What is real? Less than you might think. We advocate austere metaphysical realism—a form of metaphysical realism claiming that a correct ontological theory will repudiate numerous putative entities and properties that are posited in everyday thought and discourse, and also will even repudiate numerous putative objects and properties that are posited by well confirmed scientific theories. We have lately defended a specific version of austere metaphysical realism which asserts that there is really only one concrete particular, viz., the entire cosmos (...) (see Horgan and Potrč (2000, 2002), Potrč (2003)). But there are various potential versions of the generic position we are here calling austere metaphysical realism; and it is the generic view that constitutes the ontological part of the overall approach to realism and truth that we will describe here. (shrink)
The semantic blindness objection to contextualism challenges the view that there is no incompatibility between (i) denials of external-world knowledge in contexts where radical-deception scenarios are salient, and (ii) affirmations of external-world knowledge in contexts where such scenarios are not salient. Contextualism allegedly attributes a gross and implausible form of semantic incompetence in the use of the concept of knowledge to people who are otherwise quite competent in its use; this blindness supposedly consists in wrongly judging that there is genuine (...) conflict between claims of type (i) and type (ii). We distinguish two broad versions of contextualism: relativistic-content contextualism and categorical-content contextualism. We argue that although the semantic blindness objection evidently is applicable to the former, it does not apply to the latter. We describe a subtle form of conflict between claims of types (i) and (ii), which we call différance-based affirmatory conflict. We argue that people confronted with radical-deception scenarios are prone to experience a form of semantic myopia (as we call it): a failure to distinguish between différance-based affirmatory conflict and outright inconsistency. Attributing such semantic myopia to people who are otherwise competent with the concept of knowledge explains the bafflement about knowledge-claims that so often arises when radical-deception scenarios are made salient. Such myopia is not some crude form of semantic blindness at all; rather, it is an understandable mistake grounded in semantic competence itself: what we call a competence-based performance error. (shrink)
In this paper we point out some interesting structural similarities between vagueness and moral dilemmas as well as between some of the proposed solutions to both problems. Moral dilemma involves a situation with opposed obligations that cannot all be satisfied. Transvaluationism as an approach to vagueness makes three claims concerning the nature of vagueness: (1) it involves incompatibility between mutually unsatisfiable requirements, (2) the underlying requirements retain their normative power even when they happen to be overruled, and (3) this incompatibility (...) turns out to be rather benign in practice. Given that transvaluationism is inspired by moral dilemmas, these claims are assessed in respect to them. Transvaluationism provides a smooth account of the mentioned claims concerning vagueness. Following a brief discussion of Sorensen’s views on moral dilemmas and conflict vagueness, we offer a model of moral pluralism accommodating structurally similar claims about the nature of moral conflict and moral dilemmas. (shrink)
In the formation of epistemically justified beliefs, what is the role of attention, and what is the role (if any) of non-attentional aspects of cognition? We will here argue that there is an essential role for certain nonattentional aspects. These involve epistemically relevant background information that is implicit in the standing structure of an epistemic agent’s cognitive architecture and that does not get explicitly represented during belief-forming cognitive processing. Since such “morphological content” (as we call it) does not become explicit (...) during belief formation, it cannot be information that is within the scope of attention. Nevertheless,it does exert a subtle influence on the character of conscious experience, rather than operating in a purely unconscious way. (shrink)
Morphological content is information that is implicitly embodied in the standing structure of a cognitive system and is automatically accommodated during cognitive processing without first becoming explicit in consciousness. We maintain that much belief-formation in human cognition is essentially morphological : i.e., it draws heavily on large amounts of morphological content, and must do so in order to tractably accommodate the holistic evidential relevance of background information possessed by the cognitive agent. We also advocate a form of experiential evidentialism concerning (...) epistemic justification—roughly, the view that the justification-status of an agent’s beliefs is fully determined by the character of the agent’s conscious experience. We have previously defended both the thesis that much belief-formation is essentially morphological, and also a version of evidentialism. Here we explain how experiential evidentialism can be smoothly and plausibly combined with the thesis that much of the cognitive processing that generates justified beliefs is essentially morphological. The leading idea is this: even though epistemically relevant morphological content does not become explicit in consciousness during the process of belief-generation, nevertheless such content does affect the overall character of conscious experience in an epistemically significant way: it is implicit in conscious experience, and is implicitly appreciated by the experiencing agent. (shrink)
Particularism is a justly popular ‘cutting-edge’ topic in contemporary ethics across the world. Many moral philosophers do not, in fact, support particularism (instead defending "generalist" theories that rest on particular abstract moral principles), but nearly all would take it to be a position that continues to offer serious lessons and challenges that cannot be safely ignored. Given the high standard of the contributions, and that this is a subject where lively debate continues to flourish, Challenging Moral Particularism will become required (...) reading for professionals and advanced students working in the area. (shrink)
We propose an approach to epistemic justification that incorporates elements of both reliabilism and evidentialism, while also transforming these elements in significant ways. After briefly describing and motivating the non-standard version of reliabilism that Henderson and Horgan call “transglobal” reliabilism, we harness some of Henderson and Horgan’s conceptual machinery to provide a non-reliabilist account of propositional justification (i.e., evidential support). We then invoke this account, together with the notion of a transglobally reliable belief-forming process, to give an account of doxastic (...) justification. (shrink)
We sketch the view we call contextual semantics. It asserts that truth is semantically correct affirmability under contextually variable semantic standards, that truth is frequently an indirect form of correspondence between thought/language and the world, and that many Quinean commitments are not genuine ontological commitments. We argue that contextualist semantics fits very naturally with the view that the pertinent semantic standards are particularist rather than being systematizable as exceptionless general principles.
