This paper addresses how the anonymity of an assertion affects the epistemological dimension of its production by speakers, and its reception by hearers. After arguing that anonymity does have implications in both respects, I go on to argue that at least some of these implications derive from a warranted diminishment in speakers' and hearers' expectations of one another when there are few mechanisms for enforcing the responsibilities attendant to speech. As a result, I argue, anonymous assertions do not carry the (...) same of the speaker's relevant epistemic authoritativeness that ordinary assertions do. If this is correct, the phenomenon of anonymity provides us with a lesson regarding ordinary assertions: their aptness for engendering belief in others, and so for communicating knowledge, depends in general on the very publicness of the act of assertion itself. (shrink)
This paper discusses the epistemic outcomes of following a belief-forming policy of inclusiveness under conditions in which one anticipates systematic disagreement with one’s interlocutors. These cases highlight the possibility of distinctly epistemic costs of inclusiveness, in the form of lost knowledge of or a diminishment in one’s rational confidence in a proposition. It is somewhat controversial whether following a policy of inclusiveness under such circumstances will have such costs; this will depend in part on the correct account of the epistemic (...) significance of disagreement (a topic over which there is some disagreement). After discussing this matter at some length, I conclude, tentatively, that inclusiveness under disagreement can have such epistemic costs. Still, I go on to argue, such costs by themselves would not rationalize substantial limitations on a broad policy of inclusiveness. Insofar as there are grounds for restricting how inclusive one should be in belief-formation, these grounds will not be epistemic, but instead will reflect the practical costs—the time, effort, and resource costs to the subject—of following such a policy. (shrink)
In Relying on others [Goldberg, S. 2010a. Relying on others: An essay in epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press], I argued that, from the perspective of an interest in epistemic assessment, the testimonial belief-forming process should be regarded as interpersonally extended. At the same time, I explicitly rejected the extendedness model for beliefs formed through reliance on a mere mechanism, such as a clock. In this paper, I try to bolster my defense of this asymmetric treatment. I argue that a crucial (...) assumption lying behind the argument I used to establish interpersonal extendedness in testimony cases does not apply to beliefs formed through reliance on instruments. In this respect, at least, there appears to be something epistemically distinctive about relying on another epistemic agent. (shrink)
The following three propositions appear to be individually defensible but jointly inconsistent: (1) reliability is a necessary condition on epistemic justification; (2) on contested matters in philosophy, my beliefs are not reliably formed; (3) some of these beliefs are epistemically justified. I explore the nature and scope of the problem, examine and reject some candidate solutions, compare the issue with ones arising in discussions about disagreement, and offer a brief assessment of our predicament.
Many epistemologists agree that even very young children sometimes acquire knowledge through testimony. In this paper I address two challenges facing this view. The first (building on a point made in Lackey (2005)) is the defeater challenge, which is to square the hypothesis that very young children acquire testimonial knowledge with the fact that children (whose cognitive immaturity prevents them from having or appreciating reasons) cannot be said to satisfy the No-Defeaters condition on knowledge. The second is the extension challenge, (...) which is to give a motivated, extensionally-adequate account of the conditions on testimonial knowledge in early childhood. Neither challenge can be met merely by endorsing externalism about knowledge; but we can meet both by reconceiving the process that eventuates in the child’s consumption of testimony. My central thesis is that this process should be seen as implicating features of the child's social environment. The result is a novel anti-individualistic externalism about knowledge. (shrink)
Most explorations of the epistemic implications of Semantic Anti- Individualism (SAI) focus on issues of self-knowledge (first-person au- thority) and/or external-world skepticism. Less explored has been SAIs implications forthe epistemology of reasoning. In this paperI argue that SAI has some nontrivial implications on this score. I bring these out by reflecting on a problem first raised by Boghossian (1992). Whereas Boghos- sians main interest was in establishing the incompatibility of SAI and the a priority of logical abilities (Boghossian 1992: 22), (...) I argue that Boghossians argument is better interpreted as pointing to SAIs implications for the na- ture of discursive justification. (shrink)
In her recent book Anti-Individualism and Knowledge, Jessica Brown has presented a novel answer to the self-knowledge achievement problem facing the proponent of anti-individualism. She argues that her answer is to be preferred to the traditional answer (based on Burge, 1988a). Here I present three objections to the claim that her proposed answer is to be preferred. The significance of these objections lies in what they tell us about the nature of the sort of knowledge that is in dispute. Perhaps (...) the most important lesson I draw from this discussion is that, given the nature of knowledge of one's own thoughts, discriminability (from relevant alternatives) is not a condition on knowledge as such. (shrink)
Regarding testimony as evidence fails to predict the sort of epistemic support testimony provides for testimonial belief. As a result, testimony-based belief should not be assimilated into the category of epistemically inferential, evidence-based belief.
