Epistemicakrasia arises when one holds a belief even though one judges it to be irrational or unjustified. While there is some debate about whether epistemicakrasia is possible, this paper will assume for the sake of argument that it is in order to consider whether it can be rational. The paper will show that it can. More precisely, cases can arise in which both the belief one judges to be irrational and one’s judgment of it (...) are epistemically rational in the sense that both are supported by sufficient evidence. (shrink)
Though it seems rather surprising in retrospect, until about twenty-ﬁve years ago no philosopher in the Western tradition had explicitly formulated the question whether there could be an epistemic analogue to practical akrasia. Also surprisingly, despite the prima facie analogue with practical akrasia (the possibility of which is not much disputed), much of the recent work on this question has defended the rather bold view that epistemicakrasia is impossible. While the arguments purporting to show (...) the impossibility of epistemicakrasia have been criticized by some, I propose instead to make a head-on attack and defend the substantive view that epistemicakrasia is possible — indeed, actual. This leaves for another day the project of diagnosing exactly where the arguments for the impossibility of epistemicakrasia go wrong. Here, I content myself with trying to show that they must go wrong, since — as I will argue — epistemicakrasia is possible. (shrink)
According to one influential view, advanced by Jonathan Adler, David Owens and Susan Hurley, epistemicakrasia is impossible because when we form a full belief, any apparent evidence against that belief loses its power over us. Thus theoretical reasoning is quite unlike practical reasoning, in that in the latter our desires continue to exert a pull, even when they are outweighed by countervailing considerations. I call this argument against the possibility of epistemicakrasia the subsumption view. (...) The subsumption view accurately reflects the nature of reasoning in a range of everyday cases. But, as I show, it is quite false with regard to controversial questions, like philosophical disputes. In these, evidence against our best judgments continues to exert a hold on us. Thus, the claimed disanalogy between practical and theoretical reasoning fails. (shrink)
In this paper I will present a puzzle about epistemicakrasia, and I will use that puzzle to motivate accepting some non-standard views about the nature of epistemological judgment. The puzzle is that while it seems obvious that epistemicakrasia must be irrational, the claim that epistemicakrasia is always irrational amounts to the claim that a certain sort of justified false belief—a justified false belief about what one ought to believe—is impossible. But justified (...) false beliefs seem to be possible in any domain, and it’s hard to see why beliefs about what one ought to believe should be an exception. I will argue that when we get clearer about what sort of psychological state epistemicakrasia is, we can resolve the puzzle in favor of the intuitive view that epistemicakrasia is always irrational. (shrink)
One way of discerning what sort of control we have over our mental lives is to look at cases where that control is not exercised. This is one reason why philosophers have taken an interest in the phenomenon of akrasia, in an agent's ability to do, freely and deliberately, something that they judge they ought not to do. Akrasia constitutes a failure of control but not an absence of control. The akratic agent is not a compulsive; an akratic (...) agent has the ability to control their action, to make it conform to their judgement, but they fail to exercise that ability. They freely and deliberately give in to temptation. (shrink)
Nishi Shah has argued that the norm of truth is a prescriptive norm which regulates doxastic deliberation. Also, the acceptance of the norm of truth explains why belief is subject to norms of evidence. Steglich-Petersen pointed out that the norm of truth cannot be prescriptive because it cannot be broken deliberatively. More recently, Pascal Engel suggested that both the norms of truth and evidence are deliberately violated in cases of epistemicakrasia. The akratic agent accepts these norms but (...) in some cases he is not motivated by them. In this paper I will argue that Shah cannot use Engel's suggestion because, given his definition of doxastic deliberation, epistemicakrasia is impossible in the context of deliberation about belief. Furthermore, epistemicakrasia is in conflict with the phenomenon of doxastic transparency that Shah tries to explain. (shrink)
