The rhetorical theory of argument, if held as a conclusion of an argument, is self-defeating. The rhetorical theory can be refined, but these refinements either make the theory subject to a second self-defeat problem or tacitly an epistemic theory of argument.
This essay is an introductory overview of the considerations in favor of epistemic infinitism, the view that the demands of justification are that one must have non-terminating series of reasons for one's beliefs if they are to be knowledge.
In response to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Nicholas of Cusa wrote De pace fidei defending a commitment to religious tolerance on the basis of the notion that all diverse rites are but manifestations of one true religion. Drawing on a discussion of why Nicholas of Cusa is unable to square the two objectives of arguing for pluralistic tolerance and explaining the contents of the one true faith, we outline why theological pluralism is compromised by its own meta-exclusivism.
Abstract Epistemic infinitism is certainly not a majority view in contemporary epistemology. While there are some examples of infinitism in the history of philosophy, more work needs to be done mining this history in order to provide a richer understanding of how infinitism might be formulated internal to different philosophical frameworks. Accordingly, we argue that the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas can be read as operating according to an ?impure? model of epistemic infinitism. The infinite obligation inaugurated by the ?face to (...) face encounter? with the Other yields an approach to the ethics of belief that accords with infinitism. This reading of Levinas brings his ethical thought into dialogue with contemporary epistemology as well as provides an historical example of infinitism within the current debates. (shrink)
There is what should be called the Curious George Model of Analysis, wherein the internal conflicts of some protagonist or program are the most revealing and significant features of the story. Take George. He is a good little monkey, but he's curious. These are virtues of sorts, but George's curiosity drives him first to investigate a yellow hat, then to try to fly like the seagulls, to investigate the telephone, and finally to try holding a large bunch of balloons. In (...) each case, these actions driven by curiosity make trouble for George and others as he, successively, is captured, falls into the ocean, calls the fire department and is then incarcerated, and is ultimately sent high above the city to the confusion .. (shrink)
In this paper, the authors argue for two main claims: first, that the epistemic results of group deliberation can be superior to those of individual inquiry; and, second, that successful deliberative groups depend on individuals exhibiting deliberative virtues. The development of these group-deliberative virtues, the authors argue, is important not only for epistemic purposes but political purposes, as democracies require the virtuous deliberation of their citizens. Deliberative virtues contribute to the deliberative synergy of the group, not only in terms of (...) improving the quality of the group's present decisions, but also improving the background conditions for continued group deliberation. The authors sketch a preliminary schedule of these group-deliberative virtues modelled on Aristotle's conception of virtue as the mean between two extreme vices. The virtues discussed in this article include deliberative wit, friendliness, empathy, charity, temperance, courage, sincerity, and humility. (shrink)
An intuitive view regarding the epistemic significance of disagreement says that when epistemic peers disagree, they should suspend judgment. This abstemious view seems to embody a kind of detachment appropriate for rational beings; moreover, it seems to promote a kind of conciliatory inclination that makes for irenic and cooperative further discussion. Like many strategies for cooperation, however, the abstemious view creates opportunities for free-riding. In this essay, the authors argue that the believer who suspends judgment in the face of peer (...) disagreement is vulnerable to a kind of manipulation on the part of more tenacious peers. The result is that the abstemious view can have the effect of encouraging dogmatism. (shrink)
In a recent article, Thomas Nagel argues against the court’s decision to strike down the Dover school district’s requirement that biology teachers in Dover public schools inform their students about Intelligent Design. Nagel contends that this ruling relies on questionable demarcation between science and nonscience and consequently misapplies the Establishment Clause of the constitution. Instead, he argues in favor of making room for an open discussion of these issues rather than an outright prohibition against Intelligent Design. We contend that Nagel’s (...) arguments do not succeed. First, we argue that Nagel’s case trades on an ambiguity regarding the content of non-theological views and fails to engage adequately some of the problems of ID. Then we raise concerns about Nagel’s conclusion; specifically, we will point to three incongruities between Nagel’s argument and his conclusion, and then we will raise a more general worry about the likely impact of Nagel’s view. (shrink)
Epistemic infinitism is the view that infinite series of inferential relations are productive of epistemic justification. Peirce is explicitly infinitist in his early work, namely his 1868 series of articles. Further, Peirce's semiotic categories of firsts, seconds, and thirds favors a mixed theory of justification. The conclusion is that Peirce was an infinitist, and particularly, what I will term an impure infinitist. However, the prospects for Peirce's infinitism depend entirely on the prospects for Peirce's early semantics, which are not good. (...) Peirce himself revised the semantic theory later, and in so doing, it seems also his epistemic infinitism. (shrink)
William James' main argument in “The Will to Believe” against evidentialism is that there are facts that cannot come to be without a preliminary faith in their coming. James primarily makes this case with the argument from friendship. I will critically present James' argument from friendship and show that the argument does not yield a counter-example to evidentialism and is in the end unsound.
