In this article I argue that Alston’s recent meta-epistemological approach in terms of epistemicdesiderata is not as epistemically plural as he claims it to be. After some preliminary remarks, I briefly recapitulate Alston’s epistemicdesiderata approach. Next, I distinguish two ways in which one might consider truth to be an epistemic desideratum. Subsequently, I argue that only one truth-conducive desideratum can count as an epistemic desideratum. After this, I attempt to show that none (...) of the higher-order desiderata that are thought to be favorable to the discrimination and formation of true beliefs are genuinely epistemicdesiderata. A strict interpretation of ‘epistemic desideratum’ leads to a rejection of all deontological desiderata as well. Finally, features of systems of beliefs, such as coherence and understanding, cannot count as epistemicdesiderata either. In the end only two candidate-desiderata can count as epistemic, one of which is logically trivial. In the epilogue, I offer some suggestions as to how Alston’s epistemicdesiderata approach should be amended in order to make it epistemically plural. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that singularist approaches to solving the Pessimistic Induction, such as Structural Realism, are unacceptable, but that when a pluralist account of methodological principles is adopted this anti-realist argument can be dissolved. The proposed view is a contextual methodological pluralism in the tradition of Normative Naturalism, and is justified by appeal to meta-methodological principles that are themselves justified via an externalist epistemology. Not only does this view provide an answer to the Pessimistic Induction, it can also (...) accommodate our strongest intuitions regarding the progress of science. (shrink)
“Epistemic Dexterity: A Ramseyian Account of Epistemic Virtue” by Abrol Fairweather & Carlos Montemayor: A modification of F.P. Ramsey’s (1927) success semantics supports a naturalized theory of epistemic virtue that includes motivational components (desires) and can potentially explain both epistemic reliability and responsibility with a single normative-explanatory principle. An “epistemic Ramsey success” will also provide a better account of the “because of” condition central to virtue-reliabilist accounts of knowledge from Greco, Sosa and Pritchard. Ramsey said (...) that the truth condition of a belief is the condition that guarantees the success of desires based on that belief. Taken as a theory of epistemic achievements, the truth condition for the attribution of an epistemic achievement is the condition that guarantees the success of epistemic desires and is also a success based on abilities attributable to the agent. One of its major advantages is that it may be the best way to achieve a naturalistic version of the etiologcal requirement on knowledge in virtue epistemology while also supporting important responsibilist desiderata. The account defended is robustly agent-centered in the straightforward sense that individual desires are partly constitutive of epistemic successes like having a rational belief, justified belief, and even of knowledge once we see the both the reliabilist and repsonsibilist desiderata are met. Another important aspect of the paper is that it provides a plausible psychology for virtue epistemology that is grounded in important empirical findings on agency, and thus constitutes a form of naturalized virtue epistemology. (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)
This paper tries to motivate three desiderata for historical epistemologies: (a) that they should be reflective about the pedigree of their conceptual apparatus; (b) that they must face up to the potentially relativistic consequences of their historicism; and (c) that they must not forget the hard-won lessons of microhistory (i.e. historical events must be explained causally; historical events must not be artificially divided into internal/intellectual and external/social “factors” or “levels”; and constructed series of homogenous events must not be treated (...) as quasi-organisms). Ian Hacking’s work on styles of reasoning and Lorraine Daston’s and Peter Galison’s investigation into epistemic virtues are used to identify the costs of neglecting these desiderata. (shrink)
I put forward several desiderata that a philosophical theory of causality should satisfy: it should account for the objectivity of causality, it should underpin formalisms for causal reasoning, it should admit a viable epistemology, it should be able to cope with the great variety of causal claims that are made, and it should be ontologically parsimonious. I argue that Nancy Cartwright’s dispositional account of causality goes part way towards meeting these criteria but is lacking in important respects. I go (...) on to argue that my epistemic account, which ties causal relationships to an agent’s knowledge and ignorance, performs well in the light of the desiderata. Such an account, I claim, is all we require from a theory of causality. (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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
Epistemic akrasia arises when one holds a belief even though one judges it to be irrational or unjustified. While there is some debate about whether epistemic akrasia 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)
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)
Epistemic freedom is the freedom to affirm any one of several incompatible propositions without risk of being wrong. We sometimes have this freedom, strange as it seems, and our having it sheds some light on the topic of free will and determinism.
