It is argued that the arguments put forward by Bernard Williams and Thomas Nagel in their widely influential exchange on the problem of moral luck are marred by a failure to (i) present a coherent understanding of what is involved in the notion of luck, and (ii) adequately distinguish between the problem of moral luck and the analogue problem of epistemic luck, especially that version of the problem that is traditionally presented by the epistemological sceptic. It is further claimed that (...) once one offers a more developed notion of luck and disambiguates the problem of moral luck from the problem of epistemic luck (especially in its sceptical guise), neither of these papers is able to offer unambiguous grounds for thinking that there is a problem of moral luck. Indeed, it is shown that insofar as these papers succeed in making a prima facie case for the existence of epistemic luck, it is only the familiar sceptical variant of this problem that they identify. (shrink)
What is Knowledge? Where does it come from? Can we know anything at all? This lucid and engaging introduction grapples with these central questions in the theory of knowledge, offering a clear, non-partisan view of the main themes of epistemology. Duncan Pritchard discusses both traditional issues and contemporary ideas in thirteen easily digestible sections which include: *the value of knowledge *the structure of knowledge *virtues and faculties *perception *testimony and memory *induction *scepticism What is this thing called knowledge? contains many (...) helpful student-friendly features, Each chapter concludes with a useful summary of the main ideas discussed, a glossary of important terms, study questions, annotated further reading, and a guide to web resources. Text-boxes provide bite-sized summaries of key concepts and major philosophers, and clear and interesting examples are used throughout. This is an ideal first textbook in the theory of knowledge for undergraduates taking a first course in philosophy. (shrink)
Gary Kemp presents a penetrating investigation of key issues in the philosophy of language, by means of a comparative study of two great figures of late twentieth-century philosophy. So far as language and meaning are concerned, Willard Van Orman Quine and Donald Davidson are usually regarded as birds of a feather. The two disagreed in print on various matters over the years, but fundamentally they seem to be in agreement; most strikingly, Davidson's thought experiment of Radical Interpretation looks to be (...) a more sophisticated, technically polished version of Quinean Radical Translation. Yet Quine's most basic and general philosophical commitment is to his methodological naturalism, which is ultimately incompatible with Davidson's main commitments. In particular, it is impossible to endorse, from Quine's perspective, the roles played by the concepts of truth and reference in Davidson's philosophy of language: Davidson's employment of the concept of truth is from Quine's point of view needlessly adventurous, and his use of the concept of reference cannot be divorced from unscientific 'intuition'. From Davidson's point of view, Quine's position looks needlessly scientistic, and seems blind to the genuine problems of language and meaning. Gary Kemp offers a powerful argument for Quine's position, and in favour of methodological naturalism and its corollary, naturalized epistemology. It is possible to give a consistent and explanatory account of language and meaning without problematic uses of the concepts truth and reference, which in turn makes a strident naturalism much more plausible. (shrink)
In this clear and carefully structured introduction to the subject Gary Kemp explains the following key topics: the basic nature of philosophy of language and its historical development early arguments concerning the role of meaning, ...
Seen | Unseen is a deep, richly illustrated, and erudite analysis of the interconnections between science and the visual arts. Martin Kemp explores the responses of artists, scientists, and their instruments, to the world - ranging from early representations of perspective, to pinhole cameras, particle accelerators and the Hubble telescope. -/- From Leonardo, Durer, and the inventors of photography to contemporary sculptors, and from Galileo and Darwin to Stephen J. Gould, Kemp considers the way in which scientists and artists have (...) perceived the world and responded to its patterns, and sees common 'structural intuitions' reflected in their work. (shrink)
In this strikingly bold and original work, Kemp argues that the Western idea of time reversed itself between the fourteenth and the eighteenth century from a static and syncretic image of a temporal world in which all time is uniform, the past is the arbiter of truth and all inherited knowledge is eternally viable, and no secrets lie hidden in time waiting to be revealed to a future age; to a dynamic and supersessive model of history in which the past (...) dispenses only ignorance and error. Kemp describes these two opposed historical worlds, these "time texts," and traces the transition between them, its mechanism, and its motivation, concluding by drawing out the epistemological consequences of supersessive history for the modern intellect. (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)
This paper surveys attempts in the recent literature to offer a modal condition on knowledge as a way of resolving the problem of scepticism. In particular, safety-based and sensitivity-based theories of knowledge are considered in detail, along with the anti-sceptical prospects of an explicitly anti-luck epistemology.