Appeal to the idea of an epistemic virtue promises insight into our practices of epistemic evaluation through employing a distinctive view of the ways in which we formulate and respond to reasons. Traits of ‘epistemic character’ guide our reasoning and reflection, and can be responsible for various forms of irrationality. One component of such a view is that emotions, sentiments and other affective states are far more central to questions of epistemic rationality than is commonly supposed. (...) This paper explains why this is so, and then illustrates the value of this way of looking at the matter by considering two particular examples: the role of states of doubt in regulating our deliberations and inquiries; and the character of our response to some distinctive kinds of irrationality. This will involve a brief discussion of some forms of epistemicakrasia. (shrink)
This paper concerns would-be necessary connections between doxastic attitudes about the epistemic statuses of your doxastic attitudes, or , and the epistemic statuses of those doxastic attitudes. I will argue that, in some situations, it can be reasonable for a person to believe p and to suspend judgment about whether believing p is reasonable for her. This will set the stage for an account of the virtue of intellectual humility, on which humility is a matter of your higher-order (...)epistemic attitudes. Recent discussions in the epistemology of disagreement have assumed that the question of the proper response to disagreement about p concerns whether you ought to change your doxastic attitude towards p. My conclusion here suggests an alternative approach, on which the question of the proper response to disagreement about p concerns the proper doxastic attitude to adopt concerning the epistemic status of your doxastic attitude towards p. (shrink)
Although much human action serves as proof that irrational behavior is remarkably common, certain forms of irrationality--most notably, incontinent action and self-deception--pose such difficult theoretical problems that philosophers have rejected them as logically or psychologically impossible. Here, Mele shows that, and how, incontinent action and self-deception are indeed possible. Drawing upon recent experimental work in the psychology of action and inference, he advances naturalized explanations of akratic action and self-deception while resolving the paradoxes around which the philosophical literature revolves. In (...) addition, he defends an account of self-control, argues that "strict" akratic action is an insurmountable obstacle for traditional belief-desire models of action-explanation, and explains how a considerably modified model accommodates action of this sort. (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.
This paper argues that higher-order doubt generates an epistemic dilemma. One has a higher-order doubt with regards to P insofar as one justifiably withholds belief as to what attitude towards P is justified. That is, one justifiably withholds belief as to whether one is justified in believing, disbelieving, or withholding belief in P. Using the resources provided by Richard Feldman’s recent discussion of how to respect one’s evidence, I argue that if one has a higher-order doubt with regards to (...) P, then one is not justified in having any attitude towards P. Otherwise put: No attitude towards the doubted proposition respects one’s higher-order doubt. I argue that the most promising response to this problem is to hold that when one has a higher-order doubt about P, the best one can do to respect such a doubt is to simply have no attitude towards P. Higher-order doubt is thus much more rationally corrosive than non-higher-order doubt, as it undermines the possibility of justifiably having any attitude towards the doubted proposition. (shrink)
A person has performed an action akratically when he intentionally, voluntarily acts contrary to what he thinks, all things considered, is best to do. This is very misleadingly called weakness of the will; less misleadingly, akrasia of action. I should like to show that there is intellectual as well as practical akrasia. This might, equally misleadingly, be called weakness of belief; less misleadingly, akrasia of belief.
The “puzzle of the unmarked clock” derives from a conflict between the following: (1) a plausible principle of epistemic modesty, and (2) “Rational Reflection”, a principle saying how one’s beliefs about what it is rational to believe constrain the rest of one’s beliefs. An independently motivated improvement to Rational Reflection preserves its spirit while resolving the conflict.
Davidson's account of weakness of will depends upon a parallel that he draws between practical and theoretical reasoning. I argue that the parallel generates a misleading picture of theoretical reasoning. Once the misleading picture is corrected, I conclude that the attempt to model akratic belief on Davidson's account of akratic action cannot work. The arguments that deny the possibility of akratic belief also undermine, more generally, various attempts to assimilate theoretical to practical reasoning.