Knowledge ascriptions seem context sensitive. Yet it is widely thought that epistemic contextualism does not have a plausible semantic implementation. We aim to overcome this concern by articulating and defending an explicit contextualist semantics for ‘know,’ which integrates a fairly orthodox contextualist conception of knowledge as the elimination of the relevant alternatives, with a fairly orthodox “Amherst” semantics for A-quantification over a contextually variable domain of situations. Whatever problems epistemic contextualism might face, lack of an orthodox semantic implementation (...) is not among them. (shrink)
In this chapter, I produce counterexamples to Presuppositional Epistemic Contextualism (PEC), a view about the semantics of ‘knowledge’-ascriptions that I have argued for elsewhere. According to PEC, the semantic content of the predicate ‘know’ at a context C is partly determined by the speakers’ pragmatic presuppositions at C. The problem for the view that I shall be concerned with here arises from the fact that pragmatic presuppositions are sometimes known to be true by the speakers who make them: hence (...) the Problem of Known Presuppositions. After discussing several unsuccessful ways to solve the problem, I propose the addition of a new Lewisian rule of proper ignoring to the semantics of PEC--namely, the Rule of Evidence-Based Ignoring. If the proposed account succeeds, the Problem of Known Presuppositions has a straightforward solution within the framework of PEC. (shrink)
In this paper I consider a recent argument of Timothy Williamson’s that epistemic internalism and content externalism are indeed incompatible, and since he takes content externalism to be above reproach, so much the worse for epistemic internalism. However, I argue that epistemic internalism, properly understood, remains substantially unaffected no matter which view of content turns out to be correct. What is key to the New Evil Genius thought experiment is that, given everything of which the inhabitants are (...) consciously aware, the two worlds are subjectively indistinguishable for them, which is what matters on internalist accounts of epistemic justification. I argue that even if a standard moral of the New Evil Genius intuition is untenable due to considerations arising from content externalism, the case can be understood as supporting epistemic internalism in a way that is wholly compatible with content externalism. In short, epistemic internalism is committed to sameness of justificatory status between subjectively indistinguishable counterparts, not sameness of content of their justifiers. (shrink)
When a proposition might be the case, for all an agent knows, we can say that the proposition is epistemically possible for the agent. In the standard possible worlds framework, we analyze modal claims using quantification over possible worlds. It is natural to expect that something similar can be done for modal claims involving epistemic possibility. The main aim of this paper is to investigate the prospects of constructing a space of worlds—epistemic space—that allows us to model what (...) is epistemically possible for ordinary, non-ideally rational agents like you and me. I will argue that the prospects look dim for successfully constructing such a space. In turn, this will make a case for the claim that we cannot use the standard possible worlds framework to model what is epistemically possible for ordinary agents. (shrink)
Abstract: Ernest Sosa has done important work on epistemic circularity, epistemic virtue, and reflective knowledge. He holds that epistemic circularity need not be vicious and need not prevent us from knowing that our ways of forming beliefs are reliable. In this article, I briefly explore Sosa's defense of this view and raise some questions about what is required for reflective knowledge.
The overwhelmingly dominant view of epistemicnormativity has been an extreme form of deontology. I argue that although the pull towards deontology is quite understandable, given the traditional concerns of epistemology, there is no good reason for not also adopting a complementary consequentialist notion of epistemicnormativity, which can be put to use in applied epistemology. I further argue that this consequentialist notion is not, despite appearances and popular sentiment to the contrary, any less genuinely (...) class='Hi'>epistemic than the deontological notion and that it may even be considered more genuinely normative. (shrink)
In this paper I will be concerned with the question as to whether expressivist theories of meaning can coherently be combined with deflationist theories of truth. After outlining what I take expressivism to be and what I take deflationism about truth to be, I’ll explain why I don’t take the general version of this question to be very hard, and why the answer is ‘yes’. Having settled that, I’ll move on to what I take to be a more pressing and (...) interesting version of the question, arising from a prima facie tension between deflationism about truth and the motivations underlying expressivism for what I take to be two of its most promising applications: to indicative conditionals and epistemic modals. Here I’ll argue that the challenge is substantive, but that there is no conceptual obstacle to its being met, provided that one’s expressivism takes the right form. (shrink)
Whom I call ‘epistemic reductionists’ in this article are critics of the notion of ‘moral luck’ that maintain that all supposed cases of moral luck are illusory; they are in fact cases of what I describe as a special form of epistemic luck, the only difference lying in what we get to know about someone, rather than in what (s)he deserves in terms of praise or blame. I argue that epistemic reductionists are mistaken. They implausibly separate judgements (...) of character from judgements concerning acts, and they assume a conception of character that is untenable both from a common sense perspective and with a view to findings from social psychology. I use especially the example of Scobie, the protagonist of Graham Greene’s novel The Heart of the Matter , to show that moral luck is real—that there are cases of moral luck that cannot be reduced to epistemic luck. The reality of moral luck, in this example at least, lies in its impact on character and personal and moral identity. (shrink)
On Kratzer’s canonical account, modal expressions (like “might” and “must”) are represented semantically as quantifiers over possibilities. Such expressions are themselves neutral; they make a single contribution to determining the propositions expressed across a wide range of uses. What modulates the modality of the proposition expressed—as bouletic, epistemic, deontic, etc.—is context.2 This ain’t the canon for nothing. Its power lies in its ability to figure in a simple and highly unified explanation of a fairly wide range of language use. (...) Recently, though, the canon’s neat story has come under attack. The challenge cases involve the epistemic use of a modal sentence for which no single resolution of the contextual parameter appears capable of accommodating all our intuitions.3 According to these revisionaries, such cases show that the canonical story needs to be amended in some way that makes multiple bodies of information relevant to the assessment of such statements. Here I show that how the right canonical, flexibly contextualist account of modals can accommodate the full range of challenge cases. The key will be to extend Kratzer’s formal semantic account with an account of how context selects values for a modal’s.. (shrink)
