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 epistemic than the deontological notion and that it may even be considered more genuinely normative. (shrink)
In this paper, it is argued that there are (at least) two different kinds of ‘epistemicnormativity’ in epistemology, which can be scrutinized and revealed by some comparison with some naturalistic studies of ethics. The first kind of epistemicnormativity can be naturalized, but the other not. The doctrines of Quine’s naturalized epistemology is firstly introduced; then Kim’s critique of Quine’s proposal is examined. It is argued that Quine’s naturalized epistemology is able to save some room (...) for the concept of epistemicnormativity and therefore his doctrine can be protected against Kim’s critique. But, it is the first kind of epistemicnormativity that can be naturalized in epistemology. With the assistance of Goldman’s fake barn case, it is shown that the concept of epistemicnormativity that is involved in the concept of knowing, which cannot be fully naturalized. The Gettier problem indicates that Quine only gets partially right idea concerning whether epistemology can (and should) be natualized. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider an argument of Harvey Siegel's according to which there can be no hypothetical normativity anywhere unless there is categorical normativity in epistemology. The argument fails because it falsely assumes people must be bound by epistemic norms in order to have justified beliefs.
In Biro and Siegel (1992) we argued that a theory of argumentation mustfully engage the normativity of judgments about arguments, and we developedsuch a theory. In this paper we further develop and defend our theory.
A Review of John Greco's book Acheiving Knowledge. The critical points I make involve three claims Greco makes that represent common ground between the reliabilists (including agent reliabilists like himself) and the character epistemologists (which would include myself): I. Such virtues are often needed to make our cognitive abilities reliable (to turn mere faculties into excellences); II. Such virtues might be essentially involved in goods other than knowledge; III. Such virtues might be valuable in themselves.
Machine generated contents note: Preface; Part I. EpistemicNormativity: 1. Knowledge as success from ability; 2. Against deontology; 3. Against internalism; 4. Against evidentialism; Part II. Problems for Everyone: 5. The nature of knowledge; 6. The value of knowledge; 7. Knowledge and context; 8. The Pyrrhonian problematic; Part III. Problems for Reliabilism: 9. The problem of strange and fleeting processes; 10. The problem of defeating evidence; 11. The problem of easy knowledge; Bibliography; Index.
In this paper, I develop the notion of an epistemic side constraint in order to overcome one of the main challenges to a goal-based approach to the structure of epistemicnormativity. I argue that the rationale for such side constraints can be found in the work of John Locke and that his argument is best understood as the epistemic analog to David Gauthier’s argument as to the rationality of being moral.
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)
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.
This paper addresses the relationship between the history and philosophy of science by way of the issue of epistemicnormativity. After brief discussion of the relationship between history and philosophy of science in Kuhn’s own thinking, the paper focuses on the implications of the history of science for epistemicnormativity. There may be historical evidence for change of scientific methodology, which may seem to support a position of epistemic relativism. However, the fact that the methods (...) of science undergo variation does not entail that epistemic justification varies with the methods employed by scientists. In order to arrive at the relativist conclusion, an epistemological argument is required that justification depends upon operative methods. This raises the question of epistemicnormativity. Kuhn himself attempted to deal with this question on a number of occasions, but without success. Following brief discussion of Kuhn on this topic, the paper then turns to the treatment of epistemicnormativity in the work of Lakatos, Laudan and Worrall. Lakatos and Laudan proposed that particular episodes from the history of science might be employed to adjudicate between alternative theories of method. Such episodes are selected on the basis of value judgements or pre-analytic intuitions, but such value judgements and intuitions are themselves problematic. Laudan later proposed the normative naturalist view that a rule of method is to be evaluated empirically on the basis of its reliability in conducing to a desired cognitive aim. Against this attempt to naturalize meta-methodology, Worrall argued that the normative force of the appeal to past reliability requires an a priori inductive principle. In my view, the problem of epistemicnormativity is solved by combining the particularist focus on specific episodes in the history of science with the naturalistic account of the reliability of method. (shrink)
This paper examines the source and content of epistemic norms. In virtue of what is it that epistemic norms have their normative force? A semantic approach to this question, due to Alvin Goldman, is examined and found unacceptable. Instead, accounts seeking to ground epistemic norms in our desires are argued to be most promising. All of these accounts make epistemic norms a variety of hypothetical imperative. It is argued that such an account may be offered, grounding (...) our epistemic norms in desire, which nevertheless makes these imperatives universal. The account is contrasted with some recent work of Stephen Stich. (shrink)
This paper examines some consequences of the (quasi-)epiphenomenalism implied by a property dualistic view of phenomenal consciousness. The focus is upon the variation of phenomenal content over time. A thought-experiment is constructed to support two claims. The weaker claim exhibits an incompatibility which arises in certain logically possible situations between a conscious subject’s epistemic norms and the requirement that one be aware of one’s conscious experience. This could be interpreted as providing some epistemic grounds for the postulation of (...) bridging laws between the physical/functional and phenomenal domains. The stronger claim has it that the ontology of property dualism is not properly able to account for the certainty I have of being phenomenally conscious. The problem is viewed as resulting from the neglect of the intensional context involved in a proper representation of the argument for property dualism. It is argued that only a transcendental move can do justice to this certainty I have. (shrink)
Klein’s account of epistemic justification, infinitism, supplies a novel solution to the regress problem. We argue that concentrating on the normative aspect of justification exposes a number of unpalatable consequences for infinitism, all of which warrant rejecting the position. As an intermediary step, we develop a stronger version of the ‘finite minds’ objection.