In this paper I shall attempt to characterize a central case of incontinent believing and to explain how it is possible. Akrasiais exhibited in a variety of ways in the practical or "actional" sphere; but in the full-blown and seemingly most challenging case the akratic agent performs an intentional, free action which is contrary to a judgment of what is better or best to do that he both consciously holds at the time of action and consciously believes to be at (...) odds with his performing the action at issue. More precisely, in intentionally and freely A-ing at t, S performs a full-blown akratic action if and only if, at t, S consciously holds a judgment to the effect that there is good and sufficient reason for his not doing an A at t. What I am after in this paper is an account of a comparable, full-blown variety of incontinent believing, and an explanation of its possibility. (shrink)
Inferential Internalists accept the Principle of Inferential Justification (PIJ), according to which one has justification for believing P on the basis of E only if one has justification for believing that E makes probable P. Richard Fumerton has defended PIJ by appeal to examples, and recently Adam Leite has argued that this principle is supported by considerations regarding the nature of responsible belief. In this paper, I defend a form of externalism against both arguments. This form of externalism recognizes what (...) I call the phenomenon of reflective defeat: if one is justified in not believing that E makes probable P, then this defeats whatever justification one has for believing P upon the basis of E. I argue that this modified version of externalism has the virtue of accommodating the intuitions that motivate internalism, without the cost of the vicious regress that makes internalism so unattractive. (shrink)
Alfred Mele has recentIy attempted to direct attention to a neglected species of irrational belief which he calls ‘incontinent belief’. He has devoted a paper and an entire chapter (chapter eight) of his book, Irrationality (Oxford University Press, 1987) to explaining its logical possibility. In what follows, I will appeal to familiar facts about the difference between belief and action to make a case that it is entirely unproblematic that incontinent belief is logically possible. In the process, I will call (...) into question the philosophical intercst of incontinent belief. If what I say is correct, incontinent belief does not warrant the attention of philosophers of mind. (shrink)
Brian McLaughlin, in “Incontinent Belief” (Journal of Philosophical Research 15 [1989-90] , pp. 115-26), takes issue with my investigation, in lrrationality (Oxford University Press, 1987), of a doxastic analogue of akratic action. He deems what I term “strict akratic belief” philosophically uninteresting. In the present paper, I explain that this assessment rests on a serious confusion about the sort of possibility that is at issue in my chapter on the topic, correct a variety of misimpressions, and rebut McLaughlin’s arguments as (...) they apply to the psychological possibility of strict akratic belief and to the etiology of beliefs generally. (shrink)
Consider the claim that openmindedness is an epistemic virtue, the claim that true belief is epistemically valuable, and the claim that one epistemically ought to cleave to one’s evidence. These are examples of what I’ll call “epistemic discourse.” In this paper I’ll propose and defend a view called “convention-relativism about epistemic discourse.” In particular, I’ll argue that convention-relativismis superior to its main rival, expressivism about epistemic discourse. Expressivism and conventionalism both jibe with anti-realism about epistemic (...) normativity, which is motivated by appeal to philosophical naturalism (§1). Convention-relativism says that epistemic discourse describes how things stands relative to a conventional set of “epistemic” values; such discourse is akin to normative discourse relative to the conventional rules of a club (§2). I defend conventionalism by appeal to a “reverse open question argument,” which says, pace expressivism, that epistemic discourse leaves the relevant normative questions open (§3). (shrink)
The presence of luck in our cognitive as in our moral lives shows that the quality of our intellectual character may not be entirely up to us as individuals, and that our motivation and even our ability to desire the truth, like our moral goodness, can be fragile. This paper uses epistemologists'responses to the problem of “epistemic luck” as a sounding board and locates the source of some of their deepest disagreements in divergent, value-charged “interests in explanation,” which epistemologists (...) bring with them to discussions of knowledge and justification. In so doing, I delineate both the commonalities and key differences between those authors I describe as virtue reliabilists and those I describe as virtue responsibilists. (shrink)