In this paper, I exploit the parallel between epistemic contextualism and metaethical speaker-relativism to argue that a promising way out of two of the primary problems facing contextualism is one already explored in some detail in the ethical case – viz. expressivism. The upshot is an argument for a form of epistemic expressivism modeled on a familiar form of ethical expressivism. This provides a new nondescriptivist option for understanding the meaning of knowledge attributions, which arguably better captures the (...) normative nature of epistemic discourse than descriptivist competitors like invariantism and contextualism. (shrink)
I claim that caricature is an epistemically defective depiction. More precisely, when employed in service to some epistemic uptake, I claim that caricature can have a non-negligible epistemic effect only for a less than ideally rational audience with certain cognitive biases. An ideally rational audience, however, would take all caricature to be what I refer to as fairground caricature, i.e., an interesting or entertaining form of depiction that is at best only trivially revelatory. I then argue that any (...) medium (or genre) substantially employing caricature (or standardly featuring or prescribing its employment) in service to some epistemic uptake is to that extent an epistemically defective medium (e.g., beliefs informed by works specific to that medium are to that extent unwarranted). I then show the editorial cartoon to be just such an epistemically defective medium. (shrink)
In this paper I defend what I call the argument from epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief and that this is bad news for the moral error theory since, if there are no epistemic reasons for belief, no one knows anything. If no one knows anything, then no one knows that there is thought when they are thinking, and no one (...) knows that they do not know everything. And it could not be the case that we do not know that there is thought when we believe that there is thought and that we do not know that we do not know everything. I address several objections to the claim that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief. It might seem that arguing against the error theory on the grounds that it entails that no one knows anything is just providing a Moorean argument against the moral error theory. I show that even if my argument against the error theory is indeed a Moorean one, it avoids Streumer's, McPherson's and Olson's objections to previous Moorean arguments against the error theory and is a more powerful argument against the error theory than Moore's argument against external world skepticism is against external world skepticism. (shrink)
The lottery paradox can be solved if epistemic justification is assumed to be a species of permissibility. Given this assumption, the starting point of the paradox can be formulated as the claim that, for each lottery ticket, I am permitted to believe that it will lose. This claim is ambiguous between two readings, depending on the scope of ‘permitted’. On one reading, the claim is false; on another, it is true, but, owing to the general failure of permissibility to (...) agglomerate, does not generate the paradox. The solution generalizes to formulations of the paradox in terms of rational acceptability and doxastic rationality. (shrink)
Many philosophers have argued that an event is lucky for an agent only if it was suitably improbable, but there is considerable disagreement about how to understand this improbability condition. This paper argues for a hitherto overlooked construal of the improbability condition in terms of the lucky agent’s epistemic situation. According to the proposed account, an event is lucky for an agent only if the agent was not in a position to know that the event would occur. It is (...) also explored whether this new account threatens the anti-luck program in epistemology. It is argued that although not detrimental to the anti-luck program, the epistemic account of luck sets certain important limits to its scope and feasibility. (shrink)
In this paper I defend epistemic circularity by arguing that the “No Self-Support” principle (NSS) is false. This principle, ultimately due to Fumerton ( 1995 ), states that one cannot acquire a justified belief in the reliability of a source of belief by trusting that very source. I argue that NSS has the skeptical consequence that the trustworthiness of all of our sources ultimately depends upon the trustworthiness of certain fundamental sources – sources that we cannot justifiably believe to (...) be reliable. This is a problem, I claim, because if the trustworthiness of all of our sources depends upon sources that we should not believe to be reliable, then a reflective individual should not trust any of his sources at all. The hidden cost of rejecting epistemic circularity is thus the unacceptable skeptical thesis that reflective individuals like you and I have no justified beliefs whatsoever. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the “Ought Implies Can” (OIC) principle, as it is employed in epistemology, particularly in the literature on epistemic norms, is open to counterexamples. I present a counterexample to OIC and discuss several objections to it. If this counterexample works, then it shows that it is possible that S ought to believe that p, even though S cannot believe that p. If this is correct, then OIC, considered from an epistemic point of view, (...) is false, since it is supposed to hold for any S and any p. (shrink)
Epistemic modals in consequent place of indicative conditionals give rise to apparent counterexamples to Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens. Familiar assumptions of fa- miliar truth conditional theories of modality facilitate a prima facie explanation—viz., that the target cases harbor epistemic modal equivocations. However, these explana- tions go too far. For they foster other predictions of equivocation in places where in fact there are no equivocations. It is argued here that the key to the solution is to drop the (...) assumption that modal claims are inherently relational (i.e., that they ex- press a logical relation between a prejacent and a premise-set) in favor of a view that treats them as inherently quantificational. In particular it is suggested that modals are mass noun descriptions of information. We demonstrate how this approach unlocks the equivocation problem. (shrink)