We distinguish between two categories of belief--thin belief and thick belief--and provide evidence that they approximate genuinely distinct categories within folk psychology. We use the distinction to make informative predictions about how laypeople view the relationship between knowledge and belief. More specifically, we show that if the distinction is genuine, then we can make sense of otherwise extremely puzzling recent experimental findings on the entailment thesis (i.e. the widely held philosophical thesis that knowledge entails belief).
Traditionally it has been thought that the moral valence of a proposition is, strictly speaking, irrelevant to whether someone knows that the proposition is true, and thus irrelevant to the truth-value of a knowledge ascription. On this view, it’s no easier to know, for example, that a bad thing will happen than that a good thing will happen (other things being equal). But a series of very surprising recent experiments suggest that this is actually not how we view knowledge. On (...) the contrary, people are much more willing to ascribe knowledge of a bad outcome. This is known as the epistemic side-effect effect (ESEE), and is a specific instance of a widely documented phenomenon, the side-effect effect (a.k.a. “the Knobe effect”), which is the most famous finding in experimental philosophy. In this paper, I report a new series of five experiments on ESEE, and in the process accomplish three things. First, I confirm earlier findings on the effect. Second, I show that the effect is virtually unlimited. Third, I introduce a new technique for detecting the effect, which potentially enhances its theoretical significance. In particular, my findings make it more likely that the effect genuinely reflects the way we think about and ascribe knowledge, rather than being the result of a performance error. (shrink)
Some assertions should be made, and some should not. Should any false assertions be made? Or should we make an assertion only if it is true? In short, is the norm of assertion factive? Assertion is fundamental to our lives as social and cognitive beings. By asserting we share information, coordinate behavior, and advance collective inquiry. From the perspective of cognitive science, assertion — along with questioning — is arguably the most important speech act. This paper reviews the impressive case (...) that has been made for the most promising factive norm of assertion — the view that knowledge is the norm of assertion — and then takes the debate over the norms of assertion in an entirely new direction, investigating the norm experimentally and exposing competing accounts to empirical falsification. Just as the intuitions of competent language users are a source of evidence in linguistics, so too are they a source of evidence about the norms of speech acts such as assertion. I report five experiments examining the effect of falsity on people’s evaluation of assertions and informants. The findings strongly support the view that the norm of assertion is factive. In the process, I report a surprising and important new effect on normative judgment in cases of blameless rule-breaking, which I call exculpatory pretense. (shrink)
The Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA) says that knowledge is the norm of assertion: you may assert a proposition only if you know that it's true. The primary support for KAA is an explanatory inference from a broad range of linguisitic data. The more data that KAA well explains, the stronger the case for it, and the more difficult it is for the competition to keep pace. In this paper we critically assess a purported new linguistic datum, which, it has (...) been argued, KAA well explains. We argue that KAA does not well explain it. (shrink)
Professional philosophers say it’s obvious that a Gettier subject does not know. But experimental philosophers and psychologists have argued that laypeople and non-Westerners view Gettier subjects very differently, based on experiments where they tend to ascribe knowledge to Gettier subjects. I argue that when effectively probed, laypeople and non-Westerners unambiguously agree that Gettier subjects do not know.
I accomplish two things in this paper. First I expose some important limitations of the contemporary literature on the norms of assertion and in the process illuminate a host of new directions and forms that an account of assertional norms might take. Second I leverage those insights to suggest a new account of the relationship between knowledge and assertion, which arguably outperforms the standard knowledge account.
What is the relationship between saying ‘I know that Q’ and guaranteeing that Q? John Austin, Roderick Chisholm and Wilfrid Sellars all agreed that there is some important connection, but disagreed over what exactly it was. In this paper I discuss each of their accounts and present a new one of my own. Drawing on speech-act theory and recent research on the epistemic norms of speech acts, I suggest that the relationship is this: by saying ‘I know that Q’, you (...) represent yourself as having the authority to guarantee that Q. (shrink)
We conducted five experiments that reveal some main contours of the folk epistemology of lotteries. The folk tend to think that you don't know that your lottery ticket lost, based on the long odds ("statistical cases"); by contrast, the folk tend to think that you do know that your lottery ticket lost, based on a news report ("testimonial cases"). We evaluate three previous explanations for why people deny knowledge in statistical cases: the justification account, the chance account, and the statistical (...) account. None of them seems to work. We then propose a new explanation of our own, the formulaic account, according to which some people deny knowledge in statistical cases due to formulaic expression. (shrink)
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)
This paper applies speech-act theory to craft a new response to Pyrrhonian skepticism and diagnose its appeal. Carefully distinguishing between different levels of language-use and noting their interrelations can help us identify a subtle mistake in a key Pyrrhonian argument.
