Philosophers have said less than is needed about the nature of premature death, and about the badness or otherwise of that death for the one who dies. In this paper, premature death’s nature is clarified in Epicurean terms. And an accompanying argument denies that we need to think of such a death as bad in itself for the one who dies. Premature death’s nature is conceived of as a death that arrives before ataraxia does. (Ataraxia’s nature is also clarified. It (...) is a pervasive inner peace that is a kind of purity and completeness in how one is living.) Whatever harm we might attribute to a premature death is better attributed to a life’s being lived at that time without ataraxia. The paper ends by explaining how its Epicurean account, more so than comparativist or narrativist accounts, could allow a person to know that her death will not be premature. (shrink)
Might there be extended cognition and thereby extended minds? Rightly, that possibility is being investigated at present by philosophers of mind. Should epistemologists share that spirit, by inquiring into the possibility of extended knowing and thereby of extended knowers? Indeed so, I argue. The key to this shift of emphasis will be an epistemologically improved understanding of the implications of epistemic externalism.
Taking his conceptual cue from Ernest Sosa, John Turri has offered a putative conceptual solution to the Gettier problem: Knowledge is cognitively adept belief, and no Gettiered belief is cognitively adept. At the core of such adeptness is a relation of manifestation. Yet to require that relation within knowing is to reach for what amounts to an infallibilist conception of knowledge. And this clashes with the spirit behind the fallibilism articulated by Gettier when stating his challenge. So, Turri’s form of (...) response is irrelevant to that challenge, which was intended to pose a conceptual problem within fallibilist conceptions of knowledge. (And that failure on Turri’s part needs to be highlighted to remind epistemologists of the need to assess Gettier cases by a fallibilist standard. Although that need was described earlier by Robert Almeder, apparently his advice is being overlooked. This paper develops it anew, in a more general form.). (shrink)
Analytic epistemologists reach regularly for favoured ‘intuitions’. And the anti-luck intuition (as Duncan Pritchard calls it) is possibly one of the best-entrenched epistemological intuitions at present, seemingly guiding standard reactions to Gettier situations. But why is that intuition true (if it is)? This paper argues that the anti-luck intuition (like the ability intuition) rests upon something even more deeply explanatory – the normality intuition. And to recognise this is to understand better what most epistemologists want from a concept of knowledge. (...) (It also helps to explain recent epistemological reactions to lottery cases.)1. (shrink)
What does it take for some epistemological thinking to be epistemically justified? Indeed, is that outcome even possible? This paper argues that it is not possible: no epistemological thinking can ever be epistemically justified. A vicious infinite regress of epistemological reflection is the price that would have to be paid for having some such justification. Clearly, that price would be too high.
Sceptics standardly argue that a person lacks knowledge due to an inability to know that some dire possibility is not being actualised in her believing that p. I argue that the usual sceptical Inventory of such possibilities should include one' s possibly having had some freedom in forming one's belief that p. A sceptic should conclude that wherever there might have been some such freedom, there is no knowledge that p. (This is not to say that sceptics would be correct (...) in that conclusion. It is just to say that the usual sceptical way of thinking should welcome the possibility of some such belief-freedom as much as it routinely welcomes the possibilities of dreaming and of evil demons.). (shrink)
Scepticism about external world knowledge is frequently claimed to emerge from Descartes’s dreaming argument. That argument supposedly challenges one to have some further knowledge — the knowledge that one is not dreaming that p — if one is to have even one given piece of external world knowledge that p. The possession of that further knowledge can seem espe-cially important when the dreaming possibility is genuinely Cartesian (with one’s dreaming that p being incompatible with the truth of one’s accompany-ing belief (...) that p). But this paper shows why that Cartesian use of that possi-bility is not at all challenging. It is because that putative sceptical challenge reduces to a triviality which is incompatible with the sceptic’s having de-scribed some further piece of knowledge which is needed, if one is to have the knowledge that p. (shrink)
2. Ginet envisages a person’s fully understanding ‘what the sentence p says’ – which is the person’s fully understanding ‘what is said by one who utters p in normal circumstances in order to assert that p’ (p. 3). The understanding involved is direcError: Illegal entry in bfchar block in ToUnicode CMapted at meaning. It is one’s ‘understanding the parts and the structure of the sentence’ (ibid.). In the next section, I say more about the details of such understanding. First, though, (...) here is how it can help to constitute p’s being self-evident simpliciter (p. 13). (shrink)
This paper undermines a paradigmatic form of sceptical reasoning. It does this by describing, and then dialectically dissolving, the sceptical-independence presumption, upon which that form of sceptical reasoning relies.