People increasingly form beliefs based on information gained from automatically filtered Internet sources such as search engines. However, the workings of such sources are often opaque, preventing subjects from knowing whether the information provided is biased or incomplete. Users’ reliance on Internet technologies whose modes of operation are concealed from them raises serious concerns about the justificatory status of the beliefs they end up forming. Yet it is unclear how to address these concerns within standard theories of knowledge and justification. (...) To shed light on the problem, we introduce a novel conceptual framework that clarifies the relations between justified belief, epistemic responsibility, action, and the technological resources available to a subject. We argue that justified belief is subject to certain epistemic responsibilities that accompany the subject’s particular decision-taking circumstances, and that one typical responsibility is to ascertain, so far as one can, whether the information upon which the judgment will rest is biased or incomplete. What this responsibility comprises is partly determined by the inquiry-enabling technologies available to the subject. We argue that a subject’s beliefs that are formed based on Internet-filtered information are less justified than they would be if she either knew how filtering worked or relied on additional sources, and that the subject may have the epistemic responsibility to take measures to enhance the justificatory status of such beliefs.. (shrink)
In this paper I defend a pure proceduralist conception of legitimacy that applies to epistemic democracy. This conception, which I call pure epistemic proceduralism, does not depend on procedure-independent standards for good outcomes and relies on a proceduralist epistemology. It identifies a democratic decision as legitimate if it is the outcome of a process that satisfies certain conditions of political and epistemic fairness. My argument starts with a rejection of instrumentalism – the view that political equality is (...) only instrumentally valuable. I reject instrumentalism on two grounds: (i) because it fails to respect reasonable value pluralism and to recognize the constitutive role of democratic procedures for legitimacy in pluralist societies, and (ii) because it neglects the constructive function of democratic decision-making. I then consider two alternatives to pure epistemic proceduralism: David Estlund's version of epistemic proceduralism and a Deweyan account of epistemic democracy. I argue that only pure epistemic proceduralism can make good on both shortcomings of instrumentalism, whereas each of the other two approaches only makes good on one and neglects the other. (shrink)
Clayton Littlejohn claims that the permissibility solution to the lottery paradox requires an implausible principle in order to explain why epistemic permissions don't agglomerate. This paper argues that an uncontentious principle suffices to explain this. It also discusses another objection of Littlejohn's, according to which we’re not permitted to believe lottery propositions because we know that we’re not in a position to know them.
Contemporary epistemology of peer disagreement has largely focused on our immediate normative response to prima facie instances of disagreement. Whereas some philosophers demand that we should withhold judgment (or moderate our credences) in such cases, others argue that, unless new evidence becomes available, disagreement at best gives us reason to demote our interlocutor from his peer status. But what makes someone an epistemic peer in the first place? This question has not received the attention it deserves. I begin by (...) surveying different notions of ‘epistemic peer’ that have been peddled in the contemporary literature, arguing that they tend to build normative assumptions about the correct response to disagreement into the notion of peerhood. Instead, I argue, epistemic peerhood needs to be taken seriously in its own right. Importantly, for epistemic agents to count as peers, they should exhibit a comparable degree of reflective awareness of the character and limitations of their own knowledge. (shrink)
Privacy is valued by many. But what it means to have privacy remains less than clear. In this paper, I argue that the notion of privacy should be understood in epistemic terms. What it means to have (some degree of) privacy is that other persons do not stand in significant epistemic relations to those truths one wishes to keep private.
In this paper, I respond to the following argument which several authors have presented. If we are culpable for some action, we act either from akrasia or from culpable ignorance. However, akrasia is highly exceptional and it turns out that tracing culpable ignorance leads to a vicious regress. Hence, we are hardly ever culpable for our actions. I argue that the argument fails. Cases of akrasia may not be that rare when it comes to epistemic activities (...) such as evidence gathering and working on our intellectual virtues and vices. Moreover, particular cases of akrasia may be rare, but they are not exceptional when we consider chains of actions. Finally and most importantly, we can be culpable for our actions even if we do not act from akrasia or from culpable ignorance, namely in virtue of our unactivated dispositional beliefs. (shrink)
In this paper I present a criticism of Sarah Moss‘ recent proposal to use scoring rules as a means of reaching epistemic compromise in disagreements between epistemic peers that have encountered conflict. The problem I have with Moss‘ proposal is twofold. Firstly, it appears to involve a double counting of epistemic value. Secondly, it isn‘t clear whether the notion of epistemic value that Moss appeals to actually involves the type of value that would be acceptable and (...) unproblematic to regard as epistemic. (shrink)
This paper focuses on Martin Montminy’s recent attempt to show that assertion and practical reasoning are necessarily governed by the same epistemic norm (“Why assertion and practical reasoning must be governed by the same epistemic norm”, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly ). I show that the attempt fails. I finish by considering the upshot for the recent debate concerning the connection between the epistemic norms of assertion and practical reasoning.
