According to the “no-miracles argument” (NMA), truth is the best explanation of the predictive-instrumental success of scientific theories. A standard objection against NMA is that it is viciously circular. In Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth Stathis Psillos has claimed that the circularity objection can be met when NMA is supplemented with a reliabilist approach to justification. I will try to show, however, that scientific realists cannot take much comfort from this policy: if reliabilism makes no qualifications about the (...) domain where inference to the best explanation is reliable, scientific realists flagrantly beg the question. A qualified version of reliabilism, on the other side, does not entitle us to infer the realist conclusion. I conclude, then, that Psillos’s proposal does not make any significant progress for scientific realism. (shrink)
The No-Miracles Argument (NMA) is often used to support scientific realism. We can formulate this argument as an inference to the best explanation this accusation of circularity by appealing to reliabilism, an externalist epistemology. In this paper I argue that this retreat fails. Reliabilism suffers from a potentially devastating difficulty known as the Generality Problem and attempts to solve this problem require adopting both epistemic and metaphysical assumptions regarding local scientific theories. Although the externalist can happily adopt the (...) former, if he adopts the latter then the Generality Problem arises again, but now at the level of scientific methodology. Answering this new version of the Generality Problem is impossible for the scientific realist without making the important further assumption that there exists the possibility of a unique rule of Doing this however would make the NMA viciously premise circular. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga’s theory of knowledge, as developed in his Warrant trilogy, has shaped the debates surrounding many areas in epistemology in profound ways. Plantinga has received his share of criticism, however, particularly in his treatment of belief in God as being “properly basic”. There has also been much confusion surrounding his notions of warrant and proper function, to which Plantinga has responded numerous times. Many critics remain unsatisfied, while others have developed alternative understandings of warrant in order to rescue Plantinga’s (...) theory from certain objections. The most promising of such attempts fall under the broad category of “virtue epistemology” or a “virtue-theoretic” approach. The work being done in virtue epistemology is still in its early stages and a consensus on what actually constitutes virtue epistemology has yet to be reached. While some have attempted to structure an entire theory of knowledge based on the virtues possessed by the knower, others have focused more on the role of epistemic virtues as an attempt to supplement existing theories, including Plantinga’s. In this paper, I will offer an analysis of what such an attempt might look like and evaluate the potential success of broadening Plantinga’s original model. -/- My proposal is that certain features of a virtue-theoretic approach (also referred to as “agent-reliabilism”) could improve Plantinga’s model in significant ways. Not only would such a broadened approach be better equipped to handle common objections, but it would also be better suited to contribute an enhanced understanding of the task of epistemology, one that seeks to discover multiple epistemic goods other than what has been traditionally confined to the realm of knowledge. I conclude by applying this approach to Plantinga’s treatment of theistic belief in Warranted Christian Belief and by articulating a few of the ways in which epistemic virtues can increase the degree of warrant enjoyed by such belief. (shrink)
We propose an approach to epistemic justification that incorporates elements of both reliabilism and evidentialism, while also transforming these elements in significant ways. After briefly describing and motivating the non-standard version of reliabilism that Henderson and Horgan call “transglobal” reliabilism, we harness some of Henderson and Horgan’s conceptual machinery to provide a non-reliabilist account of propositional justification (i.e., evidential support). We then invoke this account, together with the notion of a transglobally reliable belief-forming process, to give an (...) account of doxastic justification. (shrink)
Pretheoretically we hold that we cannot gain justification or knowledge through an epistemically circular reasoning process. Epistemically circular reasoning occurs when a subject forms the belief that p on the basis of an argument A, where at least one of the premises of A already presupposes the truth of p. It has often been argued that process reliabilism does not rule out that this kind of reasoning leads to justification or knowledge (cf. the so-called bootstrapping-problem or the easy-knowledge-problem). For (...) some philosophers, this is a reason to reject reliabilism. Those who try to defend reliabilism have two basic options: (I) accept that reliabilism does not rule out circular reasoning (or bootstrapping), but argue that this kind of reasoning is not as epistemically “bad” as it seems, or (II) hold on to the view that circular reasoning (or bootstrapping) is epistemically “bad”, but deny that reliabilism really allows this kind of reasoning. Option (I) has been spelled out in several ways, all of which have found to be problematic. Option (II) has not been discussed very widely. Vogel (J Philos 97:602–623, 2000) considers and quickly dismisses it on the basis of three reasons. Weisberg (Philos Phenomenol Res 81:525–548, 2010) has shown in detail that one of these reasons is unconvincing. In this paper I argue that the other two reasons are unconvincing as well and that therefore option (II) might in fact be a more promising starting point to defend reliabilism than option (I). (shrink)
