I argue that evaluating the knowledge norm of practical reasoning is less straightforward than is often assumed in the literature. In particular, cases in which knowledge is intuitively present, but action is intuitively epistemically unwarranted, provide no traction against the knowledge norm. The knowledge norm indicates what it is appropriately to hold a particular content as a reason for action; it does not provide a theory of what reasons are sufficient for what actions. Absent a general theory about what sorts (...) of reasons, if genuinely held, would be sufficient to justify actions—a question about which the knowledge norm is silent—many of the kinds of cases prevalent in the literature do not bear on the knowledge norm. (shrink)
According to some critics, traditional armchair philosophical methodology relies in an illicit way on intuitions. But the particular structure of the critique is not often carefully articulated?a significant omission, since some of the critics? arguments for skepticism about philosophy threaten to generalize to skepticism in general. More recently, some experimentalist critics have attempted to articulate a critique that is especially tailored to affect traditional methods, without generalizing too widely. Such critiques are more reasonable, and more worthy of serious consideration, than (...) are blunter critiques that generalize far too widely. I argue that a careful (empirical!) examination of extant philosophical practices shows that traditional philosophical methods can meet these more reasonable challenges. (shrink)
Penultimate draft; please refer to published version. I argue, on philosophical, psychological, and neurophysiological grounds, that contrary to an orthodox view, dreams do not typically involve misleading sensations and false beliefs. I am thus in partial agreement with Colin McGinn, who has argued that we do not have misleading sensory experience while dreaming, and partially in agreement with Ernest Sosa, who has argued that we do not form false beliefs while dreaming. Rather, on my view, dreams involve mental imagery and (...) propositional imagination. I defend the imagination model of dreaming from some objections. (shrink)
What sorts of things are the intuitions generated via thought experiment? Timothy Williamson has responded to naturalistic skeptics by arguing that thought-experiment intuitions are judgments of ordinary counterfactuals. On this view, the intuition is naturalistically innocuous, but it has a contingent content and could be known at best a posteriori. We suggest an alternative to Williamson's account, according to which we apprehend thought-experiment intuitions through our grasp on truth in fiction. On our view, intuitions like the Gettier intuition are necessarily (...) true and knowable a priori. Our view, like Williamson's, avoids naturalistic skepticism. (shrink)
How do we know what's (metaphysically) possible and impossible? Arguments from Kripke and Putnam suggest that possibility is not merely a matter of (coherent) conceivability/imaginability. For example, we can coherently imagine that Hesperus and Phosphorus are distinct objects even though they are not possibly distinct. Despite this apparent problem, we suggest, nevertheless, that imagination plays an important role in an adequate modal epistemology. When we discover what is possible or what is impossible, we generally exploit important connections between what is (...) possible and what we can coherently imagine. We can often come to knowledge of metaphysical modality a priori. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have recently suggested that the role of intuitions in the epistemology of armchair philosophy has been exaggerated. This suggestion is rehearsed and endorsed. What bearing does the rejection of the centrality of intuition in armchair philosophy have on experimentalist critiques of the latter? I distinguish two very different kinds of experimentalist critique: one critique requires the centrality of intuition; the other does not.
