In this note, I consider various precisifications of the slogan ‘evidence of evidence is evidence’. I provide counter-examples to each of these precisifications (assuming an epistemic probabilistic relevance notion of ‘evidential support’).
Evidentialism is the thesis that a person is justified in believing a proposition iff the person's evidence on balance supports that proposition. In discussing epistemological issues associated with disagreements among epistemic peers, some philosophers have endorsed principles that seem to run contrary to evidentialism, specifying how one should revise one's beliefs in light of disagreement. In this paper, I examine the connection between evidentialism and these principles. I argue that the puzzles about disagreement provide no reason to abandon evidentialism and (...) that there are no true general principles about justified responses to disagreement other than the general evidentialist principle. I then argue that the puzzles about disagreement are primarily puzzles about the evidential impact of higher-order evidence – evidence about the significance or existence of ordinary, or first-order, evidence. I conclude by arguing that such higher-order evidence can often have a profound effect on the justification of first-order beliefs. (shrink)
Disagreement is common: even informed, intelligent, and generally reasonable people often come to different conclusions when confronted with what seems to be the same evidence. Can the competing conclusions be reasonable? If not, what can we reasonably think about the situation? This volume examines the epistemology of disagreement. Philosophical questions about disagreement arise in various areas, notably politics, ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion: but this will be the first book focusing on the general epistemic issues arising from informed (...) disagreement. Ten leading philosophers offer specially written essays which together will offer a starting-point for future work on this topic. (shrink)
Deontologism in epistemology holds that epistemic justification may be understood in terms of “deontological” sentences about what one ought to believe or is permitted to believe, or what one deserves praise for believing, or in some similar way. If deonotologism is true, and people have justified beliefs, then the deontological sentences can be true. However, some say, these deontological sentences can be true only if people have a kind of freedom or control over their beliefs that they do not in (...) fact have. Thus, deontologism in epistemology, combined with anti-skepticism, has implausible implications. I first describe one sort of control that people typically have over ordinary actions but do not have over typical beliefs. I then argue that there is a paradigmatic type of epistemic evaluation that does properly apply to beliefs even though we lack this sort of control over them. Finally, I argue that these paradigmatic epistemic evaluations are sufficient to make true some of the deontological sentences. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss William J. Clifford's principle, "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence" and an objection to it based on William James's contention that "Our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must, decide an option between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds." I argue that on one central way of understanding the key terms, there are no genuine options (...) that cannot be decided on intellectual grounds. I also argue that there is another way to understand the terms so that there are cases of the sort James describes, but then, as an objection to Clifford, the argument is needlessly complex, invoking concepts such as genuine options and intellectual undecidability, that play no crucial role. (shrink)
My conclusion will be that, more often than we might have thought, suspension of judgment is the epistemically proper attitude. It follows that in such cases we lack reasonable belief and so, at least on standard conceptions, knowledge. This is a kind of contingent real-world skepticism that has not received the attention it deserves. I hope that this paper will help to bring this issue to life.