There is a tension with regard to regulative norms of inquiry. One’s commitments must survive critical scrutiny, and if they do not survive, they should be revised. Alternately, for views to be adequately articulated and defended, their proponents must maintain a strong commitment to the views in question. A solution is proposed with the notion of holding one’s own as the virtue of being reason-responsive with the prospects of improving the view in question.
I will assume here the defenses of epistemic infinitism are adequate and inquire as to the variety standpoints within the view. I will argue that infinitism has three varieties depending on the strength of demandingness of the infinitist requirement and the purity of its conception of epistemic justification, each of which I will term strong pure, strong impure, and weak impure infinitisms. Further, I will argue that impure infinitisms have the dialectical advantage.
Environmental revelationism is the view that there are preferred means of knowing the value and structure of nature, and these means are characterized by experiences of awe or ceremonial feelings of reverence. This paper outlines the dogmatic consequences of this view.
Though textbook tu quoque arguments are fallacies of relevance, many versions of arguments from hypocrisy are indirectly relevant to the issue. Some arguments from hypocrisy are challenges to the authority of a speaker on the basis of either her sincerity or competency regarding the issue. Other arguments from hypocrisy purport to be evidence of the impracticability of the opponent’s proposals. Further, some versions of hypocrisy charges from impracticability are open to a counter that I will term tu quoque judo.
Editors’ Note: We decided that a commentary to the original Aikin essay from the perspective of humanities policy would be beneficial. We then invited Scott Aikin to respond to this commentary. What follows is (a) the Briggle/Frodeman commentary and (b) the Aikin response. We present the discussion in its entirety in the conviction that this transparency will help the reader to critically assess the viability of these arguments and to draw his/her own conclusion as to the efficacy of such reasoning (...) for environmental philosophy as such. (shrink)
A common argument for evidentialism is that the norms of assertion, specifically those bearing on warrant and assertability, regulate belief. On this assertoric model of belief, a constitutive condition for belief is that the believing subject take her belief to be supported by sufficient evidence. An equally common source of resistance to these arguments is the plausibility of cases in which a speaker, despite the fact that she lacks warrant to assert that p, nevertheless attributes to herself the belief that (...) p. In the following, I will outline a variety of ways a speaker may contrastively attribute a belief to herself. In light of what these contrastive statements communicate, cases of attributing beliefs with little or no warrant to oneself offer no substantive counter-example to the evidentialist argument from assertion. (shrink)
The activity of democratic deliberation is governed by the norm of public reason – namely, that reasons justifying public policy must both be pursuant of shared goods and be shareable by all reasonable discussants. Environmental policies based on controversial theories of value, as a consequence, are in danger of breaking the rule that would legitimate their enforcement.
Evidentialism is the view that subjects should believe neither more than nor contrary to what their current evidence supports. I will critically present two arguments for the view. A common source of resistance to evidentialism is that there are intuitive cases where subjects should believe contrary to their evidence. I will present modest evidentialism as the view that subjects should believe in accord with what their evidence supports, but that this norm may be overridden under certain conditions. As such, a (...) modest evidentialismaccommodates the intuitions behind a good deal of traditional anti-evidentialism. (shrink)
Pragmatism’s naturalism is inconsistent with the phenomenological tradition’s anti-naturalism. This poses a problem for the methodological consistency of phenomenological work in the pragmatist tradition. Solutions such as phenomenologizing naturalism or naturalizing phenomenology have been proposed, but they fail. As a consequence, pragmatists and other naturalists must answer the phenomenological tradition’s criticisms of naturalism.
John Dewey points out in A Common Faith (1934) that what stands in the way of religious belief for many is the apparent commitment of Western religious traditions to supernatural phenomena and questionable historical claims. We are to accept claims that in any other context we would find laughable. Are we to believe that water can be turned into wine without the benefit of the fermentation process? Are we to swallow the claim that there is such a phenomenon as the (...) spontaneous conception of a child without the intervention of the traditional technique? Were we to confront these claims in any but a religious context, we would dismiss them as the workings of an overactive imagination or simple cover for an overactive sex life. But for the devout believer, there is no doubt even with a paucity of evidence. At the same time, the rise of science has forcibly suggested the idea that the natural world is self-contained and, if explainable, that explanation will come from within. There seems to be no room for the traditional God and, much as one might wish otherwise, nothing for him to do. Perhaps... (shrink)
What follows is a taxonomy of arguments that regresses of inferential justification are vicious. They fall out into four general classes: (A) conceptual arguments from incompleteness, (B) conceptual arguments from arbitrariness, (C) ought-implies-can arguments from human quantitative incapacities, and (D) ought-implies can arguments from human qualitative incapacities. They fail with a developed theory of “infinitism” consistent with valuational pluralism and modest epistemic foundationalism.
Poe's Law is roughly that online parodies of religious extremism are indistinguishable from instances of sincere extremism. Poe's Law may be expressed in a variety of ways, each highlighting either a facet of indirect discourse generally, attitudes of online audiences, or the quality of online religious material. As a consequence of the polarization of online discussions, invocations of Poe's Law have relevance in wider circles than religion. Further, regular invocations of Poe's Law in critical discussions have the threat of further (...) entrenching and polarizing views. (shrink)