In some recent work, Ernest Sosa rejects the “perceptual model” of rational intuition, according to which intuitive beliefs (e.g., that ) are justified by standing in the appropriate relation to a nondoxastic intellectual experience (a seeming-true, or the like), in much the way that perceptual beliefs are often held to be justified by an appropriate relation to nondoxastic sense experiential states. By extending some of Sosa’s arguments and adding a few of my own, I argue that Sosa is right to (...) reject the perceptual model of intuition, and that we should reject the “perceptual model” of perception as well. Rational intuition and perception should both receive a virtue theoretic (e.g., reliabilist) account, rather than an evidentialist one. To this end, I explicitly argue against the Grounds Principle, which holds that all justified beliefs must be based on some adequate reason, or ground. (shrink)
Reliabilism furnishes an account of basic knowledge that circumvents the problem of the given. However, reliabilism and other epistemological theories that countenance basic knowledge have been criticized for permitting all-too-easy higher-level knowledge. In this paper, I describe the problem of easy knowledge, look briefly at proposed solutions, and then develop my own. I argue that the easy knowledge problem, as it applies to reliabilism, hinges on a false and too crude understanding of ‘reliable’. With a more plausible (...) conception of ‘reliable’, a simple and elegant solution emerges. (shrink)
Alvin Goldman and Erik Olsson have recently proposed a novel solution to the value problem in epistemology, i.e., to the question of how to account for the apparent surplus value of knowledge over mere true belief. Their “conditional probability solution” maintains that even simple process reliabilism can account for the added value of knowledge, since forming true beliefs in a reliable way raises the objective probability that the subject will have more true belief of a similar kind in the (...) future. I argue that this proposal confronts significant internal problems and implicitly invokes higher-level epistemic conditions that run against the spirit of externalism. (shrink)
We reply to Christoph Jäger's criticism of the conditional probability solution (CPS) to the value problem for reliabilism due to Goldman and Olsson (2009). We argue that while Jäger raises some legitimate concerns about the compatibility of CPS with externalist epistemology, his objections do not in the end reduce the plausibility of that solution.
The lottery problem is often regarded as a successful counterexample to reliabilism. The process of forming your true belief that your ticket has lost solely on the basis of considering the odds is, from a purely probabilistic viewpoint, much more reliable than the process of forming a true belief that you have lost by reading the results in a normally reliable newspaper. Reliabilism thus seems forced, counterintuitively, to count the former process as knowledge if it so counts the (...) latter process. -/- I offer a theory of empirical knowledge which, while being recognizably reliabilist, restricts empirical knowledge to cases in which the fact that p and the belief that p are causally connected. I show that this form of reliabilism solves the lottery problem, avoids the problems that beset the causal theory of knowledge, and show how it handles a number of problematic cases in the recent literature. (shrink)
Process reliabilists hold that in order for a belief to be justified, it must result from a reliable cognitive process. They also hold that a belief can be basically justified: justified in this manner without having any justification to believe that belief is reliably produced. Fumerton (1995), Vogel (2000), and Cohen (2002) have objected that such basic justification leads to implausible easy justification by means of either epistemic closure principles or so-called track record arguments. I argue that once we carefully (...) distinguish closure principles from transmission principles, and epistemic consequences from epistemic preconditions, neither version of this objection succeeds. (shrink)
According to epistemic internalism, the only facts that determine the justificational status of a belief are facts about the subject’s own mental states, like beliefs and experiences. Externalists instead hold that certain external facts, such as facts about the world or the reliability of a belief-producing mechanism, affect a belief’s justificational status. Some internalists argue that considerations about evil demon victims and brains in vats provide excellent reason to reject externalism: because these subjects are placed in epistemically unfavorable settings, externalism (...) seems unable to account for the strong intuition that these subjects’ beliefs are nonetheless justified. I think these considerations do not at all help the internalist cause. I argue that by appealing to the anti-individualistic nature of perception, it can be shown that skeptical scenarios provide no reason to prefer internalism to externalism. (shrink)
