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.
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.
Guided by the work of William Alston, Jonathan Adler and Michael Levin propose a solution to the generality problem for reliabilism. In some respects their proposal improves on those we have discussed. We argue that the problem remains unsolved.
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.
A tempting argument for human rationality goes like this: it is more conducive to survival to have true beliefs than false beliefs, so it is more conducive to survival to use reliable belief-forming strategies than unreliable ones. But reliable strategies are rational strategies, so there is a selective advantage to using rational strategies. Since we have evolved, we must use rational strategies. In this paper I argue that some criticisms of this argument offered by Stephen Stich fail because they rely (...) on unsubstantiated interpretations of some results from experimental psychology. I raise two objections to the argument: (i) even if it is advantageous to use rational strategies, it does not follow that we actually use them; and (ii) natural selection need not favor only or even primarily reliable belief-forming strategies. (shrink)
Stich and Nisbett offer an analysis of the concept of a justified inference rule, building upon the efforts of Goodman. They fault Goodman's view on the grounds that it is incompatible with some recent psychological research on reasoning. We criticize their proposal by arguing that it is subject to much the same objections as those they raise against other accounts.