How should we understand both the nature, and the epistemic potential, of Descartes’s Cogito? Peter Slezak’s interpretation of the Cogito’s nature sees it strictly as a selfreferential kind of denial: Descartes cannot doubt that he is doubting. And what epistemic implications flow from this interpretation of the Cogito? We find that there is a consequent lack of knowledge being described by Descartes: on Cartesian grounds, indubitability is incompatible with knowing. Even as the Cogito halts doubt, therefore, it fails to be (...) knowledge. (shrink)
This paper outlines how we may understand knowing-that as a kind of knowing-how-to, and thereby as an ability. (Contrast this form of analysis with the more commonly attempted reduction, of knowing-how-to to knowing-that.) The sort of ability in question has much potential complexity. In general, questioning can, but need not, be part of this complexity. However, questioning is always an element in the complexity that is philosophical knowing. The paper comments on the nature of this particular form of knowing.
If any thesis is all-but-universally accepted by contemporary epistemologists, it is justificationism-the thesis that being an instance of knowledge has to include being epistemically justified in some appropriate way. If there is to be any epistemological knowledge about knowledge, a paradigm candidate would seem to be our knowledge that justificationism is true. This is a conception of a way in whichknowledge has to be robust. Nevertheless, this paper provides reason to doubt the truth of that conception. Even epistemology’s supposed conceptual (...) core is not as epistemically unchallengeable as we might have assumed to be the case. (shrink)
Where is the justificatory boundary between a true belief’s not being knowledge and its being knowledge? Even if we put to one side the Gettier problem, this remains a fundamental epistemological question, concerning as it does the matter of whether we can provide some significant defence of the usual epistemological assumption that a belief is knowledge only if it is well justified. But can that question be answered non-arbitrarily? BonJour believes that it cannot be – and that epistemology should therefore (...) abandon the concept of knowledge. More optimistically, this paper does attempt to answer that question, by applying – and thereby refining – a non-absolutist theory of knowledge. (shrink)
Pode o conhecimento de uma dada verdade admitir gradações? Sim, de fato, segundo o gradualismo deste artigo. O artigo introduz o conceito do saber-como que p – isto é, o conceito de saber como é que p. Saber-como que p é claramente gradual – admitindo gradações, dado que se pode saber mais ou menos como é que p. E a vinculação que este artigo faz entre sabercomo que p e saber que p revela que este último tipo de conhecimento também (...) é gradual (mesmo que disfarçadamente). A teoria dos criadores-deverdade [truthmakers] é, então, invocada para enriquecer a análise, e a análise é aplicada às tarefas de fazer sentido do fundacionismo e de barrar uma certa forma de ceticismo. PALAVRAS-CHAVE – Conhecimento. Gradualismo. Absolutismo. Ceticismo. Fundacionismo, Criadores-de-verdade. BSTRACT Can knowledge of a particular truth admit of degrees? Indeed so, according to this paper’s gradualism. The paper introduces the concept of how-knowledge that p – that is, the concept of knowing how it is that p. Howknowledge that p is clearly gradational – admitting of degrees, as one can know more or less of how it is that p. And this paper’s linking of how-knowledge that p with knowledge that p reveals the latter kind of knowledge, too, to be gradational (even if covertly so). Truthmaker theory is then called upon to enrich the analysis, and the analysis is applied to the tasks of understanding foundationalism and of thwarting one form of scepticism. KEY WORDS – Knowledge. Gradualism. Absolutism. Scepticism. Foundationalism. Truthmakers. (shrink)
It is not unusual for epistemologists to argue that ordinary epistemic practice is a setting within which (infallibilist) scepticism will not arise. Such scepticism is deemed to be an alien invader, impugning such epistemic practice entirely from without. But this paper argues that the suggested sort of analysis overstates the extent to which ordinary epistemic practice is antipathetic to some vital aspects of such sceptical thinking. The paper describes how a gradualist analysis of knowledge can do more justice to what (...) sceptics seek to achieve – while also showing how sceptical thinking can even be part of (and is able to have some muted epistemic impact within) ordinary epistemic practice. (shrink)
The consequence argument is at the core of contemporary incompatibilism about causal determinism and freedom of action. Yet Helen Beebee and Alfred Mele have shown how, on a Humean conception of laws of nature, the consequence argument is unsound. Nonetheless, this paper describés how, by generalising their main idea, we may restore the essential point and force (whatever that might turn out to be) of the consequence argument. A modified incompatibilist argument — which will be called the so-far consequence argument (...) — may thus be derived. (shrink)
How might epistemology build upon its past and present, so as to be better in the future? Epistemology Futures takes bold steps towards answering that question. What methods will best serve epistemology? Which phenomena and concepts deserve more attention from it? Are there approaches and assumptions that have impeded its progress until now? This volume contains provocative essays by prominent epistemologists, presenting many new ideas for possible improvements in how to do epistemology. Contributors: Paul M. Churchland, Catherine Z. Elgin, Richard (...) Feldman, A. C. Grayling, Stephen Hetherington, Christopher Hookway, Hilary Kornblith, Mark Kaplan, William G. Lycan, Adam Morton, Jonathan M. Weinberg, Linda Zagzebski. (shrink)