Attributer contextualists maintain that the verb 'knows' is context-sensitive in the sense that the truth conditions of a sentence of the form "S knows that p" can be dependent upon the ascriber's context. One natural objection against attributer contextualism is that it confuses the impropriety of certain assertions which ascribe knowledge to agents with the falsity of those assertions. In an influential article, Keith DeRose has defended attributer contextualism against this charge by proposing constraints on what he calls "warranted assertibility (...) manoeuvres" of this sort. This paper argues that, contra DeRose, the warranted assertibility manoeuvre directed at attributer contextualism is able to meet the constraints that DeRose lays down. (shrink)
It is a platitude in epistemology to say that knowledge excludes luck. Indeed, if one can show that an epistemological theory allows ‘lucky’ knowledge, then that usually suffices to warrant one in straightforwardly rejecting the view. Even despite the prevalence of this intuition, however, very few commentators have explored what it means to say that knowledge is incompatible with luck. In particular, no commentator, so far as I am aware, has offered an account of what luck is and on this (...) basis identified what it means for a true belief to be non-lucky. It is just such a view that I propose, however, and I hope to give a flavour of what this strategy involves here. In particular, I have two goals in this paper. The first is to outline the general contours of the position and show how such a view can account for the attraction of adducing a safety condition on knowledge, with all the epistemic benefits that this principle holds. Relatedly, I will also explain how an anti-luck epistemology can assist us in determining the best formulation of this principle. The second goal of the paper is to show anti-luck epistemology in action by highlighting how such a view can deal with the various problems posed by lottery-style examples. (shrink)
In this paper, I do three things. First, I offer an overview of an anti-luck epistemology, as set out in my book, Epistemic Luck (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2005). Second, I attempt to meet some of the main criticisms that one might level against the key theses that I propose in this work. And finally, third, I sketch some of the ways in which the strategy of anti-luck epistemology can be developed in new directions.
This paper examines the relationship between perceptual knowledge and discrimination in the light of the so-called ‘relevant alternatives’ intuition. It begins by outlining an intuitive relevant alternatives account of perceptual knowledge which incorporates the insight that there is a close connection between perceptual knowledge and the possession of relevant discriminatory abilities. It is argued, however, that in order to resolve certain problems that face this view, it is essential to recognise an important distinction between favouring and discriminating epistemic support that (...) is often overlooked in the literature. This distinction complicates the story regarding how an alternative becomes relevant, and in doing so weakens the connection between perceptual knowledge and discrimination. The theory that results, however—what I term a ‘two-tiered’ relevant alternatives theory of perceptual knowledge—accommodates many of our intuitions about perceptual knowledge and so avoids the revisionism of some recent proposals in the epistemological literature. (shrink)
Recent discussion in epistemology has seen a huge growth in interest in the topic of epistemic value. In this paper I describe the background to this new movement in epistemology and critically survey the contemporary literature on this topic.
An overview of Wittgenstein’s remarks on scepticism in On Certainty is offered, especially with regard to the notion of a “hinge proposition”. Several possible interpretations of the anti-sceptical import of this text are then critically assessed, with each view situated within the contemporary literature on scepticism.
The claim that a miracle is a violation of a law of nature has sometimes been used as part of an a priori argument against the possibility of miracle, on the grounds that a violation is conceptually impossible. I criticize these accounts but also suggest that alternative accounts, when phrased in terms of laws of nature, fail to provide adequate conceptual space for miracles. It is not clear what a ‘violation’ of a law of nature might be, but this is (...) not relevant to the question of miracles. In practice accounts of miracle tend to be phrased in terms of God’s act not in terms of laws of nature. Finally I suggest that the a priori argument reflects an intellectual commitment that is widely held, though wrongly built into the argument itself. (shrink)
This paper explores the ramifications of the extended cognition thesis in the philosophy of mind for contemporary epistemology. In particular, it argues that all theories of knowledge need to accommodate the ability intuition that knowledge involves cognitive ability, but that once this requirement is understood correctly there is no reason why one could not have a conception of cognitive ability that was consistent with the extended cognition thesis. There is thus, surprisingly, a straightforward way of developing our current thinking about (...) knowledge such that it incorporates the extended cognition thesis. (shrink)