It is alleged that the causal inertness of abstract objects and the causal conditions of certain naturalized epistemologies precludes the possibility of mathematical know- ledge. This paper rejects this alleged incompatibility, while also maintaining that the objects of mathematical beliefs are abstract objects, by incorporating a naturalistically acceptable account of ‘rational intuition.’ On this view, rational intuition consists in a non-inferential belief-forming process where the entertaining of propositions or certain contemplations results in true beliefs. This view is free of any (...) conditions incompatible with abstract objects, for the reason that it is not necessary that S stand in some causal relation to the entities in virtue of which p is true. Mathematical intuition is simply one kind of reliable process type, whose inputs are not abstract numbers, but rather, contemplations of abstract numbers. (shrink)
I consider whether one particular anti-individualist claim, the doctrine of object-dependent thoughts (DODT), is compatible with the Principle of Privileged Access, or PPA, which states that, in general, a subject can have non-empirical knowledge of her thought contents. The standard defence of the compatibility of anti-individualism and PPA emphasises the reliability of the process which produces a subject's second order beliefs about her thought contents. I examine whether this defence can be applied to DODT, given that DODT generates the possibility (...) of illusions of thought. Drawing on general epistemological literature, I distinguish several senses of reliability, and argue that in the relevant sense-'global reliability'-DODT does sometimes threaten reliability and hence PPA. (shrink)
Jarrett Leplin’s paper is multifaceted; it’s rich with ideas, and I won’t even try to touch on all of them. Instead, I’d like to raise three questions about the paper: one about its definition of reliable method, one about its solution to the generality problem, and one about its answer to clairvoyance-type objections.
David Henderson and Terry Horgan argue that doxastic epistemic justification requires the transglobal reliability of the belief-forming process. Transglobal reliability is reliability across a wide range of experientially possible global environments. Focusing on perception, I argue that justification does not require transglobal reliability, for perception is non-accidentally reliable and confers justification but not always transglobally reliable. Transglobal reliability is an epistemically desirable property of belief-forming processes, but not necessary for justification.
The New Evil Demon Problem is supposed to show that straightforward versions of reliabilism are false: reliability is not necessary for justification after all. I argue that it does no such thing. The reliabilist can count a number of beliefs as justified even in demon worlds, others as unjustified but having positive epistemic status nonetheless. The remaining beliefs---primarily perceptual beliefs---are not, on further reflection, intuitively justified after all. The reliabilist is right to count these beliefs as unjustified in demon (...) worlds, and it is a challenge for the internalist to be able to do so as well. (shrink)
For most of their respective existences, reliabilism and evidentialism (that is, process reliabilism and mentalist evidentialism) have been rivals. They are generally viewed as incompatible, even antithetical, theories of justification.1 But a few people are beginning to re-think this notion. Perhaps an ideal theory would be a hybrid of the two, combining the best elements of each theory. Juan Comesana (forthcoming) takes this point of view and constructs a position called “Evidentialist Reliabilism.” He tries to show how (...) each theory can profit by borrowing elements from the other. Comesana concentrates on reliabilism’s problems and how it might be improved by infusions from evidentialism. This paper follows a similar tack. My emphasis, however, is the reverse of Comesana’s. I highlight problems for evidentialism and show how it could benefit by incorporating reliabilist themes. I am not sanguine that evidentialists will see it my way. They might even view my proposals as an insidious attempt to convert evidentialists to reliabilism. Well, I won’t debate the best way to formulate this paper’s recipe. At any rate, it began with the idea (which anteceded my reading of Comesana) of creating a synthesis of reliabilism and evidentialism. It retains significant strands of that idea, although the synthesis theme does not pervade the entire paper. What is mentalist evidentialism? Its original formulation was succinct. (shrink)
This paper reviews two skeptical arguments and argues that a reliabilist framework is necessary to avoid them. The paper also argues that agent reliabilism, which makes the knower the seat of reliability, is the most plausible version of reliabilism.
