We begin with a subsidiary question: Is reasonable disagreement ever possible? Opposing answers to one and the same question can both be reasonable, of course, if at least one of them is based on evidence that is persuasive but misleading. This much is uncontroversial. In a more interesting case, Pro and Con share all their evidence. Can they still assess the shared evidence differently? Can one affirm what the other denies, though each proceeds reasonably enough? For each to be reasonable, (...) each needs positive justification. Unlike ethics, epistemology repels arbitrariness. Facing a choice between bringing it about that p and bringing it about that not-p, you may have no sufficient reason to prefer either over the other, in which case you might well be free to take your pick. That’s how it is for practical choices or actions. By contrast, with no more reason for believing either a proposition or its negation in preference to the other, you are definitely not free to proceed either way. Here you must withhold, if you are to proceed reasonably at all, epistemically. If two opponents are both to be reasonable, then, each needs a balance of reason favoring his side. But is this compatible with their sharing all of their evidence? Not if any reason they may have, for or against believing, would have to be found in the evidence that they share. We are supposing they share all their evidence. Since the evidence cannot point in two opposite directions at once, Pro and Con cannot each have substantial positive reason for affirming what the other denies. Based on such reasoning, you may well conclude that reasonable disagreement with full disclosure is just impossible. But others will no doubt disagree. Suppose you all pool your evidence, and they remain unimpressed. On one view with substantial support in the literature, if you encounter opposition from an apparent peer, then, absent independent reason to downgrade him, you must lower your confidence, perhaps below the threshold of belief.. (shrink)
This article is a reply to Baron Reed and Heather Battaly, two critics in a book symposium on my Reflective Knowledge. The reply to Reed concerns the main content and structure of Descartes's epistemology. The reply to Battaly concerns how best to deal with epistemic circularity.
This paper takes up the critique of armchair philosophy drawn by some experimental philosophers from survey results. It also takes up a more recent development with increased methodological sophistication. The argument based on disagreement among respondents suggests a much more serious problem for armchair philosophy and puts in question the standing of our would-be discipline.
1. Sensa and propositional experience. 2. An option between propositions and properties (as objects or contents of sensory experience). 3. The property option and adverbialism. 4. Sensa as images, images as intentionalia. 5. Do we refer directly to sensa? 6. Focusing and the supervenience of images and our reference to them: a question raised. 7. Internal and external properties of images and characters. Strict vistas introduced. 8. A correction on strict vistas. 9. Focusing and experience: the question answered. 10. Conclusion.
Reflective Knowledge argues for a reflective virtue epistemology based on a kind of virtuous circularity that may be found explicitly or just below the surface in the epistemological writings of Descartes, Moore, and now Davidson, who on Sosa's reading also relies crucially on an assumption of virtuous circularity. Along the way various lines of objection are explored. In Part I Sosa considers historical alternatives to the view developed in Part II. He begins with G.E. Moore's legendary proof, and the epistemology (...) that lies behind it. That leads to classical foundationalism, a more general position encompassing the indirect realism advocated by Moore. Next he turns to the quietist naturalism found in David Hume, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and P.F. Strawson. After that comes Thomas Reid's commonsense alternative. A quite different option is the subtle and complex epistemology developed by Wilfrid Sellars over the course of a long career. Finally, Part I concludes with a study of Donald Davidson's distinctive form of epistemology naturalized (as Sosa argues). The second part of the book presents an alternative beyond the historical positions of Part I, one that defends a virtue epistemology combined with epistemic circularity. This alternative retains elements of the earlier approaches, while discarding what was found wanting in them. (shrink)
Survey results are in the first instance utterances, which require interpretation. Moreover, when the results seem to involve disagreement in intuitive responses to a thought experiment, the results are most directly responsive to the scenario as envisaged by the particular subject, where the text of the example can give rise to relevantly different scenarios, depending on how the scenario is shaped by the subjects involved, under the guidance of the text. All of this opens up a defense of intuitions against (...) results that ostensibly imply extensive intuitive disagreement based on cultural or socio-economic background. Critics of the armchair have replied to this defense in recent publications. This paper takes up some of those replies. (shrink)
This paper is a response to the four critics of A Virtue Epistemology (2007). It responds to Claudia Lorena García, Miguel Ángel Fernández, Jonathan Kvanvig, and Ram Neta, in that order. Este artículo es una respuesta a los cuatro críticos de A Virtue Epistemology (2007). Ofrece respuestas a Claudia Lorena García, Miguel Ángel Fernández, Jonathan Kvanvig, y Ram Neta, en ese orden.