The general drive in epistemology is to deliver necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge with the use of exceptionless general epistemic principles. There is another way, however, to approach the phenomenon of knowledge – by particularistic beautiful patterns. David Lewis in his paper „Elusive Knowledge” provides a nice contextual epistemology. We also think that contextualism is the right way to go and that the epistemic context plays an important role in our endeavors to gain knowledge. But, we disagree with Lewis (...) on two points of his account, namely that we can talk of knowledge without justification and that a set of exceptionless rules determines relevant alternatives. We retain the overall notion of knowledge as justified true belief and try to work out a contextualist account of knowledge within this notion, at the same time pointing to an alternative, particularistic view on relevance and relevant alternatives. We briefly sketch our proposal building upon the distinction between the local and global justification and we put forward some suggestions how this approach tackles skeptical scenarios, the lottery problem and Gettier cases. (shrink)
Contextualism has been a prominent epistemological theory for more than twenty years. Its central claim is that standards for justification and of knowledge ascriptions can vary from one context to another context. However this in not the end of the story, for one must subsequently explain these variations of standards in order to avoid arbitrariness. Two strategies offer themselves at this point: generalism and particularism. We argue that the latter could provide a viable support for an overall contextualist approach. David (...) Lewis in his paper “Elusive Knowledge” provides a nice case of contextual epistemology and points to several important aspects of knowledge. But we disagree with Lewis on two points of his account: (i) knowledge without justification and (ii) set of exceptionless rules that determine relevant alternatives. We preserve the overall conception of knowledge as justified true belief and attempt to work out a contextualist account of knowledge by pointing to an alternative, particularistic view of relevance and relevant alternatives. (shrink)
Moral particularism is a promising new approach which understands itself as a subchapter of holism in the theory of reasons. So particularism may be extended to other areas, such as metaphysics. One of the bases for this kind of move is elaborated by particularism itself as resultance, a strategy for providing the relevant basis that is opposed to various forms of generalism (the thin property of goodness is constituted by several thick properties, such as being good humoured, being pleasant; the (...) property of this being a table is constituted from properties of there being four legs, a plate, a certain arrangement). It is claimed that resultance or emergence needs a background structure in order to get off the ground. (shrink)
The problem of reconciling the philosophical denial of ontological vagueness with common-sense beliefs positing vague objects, properties and relations is addressed. This project arises for any view denying ontological vagueness but is especially pressing for transvaluationism, which claims that ontological vagueness is impossible. The idea that truth, for vague discourse and vague thought-content, is an indirect form of language-thought correspondence is invoked and applied. It is pointed out that supervaluationism provides one way, but not necessarily the only way, of implementing (...) the idea of indirect correspondence. (shrink)
Following some preliminary intuitions, a view attributing a specific level to sensation in a two levels model of mind is promoted. Some opinions deny the specificity of sensation by claiming either that it is physical or again by implying that it is completely cognitive. Meinong's definition of sensation as a simple perceptual representation originating from peripheric stimulation is reconstructed. France Veber's promotion of the hitting function with its attachment to sensation is derived from this definition by his teacher. Veber ambiguously (...) extends the hitting function to the higher cognitive level. Although he underlines their importance, just like Meinong he does not acknowledge sensations' autonomous level. (shrink)
Crude externalist theory of content is realistic and teleologically minded. On its basis, predicate notation can render the content's structure. Davidson's views concerning content are able to refine this theory. They are sophisticated externalist by being based on the implicit rejection of the two claims: the plausibility of the organismenvironment dualism and the utility of epistemic intermediaries. It might be well impossible to defend a plausible version of extemalism without such a kind of refmement.