I evaluate two new objections to an infinitist account of epistemic justification, and conclude that they fail to raise any new problems for infinitism. The new objections are a refined version of the finite-mind objection, which says infinitism demands more than finite minds can muster, and the normativity objection, which says infinitism entails that we are epistemically blameless in holding all our beliefs. I show how resources deployed in response to the most popular objection to infinitism, the original (...) finite-mind objection, can be redeployed to address the two new objections. (shrink)
We call beliefs reasonable or unreasonable, justified or unjustified. What does this imply about belief? Does this imply that we are responsible for our beliefs and that we should be blamed for our unreasonable convictions? Or does it imply that we are in control of our beliefs and that what we believe is up to us? Reason Without Freedom argues that the major problems of epistemology have their roots in concerns about our control over and responsibility for belief. Owens focuses (...) on the arguments of Descartes, Locke and Hume--the founders of epistemology--and presents a critical discussion of the current trends in contemporary epistemology. He proposes that the problems we confront today - skepticism, the analysis of knowledge, and debates on epistemic justification can be tackled when we have understood the moral psychology of belief. (shrink)
This paper examines some consequences of the (quasi-)epiphenomenalism implied by a property dualistic view of phenomenal consciousness. The focus is upon the variation of phenomenal content over time. A thought-experiment is constructed to support two claims. The weaker claim exhibits an incompatibility which arises in certain logically possible situations between a conscious subjecfs epistemicnorms and the requirement that one be aware of one’s conscious experience. This could be interpreted as providing some epistemic grounds for the postulation of bridging laws (...) between the physical/functional and phenomenal domains. The stronger claim has it that the ontology of property dualism is not properly able to account for the certainty I have of being phenomenally conscious. The problem is viewed as resulting from the neglect of the intensional context involved in a proper representation of the argument for property dualism. It is argued that only a transcendental move can do justice to this certainty I have. (shrink)
What is the relation between what we ought to do, on the one hand, and our epistemic access to the ought-giving facts, on the other? In assessing this, it is common to distinguish ‘objective’ from ‘subjective’ oughts. Very roughly, on the objectivist conception what an agent ought to do is determined by ought-giving facts in such a way that does not depend on the agent’s beliefs about, or epistemic access to, those facts; whereas on the subjectivist conception, what (...) an agent ought to do depends on his beliefs. This paper defends the need for, and explicates, a third category of ‘ought’: ‘warranted oughts’. Section 1 introduces the distinction between objective and subjective ‘oughts’. Sections 2–3 draw attention to some serious problems with each. Section 4 examines, though rejects, a recent attempt to replace subjective ‘oughts’ with objective ‘wide-scope oughts’ operating on belief-action combinations. Section 5 explicates the notion of a warranted ‘ought’ and defends the account against some possible objections. The resulting a picture is one in which an adequate analysis of practical normativity requires both objective and warranted ‘oughts’. Section 6 concludes by responding to a worry about countenancing both. (shrink)
This paper defends the epistemological importance of ‘diachronic’ or cross-temporal evaluation of epistemic agents against an interesting dilemma posed for this view in Trent Dougherty’s recent paper “Reducing Responsibility.” This is primarily a debate between evidentialists and character epistemologists, and key issues of contention that the paper treats include the divergent functions of synchronic and diachronic (longitudinal) evaluations of agents and their beliefs, the nature and sources of epistemicnormativity, and the advantages versus the costs of the (...) evidentialists’ reductionism about sources of epistemicnormativity. (shrink)
In a recent paper, “Infinitism and EpistemicNormativity,” we have problematized the relationship between infinitism and epistemicnormativity. Responding to our criticisms, John Turri has offered a defense of infinitism. In this paper, we argue that Turri’s defense fails, leaving infinitism vulnerable to the originally raised objections.