Fallibilism is the epistemological thesis that no belief (theory, view, thesis, and so on) can ever be rationally supported or justified in a conclusive way. Always, there remains a possible doubt as to the truth of the belief. Fallibilism applies that assessment even to science’s best-entrenched claims and to people’s best-loved commonsense views. Some epistemologists have taken fallibilism to imply skepticism, according to which none of those claims or views are ever well justified or knowledge. In fact, though, it is (...) fallibilist epistemologists (which is to say, the majority of epistemologists) who tend not to be skeptics about the existence of knowledge or justified belief. Generally, those epistemologists see themselves as thinking about knowledge and justification in a comparatively realistic way — by recognizing the fallibilist realities of human cognitive capacities, even while accommodating those fallibilities within a theory that allows perpetually fallible people to have knowledge and justified beliefs. Still, although that is the aim of most epistemologists, the question arises of whether it is a coherent aim. Are they pursuing a coherent way of thinking about knowledge and justification? Much current philosophical debate is centered upon that question. Epistemologists generally seek to understand knowledge and justification in a way that permits fallibilism to be describing a benign truth about how we can gain knowledge and justified beliefs. One way of encapsulating that project is by asking whether it is possible for a person ever to have fallible knowledge and justification. (shrink)
Gettier problems or cases are named in honor of the American philosopher Edmund Gettier, who discovered them in 1963. They function as challenges to the philosophical tradition of defining knowledge of a proposition as justified true belief in that proposition. The problems are actual or possible situations in which someone has a belief that is both true and well supported by evidence, yet which — according to almost all epistemologists — fails to be knowledge. Gettier’s original article had a dramatic (...) impact, as epistemologists began trying to ascertain afresh what knowledge is, with almost all agreeing that Gettier had refuted the traditional definition of knowledge. They have made many attempts to repair or replace that traditional definition of knowledge, resulting in several new conceptions of knowledge and of justificatory support. In this respect, Gettier sparked a period of pronounced epistemological energy and innovation — all with a single two-and-a-half page article. There is no consensus, however, that any one of the attempts to solve the Gettier challenge has succeeded in fully defining what it is to have knowledge of a truth or fact. So, the force of that challenge continues to be felt in various ways, and to various extents, within epistemology. Sometimes, the challenge is ignored in frustration at the existence of so many possibly failed efforts to solve it. Often, the assumption is made that somehow it can — and will, one of these days — be solved. Usually, it is agreed to show something about knowledge, even if not all epistemologists concur as to exactly what it shows. (shrink)
How can a person avoid being Gettiered? This paper provides the first answer to that question that is both fallibilist and purely internalist. It is an answer that allows the justified-true-belief analysis of knowledge to survive Gettier’s attack (albeit as a nonreductionist analysis of knowledge).
What is knowledge? How hard is it for a person to have knowledge? Good Knowledge, Bad Knowledge confronts contemporary philosophical attempts to answer those classic questions, offering a theory of knowledge that is unique in conceiving of knowledge in a non-absolutist way.
I argue that Goodman's puzzle of grue at least poses no real challenge about inductive inference. By drawing on Stove's characterisation of Hume's characterisation of inductive inference, we see that the premises in an inductive inference report experienced impressions; and Goodman can be interpreted as posing a real challenge about inductive inference only if we treat an epistemic subject's observations more as logical contents and less as experienced impressions. So, even though the grue puzzle was effective against its stated logicist (...) targets, it is not thereby an enduring difficulty regarding experience's ability to impart epistemic justification via inductive evidence. (shrink)
Despite the problems students often have with the theory of knowledge, it remains, necessarily, at the core of the philosophical enterprise. As experienced teachers know, teaching epistemology requires a text that is not only clear and accessible, but also capable of successfully motivating the abstract problems that arise.In Knowledge Puzzles, Stephen Hetherington presents an informal survey of epistemology based on the use of puzzles to illuminate problems of knowledge. Each topic is introduced through a puzzle, and readers are invited to (...) work their own ways toward a solution. Hetherington’s light and undogmatic style encourages class discussion and independent thought rather than the memorization of “book” answers.Covering all of the most important epistemological issues, informed by classical and contemporary literature, and rich in probing questions and suggestions for further readings, Knowledge Puzzles is a pedagogical breakthrough. Whether it is used as a main text or supplement, this lucid and engaging text will be welcomed by both teachers and students. (shrink)