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Profile: James Beebe
  1. James R. Beebe, Journal of Philosophical Research Volume 28.
    Stephen Stich (1990) has argued that our commitment to truth is parochial, arbitrary, and idiosyncratic. Truth, according to Stich, can be analyzed in terms of reference and predicate satisfaction. If our intuitions about reference can change, this means that our concept of truth can change. If there can be many distinct concepts of truth, our seemingly unreflective commitment to the one we have inherited seems unmotivated. I argue that deflationism about truth possesses sufficient resources to turn back Stich’s skeptical challenge. (...)
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  2. James R. Beebe, The Folk Conception of Weakness of Will.
    Philosophers have long puzzled over the phenomenon of weakness of will. Some (e.g., Socrates in the Protagoras ; Hare, 1952, 1963; Watson, 1977) have questioned whether weak-willed action is genuinely possible, since it requires that agents do one thing while sincerely believing they ought to do something else. Others have been skeptical about whether weak-willed actions can be free, since agents who display weakness of will sometimes seem to be overcome or enslaved by their desires or passions (cf. Watson 1977; (...)
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  3. James R. Beebe & Ryan J. Undercoffer (forthcoming). Moral Valence and Semantic Intuitions. Erkenntnis:1-22.
    Despite the swirling tide of controversy surrounding the work of Machery et al. (Cognition 92:B1–B12, 2004), the cross-cultural differences they observed in semantic intuitions about the reference of proper names have proven to be robust. In the present article, we report cross-cultural and individual differences in semantic intuitions obtained using new experimental materials. In light of the pervasiveness of the Knobe effect (Analysis 63:190–193, 2003, Philos Psychol 16:309–324, 2003, Behav Brain Sci 33:315–329, 2010; Pettit and Knobe in Mind Lang 24:586–604, (...)
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  4. Mikkel Gerken & James R. Beebe (2014). Knowledge in and Out of Contrast. Noûs 48 (3).
    We report and discuss the results of a series of experiments that address a contrast effect exhibited by folk judgments about knowledge ascriptions. The contrast effect, which was first reported by Schaffer and Knobe (), is an important aspect of our folk epistemology. However, there are competing theoretical accounts of it. We shed light on the various accounts by providing novel empirical data and theoretical considerations. Our key findings are, firstly, that belief ascriptions exhibit a similar contrast effect and, secondly, (...)
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  5. James R. Beebe (2012). Social Functions of Knowledge Attributions. In Jessica Brown & Mikkel Gerken (eds.), Knowledge Ascriptions. Oxford University Press. 220--242.
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  6. James R. Beebe & Mark Jensen (2012). Surprising Connections Between Knowledge and Action: The Robustness of the Epistemic Side-Effect Effect. Philosophical Psychology 25 (5):689 - 715.
    A number of researchers have begun to demonstrate that the widely discussed ?Knobe effect? (wherein participants are more likely to think that actions with bad side-effects are brought about intentionally than actions with good or neutral side-effects) can be found in theory of mind judgments that do not involve the concept of intentional action. In this article we report experimental results that show that attributions of knowledge can be influenced by the kinds of (non-epistemic) concerns that drive the Knobe effect. (...)
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  7. James R. Beebe & Wesley Buckwalter (2010). The Epistemic Side-Effect Effect. Mind and Language 25 (4):474-498.
    Knobe (2003a, 2003b, 2004b) and others have demonstrated the surprising fact that the valence of a side-effect action can affect intuitions about whether that action was performed intentionally. Here we report the results of an experiment that extends these findings by testing for an analogous effect regarding knowledge attributions. Our results suggest that subjects are less likely to find that an agent knows an action will bring about a side-effect when the effect is good than when it is bad. It (...)
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  8. James R. Beebe (2009). The Abductivist Reply to Skepticism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):605-636.
    Abductivists claim that explanatory considerations (e.g., simplicity, parsimony, explanatory breadth, etc.) favor belief in the external world over skeptical hypotheses involving evil demons and brains in vats. After showing how most versions of abductivism succumb fairly easily to obvious and fatal objections, I explain how rationalist versions of abductivism can avoid these difficulties. I then discuss the most pressing challenges facing abductivist appeals to the a priori and offer suggestions on how to overcome them.
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  9. James R. Beebe (2007). BonJour's Abductivist Reply to Skepticism. Philosophia 35 (2):181-196.
    The abductivist reply to skepticism is the view that commonsense explanations of the patterns and regularities that appear in our sensory experiences should be rationally preferred to skeptical explanations of those same patterns and regularities on the basis of explanatory considerations. In this article I critically examine Laurence BonJour’s rationalist version of the abductivist position. After explaining why BonJour’s account is more defensible than other versions of the view, I argue that the notion of probability he relies upon is deeply (...)
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  10. James R. Beebe (2006). Reliabilism and Deflationism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):495 – 510.
    In this article I examine several issues concerning reliabilism and deflationism. I critique Alvin Goldman's account of the key differences between correspondence and deflationary theories and his claim that reliabilism can be combined only with those truth theories that maintain a commitment to truthmakers. I then consider how reliability could be analysed from a deflationary perspective and show that deflationism is compatible with reliabilism. I close with a discussion of whether a deflationary theory of knowledge is possible.
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  11. James R. Beebe, Prosentential Theory of Truth. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Prosentential theorists claim that sentences such as “That’s true” are prosentences that function analogously to their better known cousins–pronouns. For example, just as we might use the pronoun ‘he’ in place of ‘James’ to transform “James went to the supermarket” into “He went to the supermarket,” so we might use the prosentenceforming operator ‘is true’ to transform “Snow is white” into “‘Snow is white’ is true.” According to the prosentential theory of truth, whenever a referring expression (for example, a definite (...)
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  12. James R. Beebe (2003). Andrew Newman, The Correspondence Theory of Truth: An Essay on the Metaphysics of Predication Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 23 (3):195-197.
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  13. James R. Beebe (2003). Attributive Uses of Prosentences. Ratio 16 (1):1–15.
    Defenders of the prosentential theory of truth claim that the English language contains prosentences which function analogously to their better known cousins – pronouns. Statements such as ‘That is true’ or ‘It is true’, they claim, inherit their content from antecedent statements, just as pronouns inherit their reference from antecedent singular terms. Prosentential theorists claim that the content of these prosentences is exhausted by the content of their antecedents. They then use the notion of the inheritance of content from an (...)
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  14. James R. Beebe (2003). Deflationism and the Value of Truth. Journal of Philosophical Research 28:391-402.
  15. James R. Beebe, Logical Problem of Evil. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a serious challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were all-knowing, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world. If God were all-powerful, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering. Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it. And yet (...)
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  16. James R. Beebe (2001). Interpretation and Epistemic Evaluation in Goldman's Descriptive Epistemology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 31 (2):163-186.
    One branch of Alvin Goldman's proposed "scientific epistemology" is devoted to the scientific study of how folk epistemic evaluators acquire and deploy the concepts of knowledge and justified belief. The author argues that such a "descriptive epistemology," as Goldman calls it, requires a more sophisticated theory of interpretation than is provided by the simulation theory Goldman adopts. The author also argues that any adequate account of folk epistemic concepts must reconstruct the intersubjective conceptual roles those concepts play in discursive practices. (...)
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  17. James R. Beebe (1997). The Epistemology of Religious Experience. By Keith E. Yandell. Modern Schoolman 74 (2):163-165.
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