According to Robert Fogelin, deep disagreements are disagreements about fundamental principles. He argues that deep disagreements cannot be rationally resolved. In this paper I argue against this thesis. A key part of the response depends upon the claim that disagreements can be rationally resolved not only by one participant rationally coming around to the other's point of view, but also by both of them rationally suspending judgment about the disputed proposition. I also claim that suspension of judgment may be the (...) rational response in the examples Fogelin characterizes as deep disagreements. I deny that this result has any troubling implications for critical thinking. (shrink)
Brian Huss argues that the consensus theory of argumentation is as good as, or better than, the epistemological approach at giving useful real-world advice about arguments. I describe these two ways of theorizing about arguments, describe the advice that Huss thinks the two theories can offer, make a case largely by means of examples for the view that the epistemological approach does yield useful real world advice, and then formulate and respond to Huss's arguments. I conclude with a few brief (...) comments on consensus and arguments. (shrink)
O evidencialismo é, primordialmente, uma tese sobre a justificação epistêmica e, secundariamente, uma tese sobre o conhecimento. Sustenta que a justificação epistêmica é superveniente da evidência. As versões do evidencialismo diferem quanto ao que conta como evidência, quanto ao que seja possuir algo como evidência e quanto ao que um dado corpo de evidência apóia. A tese secundária é a de que o apoio evidencial é necessário ao conhecimento. O evidencialismo ajuda a formular as questões epistemológicas de uma forma que (...) é ótima para que se perceba o núcleo dos problemas. Oferece soluções, sem mascarar as dificuldades. Nós fornecemos ilustração disso através da consideração dos problemas da justificação a priori e do ceticismo. O evidencialismo também oferece a base para que se compreenda uma grande variedade de fatos e conceitos epistemológicos. Nós fornecemos ilustração disso, mostrando que o evidencialismo pode explicar como a justificação pode ser anulada, como as atitudes distintas da crença podem ser objeto de avaliação e como a própria prática da filosofia é epistemicamente valiosa. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Evidencialismo. Evidência. Justificação. Conhecimento. A priori. Ceticismo. ABSTRACT Evidentialism is primarily a thesis about epistemic justification and secondarily a thesis about knowledge. It holds that epistemic justification supervenes on evidence. Versions of evidentialism differ about what counts as evidence, what it is to have something as evidence, and what a particular body of evidence supports. The secondary thesis is that evidential support is necessary for knowledge. Evidentialism helps to frame epistemological issues in a way that is optimal for seeing the heart of the problems. It offers solutions without disguising the difficulties. We illustrate this by considering the problems of a priori justification and skepticism. Evidentialism also provides the basis for understanding a variety of epistemological facts and concepts. We illustrate this by showing that evidentialism can explain how justification can be defeated, how attitudes other than belief can be the object of evaluation, and how the practice of philosophy itself is epistemically valuable. KEY WORDS – Evidentialism. Evidence. Justification. Knowledge. A priori. Skepticism. (shrink)
We focus on the recent non-causal theory of reasons explanationsof free action proffered by a proponent of the agency theory, Timothy O'Connor. We argue that the conditions O'Connor offersare neither necessary nor sufficient for a person to act for a reason. Finally, we note that the role O'Connor assigns toreasons in the etiology of actions results in further conceptual difficulties for agent-causalism.
In the good old days, a large part of the debate about skepticism focused on the quality of the reasons we have for believing propositions of various types. Skeptics about knowledge in a given domain argued that our reasons for believing propositions in that domain were not good enough to give us knowledge; opponents of skepticism argued that they were. The different conclusions drawn by skeptics and non-skeptics could come either from differences in their views about the standards or conditions (...) we had to satisfy in order to have knowledge or from differences in their assessments of the quality or character of the reasons we have. In recent years, discussions of skepticism have often focused on three anti-skeptical responses that don't directly address the questions about reasons or evidence that used to be considered fundamental. These anti-skeptical responses are: 1) content externalism, as proposed by Hilary Putnam1; 2) the denial of closure, as proposed by Robert Nozick2; and 3) contextualism about knowledge attributions, as proposed by Stewart Cohen, Keith DeRose, and David Lewis3. I believe that these recent responses to skepticism characteristically avoid the central epistemological issues raised by skepticism and often concede to skeptics far more than is warranted. In this paper I will examine some contextualist responses to skepticism. In Section I I describe the general idea of contextualism and its application to skepticism. In Section II I describe and briefly discuss some particular versions of contextualism. In Section III I argue that even if it is true that sentences attributing knowledge have contextually variable truth conditions, this fact does not provide the basis for a satisfactory response to skepticism. This is because the central issue raised by skepticism is whether we satisfy the standards for knowledge in place in ordinary contexts, not whether we satisfy some allegedly higher standards which, according to contextualists, are in place in some epistemological contexts. In effect, this paper is part of an argument for a return to the good old days. (shrink)
In this paper I will examine two issues concerning the nature of arguments, one having to do with the goal of argumentation and the criteria for a good or successful argument and the other having to do with the role of the informal fallacies in effective argument analysis.