Virtue reliabilism appears to have a major advantage over generic reliabilism: only the former has the resources to explain the intuition that knowledge is more valuable than mere true belief. I argue that this appearance is illusory. It is sustained only by the misguided assumption that a principled distinction can be drawn between those belief-forming methods that are grounded in the agent’s intellectual virtues, and those that are not. A further problem for virtue reliabilism is that of (...) explaining why knowledge is more valuable than mere justified true belief. I argue that virtue reliabilism lacks the resources to explain this value difference. I conclude by considering what it would take for a theory to explain the extra value of knowledge over mere justified true belief. (shrink)
Reliabilism is a general approach to epistemology that emphasizes the truth conduciveness of a belief forming process, method, or other epistemologically relevant factor. The reliability theme appears both in theories of knowledge and theories of justification. ‘Reliabilism’ is sometimes used broadly to refer to any theory of knowledge or justification that emphasizes truth getting or truth indicating properties. These include theories originally proposed under different labels, such as ‘tracking’ theories. More commonly, ‘reliabilism’ is used narrowly to refer (...) to process reliabilism about justification. This entry discusses reliabilism in both broad and narrow senses but concentrates on reliability theories of justified belief, especially process reliabilism. (shrink)
Here I present and defend an etiological theory of objective, doxastic justification, and related theories of defeat and evidence. The theory is intended to solve a problem for reliabilist epistemologies— the problem of identifying relevant environments for assessing a process's reliability. It is also intended to go some way to accommodating, neutralizing, or explaining away many internalist-friendly elements in our epistemic thinking.
In “A Reliabilist Solution to the Problem of Promiscuous Bootstrapping”, Hilary Kornblith (2009) proposes a reliabilist solution to the bootstrapping problem. I’m going to argue that Kornblith’s proposal, far from solving the bootstrapping problem, in fact makes the problem much harder for the reliabilist to solve. Indeed, I’m going to argue that Kornblith’s considerations give us a way to develop a quick reductio of a certain kind of reliabilism. Let’s start with a crude statement of the problem. The bootstrapper, (...) call them S, looks at a device D1 that happens to be reliable, though at this stage S doesn’t know this. We assume that S is a reliable reader of devices. S then draws the following conclusions. (shrink)
Stewart Cohen’s (1984) New Evil Demon argument raises familiar and widely discussed concerns for reliabilist accounts of epistemic justification. A now standard response to this argument, initiated by Alvin Goldman (1988) and Ernest Sosa (1993; 2001), involves distinguishing different notions of justification. Juan Comesaña (2002b; 2010) has recently and prominently claimed that his Indexical Reliabilism (IR) offers a novel solution in this tradition. We argue, however, that Comesaña’s proposal, suffers serious difficulties from the perspective of the philosophy of language. (...) More specifically, we show that the two readings of sentences involving the word ‘justified’ which are required for Comesaña’s solution to the problem are not recoverable within the two-dimensional framework of Robert Stalnaker (1999) to which he appeals. We then consider, and reject, an attempt to overcome this difficulty by appeal to a complication of the theory involving counterfactuals, and conclude the paper by sketching our own preferred solution to Cohen’s New Evil Demon. (shrink)
Sherrilyn Roush’s Tracking Truth (2005) is an impressive, precisioncrafted work. Although it sets out to rehabilitate the epistemological theory of Robert Nozick’s Philosophical Explanations (1981), its departures from Nozick’s line are extensive and original enough that it should be regarded as a distinct form of epistemological externalism. Roush’s mission is to develop an externalism that averts the problems and counterexamples encountered not only by Nozick’s theory but by other varieties of externalism as well. Roush advances both a theory of knowledge (...) and a theory of evidence; I focus entirely on knowledge. I shall pinpoint a few respects in which Roush’s theory is not wholly successful. In particular, it works less well than process- (or method-) oriented externalisms like process reliabilism. Nozick’s initial tracking account of knowledge was formulated as follows. (shrink)
Strategic Reliabilism is a framework that yields relative epistemic evaluations of belief-producing cognitive processes. It is a theory of cognitive excellence, or more colloquially, a theory of reasoning excellence (where 'reasoning' is understood very broadly as any sort of cognitive process for coming to judgments or beliefs). First introduced in our book, Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment (henceforth EPHJ), the basic idea behind SR is that epistemically excellent reasoning is efficient reasoning that leads in a robustly reliable (...) fashion to significant, true beliefs. It differs from most contemporary epistemological theories in two ways. First, it is not a theory of justification or knowledge – a theory of epistemically worthy belief. Strategic Reliabilism is a theory of epistemically worthy ways of forming beliefs. And second, Strategic Reliabilism does not attempt to account for an epistemological property that is assumed to be faithfully reflected in the epistemic judgments and intuitions of philosophers. If SR makes recommendations that accord with our reflective epistemic judgments and intuitions, great. If not, then so much the worse for our reflective epistemic judgments and intuitions. (shrink)
While Process Reliabilism has long been regarded by many as a version of Foundationalism, this paper argues that there is a version of Process Reliabilism that can also been seen as at least a partial vindication of Coherentism as well. The significance of this result lies in what it tells us both about the prospects for a plausible Process Reliabilism, but also about the old-school debate between Foundationalists and Coherentists.