One of the more visible recent developments in philosophical methodology is the experimental philosophy movement. On its surface, the experimentalist challenge looks like a dramatic threat to the apriority of philosophy; ‘experimentalist’ is nearly antonymic with ‘aprioristic’. This appearance, I suggest, is misleading; the experimentalist critique is entirely unrelated to questions about the apriority of philosophical investigation. There are many reasons to resist the skeptical conclusions of negative experimental philosophers; but even if they are granted—even if the experimentalists are right (...) to claim that we must do much more careful laboratory work in order legitimately to be confident in our philosophical judgments— the apriority of philosophy is unimpugned. The kinds of scientific investigation that experimental philosophers argue to be necessary involve merely enabling sensory experiences. Although they are not enabling in the sense of permitting concept acquisition, they are enabling in another epistemically significant way that is also consistent with the apriority of philosophy. (shrink)
What are philosophical intuitions? There is a tension between two intuitive criteria. On the one hand, many of our ordinary beliefs do not seem intuitively to be intuitions; this suggests a relatively restrictionist approach to intuitions. (A few attempts to restrict: intuitions must be noninferential, or have modal force, or abstract contents.) On the other hand, it is counterintuitive to deny a great many of our beliefs—including some that are inferential, transparently contingent, and about concrete things. This suggests a liberal (...) conception of intuitions. I defend the liberal view from the objection that it faces intuitive counterexamples; central to the defense is a treatment of the pragmatics of ‘intuition’ language: we cite intuitions, instead of directly expressing our beliefs via assertion, when we are attempting to avoid begging questions against certain sorts of philosophical interlocutors. (shrink)
Penultimate draft; please refer to published version -- especially important in this case, as the official version has been Britishized; even the title's second letter is not the same. Abstract. Ernest Sosa has argued that the solution to dream skepticism lies in an understanding of dreams as imaginative experiences – when we dream, on this suggestion, we do not believe the contents of our dreams, but rather imagine them. Sosa rebuts skepticism thus: dreams don’t cause false beliefs, so my beliefs (...) cannot be false, having been caused by dreams. I argue that, even assuming that Sosa is correct about the nature of dreaming, belief in wakefulness on these grounds is epistemically irresponsible. The proper upshot of the imagination model, I suggest, is to recharacterize the way we think about dream skepticism: the skeptical threat is not, after all, that we have false beliefs. So even though dreams don’t involve false beliefs, they still pose a skeptical threat, which I elaborate. (shrink)
I criticize Timothy Williamson's characterization of thought experiments on which the central judgments are judgments of contingent counterfactuals. The fragility of these counterfactuals makes them too easily false, and too difficult to know.
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)
I critically evaluate Ernest Sosa's (2007) contrast between intuitive justification and perceptual justification. I defend a competence-based approach to intuitive justification that is continuous with epistemic justification generally.
What is it to explain away an intuition? Philosophers regularly attempt to explain intuitions away, but it is often unclear what the success conditions for their project consist in. I attempt to articulate some of these conditions, taking philosophical case studies as guides, and arguing that many attempts to explain away intuitions underestimate the challenge the project of explaining away involves. I will conclude, therefore, that explaining away intuitions is a more difficult task than has sometimes been appreciated; I also (...) suggest, however, that the importance of explaining away intuitions has often been exaggerated. (shrink)
In “Against Arguments from Reference” (Mallon et al., 2009), Ron Mallon, Edouard Machery, Shaun Nichols, and Stephen Stich (hereafter, MMNS) argue that recent experiments concerning reference undermine various philosophical arguments that presuppose the correctness of the causal-historical theory of reference. We will argue three things in reply. First, the experiments in question—concerning Kripke’s Gödel/Schmidt example—don’t really speak to the dispute between descriptivism and the causal-historical theory; though the two theories are empirically testable, we need to look at quite different data (...) than MMNS do to decide between them. Second, the Gödel/Schmidt example plays a different, and much smaller, role in Kripke’s argument for the causal-historical theory than MMNS assume. Finally, and relatedly, even if Kripke is wrong about the Gödel/Schmidt example—indeed, even if the causal-historical theory is not the correct theory of names for some human languages—that does not, contrary to MMNS’s claim, undermine uses of the causalhistorical theory in philosophical research projects. (shrink)
I defend a neo-Lewisean form of contextualism about knowledge attributions. Understanding the context-sensitivity of knowledge attributions in terms of the context-sensitivity of universal quantifiers provides an appealing approach to knowledge. Among the virtues of this approach are solutions to the skeptical paradox and the Gettier problem. I respond to influential objections to Lewisâ€™s account.
Many of the motivations in favor of contextualism about knowledge apply also to a contextualist approach to counterfactuals. I motivate and articulate such anapproach, in terms of the context-sensitive 'all cases', in the spirit of David Lewis's contextualist view about knowledge. The resulting view explains intuitive data,resolves a puzzle parallel to the skeptical paradox, and renders safety and sensitivity, construed as counterfactuals, necessary conditions on knowledge.
We develop a novel challenge to pragmatic encroachment. The significance of belief-desire psychology requires treating questions about what to believe as importantly prior to questions about what to do; pragmatic encroachment undermines that priority, and therefore undermines the significance of belief-desire psychology. This, we argue, is a higher cost than has been recognized by epistemologists considering embracing pragmatic encroachment.
