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Profile: E.J. Coffman (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
  1. E. J. Coffman, Contextualism and Interest-Relative Invariantism.
    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.
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  2. E. J. Coffman, Knowledge First?
    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.
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  3. E. J. Coffman, Justification Before Knowledge?
    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 (...)
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  4. E. J. Coffman, Omniprescience and Serious Deliberation.
    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.[1] 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 (...)
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  5. E. J. Coffman, Stump on the Nature of Atonement.
    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. (...)
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  6. E. J. Coffman, Two Mistakes About Epistemic Propriety.
    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.
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  7. Donald Smith & E. J. Coffman, The Fall of the Mind Argument and Some Lessons About Freedom.
    forthcoming in Topics in Contemporary Philosophy: Volume 7: Action, Ethics, and Responsibility, MIT Press.
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  8. E. J. Coffman (forthcoming). Critical Notice of Jonathan Sutton, Without Justification. Philosophical Books.
    In Without Justification,[1] 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, (...)
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  9. E. J. Coffman (2013). Can Virtue Epistemology Capitalize on Jtb's Appeal? Philosophical Issues 23 (1):199-222.
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  10. E. J. Coffman (2013). Knowing Full Well. Philosophical Review 122 (1):135-139.
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  11. E. J. Coffman (2013). Problems for Foley's Accounts of Rational Belief and Responsible Belief. Res Philosophica 90 (2):147-160.
    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 repliesto 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 (...)
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  12. E. J. Coffman & Matt Deaton (2013). Problems for Foley's Accounts of Rational Belief and Responsible Belief. Res Philosophica 90 (2):147-160.
    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 repliesto 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 (...)
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  13. Nathan Ballantyne & E. J. Coffman (2012). Conciliationism and Uniqueness. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4):657-670.
    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 (...)
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  14. Nathan Ballantyne & E. J. Coffman (2011). Uniqueness, Evidence, and Rationality. Philosophers' Imprint 11 (18).
    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 (...)
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  15. E. J. Coffman (2011). Clarke's Defense of the Contrast Argument. Dialectica 65 (2):267-275.
    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 (...)
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  16. E. J. Coffman (2011). Does Knowledge Secure Warrant to Assert? Philosophical Studies 154 (2):285 - 300.
    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.
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  17. E. J. Coffman (2011). Hiddenness, Evidence, and Idolatry. In Raymond VanArragon & Kelly James Clark (eds.), Evidence and Religious Belief. Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
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  18. E. J. Coffman (2011). How (Not) to Attack the Luck Argument. Philosophical Explorations 13 (2):157-166.
    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 (...)
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  19. E. J. Coffman (2011). Omnipresence and Tough Choices. In Jonathan L. Kvanvig (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 3. Oup Oxford.
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  20. E. J. Coffman (2011). Two Claims About Epistemic Propriety. Synthese 181 (3):471-488.
    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 (...)
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  21. E. J. Coffman (2010). Is Justified Belief Knowledge? Critical Notice of Jonathan Sutton, Without Justification. Philosophical Books 51 (1):1-21.
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  22. E. J. Coffman (2010). Misleading Dispositions and the Value of Knowledge. Journal of Philosophical Research 35:241-258.
    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 (...)
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  23. E. J. Coffman (2010). Moral Skepticisms. Faith and Philosophy 27 (3):355-359.
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  24. E. J. Coffman (2009). Does Luck Exclude Control? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3):499-504.
    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 [2008] 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 (...)
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  25. E. J. Coffman (2008). Warrant Without Truth? Synthese 162 (2):173 - 194.
    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 (...)
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  26. E. J. Coffman (2008). ``Warrant Without Truth?&Quot. Synthese 162 (2):173-194.
    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 (...)
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  27. E. J. Coffman (2007). Thinking About Luck. Synthese 158 (3):385 - 398.
    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 (...)
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  28. E. J. Coffman & Ted A. Warfield (2007). Alfred Mele's Metaphysical Freedom? Philosophical Explorations 10 (2):185 – 194.
    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.
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  29. Daniel Howard-Snyder & E. J. Coffman (2007). Three Arguments Against Foundationalism: Arbitrariness, Epistemic Regress, and Existential Support. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (4):535-564.
    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.
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  30. E. J. Coffman (2006). Defending Klein on Closure and Skepticism. Synthese 151 (2):257 - 272.
    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 (...)
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  31. E. J. Coffman & Ted A. Warfield (2005). Deliberation and Metaphysical Freedom. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):25-44.
  32. E. J. Coffman (2004). On Making an Effort. Philosophical Papers 33 (1):11-21.
    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. (...)
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