In this paper I present my proposal for the central norm governing the practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm of Assertion (SRNA). The critical features of this norm are that it's highly sensitive to the context of assertion, such that the requirements for warrantedly asserting a proposition shift with changes in context, and that truth is not a necessary condition for warrantedly asserting. In fact, I argue that there are some cases where a speaker may warrantedly (...) assert something she knows to be false. Only SRNA seems able to account for such cases. (shrink)
There's been a great deal of interest in epistemology regarding what it takes for a hearer to come to know on the basis of a speaker's say-so. That is, there's been much work on the epistemology of testimony. However, what about when hearers don't believe speakers when they should? In other words, what are we to make of when testimony goes wrong? A recent topic of interest in epistemology and feminist philosophy is how we sometimes fail to believe speakers due (...) to inappropriate prejudices – implicit or explicit. This is known as epistemic injustice. In this article, I discuss Miranda Fricker's groundbreaking work on epistemic injustice, as well as more recent developments that both offer critique and expansion on the nature and extent of epistemic injustice. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the interrelated topics of stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity as they relate to gender and gender identity. The former has become an emerging topic in feminist philosophy and has spawned a tremendous amount of research in social psychology and elsewhere. But the discussion, at least in how it connects to gender, is incomplete: the focus is only on cisgender women and their experiences. By considering trans women's experiences of stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity, we gain (...) a deeper understanding of the phenomena and their problematic effects. (shrink)
What happens when we consider transformative experiences from the perspective of gender transitions? In this paper I suggest that at least two insights emerge. First, trans* persons’ experiences of gender transitions show some limitations to L.A. Paul’s (forthcoming) decision theoretic account of transformative decisions. This will involve exploring some of the phenomenology of coming to know that one is trans, and in coming to decide to transition. Second, what epistemological effects are there to undergoing a transformative experience? By connecting some (...) experiences of gender transitions to feminist standpoint epistemology, I argue that radical changes in one’s identity and social location also radically affects one’s access to knowledge in ways not widely appreciated in contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
It is often argued that the general propriety of challenging an assertion with ‘How do you know?’ counts as evidence for the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (KNA). Part of the argument is that this challenge seems to directly challenge whether a speaker knows what she asserts. In this article I argue for a re-interpretation of the data, the upshot of which is that we need not interpret ‘How do you know?’ as directly challenging a speaker's knowledge; instead, it's better understood (...) as challenging a speaker's reasons. Consequently, I argue that reasons-based norms can equally well explain this data. (shrink)
This article proposes a new account of luck and how luck impacts attributions of credit for agents' actions. It proposes an analogy with the expected value of a series of wagers and argues that luck is the difference between actual outcomes and expected value. The upshot of the argument is that when considering the interplay of intention, chance, outcomes, skill, and actions, we ought to be more parsimonious in our attributions of credit when exercising a skill and obtaining successful outcomes, (...) and more generous in our attributions of credit when exercising a skill but obtaining unsuccessful outcomes. Furthermore, the article argues that when agents skillfully perform an action, they deserve the same amount of credit whether their action is successful or unsuccessful in achieving the goal. (shrink)
It is increasingly argued that there is a single unified constitutive norm of both assertion and practical reasoning. The most common suggestion is that knowledge is this norm. If this is correct, then we would expect that a diagnosis of problematic assertions should manifest as problematic reasons for acting. Jennifer Lackey has recently argued that assertions epistemically grounded in isolated second-hand knowledge (ISHK) are unwarranted. I argue that decisions epistemically grounded in premises based on ISHK also seem inappropriate. I finish (...) by suggesting that this finding has important implications for the debates regarding the norms of assertion and practical reasoning. (shrink)
The lottery paradox plays an important role in arguments for various norms of assertion. Why is it that, prior to information on the results of a draw, assertions such as, “My ticket lost,” seem inappropriate? This paper is composed of two projects. First, I articulate a number of problems arising from Timothy Williamson’s analysis of the lottery paradox. Second, I propose a relevant alternatives theory, which I call the Non-Destabilizing Alternatives Theory , that better explains the pathology of asserting lottery (...) propositions, while permitting assertions of what I call fallible propositions such as, “My car is in the driveway.” Le paradoxe de la loterie joue un rôle important dans l’argumentation visant à défendre diverses normes de l’assertion. Comment se fait-il que, avant que les résultats d’un tirage soient connus, des assertions comme «Mon billet a perdu» semblent inappropriées? Cet article se compose de deux projets. Premièrement, je relève certains problèmes issus de l’analyse du paradoxe de la loterie par Timothy Williamson. Deuxièmement, je propose une théorie des alternatives pertinentes que j’appelle la «théorie des alternatives non-déstabilisantes» , et qui explique d’une meilleure façon la pathologie de l’assertion de propositions concernant la loterie, tout en permettant des assertions faillibles, telles que «Ma voiture est dans l’entrée». (shrink)