Do epistemic intuitions tell us anything about knowledge? Stich has argued that we respond to cases according to our contingent cultural programming, and not in a manner that tends to reveal anything significant about knowledge itself. I’ve argued that a cross-culturally universal capacity for mindreading produces the intuitive sense that the subject of a case has or lacks knowledge. This paper responds to Stich’s charge that mindreading is cross-culturally varied in a way that will strip epistemic intuitions of (...) their evidential value. I argue that existing work on cross-cultural variation in mindreading favors my position over Stich’s. (shrink)
In the Phaedrus, Socreates sympathetically describes the ability “to cut up each kind according to its species along its natural joints, and to try not to splinter any part, as a bad butcher might do.” (265e) In contemporary philosophy, Ted Sider (2009, 2011) defends the same idea. As I shall put it, Plato and Sider’s idea is that limning structure is an epistemic goal. My aim in this paper is to articulate and defend this idea. First, I’ll articulate the (...) notion of a structural proposition (§1), and the notion of an epistemic goal (§2), where I’ll assume that epistemic goals are species of accuracy. Then (§3), I’ll argue against some proposals for understanding the idea that limning structure is an epistemic goal: limning structure is neither an aim of belief (§3.1), nor of inquiry (§3.2), nor of concept possession (§3.3). Importantly, non-structural belief is not thereby inaccurate; belief does not “aim” at being structural. Next (§4), I’ll propose a framework for understanding the idea that limning structure is an epistemic goal, and defend that idea. What is required, to defend the view that limning structure is an epistemic goal, is the notion of (what I call) theorizing – a propositional attitude that, unlike belief, does “aim” at being structural (§4.1). I’ll argue that structural truths constitute a species of “important” truths (§4.2), and that apt theorizing is a species of understanding (§4.3). Finally (§5), I’ll discuss the possibility that there is no structure. (shrink)
Suppose you know that someone is your epistemic peer regarding some topic. You admit that you cannot think of any relevant epistemic advantage you have over her when it comes to that topic; you admit that she is just as likely as you to get P?s truth-value right. Alternatively, you might know that she is your epistemic superior regarding the topic. And then after learning this about her you find out that she disagrees with you about P. (...) In those situations it appears that the confidence with which one holds one?s belief should be significantly reduced. My primary goal in this essay is to present and reflect upon a set of cases of disagreement that have not been discussed in the literature but are vital to consider. I argue that in the new cases one is reasonable in not lowering one?s confidence in the belief. Then I articulate and defend an ambitious principle, the Disagreement Principle, meant to answer the question ?Under what conditions am I epistemically blameworthy in retaining my belief with the same level of confidence after I have discovered recognized peers or superiors who disagree with me?? (shrink)
A popular account of epistemic justification holds that justification, in essence, aims at truth. An influential objection against this account points out that it is committed to holding that only true beliefs could be justified, which most epistemologists regard as sufficient reason to reject the account. In this paper I defend the view that epistemic justification aims at truth, not by denying that it is committed to epistemic justification being factive, but by showing that, when we focus (...) on the relevant sense of ‘justification’, it isn’t in fact possible for a belief to be at once justified and false. To this end, I consider and reject three popular intuitions speaking in favor of the possibility of justified false beliefs, and show that a factive account of epistemic justification is less detrimental to our normal belief forming practices than often supposed. (shrink)
The standard account of weakness of will identifies it with akrasia, that is, with action against one's best judgment. Elsewhere I have argued that weakness of will is better understood as over-readily giving up on one's resolutions. Many cases of weak willed action will not be akratic: in over-readily abandoning a resolution an agent may well do something that they judge at the time to be best. Indeed, in so far as temptation typically gives rise to judgment shift -- (...) to a tendency to change one's judgment so that one values the tempting option as the best -- weak willed action will typically be akratic. But conversely, strong willed action now looks as though it will be akratic. I argue though that it need not be, once we distinguish between actual judgment, and dispositions to judge. Within this framework, the issue of inverse akrasia looks rather different. I argue that whilst Huckleberry Finn plausibly does show weakness of will in abandoning his resolve to turn Jim in, it is far from clear that he is akratic: a point brought out well in Twain's later additions to the text. Whilst cases of inverse akrasia are clearly theoretically possible, I suggest that, given cognitive dissonance mechanisms, they are unlikely to be very common. (shrink)
Reductive intellectualists (e.g., Stanley & Williamson ; Stanley ; ; Brogaard ; ; ) hold that knowledge-how is a kind of knowledge-that. For this thesis to hold water, it is obviously important that knowledge-how and knowledge-that have the same epistemic properties. In particular, knowledge-how ought to be compatible with epistemic luck to the same extent as knowledge-that. It is argued, contra reductive intellectualism, that knowledge-how is compatible with a species of epistemic luck which is not compatible with (...) knowledge-that, and thus it is claimed that knowledge-how and knowledge-that come apart. (shrink)
William Alston’s argument against the deontological conception of epistemic justification is a classic—and much debated—piece of contemporary epistemology. At the heart of Alston’s argument, however, lies a very simple mistake which, surprisingly, appears to have gone unnoticed in the vast literature now devoted to the argument. After having shown why some of the standard responses to Alston’s argument don’t work, we elucidate the mistake and offer a hypothesis as to why it has escaped attention.