In his final notebooks, published as On Certainty , Wittgenstein offers a distinctive conception of the nature of reasons. Central to this conception is the idea that at the heart of our rational practices are essentially arational commitments. This proposal marks a powerful challenge to the standard picture of the structure of reasons. In particular, it has been thought that this account might offer us a resolution of the traditional scepticism/anti-scepticism debate. It is argued, however, that some standard ways of (...) filling out the details of this proposal ultimately lead to an epistemology which is highly problematic. The goal here is to present a more compelling version of Wittgenstein’s account of the structure of reasons which can evade these difficulties. (shrink)
Whereas a number of recent articles have focussed upon whether the thesis of content externalism is compatible with a certain sort of knowledge that is gained via first-person authority,1 far less attention has been given to the relationship that this thesis bears to the possession of knowledge in general and, in particular, its relation to internalist and externalist epistemologies. Nevertheless, although very few actual arguments have been presented to this end, there does seem to be a shared suspicion that content (...) externalism must be incompatible with epistemic internalism. In a recent and influential paper, however, James Chase has challenged this conventional wisdom by offering a subtle defence of the view that content externalism and epistemic internalism are, in fact, compatible after all.2 Our aim here is twofold. First, to show that Chase is only able to achieve this result because he focuses upon the internalist conception of justification, rather than knowledge. Second, to formulate one prima facie argument which shows that an internalist conception of knowledge is incompatible with an externalist conception of content, an argument which, moreover, is not touched by Chase. (shrink)
Much of the recent debate regarding scepticism has focussed on a certain template sceptical argument and a rather restricted set of proposals concerning how one might deal with that argument. Throughout this debate the ‘Moorean’ response to scepticism is often cited as a paradigm example of how one should not respond to the sceptical argument, so conceived. As I argue in this paper, however, there are ways of resurrecting the Moorean response to the sceptic. In particular, I consider the prospects (...) for three such proposals in this regard: a classical epistemic internalist neo-Mooreanism, a classical epistemic externalist neo-Mooreanism, and a non-classical McDowellian epistemic internalist neo-Mooreanism, and maintain that the last two of these proposals (both of which make appeal to a disjunctivist account of perception, broadly conceived) merit further exploration. Indeed, I claim that a suitably qualified version of neo-Mooreanism would actually sit quite well with the general philosophical motivations behind other key anti-sceptical views and I argue that given this fact neo-Mooreanism is actually at a dialectical advantage relative to other views when it comes to dealing with the sceptical problem as it is typically conceived. (shrink)
Let us focus on what I take it is the paradigm case of testimony—the intentional transfer of a belief from one agent to another, whether in the usual way via a verbal assertion made by the one agent to the other, or by some other means, such as through a note.1 So, for example, John says to Mary that the house is on fire (or, if you like, ‘texts’ her this message on her phone), and Mary, upon hearing this, forms (...) the belief that the house is on fire and consequently exits the building at speed. Clearly, a great deal of our beliefs are gained via testimony, and if the epistemic status of our testimonybased beliefs were to be called into question en masse, then this would present us with quite a predicament. It is thus essential that we have some plausible account of the epistemology of testimony. Our primary focus will be on the justification for our testimony-based beliefs, though along the way we will say a little about other relevant epistemic notions like epistemic entitlement as well. (shrink)
It is maintained that the arguments put forward by Bernard Williams and Thomas Nagel in their widely influential exchange on the problem of moral luck are marred by a failure to (i) present a coherent understanding of what is involved in the notion of luck, and (ii) adequately distinguish between the problem of moral luck and the analogue problem of epistemic luck, especially that version of the problem that is traditionally presented by the epistemological sceptic. It is further claimed that (...) once one offers a more developed notion of luck and disambiguates the problem of moral luck from the problem of epistemic luck (especially in its sceptical guise), neither of these papers is able to offer unambiguous grounds for thinking that there is a problem of moral luck. Indeed, it is shown that in so far as these papers succeed in making a prima facie case for the existence of epistemic luck, it is only the familiar sceptical variant of this problem that they identify. (shrink)
This paper explores the question of whether there is an interesting form of specifically epistemic relativism available, a position which can lend support to claims of a broadly relativistic nature but which is not committed to relativism about truth. It is argued that the most plausible rendering of such a view turns out not to be the radical thesis that it is often represented as being.