This essay takes up two questions. First, what does it mean to say that someone creates her own luck? At least colloquially speaking, luck is conceived as something out of an agent's control. So how could an agent increase or decrease the likelihood that she'll be lucky? Building on some recent work on the metaphysics of luck, the essay argues that there is a sense in which agents can create their own luck because people with more skill tend to have (...) more opportunities to benefit from luck. Second, what implications does this conception of luck have for related topics such as how we evaluate performances (like shooting an arrow), including coming to know something? The ubiquitous presence of luck in our actions is often underappreciated. The essay argues that when we combine an expected outcomes view of luck with a counterfactual view of causation, the distinction between environmental and intervening veritic luck seems to disappear. We need a more nuanced view of how luck sometimes undermines credit for success in agents' actions. The upshot of this view is that while luck may undermine the creditworthiness of an agent's success, it only partially undermines creditworthiness. (shrink)
The Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA) says that knowledge is the norm of assertion: you may assert a proposition only if you know that it’s true. The primary support for KAA is an explanatory inference from a broad range of linguistic data. The more data that KAA well explains, the stronger the case for it, and the more difficult it is for the competition to keep pace. In this paper we critically assess a purported new linguistic datum, which, it has (...) been argued, KAA well explains. We argue that KAA does not well explain it. (shrink)
This book is about the norms of the speech act of assertion. This is a topic of lively contemporary debate primarily carried out in epistemology and philosophy of language. Suppose that you ask me what time an upcoming meeting starts, and I say, “4 p.m.” I’ve just asserted that the meeting starts at 4 p.m. Whenever we make claims like this, we’re asserting. The central question here is whether we need to know what we say, and, relatedly, whether what we (...) assert must be true. If the meeting is really at 3:30 p.m., you’ll be late, and probably rather upset that I told you the wrong time. In some sense, it seems like I’m on the hook for having said something false. This sense that I’ve done something wrong suggests that there are certain standards of evaluating assertions: a way of distinguishing between good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate. We call these standards norms. And so the debate about what, if any, norms govern the linguistic practice of assertion is known as the norms of assertion debate. When one’s assertion satisfies the norm, we say that the assertion is warranted. -/- Various philosophers have typically focused their views of the norms of assertion on articulating the level of epistemic support required for properly asserting. Some argue, for example, that one must know what one asserts. Others argue that one merely needs to justifiably believe what one asserts–an epistemic standing weaker than knowledge. The purpose of this book is to defend what I propose as the central norm governing our practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm. Here’s what it looks like: -/- One may assert that p only if: One has supportive reasons for p, The relevant conventional and pragmatic elements of the context are present, and One asserts that p at least in part because the assertion that p satisfies and. -/- In rough outline, the standards for warrantedly asserting shift with changes in context, although knowledge is never required for warrantedly asserting. In fact, in some special contexts, speakers may warrantedly lie. This latter feature particularly sets apart my view from others in the debate. This also means that truth, knowledge, and even belief aren’t necessary conditions for warrantedly asserting. (shrink)
There’s a widespread conviction in the norms of assertion literature that an agent’s asserting something false merits criticism. As Williamson puts it, asserting something false is likened to cheating at the game of assertion. Most writers on the topic have consequently proposed factive norms of assertion – ones on which truth is a necessary condition for the proper performance of an assertion. However, I argue that this view is mistaken. I suggest that we can illuminate the error by introducing a (...) theoretical distinction between the norm of a practice and its goal. In light of this distinction, we can see that proponents of factive norms tend to mistake the goal of a practice for the norm. In making my case, I present an analogy between the norms and goals of placing wagers and the norms and goals of assertion. One may place a bet and lose without being subject to criticism, while one may win and be worthy of criticism. Whether one wins or loses is irrelevant to the normative evaluation of a bet. What is relevant is whether the bet maximizes the bettor's expected value, which is a function of what might be lost, what might be gained, and how likely those prospects are, given the bettor's evidence. Similarly, I argue, whether one's assertion is true or false is not strictly relevant to the normative evaluation of an assertion. What is relevant is whether the speaker has adequate supporting reasons for the assertion, and that the necessary conventional and pragmatic features are present. However, context will determine what count as supportive reasons for a given proposition, what counts as relevant, and what count as conventional and pragmatic elements possessing that relevance. My proposed norm, the Supportive Reasons Norm, is thus sensitive to the context of assertion and shifts from context to context. (shrink)