Elqayam & Evans (E&E) are focused on the normative judgments used by theorists to characterize subjects' performances (e.g. in terms of logic or probability theory). They ignore the fact, however, that subjects themselves have an independent ability to evaluate their own reasoning performance, and that this ability plays a major role in controlling their first-order reasoning tasks.
What is it to know more? By what metric should the quantity of one's knowledge be measured? I start by examining and arguing against a very natural approach to the measure of knowledge, one on which how much is a matter of how many. I then turn to the quasi-spatial notion of counterfactual distance and show how a model that appeals to distance avoids the problems that plague appeals to cardinality. But such a model faces fatal problems of its own. (...) Reflection on what the distance model gets right and where it goes wrong motivates a third approach, which appeals not to cardinality, nor to counterfactual distance, but to similarity. I close the paper by advocating this model and briefly discussing some of its significance for epistemicnormativity. In particular, I argue that the 'trivial truths' objection to the view that truth is the goal of inquiry rests on an unstated, but false, assumption about the measure of knowledge, and suggest that a similarity model preserves truth as the aim of belief in an intuitively satisfying way. (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.
Knowledge seems to be a good thing, or at least better than epistemic states that fall short of it, such as true belief. Understanding too seems to be a good thing, perhaps better even than knowledge. In a number of recent publications, Duncan Pritchard tries to account for the value of understanding by claiming that understanding is a cognitive achievement and that achievements in general are valuable. In this paper, I argue that coming to understand something need not be (...) an achievement, and so Pritchard's explanation of understanding's value fails. Next, I point out that Pritchard's is just one of many attempts to account for the value of an epistemic state – whether it be understanding, knowledge, or whatever – by appeal to the notion of achievement or, more generally, the notion of success because of ability. Tentatively, I offer reasons to be sceptical about the prospects of any such account. (shrink)
Epistemic expressivism is the application of a nexus of ideas, which is prominent in ethical theory (more specifically, metaethics), to parallel issues in epistemological theory (more specifically, metaepistemology). Here, in order to help those new to the debate come to grips with epistemic expressivism and recent discussions of it, I first briefly present this nexus of ideas as it occurs in ethical expressivism. Then, I explain why and how some philosophers have sought to extend it to a version (...) of epistemic expressivism. Finally, I consider a number of objections and replies with the aim of giving the reader the tools needed to begin to evaluate the promise and prospects of epistemic expressivism. (shrink)
An epistemic duty would be a duty to believe, disbelieve, or withhold judgment from a proposition, and it would be grounded in purely evidential or epistemic considerations. If I promise to believe it is raining, my duty to believe is not epistemic. If my evidence is so good that, in light of it alone, I ought to believe it is raining, then my duty to believe supposedly is epistemic. I offer a new argument for the claim (...) that there are no epistemic duties. Though people do sometimes have duties to believe, disbelieve, or withhold judgment from propositions, those duties are never grounded in purely epistemic considerations. (shrink)
What is the relationship between the epistemic norms of assertion and the epistemic norms of action/practical reasoning? Brown argues that the epistemic standards for practical reasoning and assertion are distinct (Brown 2012). In contrast, Montminy argues that practical reasoning and assertion must be governed by the same epistemic norm (Montminy 2012). Likewise, McKinnon has articulated an argument for a unified account from cases of isolated second-hand knowledge (McKinnon 2012). To clarify the issue, I articulate a distinction (...) between Equivalence Commonality and Structural Commonality. I then argue against the former by counterexamples that doubly dissociate the epistemic standards for assertion and action. Furthermore, I argue that such a double dissociation compromises knowledge accounts of both assertion and action/practical reasoning. To provide a more accurate diagnosis, I consider speech act theory and argue that principled differences between the epistemic norms of action and assertion compromise Equivalence Commonality. In contrast, a qualified version of Structural Commonality may be preserved. (shrink)