It is widely assumed that justification is defeasible, e.g. that under certain conditions counterevidence removes prior justification of beliefs. In this paper I will first (sect. 1) explain why this feature of justification poses a prima facie problem for reliabilism. I then will try out different reliabilist strategies to deal with the problem. Among them I will discuss conservative strategies (sect. 2), eliminativist stragies (sect. 3) and revisionist strategies (sect. 4). In the final section I will present an improved (...) revisionist approach to defeaters that is able to overcome the main shortcomings of the other approaches. (shrink)
In order to shed light on the question of whether reliabilism entails or excludes certain kinds of truth theories, I examine two arguments that purport to establish that reliabilism cannot be combined with antirealist and epistemic theories of truth. I take antirealism about truth to be the denial of the recognition-transcendence of truth, and epistemic theories to be those that identify truth with some kind of positive epistemic status. According to one argument, reliabilism and antirealism are incompatible (...) because the former takes epistemic justification to be recognition-transcendent in a certain sense that conflicts with the latter's denial of the recognition-transcendence of truth. I show that, because the recognition-transcendence of reliabilist justification is significantly weaker than the recognition-transcendence required by a realist conception of truth, antirealist theories of truth that deny the strong transcendence of truth do not threaten the externalist character of reliabilism. According to the second argument, reliabilism cannot be combined with an epistemic truth theory because reliabilists analyze positive epistemic status in terms of truth but epistemic theorists analyze truth in terms of positive epistemic status. However, I argue that reliabilists who wish to adopt an epistemic theory of truth can avoid circularity by appealing to a multiplicity of positive epistemic statuses. (shrink)
Fair lotteries offer familiar ways to pose a number of epistemological problems, prominently those of closure and of scepticism. Although these problems apply to many epistemological positions, in this paper I develop a variant of a lottery case to raise a difficulty with the reliabilist's fundamental claim that justification or knowledge is to be analyzed as a high truth-ratio (of the relevant belief-forming processes). In developing the difficulty broader issues are joined including fallibility and the relation of reliability to understanding.
Goldman and Olsson ( 2009 ) have responded to the common charge that reliabilist theories of knowledge are incapable of accounting for the value knowledge has beyond mere true belief. We examine their “conditional probability solution” in detail, and show that it does not succeed. The conditional probability relation is too weak to support instrumental value, and the specific relation they describe is inessential to the value of knowledge. At best, they have described conditions in which knowledge indicates that additional (...) epistemic value is likely to be forthcoming in the future. We also argue that their motive analogy breaks down. The problem, we conclude, is that being produced by a reliable process is not sufficient for a belief to be justified. (shrink)
In this essay, I respond to Tim Lewens's proposal that realists and Strong Programme theorists can find common ground in reliabilism. I agree with Lewens, but point to difficulties in his argument. Chief among these is his assumption that reliabilism is incompatible with the Strong Programme's principle of symmetry. I argue that the two are, in fact, compatible, and that Lewens misses this fact because he wrongly supposes that reliabilism entails naturalism. The Strong Programme can fully accommodate (...) a reliabilism which has been freed from its inessential ties to naturalism. Unlike naturalistic epistemologists, the Strong Programme's sociologistic reliabilist insists that all scientific facts are the product of both natural and social causal phenomena. Anticipating objections, I draw on Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations to explain how the sociologistic reliabilist can account for standard intuitions about the objective elements of knowledge. I also explain how the Strong Programme theorist can distinguish between a belief's seeming reliable and its being reliable. Ich setzte den Fu in die Luft, und sie trug. (Hilde Domin). (shrink)
It can often be heard in the hallways, and occasionally read in print, that reliabilism runs into special trouble regarding lottery cases. My main aim in this paper is to argue that this is not so. Nevertheless, lottery cases do force us to pay close attention to the relation between justification and probability.