The recent movement towards virtue–theoretic treatments of epistemological concepts can be understood in terms of the desire to eliminate epistemic luck. Significantly, however, it is argued that the two main varieties of virtue epistemology are responding to different types of epistemic luck. In particular, whilst proponents of reliabilism–based virtue theories have been focusing on the problem of what I call “veritic” epistemic luck, non–reliabilism–based virtue theories have instead been concerned with a very different type of epistemic luck, what I call (...) “reflective” epistemic luck. It is argued that, prima facie at least, both forms of epistemic luck need to be responded to by any adequate epistemological theory. The problem, however, is that one can best eliminate veritic epistemic luck by adducing a so–called safety–based epistemological theory that need not be allied to a virtue–based account, and there is no fully adequate way of eliminating reflective epistemic luck. I thus conclude that this raises a fundamental difficulty for virtue–based epistemological theories, on either construal. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]. (shrink)
This paper examines the relevance of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty to the contemporary debate regarding the problem of radical scepticism. In particular, it considers two accounts in the recent literature which have seen in Wittgenstein’s remarks on “hinge propositions” in On Certainty the basis for a primarily epistemological anti-sceptical thesis—viz., the inferential contextualism offered by Michael Williams and the ‘unearned warrant’ thesis defended by Crispin Wright. Both positions are shown to be problematic, both as interpretations of Wittgenstein and as anti-sceptical theses. (...) Indeed, it is argued that on a reading of On Certainty which has Wittgenstein advancing a primarily epistemological thesis, there is in fact strong evidence to suggest that Wittgenstein thought that no epistemic response to the sceptic was available—at best, it seems, only a pragmatic antisceptical thesis is on offer. Such a conclusion is not without import to the present debate regarding radical scepticism, however, since it poses a general challenge for how the sceptical argument is conceived in the contemporary literature. (shrink)
It is argued that a popular way of accounting for the distinctive value of knowledge by appeal to the distinctive value of cognitive achievements fails because it is a mistake to identify knowledge with cognitive achievements. Nevertheless, it is claimed that understanding, properly conceived, is a type of cognitive achievement, and thus that the distinctive value of cognitive achievements can explain why understanding is of special value.
The recent literature on the theory of knowledge has taken a distinctive turn by focusing on the role of the cognitive and intellectual virtues in the acquisition of knowledge. The main contours and motivations for such virtue-theoretic accounts of knowledge are here sketched and it is argued that virtue epistemology in its most plausible form can be regarded as a refined form of reliabilism, and thus a variety of epistemic externalism. Moreover, it is claimed that there is strong empirical support (...) in favour of the virtue epistemic position so understood, and an empirical study regarding the cognitive processes employed by medical experts in their diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy is cited in this regard. In general, it is argued that one can best account for 'expert' knowledge in terms of a virtue-theoretic epistemology that retains key reliabilist features. It is thus shown that understanding knowledge along virtue-theoretic lines has important implications for our understanding of how knowledge is acquired, and thus for the philosophy of education. (shrink)
The value problem -- Unpacking the value problem -- The swamping problem -- fundamental and non-fundamental epistemic goods -- The relevance of epistemic value monism -- Responding to the swamping problem I : the practical response -- Responding to the swamping problem II : the monistic response -- Responding to the swamping problem III : the pluralist response -- Robust virtue epistemology -- Knowledge and achievement -- Interlude : is robust virtue epistemology a reductive theory of knowledge? -- Achievement without (...) achievement -- Back to the value problem -- Contra virtue epistemology -- Two master intuitions about knowledge -- Anti-luck virtue epistemology -- Interlude : is anti-luck virtue epistemology a reductive theory of knowledge? -- Diagnosing the structure of knowledge -- Back to the value problem -- The final value of achievements -- Understanding -- Understanding and epistemic luck -- Understanding and cognitive achievement -- Back to the value problem -- Two potential implications of the distinctive value of understanding thesis -- The traditional analytical project and the central tension -- Knowledge, evidence, and reasons -- Concepts versus phenomena -- The way ahead -- Perceptual-recognitional abilities -- Broad and narrow competence -- Avoiding reduction -- Perpetual-recognitional abilities -- Broad and narrow competence -- Avoiding reduction -- Perceptual knowledge and justified belief -- Closure and doxastic responsibility -- Knowledge from indicators -- Recognitional abilities again -- Detached standing knowledge -- Back to knowledge from indicators -- Taking stock -- Why knowledge matters -- Approaching the epistemology of testimony -- Telling and informing -- Acquiring true beliefs and acquiring knowledge through being told -- Access to facts about knowledge -- The modest route -- Fool's knowledge -- The distinctive value of knowledge -- Fool's justification -- Arguing from illusion -- The regress of justifications -- Transparency and knowledge -- Transparency and entitlement -- On trying to do without transparency -- Transparency and luminosity -- Non-sensible knowledge -- Self-knowledge -- Non-sensible knowledge of action -- The two dimensions -- The distinctive value of knowledge of action -- Non-observational knowledge -- Practical knowledge and intention -- Practical knowledge and direction of fit. (shrink)
It is claimed that McDowell’s treatment of scepticism offers a potential way of resurrecting the much derided ‘Moorean’ response to scepticism in a fashion that avoids the problems facing classical internalist and externalist construals of neo-Mooreanism. I here evaluate the prospects for a McDowellian neo-Mooreanism and, in doing so, offer further support for the view.