Many people agree that a proper epistemological treatment of testimonial knowledge will regard testimonial warrant—the total truth-conducive support enjoyed by a belief grounded on a piece of testimony —as socially diffuse, in the sense that it is not something that supervenes on the proper functionality of the hearer’s cognitive resources together with the reasons she has for accepting the testimony. After arguing for such a view, I go on to identify a challenge many people think flows from an acknowledgment of (...) the social diffusion of warrant. In particular, such an acknowledgment appears to preclude a happy account of the rationality of testimony-based belief. After identifying the nature of this challenge and the various positions that one can take on it, I develop a response according to which rationality itself (like warrant) is socially diffuse. (shrink)
Externalism1 is the thesis that some propositional attitudes depend for their individuation on features of the thinker’s (social and/or physical) environment. The doctrine of self-knowledge of thoughts is the thesis that for all thinkers S and occurrent thoughts that p, S has authoritative and non-empirical knowledge of her thought that p. A much-discussed question in the literature is whether these two doctrines are compatible. In this paper I attempt to respond to one argument for an incompatibilist conclusion, Boghossian’s 1989 ‘Memory (...) Argument.’. (shrink)
Given anti-individualism, a subjectmight have a priori (non-empirical)knowledge that she herself is thinking thatp, have complete and exhaustiveexplicational knowledge of all of the conceptscomposing the content that p, and yetstill need empirical information (e.g.regarding her embedding conditions and history)prior to being in a position to apply herexhaustive conceptual knowledge in aknowledgeable way to the thought that p. This result should be welcomed byanti-individualists: it squares with everythingthat compatibilist-minded anti-individualistshave said regarding e.g. the compatibility ofanti-individualism and basic self-knowledge;and more importantly it (...) contains the crux of aresponse to McKinsey-style arguments againstanti-individualism. (shrink)
In this paper I characterize the problem of first-person authority as it confronts the proponent of the belief box conception of belief, and I develop the groundwork for a belief box account of that authority. If acceptable, the belief box account calls into question (by undermining a popular motivation for) the thesis that first-person authority is not to be traced to a truth-tracking relation between first-person opinions themselves and the beliefs which they are about.
A typical strategy of those who seek to show that externalism is compatible with authoritative knowledge of content is to show that externalism does nothing to undermine the claim that all thinkers can at any time form correct and justi?ed self-ascriptive judgements concerning their occurrent thoughts. In reaction, most incompat- ibilists have assumed the burden of denying that externalism is compatible with this claim about self-ascription. Here I suggest another way to attack the compatibilist strategy. I aim to show that (...) forming a justi?ed true self-ascriptive judgement about one. (shrink)
In this paper I argue, first, that the most influential (and perhaps only acceptable) account of the epistemology of self-knowledge, developed and defended at great length in Wright (1989b) and (1989c) (among other places), leaves unanswered a question about the psychology of self-knowledge; second, that without an answer to this question about the psychology of self-knowledge, the epistemic account cannot be considered acceptable; and third, that neither Wright's own answer, nor an interpretation-based answer (based on a proposal from Jacobsen (1997)), (...) will suffice as an acceptable answer to the psychological question. My general ambition is thus to establish that more work is needed if we are to have a full account of self-knowledge in both its epistemological and psychological aspects. I conclude by suggesting how my thesis bears on those who aim to provide an empirical account of the cognition involved in self-knowledge. (shrink)
Do computers have beliefs? I argue that anyone who answers in the affirmative holds a view that is incompatible with what I shall call the commonsense approach to the propositional attitudes. My claims shall be two. First,the commonsense view places important constraints on what can be acknowledged as a case of having a belief. Second, computers – at least those for which having a belief would be conceived as having a sentence in a belief box – fail to satisfy some (...) of these constraints. This second claim can best be brought out in the context of an examination of the idea of computer self-knowledge and self-deception, but the conclusion is perfectly general: the idea that computers are believers, like the idea that computers could have self-knowledge or be self-deceived, is incompatible with the commonsense view. The significance of the argument lies in the choice it forces on us: whether to revise our notion of belief so as to accommodate the claim that computers are believers, or to give up on that claim so as to preserve our pretheoretic notion of the attitudes. We cannot have it both ways. (shrink)