Objections to reliabilist theories of knowledge and justification have looked insuperable. Reliability is a property of the process of belief formation. But the generality problem apparently makes the specification of any such process ambiguous. The externalism of reliability theories clashes with strongly internalist intuitions. The reliability property does not appear closed under truth-preserving inference, whereas closure principles have strong intuitive appeal. And epistemic paradoxes, like the preface and the lottery, seem unavoidable if knowledge or justification depends on the frequency with (...) which a process generates true beliefs. The present theory has the conceptual resources to meet these challenges. It requires that a justificatory belief-formation process be intentionally applied. It distinguishes the justification of beliefs from that of the believer. And it avoids a frequency interpretation of reliability by introducing a notion of the normalcy of conditions under which processes are intentionally used. (shrink)
In this article I examine several issues concerning reliabilism and deflationism. I critique Alvin Goldman's account of the key differences between correspondence and deflationary theories and his claim that reliabilism can be combined only with those truth theories that maintain a commitment to truthmakers. I then consider how reliability could be analysed from a deflationary perspective and show that deflationism is compatible with reliabilism. I close with a discussion of whether a deflationary theory of knowledge is possible.
According to the thought experiment most commonly used to argue against reliabilism, Mr. Truetemp is given an unusual but reliable cognitive faculty. Since he is unaware of the existence of this faculty, its deliverances strike him as rather odd. Many think that Truetemp would not have justified beliefs. Since he satisfies the reliabilist conditions for justified belief, reliabilism appears to be mistaken. I argue that the Truetemp case is underdescribed and that this leads readers to make erroneous assumptions (...) about Truetemp's epistemic situation. After examining empirical studies of actual subjects who, like Truetemp, have received new perceptual faculties, I show that Truetemp must have been endowed with all of the reorganized neural circuitry and cognitive skills that subjects with new perceptual faculties normally acquire during a long and difficult process of adaptation and development. When readers realize how much more the designers of Truetemp's new faculty had to do than simply slip an artificial device under Truetemp's scalp, I find that they no longer think his beliefs would be unjustified. Because the thought experiment fails to support anti-reliabilist intuitions when further details of the case are made explicit, the Truetemp thought experiment does not constitute a clear and decisive counterexample to reliabilism. (shrink)
In Virtues of the Mind I object to process reliabilism on the grounds that it does not explain the good of knowledge in addition to the good of true belief. In this paper I wish to develop this objection in more detail, and will then argue that this problem pushes us first in the direction of two offspring of process reliabilism—faculty reliabilism and proper functionalism, and, finally, to a true virtue epistemology.
This paper argues that John Greco’s agent reliabilism fails in its attempt to meet the double requirement of accounting for the internalist intuition that knowledge requires sensitivity to the reliability of one’s evidence and evading the charge of psychological implausibility.
This paper discusses two versions of reliabilism: modal and probabilistic reliabilism. Modal reliabilism faces the problem of the missing closeness metric for possible worlds while probalistic reliabilism faces the problem of the relevant reference class. Despite the severity of these problems, reliabilism is still very plausible (also for independent reasons). I propose to stick with reliabilism, propose a contextualist (or, alternatively, harmlessly relativist) solution to the above problems and suggest that probabilistic reliabilism has (...) the advantage over modal reliabilism. (shrink)
In 'Epistemic Folkways and Scientific Epistemology' Goldman offers a theory of justification inspired by the exemplar account of concept representation. I discuss the connection and conclude that the analogy does not support the theory offered. I then argue that Goldman's rule consequentialist framework for analysis is vulnerable to a problem of epistemic access, and use this to present an analysis of justification as an indicator concept we use to track how well the evaluated agent is doing with respect to the (...) primary epistemic norm of believing truths and not falsehoods. A theory of justification along these lines is then given, and its prospects of handling the evil demon objection to reliabilism are assessed. (shrink)
After sketching my own solution to the Value of Knowledge Problem, which argues for a deontological understanding of justification and understands the value of knowing interesting propositions by the value we place on believing as we ought to believe, I discuss Alvin Goldman's and Erik Olsson's recent attempts to explain the value of knowledge within the framework of their reliabilist epistemology.