This paper addresses an argument offered by John Hawthorne gainst the propriety of an agent’s using propositions she does not know as premises in practical reasoning. I will argue that there are a number of potential structural confounds in Hawthorne’s use of his main example, a case of practical reasoning about a lottery. By drawing these confounds out more explicitly, we can get a better sense of how to make appropriate use of such examples in theorizing about norms, knowledge, and (...) practical reasoning. I will conclude by suggesting a prescription for properly using lottery propositions to do the sort of work that Hawthorne wants from them. (shrink)
The most discussed puzzle about weakness of will (WoW) is how it is possible: how can a person freely and intentionally perform actions that she judges she ought not perform, or that she has resolved not to perform? In this paper, we are concerned with a much less discussed puzzle about WoW?how is overcoming it possible? We explain some of the ways in which previously weak-willed agents manage to overcome their weakness. Some of these are relatively straightforward?as agents learn of (...) the real costs of weakness, or as those costs mount dramatically, they can become strongly motivated to do what they already judged best. But other cases are more difficult to explain: sometimes, agents with a long history of forming and then weakly abandoning resolutions manage to stick to their guns. We argue that these cases can be explained by combining George Ainslie's model of agents as multiple preference orderings competing in game theoretic interactions along with the insights of evolutionary game theory. This can explain the puzzling cases where agents suddenly adopt successful strategies for avoiding weak-willed behavior, especially where agents gain no new information about themselves or the consequences of their actions. (shrink)
In the norms of assertion literature there has been continued focus on a wide range of odd-sounding assertions that have been collected under the umbrella of Moore’s Paradox. Our aim in these brief remarks is not to attempt to settle the question of what makes an utterance Moorean decisively, but rather to present some new data bearing on it, and to argue that this new data is best explained by a new account of Moorean absurdity.
In her recent paper ‘The Epistemology of Propaganda’ RachelMcKinnon discusses what she refers to as ‘TERF propaganda’. We take issue with three points in her paper. The first is her rejection of the claim that ‘TERF’ is a misogynistic slur. The second is the examples she presents as commitments of so-called ‘TERFs’, in order to establish that radical (and gender critical) feminists rely on a flawed ideology. The third is her claim that standpoint epistemology can be used (...) to establish that such feminists are wrong to worry about a threat of male violence in relation to trans women. In Section 1 we argue that ‘TERF’ is not a merely descriptive term; that to the extent that McKinnon offers considerations in support of the claim that ‘TERF’ is not a slur, these considerations fail; and that ‘TERF’ is a slur according to several prominent accounts in the contemporary literature. In Section 2, we argue that McKinnon misrepresents the position of gender critical feminists, and in doing so fails to establish the claim that the ideology behind these positions is flawed. In Section 3 we argue that McKinnon’s criticism of Stanley fails, and one implication of this is that those she characterizes as ‘positively privileged’ cannot rely on the standpoint-relative knowledge of those she characterizes as ‘negatively privileged’. We also emphasize in this section McKinnon’s failure to understand and account for multiple axes of oppression, of which the cis/trans axis is only one. (shrink)
Why should we be tolerant? What does it mean to ‘live and let live’? What ought to be tolerated and what not? Catriona McKinnon presents a comprehensive, yet accessible introduction to toleration in her new book. Divided into two parts, the first clearly introduces and assesses the major theoretical accounts of toleration, examining it in light of challenges from scepticism, value pluralism and reasonableness. The second part applies the theories of toleration to contemporary debates such as female circumcision, French (...) Headscarves, artistic freedom, pornography and censorship, and holocaust denial. Drawing on the work of philosophers, such as Locke, Mill and Rawls, whose theories are central to toleration, the book provides a solid theoretical base to those who value toleration, whilst considering the challenges toleration faces in practice. It is the ideal starting point for those coming to the topic for the first time, as well as anyone interested in the challenges facing toleration today. (shrink)
Contemporary liberal political justification is often accused of preaching to the converted: liberal principles are acceptable only to people already committed to liberal values. Catriona McKinnon addresses this important criticism by arguing that self-respect and its social conditions should be placed at the heart of the liberal approach to justification. A commitment to self-respect delivers a commitment to the liberal values of toleration and public reason, but self-respect itself is not an exclusively liberal value.