I propose an explanation for reasoning about counterfactual conditionals. We reason properly to a counterfactual if A, C, when we imagine A along with cotenable background conditions, then properly infer C. Proper inference in my sense is just the same sort of inference that is proper in cases of theoretical reasoning with beliefs. (Roughly: a proper inference is warrant-transferring from belief in A and the background conditions to C.) Cotenability for counterfactuals is explained by reference to our abilities to attribute (...) beliefs to others, given sincere testimony. (Roughly: p is cotenable with A just in case it would be reasonable to attribute the belief that p to a person who sincerely asserted A, in the conversational context.) I close with a proposal for the semantics of counterfactual conditionals. To assert the counterfactual is merely to claim that (the conditions are such that) there is an available inference from the antecedent, with the cotenable conditions, to the consequent. (shrink)
This book offers a revisionary account of key epistemological concepts and doctrines of St Thomas Aquinas, particularly his concept of scientia (science), and proposes a new interpretation of the purpose and composition of Aquinas's most mature and influential work, the Summa theologiae, which presents the scientia of sacred doctrine, i.e. Christian theology. Contrary to the standard interpretation of it as a work for neophytes in theology, Jenkins argues that it is in fact a pedagogical work intended as the culmination (...) of philosophical and theological studies of very gifted students. Jenkins considers our knowledge of the principles of a science. He argues that rational assent to the principles of sacred doctrine, the articles of faith, is due to the influence of grace on one's cognitive powers, because of which one is able immediately to apprehend these propositions as divinely revealed. His study will be of interest to readers in philosophy, theology and medieval studies. (shrink)
In this engaging sequel to Rethinking History , Keith Jenkins argues for a re-figuration of historical study. At the core of his survey lies the realization that objective and disinterested histories as well as historical 'truth' are unachievable. The past and questions about the nature of history remain interminably open to new and disobedient approaches. Jenkins reassesses conventional history in a bold fashion. His committed and radical study presents new ways of 'thinking history', a new methodology and philosophy (...) and their impact on historical practice. This volume is written for students and teachers of history, illuminating and changing the core of their discipline. (shrink)
Why History? is a compelling introduction to the issue of history and ethics. Designed to provoke discussion, the book asks whether and why a good knowledge and understanding of the past is desirable. In the context of current postmodern thinking, Keith Jenkins suggests that the goal of "learning lessons from the past" actually means learning lessons from stories written by historians and others. If the past as history has no foundation, can anything ethical be gained from history? Daring and (...) controversial, Why History? presents liberating challenges to history and ethics, proposing that we have reached an emancipatory moment which is well beyond the "end of history.". (shrink)
Lewis has argued that quasi-realism is fictionalism. Blackburn denies this, offering reasons which rely on a descriptive reading of quasi-realism. This note offers a different, more general argument against Lewis's claim, available to prescriptive as well as descriptive quasi-realists.
This paper takes the form of a critical discussion of Crispin Wright’s notion of entitlement of cognitive project. I examine various strategies for defending the claim that entitlement can make acceptance of a proposition epistemically rational, including one which appeals to epistemic consequentialism. Ultimately, I argue, none of these strategies is successful, but the attempt to isolate points of disagreement with Wright issues in some positive proposals as to how an epistemic consequentialist should characterize epistemic rationality.
I argue that Fitch’s ‘paradox of knowability’ presents no special problem for the epistemic anti-realist who believes that reality is epistemically accessible to us. For the claim which is the target of the argument (If p then it is possible to know p) is not a commitment of anti-realism. The epistemic anti-realist’s commitment is (or should be) to the recognizability of the states of affairs which render true propositions true, not to the knowability of the propositions themselves. A formal apparatus (...) for discussing the recognizability of states of affairs is offered, and other prima facie similar approaches to the paradox argument are reviewed. (shrink)
Eric Scerri and other authors have acknowledged that the reality of chemical orbitals is not compatible with quantum mechanics. Recently, however, Scerri and Sharon Crasnow have argued that if chemists cannot consider orbitals as real entities, then chemistry is in danger of being reduced to physics. I argue that the question of the existence of orbitals is best viewed as an issue of explanation, not metaphysics: In many chemically important cases orbitals do not make sufficiently accurate predictions, and must be (...) replaced. Chemists and physicists can acknowledge this fact while maintaining the utility of orbitals and the autonomy of chemistry. (shrink)
Within the context of the study of the genetics of language, Chomskian laws of grammar, such as theStructure-dependence Condition and theA over A Condition, may be usefully regarded to have a status similar to that of Mendelian Laws in classical genetics. In both the case of Chomsky's Laws and Mendel's Laws, formal genetic principles are postulated which abstract away from the physical mechanisms involved and in both cases certain apparent counterexamples mirror a more complex underlying genetic organisation.