It is argued that it is beneficial to view the debate regarding radical scepticism through the lens of epistemic value. In particular, it is claimed that we should regard radical scepticism as aiming to deprive us of an epistemic standing that is of special value to us, and that this methodological constraint on our dealings with radical scepticism potentially has important ramifications for how we assess the success of an anti-sceptical strategy.
A popular form of virtue epistemology—defended by such figures as Ernest Sosa, Linda Zagzebski and John Greco—holds that knowledge can be exclusively understood in virtue-theoretic terms. In particular, it holds that there isn't any need for an additional epistemic condition to deal with the problem posed by knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. It is argued that the sustainability of such a proposal is called into question by the possibility of epistemic twin earth cases. In particular, it is argued that such cases demonstrate (...) the need for virtue-theoretic accounts of knowledge to appeal to an independent epistemic condition which excludes knowledge-undermining epistemic luck. (shrink)
A commonly expressed worry in the contemporary literature on the problem of epistemological scepticism is that there is something deeply intellectually unsatisfying about the dominant anti-sceptical theories. In this paper I outline the main approaches to scepticism and argue that they each fail to capture what is essential to the sceptical challenge because they fail to fully understand the role that the problem of epistemic luck plays in that challenge. I further argue that scepticism is best thought of not (...) as a quandary directed at our possession of knowledge simpliciter, but rather as concerned with a specific kind of knowledge that is epistemically desirable. On this view, the source of scepticism lies in a peculiarly epistemic form of angst. It is always by favour of Nature that one knows something. [Wittgenstein 1969: §505]. (shrink)
In this article I return to an argument that I presented in earlier work to the effect that virtue epistemology is at worse false and at best unmotivated. In the light of recent responses to this argument from such figures as John Greco, Guy Axtell, and Kelly Becker, I here re-state and re-evaluate this argument. In the process the original argument is refined and supplemented in key respects and some of the main charges against it are shown to be unfounded. (...) Nevertheless, I also argue that at least one of the objections to the original argument—due to Becker—may well be on the right lines, and I draw some conclusions in this regard. (shrink)
The recent popularity of contextualist treatments of the key epistemic concepts has tended to obscure the differences that exist between the various kinds of contextualist theses on offer. The aim of this paper is to contribute towards rectifying this problem by exploring two of the main formulations of the contextualist position currently on offer in the literature—the 'semantic' contextualist thesis put forward by Keith DeRose and David Lewis, and the 'inferential' contextualist thesis advanced by Michael Williams. It is argued that (...) by evaluating these theses in the light of each other one can gain a deeper understanding of the contextualist position. In particular, it is argued that this relative evaluation highlights one interesting way in which contextualism might be developed. (shrink)
Our aim is to provide a topography of the relevant philosophical terrain with regard to the possible ways in which knowledge can be conceived of as extended. We begin by charting the different types of internalist and externalist proposals within epistemology, and we critically examine the different formulations of the epistemic internalism/externalism debate they lead to. Next, we turn to the internalism/externalism distinction within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In light of the above dividing lines, we then examine first (...) the extent to which content externalism is compatible with epistemic externalism; second, whether active externalism entails epistemic externalism; and third whether there are varieties of epistemic externalism that are better suited to accommodate active externalism. Finally, we examine whether the combination of epistemic and cognitive externalism is necessary for epistemology and we comment on the potential ramifications of this move for social epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
In a recent, and influential, article, Crispin Wright maintains that a familiar form of scepticismwhich finds its core expression in Descartes’ dreaming argumentcan be defused (or, to use Wright’s own parlance, “imploded”), by showing how it employs self-defeating reasoning. I offer two fundamental reasons for rejecting Wright’s ‘implosion’ of scepticism. On the one hand, I argue that, even by Wright’s own lights, it is unclear whether there is a sceptical argument to implode in the first place. On the other, I (...) claim that even on the supposition that Wright has indeed succeeded in setting-up such an argument, he nevertheless fails to follow-through with an adequate response. A diagnosis of the failure of Wright’s approach is then given in the context of the wider sceptical debate. (shrink)