Simon Keller and Sarah Stroud have both argued that the demands of being a good friend can conflict with the demands of standard epistemic norms. Intuitively, good friends will tend to seek favorable interpretations of their friends’ behaviors, interpretations that they would not apply to strangers; as such they seem prone to form unjustified beliefs. I argue that there is no such clash of norms. In particular, I argue that friendship does not require us to form beliefs about our (...) friends in the biased fashion suggested by Stroud and Keller. I further argue that while some slight bias in belief-formation might be permitted by friendship, any such bias would fall within the bounds of epistemic propriety. (shrink)
It is a piece of philosophical commonsense that belief and knowledge are states. Some epistemologists reject this claim in hope of answering certain difficult questions about the normative evaluation of belief. I shall argue, however, that this move offends not only against philosophical commonsense but also against ordinary common sense, at least as far as this is manifested in the semantic content of the words we use to talk about belief and knowledge. I think it is relatively easily to show (...) with some linguistic tests that ordinary belief and knowledge attributions should be classified aspectually as state descriptions. Hence, the move some epistemologists (especially virtue epistemologists like Sosa) to deny that belief and knowledge are states threatens to simply change the topic rather than open up answers to difficult questions in epistemology. I do not know fully how to answer the relevant questions about the normative evaluation of belief, but I pursue this critical point here in service of a positive proposal about the general framework in which they should be answered. In brief, the general framework is one which recognizes an important place for what I call state-norms, beside the action-norms which are more familiar from normative theory. And it locates the epistemic norms that apply to beliefs and are relevant for knowledge on the state-norm side of this divide. This turns out to be not only consistent with but indeed to underwrites the philosophical and ordinary commonsense that belief and knowledge are states. (shrink)
In this paper we propose to argue for two claims. The first is that a sizeable group of epistemological projects – a group which includes much of what has been done in epistemology in the analytic tradition – would be seriously undermined if one or more of a cluster of empirical hypotheses about epistemic intuitions turns out to be true. The basis for this claim will be set out in Section 2. The second claim is that, while the jury (...) is still out, there is now a substantial body of evidence suggesting that some of those empirical hypotheses are true. Much of this evidence derives from an ongoing series of experimental studies of epistemic intuitions that we have been conducting. A preliminary report on these studies will be presented in Section 3. In light of these studies, we think it is incumbent on those who pursue the epistemological projects in question to either explain why the truth of the hypotheses does not undermine their projects, or to say why, in light of the evidence we will present, they nonetheless assume that the hypotheses are false. In Section 4, which is devoted to Objections and Replies, we’ll consider some of the ways in which defenders of the projects we are criticizing might reply to our challenge. Our goal, in all of this, is not to offer a conclusive argument demonstrating that the epistemological projects we will be criticizing are untenable. Rather, our aim is to shift the burden of argument. (shrink)
A number of prominent philosophers advance the following ideas: (1) Meaning is use. (2) Meaning is an intrinsically normative notion. Call (1) the use thesis, hereafter UT, and (2) the normativity thesis, hereafter NT. They come together in the view that for a linguistic expression to have meaning is for there to be certain proprieties governing its employment.1 These ideas are often associated with a third.
According to the extended knowledge account of assertion, we should only assert and act on what we know. Call this the ‘Knowledge Norm’. Because moral and prudential rules prohibit morally and prudentially unacceptable actions and assertions, they can, familiarly, override the Knowledge Norm. This, however, raises the question of whether other epistemic norms, too, can override the Knowledge Norm. The present paper offers an affirmative answer to this question and then argues that the Knowledge Norm is derived from a (...) more fundamental norm that demands that we do not hinder intellectual flourishing. As the fundamental epistemic norm can come into conflict with the Knowledge Norm, it is sometimes permissible to assert and act on what we don't know. The paper concludes with a discussion of the consequences of this insight for the extended knowledge account of assertion. (shrink)
We shall evaluate two strategies for motivating the view that knowledge is the norm of belief. The first draws on observations concerning belief's aim and the parallels between belief and assertion. The second appeals to observations concerning Moore's Paradox. Neither of these strategies gives us good reason to accept the knowledge account. The considerations offered in support of this account motivate only the weaker account on which truth is the fundamental norm of belief.