Presents an analysis of Jonathan Edwards' theological position. This book includes a study of his life and the intellectual issues in the America of his time, and examines the problem of free will in connection with Leibniz, Locke, and Hume.
Prepared by editors of the distinguished series The Works of Jonathan Edwards, this authoritative anthology includes selected treatises, sermons, and autobiographical material by early America’s greatest theologian and philosopher.
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian. His work as a whole is an expression of two themes — the absolute sovereignty of God and the beauty of God's holiness. The first is articulated in Edwards' defense of theological determinism, in a doctrine of occasionalism, and in his insistence that physical objects are only collections of sensible “ideas” while finite minds are mere assemblages of “thoughts” or “perceptions.” As the only real (...) cause or substance underlying physical and mental phenomena, God is “being in general,” the “sum of all being.” -/- Edwards' second theme is articulated in accounts of God's end in creation, and of the nature of true virtue and true beauty. God creates in order to manifest a holiness which consists in a benevolence which alone is truly beautiful. Genuine human virtue is an imitation of divine benevolence and all finite beauty is an image of divine loveliness. True virtue is needed to discern this beauty, however, and to reason rightly about “divine things.”. (shrink)
In this article I assess the coherence of Jonathan Edwards's doctrine of divine simplicity as an instance of an actus purus account of perfect-being theology. Edwards's view is an idiosyncratic version of this doctrine. This is due to a number of factors including his idealism and the Trinitarian context from which he developed his notion of simplicity. These complicating factors lead to a number of serious problems for his account, particularly with respect to the opera extra sunt indivisa principle. (...) I conclude that Edwards sets out an interesting and subtle version of the doctrine, but one which appears mired in difficulties from which he is unable to extract himself. (shrink)
This paper focuses on John Witherspoon (1723-1794) and the religious background of the American conception of religious liberty and church-state separation, as found in the First Amendment. Witherspoon was strongly influenced by debates and conflicts concerning liberty of conscience and the independence of the congregations in his native Scotland; and he brought to his work, as President of the (Presbyterian) College of New Jersey, a moderate Calvinism challenging the conception of “true virtue” found in Jonathan Edwards. Witherspoon was teacher (...) to James Madison who would substantially write the First Amendment. Religious freedom, focused on freedom of conscience, and ‘Christian magnanimity’ stand in considerable tension with the prior orthodoxy of predetermination and the historical tradition of Calvinistic theocracy. Understanding Witherspoon, we better understand the reformation background of the American Enlightenment and how his conception of the freedom of conscience contributed to American conceptions of freedom generally. (shrink)
In an 1896 letter to Wilhelm Fliess, the first and primary confidante for his fledgling ideas, the young Sigmund Freud wrote: “I see that you are using the circuitous route of medicine to attain your first ideal, the physiological understanding of man, while I secretly nurse the hope of arriving by the same route at my own original objective, philosophy. For that was my original ambition, before I knew what I was intended to do in the world.”1 When philosophy is (...) mentioned in his later, published, writings, it will normally be an occasion for Freud to disavow any such connection with the enterprise of psychoanalysis, a repeated gesture of denial that naturally only goes to show how profound the relationship must really be. For many years now, Jonathan Lear has been one of the great mediators between the worlds of philosophy and psychoanalysis, showing us what they have to learn from each other, and what they have difficulty 1 accepting from each other. In these lectures he explores a connection between a stance toward oneself that is furthered in the psychoanalytic session, and a stance towards one‟s life to which Kierkegaard gives the name „irony‟. I will begin my remarks with some thoughts about the general picture of irony presented in Professor Lear‟s lectures, and its relation to certain philosophical claims for the role of what is variously called „critical reflection‟, „self-consciousness‟, or the metaphor of “stepping back” from some aspect of one‟s thought or engagement in the world. I will then focus on the idea of self-knowledge at play in the lectures and the role of something called „expression‟ in this context. (shrink)
Jonathan Dancy works within almost all fields of philosophy but is best known as the leading proponent of moral particularism. Particularism challenges “traditional” moral theories, such as Contractualism, Kantianism and Utilitarianism, in that it denies that moral thought and judgement relies upon, or is made possible by, a set of more or less well-defined, hierarchical principles. During the summer of 2006, the Philosophy Departments of Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Reading (England) began a series of exchanges to (...) take place every other year, alternating between the departments. Andreas Lind and Johan Brännmark arranged to meet Dancy during the first meeting in Lund to talk about questions regarding particularism, moral theory and the shape of the analytical tradition. The major part of the conversation is printed below. (shrink)