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.
Expressivist views of an area of discourse encourage us to ask not about the nature of the relevant kinds of values but rather about the nature of the relevant kind of evaluations. Their answer to the latter question typically claims some interesting disanalogy between those kinds of evaluations and descriptions of the world. It does so in hope of providing traction against naturalism-inspired ontological and epistemological worries threatening more ‘realist’ positions. This is a familiar position regarding ethical discourse; however, some (...) authors (e.g. Field, Heller, Gibbard, Blackburn, Chrisman) have recently defended a similar view regarding epistemic discourse. Others (especially Kvanvig, Cuneo, and Lynch) have argued that epistemic expressivism faces special problems, not necessarily attaching to expressivism about other areas. Their arguments differ in interesting ways, but the common strategy is an attempt to show that the very sort of meta-epistemological theorizing needed to articulate and establish epistemic expressivism involves the epistemic expressivist in some sort of internal incoherence or self-defeat. That is, they think that articulating or defending the position requires implicit commitment to the negation of one of the positions core tenets. This paper responds to those arguments on behalf of epistemic expressivism, suggesting that they each misunderstand what is crucial to epistemic expressivism. By responding to these arguments, we hope to achieve more clarity about what epistemic expressivism is and why one might want to endorse it in a meta-epistemology. (shrink)
This paper contributes to an increasing literature strengthening the connection between epistemic logic and epistemology (Van Benthem, Hendricks). I give a survey of the most important applications of epistemic logic in epistemology. I show how it is used in the history of philosophy (Steiner's reconstruction of Descartes' sceptical argument), in solutions to Moore's paradox (Hintikka), in discussions about the relation between knowledge and belief (Lenzen) and in an alleged refutation of verificationism (Fitch) and I examine an early argument (...) about the (im)possibility of epistemic logic (Hocutt). Subsequently, I deal with interpretive questions about epistemic logic that, although implicitly, already appeared in the first section. I contend that a conception of epistemic logic as a theory of knowledge assertions is incoherent, and I argue that it does not make sense to adopt a normative interpretation of epistemic logic. Finally, I show ways to extend epistemic logic with other branches of philosophical logic so as to make it useful for some epistemological questions. Conditional logics and logics of public announcement are used to understand causal theories of knowledge and versions of reliabilism. Temporal logic helps understand some dynamic aspects of knowledge as well as the verificationist thesis. (shrink)
Do we apply higher epistemic standards to subjects with high stakes? This paper argues that we expect different outward behavior from high-stakes subjects—for example, we expect them to collect more evidence than their low-stakes counterparts—but not because of any change in epistemic standards. Rather, we naturally expect subjects in any condition to think in a roughly adaptive manner, balancing the expected costs of additional evidence collection against the expected value of gains in accuracy. The paper reviews a body (...) of empirical work on the automatic regulation of cognitive effort in response to stakes, and argues that we naturally see high- and low-stakes subjects as experiencing different levels of ‘epistemic anxiety’, and anticipate different levels of cognitive effort from them for this reason. If unresolved epistemic anxiety always bars an ascription of knowledge, then we can explain our responses to cases involving shifting stakes without positing any variation in the standards of intuitive knowledge ascription. (shrink)