Un día después de su ponencia en el simposio, Alastair McKinnon hizo brevemente algunos señalamientos sobre Temor y Temblor y sobre su propia ponencia. A partir de la observación del capítulo segundo y tercero de Temor y Temblor es posible reconocer que uno trata sobre Abraham cumpliendo su deuda como no creyente, mientras que el otro trata sobre Abraham haciendo lo mismo pero como creyente. Esto, para Alastair McKinnon, marca un camino que sigue en las obras pseudónimas y (...) que consiste en la confusión de creer algo y creer que algo es una paradoja. Se sugire, con base en el estudio de lo absurdo y lo paradójico, que Kierkegaard es completamente consciente de la confusión de las creencias y que el filósofo danés sabe que su presentación de Abraham es falsa. (shrink)
Presentists standardly conform to the eternalist’s paradigm of treating all cases of property-exemplification as involving a single relation of instantiation. This, we argue, results in a much less parsimonious and philosophically explanatory picture than is possible if other alternatives are considered. We argue that by committing to primitive past and future tensed instantiation ties, presentists can make gains in both economy and explanatory power. We show how this metaphysical picture plays out in cases where an individual exists to partake in (...) facts about its past and future, and also in cases where that individual no longer exists, and proxies (or surrogates) for that thing must be found. (shrink)
In this 2002 book, Anna Elisabetta Galeotti examines the most intractable problems which toleration encounters and argues that what is really at stake is not religious or moral disagreement but the unequal status of different social groups. Liberal theories of toleration fail to grasp this and consequently come up with normative solutions that are inadequate when confronted with controversial cases. Galeotti proposes, as an alternative, toleration as recognition, which addresses the problem of according equal respect to groups as well as (...) equal liberty to individuals. She offers an interpretation that is both a revision and an expansion of liberal theory, in which toleration constitutes an important component not only of a theory of justice, but also of the politics of identity. Her study will appeal to a wide range of readers in political philosophy, political theory, and law. (shrink)
From the paper's conclusion: "In conclusion, I have distinguished between two Rawlsian arguments for the SPP [strong precautionary principle] with respect to CCCs [climate change catastrophes]. Although both are persuasive, ultimately the “unbear-able strains” argument provides the most powerful categorical grounds for takingprecautionary action against CCCs. Overall, I have argued that the nature of CCCs requires us to take drastic precautions against further CC that could lead us to passthe tipping points that cause them. This is the case notwithstanding the (...) fact that weare in a state of strong uncertainty with respect to these events; indeed, our stronguncertainty with respect to them—given their nature—makes the case for action toprevent them even more persuasive, from the point of view of justice. Some peopletranslate the strong uncertainty of CCCs into weak uncertainty in order to justifytaking precautionary action using risk assessment.59My argument is complemen-tary to theirs. If divergent approaches to the uncertainty of CCCs neverthelessconverge on the PP, then we have what Cass Sunstein calls an “incompletelytheorized agreement” on a policy, that is, an agreement to which parties divided byoften deep theoretical differences can nevertheless give their assent,60which isall to the good from a political point of view. In the specific case of CC and itspossible catastrophes, the fact that such an agreement has emerged provides asliver of hope in the face of the increasingly dismal prospects for the planetuncovered by CC science as it progresses. At the level of principle, we are agreed,whatever justificatory reasons we advance. What is needed now—in the immedi-ate present—is policy to promote our principles, and the political will to enact it.". (shrink)
It is often argued that the general propriety of challenging an assertion with ‘How do you know?’ counts as evidence for the Knowledge Norm of Assertion . Part of the argument is that this challenge seems to directly challenge whether a speaker knows what she asserts. In this article I argue for a re‐interpretation of the data, the upshot of which is that we need not interpret ‘How do you know?’ as directly challenging a speaker's knowledge; instead, it's better understood (...) as challenging a speaker's reasons. Consequently, I argue that reasons‐based norms can equally well explain this data. (shrink)
Supervaluational treatments of vagueness are currently quite popular among those who regard vagueness as a thoroughly semantic phenomenon. Peter Unger's 'problem of the many' may be regarded as arising from the vagueness of our ordinary physical-object terms, so it is not surprising that supervaluational solutions to Unger's problem have been offered. I argue that supervaluations do not afford an adequate solution to the problem of the many. Moreover, the considerations I raise against the supervaluational solution tell also against the solution (...) to the problem of the many which is suggested by adherents of the epistemic theory of vagueness. (shrink)
Peter Unger's 'problem of the many' has elicited many responses over the past quarter of a century. Here I present a new problem of the many. This new problem, I claim, is resistant to the solutions cunently on offer for Unger's problem.