This paper argues that the best way to think about intellectual norms, or an ethics of belief, is by reflecting on the virtues and vices of inquiry. A theory of intellectual virtue provides a promising framework for evaluating different practices of inquiry in relation to the generic aim of truth. However, intellectual virtues are too often conflated with measures of reliability in mainstream epistemology, resulting in an overly narrow conception of epistemic value. Prominent reliabilists such as Alvin Goldman (...) state that a practice of inquiry is virtuous just in case it maximizes true belief. I argue that this reliabilist interpretation of virtue lacks the resources to explain evaluative distinctions between ways of maximizing true belief, such as the difference between maximizing accuracy and maximizing precision. With the aid of examples, I show that praiseworthy attributions of reliability are parasitic on attributions of topic-specific aims and skills that constitute their own characteristic standards of success, suggesting that bare truth-maximization is not the fundamental criterion of epistemic value. To accommodate the full range of intellectual norms that shape our practices, I conclude that we need a concept of virtue thicker than mere reliability. (shrink)
This paper addresses various solutions to Meno's Problem: Why is it that knowledge is more valuable than merely true belief? Given both a pragmatist as well as a veritist understanding of epistemic value, it is argued that a reliabilist analysis of knowledge, in general, promises a hopeful strategy to explain the extra value of knowledge. It is, however, shown that two recent attempts to solve Meno's Problem within reliabilism are severely flawed: Olsson's conditional probability solution and Goldman's value autonomization (...) solution. The paper proceeds with a discussion of the purpose of having a higher value of knowledge as opposed to merely true belief, both in evolutionary and social terms. It claims that under a reliabilist analysis of knowledge it can be explained how knowers could evolve rather than just truthful believers. Subsequently, the paper develops an account of how we can manipulate our testimonial environment in an epistemically beneficial way by valuing reliably produced true belief more that just true belief and so gives an indirect justification of the extra value of knowledge. (shrink)
I distinguish between three kinds of reliabilism for epistemic justification, namely, pure reliabilism, evidential reliabilism, and reasons reliabilism, and I argue for reasons reliabilism. Pure reliabilism and evidential reliabilism are plagued, most importantly, by the generality problem, and they cannot deal adequately with defeater phenomena. One can avoid these problems only by jettisoning the idea of process reliability. The truth connection ? which is essential for any kind of reliabilism ? has to (...) be provided in an altogether different way, namely, by means of facts in the world which serve as objective reasons (or evidence). So, as reasons reliabilism says, a justified belief has to be anchored in an objective reason which speaks in favor of its truth. Only in this way can intuitions about defeaters be preserved and explained. And reasons reliabilism can avoid the generality problem. (shrink)
The value problem for knowledge is the problem of explaining why knowledge is cognitively more valuable than mere true belief. If an account of the nature of knowledge is unable to solve the value problemfor knowledge, this provides a pro tanto reason to reject that account. Recent literature argues that process reliabilism is unable to solve the value problem because it succumbs to an objection known as theswamping objection. Virtue reliabilism (i.e., agent reliabilism), on the other hand, (...) is able to solve the value problem because it can avoid the swamping objection. I argue that virtue reliabilism escapes theswamping objection only by employing what I call an entailment strategy. Furthermore, since an entailment strategy is open to the process reliabilist (in two different forms), I argue that the process reliabilist is also able to escape the swamping objection and thereby solve the value problem for knowledge. (shrink)
In this article I want to investigate the concept of reliability employed in process reliabilist theories of justiﬁcation and knowledge. What is essential to process reliabilist theories of justiﬁcation is that there is a sense of the word ”justiﬁ- cation” (a strong or an objective concept of justiﬁcation) such that a belief is justiﬁed only if it is produced by a reliable process. Diﬀerent versions of reliabilism may add diﬀerent suﬃcient conditions to this to get a complete deﬁnition of (...) justiﬁcation or knowledge, and disagree about whether there are other interesting concepts of justiﬁcation, but all agree that reliability (global or local) is necessary for both justiﬁcation (in some sense) and knowlede. This of course, raises the question of what reliability is. Reliabilist theories of justiﬁcation cannot be said to have a very secure foundation if they do not address this question. However, reliabilists have not done very much to answer it as has of course been often pointed out by their opponents. The most famous reliabilist, Alvin Goldman, has in one place [6, page 63] suggested that the concept of reliability he uses should be understood so that reliability is a propensity; however, he does not formulate this idea very exactly nor develop it very far. However, I think that his suggestion is correct, and important; in this article I will try to clarify it by linking it to formal analyses of propensities that are found in the literature (as well as the whole discussion about interpretations of probability) and explore its consequences. (shrink)