I hold that epistemic warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Evolution by natural selection is the central source of etiological functions. This leads many to think that on my view warrant requires a history of natural selection. What then about learning? What then about Swampman? Though functions require history, natural selection is not the only source. Self-repair and trial-and-error learning are both sources. Warrant requires (...) history, but not necessarily that much. (shrink)
What is the biological function of perception? I hold perception, especially visual perception in humans, has the biological function of accurately representing the environment. Tyler Burge argues this cannot be so in Origins of Objectivity (Oxford, 2010), for accuracy is a semantical relationship and not, as such, a practical matter. Burge also provides a supporting example. I rebut the argument and the example. Accuracy is sometimes also a practical matter if accuracy partly explains how perception contributes to survival and reproduction.
Does epistemic justification aim at truth? The vast majority of epistemologists instinctively answer 'Yes'; it's the textbook response. Joseph Cruz and John Pollock surprisingly say no. In 'The Chimerical Appeal of Epistemic Externalism' they argue that justification bears no interesting connection to truth; justification does not even aim at truth. 'Truth is not a very interesting part of our best understanding' of justification (C&P 2004, 137); it has no 'connection to the truth.' A 'truth-aimed ... epistemology is not entitled to (...) carry the day' (C&P 2004, 138, emphasis added).Pollock and Cruz's argument for this surprising conclusion is of general interest for it is 'out of step with a very common view on the .. (shrink)
Perceptual entitlement and basic beliefs Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9603-3 Authors Peter J. Graham, University of California, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
The standard taxonomy of theories of epistemic justification generates four positions from the Foundationalism v. Coherentism and Internalism v. Externalism disputes. I develop a new taxonomy driven by two other distinctions: Fundamentalism v. Non-Fundamentalism and Actual-Result v. Proper-Aim conceptions of epistemic justification. Actual-Result theorists hold that a belief is justified only if, as an actual matter of fact, it is held or formed in a way that makes it more likely than not to be true. Proper-Aim theorists hold that a (...) belief is justified only if it is held or formed in a way that it proper or correct insofar as truth is the aim or norm. Fundamentalists hold that which particular ways of holding or forming beliefs that confer justification is knowable a priori; epistemic principles are a priori necessary truths. Non- Fundamentalists disagree; epistemic principles are empirical contingent truths. The new taxonomy generates four positions: Cartesianism, Reliabilism, Intuitionism, and Pragmatism. The first two are Actual-Result; the second two are Proper-Aim. The first and third are Fundamentalist, the second and fourth are Non-Fundamentalist. The new taxonomy illuminates much of the current debate in the theory of epistemic justification. (shrink)
Radical skepticism about the external implies that no belief about the external is even prima facie justified. A theoretical reply to skepticism has four stages. First, show which theories of epistemic justification support skeptical doubts (show which theories, given other reasonable assumptions, entail skepticism). Second, show which theories undermine skeptical doubts (show which theories, given other reasonable assumptions, do not support the skeptic’s conclusion). Third, show which of the latter theories (which non-skeptical theory) is correct, and in so doing show (...) that all of the rival theories of justification, skeptical and non-skeptical alike, are mistaken. Fourth, explain why skeptical doubts are sometimes (or sometimes merely seem) intuitive, and thereby accommodate skeptical doubts without capitulation. Michael Williams has pioneered the very idea of a theoretical reply. A theoretical diagnosis consists in just the first two stages. An adequate reply, which is correct at each stage, would rebut the skeptic entirely. Williams’ own reply, I argue, is inadequate. I offer in its place an exhaustive and accurate diagnosis of skepticism. I distinguish four kinds of skepticism and five theories of justification. I then show which theories do, and which theories do not, support which kinds of skepticism. (shrink)
Orthodoxy in epistemology maintains that some sources of belief, e.g. perception and introspection, generate knowledge, while others, e.g. testimony and memory, preserve knowledge. An example from Jennifer Lackey B the Schoolteacher case B purports to show that testimony can generate knowledge. It is argued that Lackey's case fails to subvert the orthodox view, for the case does not involve the generation of knowledge by testimony. A modified version of the case does. Lackey's example illustrates the orthodox view; the revised case (...) refutes it. The theoretical explanation of knowledge from testimony as information transmission explains how testimony transfers knowledge and why it can generate knowledge. It also reveals the real difference between so-called generative"" and so-called ""preservative"" sources. The former extract information. (shrink)
Many hold that perception is a source of epistemically basic (direct) belief: for justification, perceptual beliefs do not need positive inferential support from other justified beliefs, especially from beliefs about one’s current sensory episodes. Perceptual beliefs can, however, be defeated or undermined by other things one believes, and so to be justified in the end there must be no undefeated undermining grounds. Similarly for memory and introspection.1..
Anti-Reductionists hold that beliefs based upon comprehending (both force and content) of tellings are non-inferentially justified. Comprehension as such, like perceptual representation, confers non-inferential justification on belief. Reductionists, on the other hand, reject this. Comprehension as such is not in itself a warrant for belief. Beliefs based on comprehension are justified only if inferentially supported by other things the subject believes. I discuss an argument from Elizabeth Fricker from her ‘Trusting Others in the Sciences: A Priori or Empirical Warrant?’ She (...) argues that even if the Anti-Reductionist is right in principle, the presence of background inferential support undercuts the significance of the Anti-Reductionist view; for mature knowledgeable adults, justification from comprehension as such plays no active role; it is superseded by inferential warrant. I show her argument is importantly question begging. Inferential and non-inferential support combine to overdetermine the justification of comprehension-based beliefs. (shrink)
Reductionism about testimony holds that testimonial warrant or entitlement is just a species of inductive warrant. Anti-Reductionism holds that it is different from inductive but analogous to perceptual or memorial warrant. Perception receives much of its positive epistemic status from being reliably truthconducive in normal conditions. One reason to reject the epistemic analogy is that testimony involves agency – it goes through the will of the speaker – but perception does not. A speaker might always choose to lie or otherwise (...) deliberately mislead. It is argued that the force of this derives (in part) from Libertarianism about agency, and that Libertarianism, if it undermines the Anti-Reductionist explanation of why we are entitled to rely upon testimony, undermines the Reductionist explanation as.. (shrink)
Gabor Forrai has written a very clear and articulate defense of internal realism, the view that the categories and structures of the world are a function of our conceptual schemes. Internal realism is opposed to metaphysical realism, the view that the world’s structure is wholly independent, both causally and ontologically, of the human mind. For the metaphysical realist, the world is one thing and the mind is another. For the internal realist, on the other hand, though the world is causally (...) independent of the human mind, the structure of the world – the individuals, kinds and categories of the world -- is a function of the human mind. (shrink)
Are we entitled or justified in taking the word of others at face value? An affirmative answer to this question is associated with the views of Thomas Reid. Recently, C. A. J. Coady has defended a Reidian view in his impressive and influential book, Testimony: A Philosophical Study. His central and most original argument for his positions involves reflection upon the practice of giving and accepting reports, of making assertions and relying on the word of others. His argument purports to (...) show that testimony is, by its very nature, a "reliable form of evidence about the way the world is." The argument moves from what we do to why we are justified in doing it. Although I am sympathetic with both the Reidian view and Coady's attempt to connect why we rely on others with why we are entitled to rely on others, I find Coady's argument ineffective. (shrink)
Millianism is the view that all there is to the meaning of a name is its bearer. In a recent paper Bryan Frances seeks to undercut the traditional argument against Millianism as well as offer a new argument in favor of Millianism. I argue that both endeavors fail.