In Without Justification, Jonathan Sutton undermines the orthodox view that a justified belief needn’t constitute knowledge; develops a battery of arguments for the unorthodox thesis that you justifiedly believe P iff you know P; and explores the topics of testimony and inference in light of his equation of justification and knowledge (J=K). This book is essential reading at epistemology’s cutting edge. In §I, we’ll take an extended tour of the book, raising various questions and objections along the way. In (...) §II, we’ll assess Sutton’s three main arguments for J=K, which form the heart of his project. (shrink)
: This paper examines how Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) shifted from a broadly Newtonian conception of divine, absolute space to a more Berkeleian or Leibnizian theory of merely relative, ideal space. Setting Edwards' views within a context of contemporary European thought, it elucidates his early position, as expressed in the opening portion of his essay 'Of Being' (c. 1721), and then proceeds to chart the development of his more mature views, showing in particular how the development of his immaterialism during (...) the early 1720s drove him to change his mind on the issue of space and its relationship with God. (shrink)
Although philosophical theologians have sometimes claimed that human beings are necessarily dependent on God, few have developed the idea with any precision. Jonathan Edwards is a notable exception, providing a detailed and often novel account of humanity’s essential ontological, moral, and soteriological dependence on God.
Since its founding in the nineteenth century, social anthropology has been seen as the study of exotic peoples in faraway places. But today more and more anthropologists are dedicating themselves not just to observing but to understanding and helping solve social problems wherever they occur--in international aid organizations, British TV studios, American hospitals, or racist enclaves in Eastern Europe, for example. In Exotic No More , an initiative of the Royal Anthropological Institute, some of today's most respected anthropologists demonstrate, in (...) clear, unpretentious prose, the tremendous contributions that anthropology can make to contemporary society. They cover issues ranging from fundamentalism to forced migration, child labor to crack dealing, human rights to hunger, ethnicity to environmentalism, intellectual property rights to international capitalisms. But Exotic No More is more than a litany of gloom and doom the essays also explore topics usually associated with leisure or "high" culture, including the media, visual arts, tourism, and music. Each author uses specific examples from their fieldwork to illustrate their discussions, and 62 photographs enliven the text. Throughout the book, the contributors highlight anthropology's commitment to taking people seriously on their own terms, paying close attention to what they are saying and doing, and trying to understand how they see the world and why. Sometimes this bottom-up perspective makes the strange familiar, but it can also make the familiar strange, exposing the cultural basis of seemingly "natural" behaviors and challenging us to rethink some of our most cherished ideas--about gender, "free" markets, "race," and "refugees," among many others. Contributors: William O. Beeman Philippe Bourgois John Chernoff E. Valentine Daniel Alex de Waal Judith Ennew James Fairhead Sarah Franklin Michael Gilsenan Faye Ginsburg Alma Gottlieb Christopher Hann Faye V. Harrison Richard Jenkins Melissa Leach Margaret Lock Jeremy MacClancy Jonathan Mazower Ellen Messer A. David Napier Nancy Scheper-Hughes Jane Schneider Parker Shipton Christopher B. Steiner. (shrink)
Jenkins (2007) charges that the language advanced in Beall (2007) is either expressively impoverished, or inconsistent. We argue that Jenkins’ objections are based on unreasonably strong constraints on formal theories of truth. Our primary concern is not to defend the ‘paranormal’ framework advanced in Beall, but to respond to a common – and implausible – ‘revenge’-style charge directed at a certain class of formal theories of truth and paradox.
This essay provides an interpretation of Jonathan Edwards's moral thought that calls attention to the motif of perception in his conception of true virtue. The aim is to illumine the extent to which Edwards's virtue ethics can be included in and contribute to prevailing approaches to virtue in contemporary theological ethics. To advance this proposal, this essay attends to the question of moral agency that Edwards's reflections on charity, the new spiritual sense, and religious affections raise. This procedure offers (...) an acute sense of the significance of perception for Edwards's virtue ethics, which in turn allows for a constructive Edwardsean entry into current theological discussions on the narrative character of virtue. (shrink)
Wegner's The Illusion of Conscious Will (2002) ignores an important aspect of the history of the concept: the determinism of Jonathan Edwards (1754) and the later response to this determinism by William James and others. We argue that Edwards's formulation, and James's resolution of the resulting dilemma, are superior to Wegner's.