The internalism/externalism debate is of interest in epistemology since it addresses one of the most fundamental questions in the discipline: what is the basic nature of knowledge and epistemic justification? It is generally held that if a positive epistemic status obtains, this is not a brute fact. Rather if a belief is, for example, justified, it is justified in virtue of some further condition(s) obtaining. What has been called epistemic internalism holds, as the label suggests, is that (...) all the relevant factors that determine justification must be “internal” (in a sense that needs to be specified). Epistemic externalism is the denial of internalism. Epistemic internalism about justification is the subject of this article. <br> After introducing the central intuitive considerations that have tended to motivate internalism, this paper will explore different ways of construing the internalist position (or family of positions). In addition to classical formulations, more recent formulations will be discussed, concluding with a discussion of an emerging position known as “Epistemological Disjunctivism”, which its advocates claim preserves the most important features of more traditional forms of internalism, while avoiding their difficulties. Epistemological Disjunctivism is particularly worthy of attention since if true, it promises to bridge internalist and externalist epistemologies, bringing a rapprochement to two sides of what may otherwise appear a deep and intractable debate about the fundamental nature of epistemology. <br>. (shrink)
The notion of conceivability has traditionally been regarded as crucial to an account of modal knowledge. Despite its importance to modal epistemology, there is no received explication of conceivability. In recent discussions, some have attempted to explicate the notion in terms of epistemic possibility. There are, however, two notions of epistemic possibility, a more familiar one and a novel one. I argue that these two notions are independent of one another. Both are irrelevant to an account of modal (...) knowledge on the predominant view of modal reality. Only the novel notion is relevant and apt on the competing view of modal reality; but this latter view is problematic in light of compelling counterexamples. Insufficient care regarding the independent notions of epistemic possibility can lead to two problems: a gross problem of conflation and a more subtle problem of obscuring a crucial fact of modal epistemology. Either problem needlessly hampers efforts to develop an adequate account of modal knowledge. I conclude that the familiar notion of epistemic possibility (and the very term ‘epistemic possibility’) should be eschewed in the context of modal epistemology. (shrink)
One of Kripke's fundamental objections to descriptivism was that the theory misclassifies certain _a posteriori_ propositions expressed by sentences involving names as _a priori_. Though nowadays very few philosophers would endorse a descriptivism of the sort that Kripke criticized, many find two-dimensional semantics attractive as a kind of successor theory. Because two-dimensionalism needn't be a form of descriptivism, it is not open to the epistemic argument as formulated by Kripke; but the most promising versions of two-dimensionalism are open to (...) a close relative of that argument. (shrink)
Conservatism about perceptual justification tells us that we cannot have perceptual justification to believe p unless we also have justification to believe that perceptual experiences are reliable. There are many ways to maintain this thesis, ways that have not been sufficiently appreciated. Most of these ways lead to at least one of two problems. The first is an over-intellectualization problem, whereas the second problem concerns the satisfaction of the epistemic basing requirement on justified belief. I argue that there is (...) at least one Conservative view that survives both difficulties, a view which has the further ability to undercut a crucial consideration that has supported Dogmatist views about perceptual justification. The final section explores a tension between Conservatism and the prospects of having a completely general account of propositional justification. Ironically, the problem is that Conservatives seem committed to making the acquisition of propositional justification too easy. My partial defense of Conservatism concludes by suggesting possible solutions to this problem. (shrink)
Epistemic relativists often appeal to an epistemic incommensurability thesis. One notable example is the position advanced by Wittgenstein in On certainty (1969). However, Ian Hacking’s radical denial of the possibility of objective epistemic reasons for belief poses, we suggest, an even more forceful challenge to mainstream meta-epistemology. Our central objective will be to develop a novel strategy for defusing Hacking’s line of argument. Specifically, we show that the epistemic incommensurability thesis can be resisted even if we (...) grant the very insights that lead Hacking to claim that epistemic reasons are always relative to a style of reasoning. Surprisingly, the key to defusing the argument is to be found in recent mainstream work on the epistemic state of objectual understanding. (shrink)