I show how non-presentists ought to respond to a popular objection originally due to Arthur Prior and lately updated by Dean Zimmerman. Prior and Zimmerman say that non-presentism cannot account for the fittingness of certain emotional responses to things past. But presentism gains no advantage here, because it is equally incapable of accounting for the fittingness of certain other emotional responses to things past, in particular moral outrage.
This paper presents a puzzle about justification and withholding. The puzzle arises in a special case where experts advise us to not withhold judgment. My main thesis is simply that the puzzle is genuinely a puzzle, and so leads us to rethink some common assumptions in epistemology, specifically assumptions about the nature of justification and doxastic attitudes. Section 1 introduces the common assumptions. Section 2 presents the puzzle case. Section 3 assesses the puzzle case. Section 4 explains the choice we're (...) faced with. Sections 5 and 6 consider and reject some proposed solutions, and in the process refine and clarify the choice we're faced with. Section 7 considers and rejects a miscellany of different proposed solutions. (shrink)
Is knowledge justified true belief? Most philosophers believe that the answer is clearly ‘no’, as demonstrated by Gettier cases. But Gettier cases don’t obviously refute the traditional view that knowledge is justified true belief (JTB). There are ways of resisting Gettier cases, at least one of which is partly successful. Nevertheless, when properly understood, Gettier cases point to a flaw in JTB, though it takes some work to appreciate just what it is. The nature of the flaw helps us better (...) understand the nature of knowledge and epistemic justification. I propose a crucial improvement to the traditional view, relying on an intuitive and independently plausible metaphysical distinction pertaining to the manifestation of intellectual powers, which supplements the traditional components of justification, truth and belief. (shrink)
I discuss two arguments against the view that reasons are propositions. I consider responses to each argument, including recent responses due to Mark Schroeder, and suggest further responses of my own. In each case, the discussion proceeds by comparing reasons to answers and goals.
This paper explains what it is to believe something for a reason. My thesis is that you believe something for a reason just in case the reason non-deviantly causes your belief. In the course of arguing for my thesis, I present a new argument that reasons are causes, and offer an informative account of causal non-deviance.
I argue that you can have a priori knowledge of propositions that neither are nor appear necessarily true. You can know a priori contingent propositions that you recognize as such. This overturns a standard view in contemporary epistemology and the traditional view of the a priori, which restrict a priori knowledge to necessary truths, or at least to truths that appear necessary.
This paper provides a principled and elegant solution to the Gettier problem. The key move is to draw a general metaphysical distinction and conscript it for epistemological purposes. Section 1 introduces the Gettier problem. Sections 2–5 discuss instructively wrong or incomplete previous proposals. Section 6 presents my solution and explains its virtues. Section 7 answers the most common objection.
Many philosophers favour the simple knowledge account of assertion, which says you may assert something only if you know it. The simple account is true but importantly incomplete. I defend a more informative thesis, namely, that you may assert something only if your assertion expresses knowledge. I call this 'the express knowledge account of assertion', which I argue better handles a wider range of cases while at the same time explaining the simple knowledge account's appeal. §1 introduces some new data (...) that a knowledge account of assertion well explains. §2 explains the simple knowledge account's advantage over two of its main competitors. §3 presents a problem for the simple account and offers a solution, which is to adopt the express knowledge account. §4 encapsulates the case for the express knowledge account, and offers a unifying vision for the epistemology of belief and assertion. §5 answers an objection. §6 briefly sums up. Even those who ultimately reject my conclusion can still benefit from the new data presented in §1, and learn an important lesson from the problem discussed in §3, which demonstrates a general constraint on an acceptable account of the norm of assertion. (shrink)
This article accomplishes two closely connected things. First, it refutes an influential view about the relationship between perception and knowledge. In particular, it demonstrates that perceiving does not entail knowing. Second, it leverages that refutation to demonstrate that knowledge is not the most general factive propositional attitude.