In what way is knowledge better than merely true belief? That is a problem posed in Plato’s Meno. A belief that falls short of knowledge seems thereby inferior. It is better to know than to get it wrong, of course, and also better than to get it right by luck rather than competence. But how can that be so, if a true belief will provide the same benefits? In order to get to Larissa you do not need to know the (...) way. A true belief will get you there just as well. Is it really always better to know the answer to a question than to get it right by luck? In part i we ponder: Is knowledge always better at least in epistemic respects? The affirmative answer is subject to doubts deriving from a conception of belief as sufficient confidence, but is defensible against such doubts. In our search for the special value of knowledge, we then explore in part ii the relation between knowledge and proper action. Part iii goes on to consider how the value of knowledge intuition acquires further interest through its equivalence with the view of knowledge as a norm of assertion. Finally, part iv steps back to examine what we might mean in saying that to know is always, necessarily better than to get it right by luck while really in ignorance. In order to defend our value-of-knowledge intuition we need first to understand it more clearly. Part iv offers an explanation. (shrink)
A Virtue Epistemology presents a new approach to some of the oldest and most gripping problems of philosophy, those of knowledge and scepticism. Ernest Sosa argues for two levels of knowledge, the animal and the reflective, each viewed as a distinctive human accomplishment. By adopting a kind of virtue epistemology in line with the tradition found in Aristotle, Aquinas, Reid, and especially Descartes, he presents an account of knowledge which can be used to shed light on different varieties of scepticism, (...) the nature and status of intuitions, and epistemic normativity. (shrink)
Belief is considered a kind of performance, which attains one level of success if it is true (or accurate), a second level if competent (or adroit), and a third if true because competent (or apt). Knowledge on one level (the animal level) is apt belief. The epistemic normativity constitutive of such knowledge is thus a kind of performance normativity. A problem is posed for this account by the fact that suspension of belief seems to fall under the same sort of (...) epistemic normativity as does belief itself, yet to suspend is of course precisely not to perform, certainly not with the aim of truth. The paper takes up this problem, and proposes a solution that distinguishes levels of performance norrmativity, including a first order where execution competence is in play, and a second order where the performer must assess the risks attendant on issuing a first-order performance. This imports a level of reflective knowledge that ascends above the animal level. (shrink)
Abstract Paul Boghossian discusses critically my account of intuition as a source of epistemic status. Stewart Cohen takes up my views on skepticism, on dreams, and on epistemic competence and competences and their relation to human knowledge. Hilary Kornblith focuses on my animal/reflective distinction, and, along with Cohen, on my comparison between how dreams might mislead us and how other bad epistemic contexts can do so. In this paper I offer replies to my three critics.
Abstract: Susana Nuccetelli discusses critically my account of Moore's Proof of the External World. Noah Lemos takes up my views on skepticism and my distinction between animal knowledge and reflective knowledge. Otávio Bueno focuses on my treatment of dream skepticism. In this article I offer replies to my three critics.
Having fascinated some of the greatest philosophers from the earliest times, dreaming figures importantly in the history of philosophy, as in Plato’s Theaetetus, Augustine’s Confessions, and, perhaps most famously, Descartes’s Mediations. By far the greatest philosophical focus on dreaming has been epistemic: Socrates suggests to Theaetetus that since he cannot tell whether he is dreaming, he cannot trust his senses to know contingent facts about the world around him. And a similar worry drives Descartes’s radical doubt in the First Meditation. (...) We might think that dream skepticism is, among the radical Cartesian skeptical scenarios, a particularly worrying one, since dreams, unlike evil demons, are a commonplace of everyday life. (shrink)
The topic is experimental philosophy as a naturalistic movement, and its bearing on the value of intuitions in philosophy. This paper explores first how the movement might bear on philosophy more generally, and how it might amount to something novel and promising. Then it turns to one accomplishment repeatedly claimed for it already: namely, the discrediting of armchair intuitions as used in philosophy.
Testimony is a crucial source of knowledge: we are to a large extent reliant upon what others tell us. It has been the subject of much recent interest in epistemology, and this volume collects twelve original essays on the topic by some of the world's leading philosophers. It will be the starting point for future research in this fertile field. Contributors include Robert Audi, C. A. J. Coady, Elizabeth Fricker, Richard Fumerton, Sanford C. Goldberg, Peter Graham, Jennifer Lackey, Keith Lehrer, (...) Richard Moran, Frederick F. Schmitt, Ernest Sosa, and James Van Cleve. (shrink)
That conception is orthodox in today’s common sense and also historically. Presupposed by Plato, Augustine, and Descartes, it underlies familiar skeptical paradoxes. Similar orthodoxy is also found in our developing science of sleep and dreaming. Despite such confluence.