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)
It is argued that, contrary to popular pragmatist opinion, the source of epistemicnormativity does not lie in the realm of practical rationality. Epistemic norms are indeed hypothetical, as the pragmatist anticipates, but he has misjudged how much their antecedent can do for him. I first consider the most general argument available to the pragmatist. I then focus on the way John Heil and Hilary Kornblith have refined it. Kornblith's position poses the most plausible challenge to the (...) defender of the autonomy of epistemic norms. Even at its best, however, the pragmatist argument flounders. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.24(2) 2005: 65-76. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore and defend the idea that we have epistemic responsibilities with respect to our visual searches, responsibilities that are far more fine-grained and interesting than the trivial responsibilities to keep our eyes open and “look hard”. In order to have such responsibilities, we must be able to exert fine-grained and interesting forms of control over our visual searches. I present both an intuitive case and an empirical case for thinking that we do, in fact, have (...) such forms of control over our visual searches. I then show how these forms of control can be used to aim the visual beliefs that result from our searches towards various epistemic goals. (shrink)
Davidson, Rorty, and Rosenberg each reject, for similar reasons, the idea that truth is the aim of belief and the goal of inquiry. Rosenberg provides the most explicit and compelling argument for this provocative view. Here, with a focus on this argument, I suggest that this view is a mistake, but not for the reasons some might think. In my view, we can view truth as a constitutive aim of belief even if not a regulative goal of inquiry, if we (...) adopt a Sellarsian view of the ought-to-be’s of belief. Along the way, I suggest that many aspects of Rosenberg’s (unfortunately under-appreciated) epistemology are in fact defensible and are independent of his strong denial of truth's role in constraining epistemic practices. (shrink)
Recent years have seen increasing attacks on the "deontological" conception (or as we call it, the guidance conception) of epistemic justification, the view that epistemology offers advice to knowers in forming beliefs responsibly. Critics challenge an important presupposition of the guidance conception: doxastic voluntarism, the view that we choose our beliefs. We assume that epistemic guidance is indispensable, and seek to answer objections to doxastic voluntarism, most prominently William Alston's. We contend that Alston falsely assumes that choice of (...) belief requires the assent to a specific propositional content. We argue that beliefs can be chosen under descriptions which do not specify their propositional content, but instead specify the mental actions by which they are formed and maintained. We argue that these actions partially constitute the beliefs and that is it in virtue of resulting from and being partially constituted by such actions that the beliefs are subject to epistemic appraisal. (shrink)
Defenders of pragmatic encroachment in epistemology (or what I call practicalism) need to address two main problems. First, the view seems to imply, absurdly, that knowledge can come and go quite easily—in particular, that it might come and go along with our variable practical interests. We can call this the stability problem. Second, there seems to be no fully satisfying way of explaining whose practical interests matter. We can call this the “whose stakes?” problem. I argue that both problems can (...) be addressed in roughly the same terms. More exactly, I argue that by first clarifying the whose stakes? problem an answer to the stability problem naturally falls out. (shrink)
Evidentialism as its leading proponents describe it has two distinct senses, these being evidentialism as a conceptual analysis of epistemic justification, and as a prescriptive ethics of belief—an account of what one ‘ought to believe’ under different epistemic circumstances. These two senses of evidentialism are related, but in the work of leading evidentialist philosophers, in ways that I think are deeply problematic. Although focusing on Richard Feldman’s ethics of belief, this chapter is critical of evidentialism in both senses. (...) However, I share with authors like Feldman and Earl Conee, that epistemology has important prescriptive functions, and that a sound, civic ethics of belief is of more than merely philosophic importance. One reason why an ethics of belief might be important to problems of practice is the need we have for tools to more effectively mediate the renewed round of ‘culture wars’ we are experiencing in Anglo-American cultures. I mean especially that grand cultural clash between science and religion, reason and faith, secularist atheism and religious fundamentalism, etc. Let us start with the genealogical question of why there is such a grand cultural debate in the first place, and why the debate especially as played out in public and popular forums and even in the courtrooms seems so volatile and so often to confusedly drag everything—beliefs, values, passions, etc., with it. These are questions that I think Sigmund Freud’s classic Civilization and its Discontents can help us understand. Freud was a major voice in criticism of the stern and often hypocritical Victorian morality, a voice pointing out the price of its sometimes high-handed, guiltinducing curtailments of the satisfactions sought by the individual. But for Freud while there are real differences in the moral demands that different societies or traditions place upon people, there is something inevitable about the conflict itself, for “replacement of the power of the individual by the power of a community constitutes the decisive step of civilization... (shrink)