This paper shows how to reconcile epistemic invariantism with the knowledge account of assertion. My basic proposal is that we can comfortably combine invariantism with the knowledge account of assertion by endorsing contextualism about speech acts. My demonstration takes place against the backdrop of recent contextualist attempts to usurp the knowledge account of assertion, most notably Keith DeRose’s influential argument that the knowledge account of assertion spells doom for invariantism and enables contextualism’s ascendancy. The paper’s plan: Section 1 explains contextualism (...) and invariantism. Section 2 recounts a common influential objection to contextualism, to wit, that its proponents confuse warranted assertability with truth. Section 3 reviews DeRose’s response to this objection, wherein he argues that contextualism’s opponent, in leveling this objection, is hoist with his own petard. Sections 4 – 6 develop resources for crafting a version of invariantism that escapes DeRose’s argument. Section 7 introduces us to this freshly equipped version of invariantism, which can be wedded to the knowledge account of assertion. Sections 8 – 11 entertain and respond to objections. Section 12 concludes our discussion by suggesting how our new invariantist could respond to the radical skeptic, in a way that rivals the anti-skeptical contextualist’s response. (shrink)
We find two main contemporary arguments for the infinitist theory of epistemic justification ('infinitism' for short): the regress argument (Klein 1999, 2005) and the features argument (Fantl 2003). I've addressed the former elsewhere (Turri 2009a). Here I address the latter.Jeremy Fantl argues that infinitism outshines foundationalism because infinitism alone can explain two of epistemic justification's crucial features, namely, that it comes in degrees and can be complete. This paper demonstrates foundationalism's ample resources for explaining both features.Section II clarifies the debate's (...) key terms. Section III recounts how infinitism explains the two crucial features. Section IV presents Fantl's argument .. (shrink)
I argue against the orthodox view of the relationship between propositional and doxastic justification. The view under criticism is: if p is propositionally justified for S in virtue of S's having reason(s) R, and S believes p on the basis of R, then S's belief that p is doxastically justified. I then propose and evaluate alternative accounts of the relationship between propositional and doxastic justification, and conclude that we should explain propositional justification in terms of doxastic justification. If correct, this (...) proposal would constitute a significant advance in our understanding of the sources of epistemic justification. (shrink)
I consider a serious objection to the knowledge account of assertion and develop a response. In the process I introduce important new data on prompting assertion, which all theorists working in the area should take note of.
This paper refutes two important and influential views in one fell stroke. The first is G.E. Moore’s view that assertions of the form ‘Q but I don’t believe that Q’ are inherently “absurd.” The second is Gareth Evans’s view that justification to assert Q entails justification to assert that you believe Q. Both views run aground the possibility of being justified in accepting eliminativism about belief. A corollary is that a principle recently defended by John Williams is also false, namely, (...) that justification to believe Q entails justification to believe that you believe Q. (shrink)
Any satisfactory epistemology must account for the distinction between propositional and doxastic justification. Can infinitism account for it? Proposals to date have been unsatisfactory. This paper advances a new infinitist account of the distinction. The discussion proceeds as follows. Section 1 sets the stage. Section 2 presents Peter Klein's account. Section 3 raises a problem for Klein's account and suggests an improvement. Section 4 raises a further challenge. Sections 5 to 7 consider several unsuccessful attempts to meet the challenge. Section (...) 8 presents my new proposal, which can meet the challenge. Section 9 concludes the discussion. (shrink)
I respond to John Greco’s argument that all forms of internalism in epistemology are either false or uninteresting. The paper divides into two sections. First, I explain precisely what internalists and externalists in epistemology disagree over. This puts us in a position to assess whether Greco’s argument succeeds. Second, I present Greco’s argument and offer two objections.
This paper critically evaluates the regress argument for infinitism. The dialectic is essentially this. Peter Klein argues that only an infinitist can, without being dogmatic, enhance the credibility of a questioned non-evident proposition. In response, I demonstrate that a foundationalist can do this equally well. Furthermore, I explain how foundationalism can provide for infinite chains of justification. I conclude that the regress argument for infinitism should not convince us.
Epistemic reasons are mental states. They are not propositions or non-mental facts. The discussion proceeds as follows. Section 1 introduces the topic. Section 2 gives two concrete examples of how our topic directly affects the internalism/externalism debate in normative epistemology. Section 3 responds to an argument against the view that reasons are mental states. Section 4 presents two problems for the view that reasons are propositions. Section 5 presents two problems for the view that reasons are non-mental facts. Section 6 (...) argues that reasons are mental states. Section 7 responds to objections. (shrink)
This paper clarifies and evaluates a premise of William Alston’s argument in Perceiving God. The premise in question: if it is practically rational to engage in a doxastic practice, then it is epistemically rational to suppose that said practice is reliable. I first provide the background needed to understand how this premise fits into Alston’s main argument. I then present Alston’s main argument, and proceed to clarify, criticize, modify, and ultimately reject Alston’s argument for the premise in question. Without this (...) premise, Alston’s main argument fails. (shrink)
This paper clarifies and evaluates a premise of William Alston’s argument in Perceiving God. The premise in question: if it is practically rational to engage ina doxastic practice, then it is epistemically rational to suppose that said practice is reliable. I first provide the background needed to understand how thispremise fits into Alston’s main argument. I then present Alston’s main argument, and proceed to clarify, criticize, modify, and ultimately reject Alston’s argument for the premise in question. Without this premise, Alston’s (...) main argument fails. (shrink)