs may nevertheless have warrant, the property that yields knowledge when conjoined with true belief. The paper’s first main part—which spans Sections 2–4—assesses the best argument for Warrant Infallibilism, the view that only true beliefs can have warrant. I show that this argument’s key premise conflicts with an extremely plausible claim about warrant. Sections 5–6 constitute the paper’s second main part. Section 5 presents an overlooked puzzle about warrant, and uses (...) that puzzle to generate a new argument for Warrant Fallibilism, the view that false beliefs can have warrant. Section 6 evaluates this pro-Fallibilism argument, finding ultimately that it defeats itself in a surprising way. I conclude that neither Infallibilism nor Fallibilism should now constrain theorizing about warrant. (shrink)
Luck looms large in numerous different philosophical subfields. Unfortunately, work focused exclusively on the nature of luck is in short supply on the contemporary analytic scene. In his highly impressive recent book Epistemic Luck, Duncan Pritchard helps rectify this neglect by presenting a partial account of luck that he uses to illuminate various ways luck can figure in cognition. In this paper, I critically evaluate both Pritchard’s account of luck and another account to which Pritchard’s discussion draws our attention—viz., that (...) due to Nicholas Rescher. I also assess some novel analyses of luck that incorporate plausible elements of Pritchard’s and Rescher’s accounts. (shrink)
In this paper we raise three questions of clarification about Alfred Mele's fine recent book, Free Will and Luck. Our questions concern the following topics: (i) Mele's combination of 'luck' and 'Frankfurt-style' objections to libertarianism, (ii) Mele's stipulations about 'compatibilism' and the relation between questions about free action and questions about moral responsibility, and (iii) Mele's treatment of the Consequence Argument.
Foundationalism is false; after all, foundational beliefs are arbitrary, they do not solve the epistemic regress problem, and they cannot exist withoutother (justified) beliefs. Or so some people say. In this essay, we assess some arguments based on such claims, arguments suggested in recent work by Peter Klein and Ernest Sosa.
In this paper, I consider some issues involving a certain closure principle for Structural Justification, a relation between a cognitive subject and a proposition that’s expressed by locutions like ‘S has a source of justification for p’ and ‘p is justifiable for S’. I begin by summarizing recent work by Peter Klein that advances the thesis that the indicated closure principle is plausible but lacks Skeptical utility. I then assess objections to Klein’s thesis based on work by Robert Audi and (...) Anthony Brueckner. One finding is that the typical statement of the relevant closure principle can express a number of different closure principles, and that recognizing this helps to resolve certain disputes. (shrink)
Abstract This aper is in the main a critical study of Robert Kane's account of the nature of Free Choice. I begin by briefly describing Kane's theory. I then consider four questions about a concept that is central to his account?viz., the concept of an Effort of Will. I argue that Kane's position affords satisfactory answers to three of these questions. Reflection on the fourth and final question, however, reveals a problem for Kanean Libertarianism. The problem, in brief, is this. (...) It can be shown that the plausibility of Kanean Libertarianism is inversely proportional to the plausibility of a certain principle of agency. The latter is at least fairly plausible, so the former is at best fairly implausible. This is a strike against Kanean Libertarianism. I conclude by drawing two general lessons from the preceding discussion. (shrink)