Holocaust denial (HD) is the activity of denying the occurrence of key events and processes which constitute the Holocaust. Should it be tolerated? HD brings into particularly sharp focus many difficult questions faced by defenders of content-neutral liberal principles protecting freedom of expression. I argue that there are insufficient grounds for the legal prohibition of HD, but that society has the right and the duty to expel and exclude deniers from the Academy.
The presentist view of time is psychologically appealing. I argue that, ironically, contingent facts about the temporal properties of consciousness are very difficult to square with presentism unless some form of mind/body dualism is embraced.
THIS PAPER DISTINGUISHES TWO MAIN SUPERNATURALIST SENSES OF ’MIRACLE’ AND FOUR CORRESPONDING SENSES OF ’PARADOX,’ ALL OF WHICH ARE SHOWN TO INVOLVE THE NOTION OF A DISCREPANT OR INCOHERENT FACT. IT REJECTS THIS NOTION AS A CONTRADICTION IN USE AND ARGUES THAT NONE OF THE TRADITIONAL SENSES OF THESE TERMS CAN CONSISTENTLY NAME OR DESCRIBE ANY REAL OR ALLEGED EVENT.
Time passes; sometimes swiftly, sometimes interminably, but always it passes. We see the world change as events emerge from the shroud of the future, clandestinely slinking into the past almost immediately as though they are reluctant to meet our gaze: children are born, old friends and relatives die, governments once full of youthful enthusiasm wane. If the Earth were sentient, it might feel itself being torn apart as tectonic plates diverge, and chuckle as it outlived species upon species of transient (...) parasites. How could anyone possibly deny that time passes? (shrink)
This paper argues that the direct, vertical toleration of certain types of citizen by the Rawlsian liberal state is appropriate and required in circumstances in which these types of citizen pose a threat to the stability of the state. By countering the claim that vertical toleration is redundant given a commitment to the Rawlsian version of the liberal democratic ideal, and by articulating a version of that ideal that shows this claim to be false, the paper reaffirms the centrality of (...) vertical toleration in the Rawlsian liberal account of state-citizen relations. (shrink)
A key reason for pessimism with respect to greenhouse gas emissions reduction relates to the ?motivation problem?, whereby those who could make the biggest difference prima facie have the least incentive to act because they are most able to adapt: how can we motivate such people (and thereby everyone else) to accept, indeed to initiate, the changes to their lifestyles that are required for effective emissions reductions? This paper offers an account inspired by Rawls of the good of membership of (...) ?intergenerational cooperative union? to achieve justice that provides a solution to the motivation problem. (shrink)
The principal aim of this paper is to defend a certain view about temporary properties from an important objection to that view. More speciﬁcally, I will be defending the view that ostensible temporary intrinsic properties are really relations between the things that have those properties and times. The objection is, roughly speaking, that by construing ostensible temporary intrinsics as relations to times, persisting things are impoverished, being clothed only by their essential (and perhaps also their permanent) intrinsic properties. The worry (...) is that the relations to times view moves us towards thinking of persisting particulars as being quite bare. I do not suggest that this is the only diﬃculty for the relations to times view (in fact, I uncover a potential problem for the view in Section 3), but it is an important one. If the objection is successfully addressed, then a signiﬁcant obstacle to the relations to times view is overcome. (shrink)
Although tolerance is widely regarded as a virtue of both individuals and groups that modern democratic and multiculturalist societies cannot do without, there is still much disagreement among political thinkers as to what tolerance demands, or what can be done to create and sustain a culture of tolerance. The philosophical literature on toleration contains three main strands. (1) An agreement that a tolerant society is more than a modus vivendi; (2) discussion of the proper object(s) of toleration; (3) debate about (...) whether there is a ‘paradox’ of toleration and, if so, how it might be solved. This Introduction outlines how each of the subsequent papers addresses problems in the theory and practice of toleration, in the light of these three strands in the existing literature. (shrink)
(1) Certain of our intentional attitudes appear to have time-asymmetric manifestation conditions. For instance, we dread a certain painful episode only if (we believe) it is future and feel relief about that episode only when (we believe) it is past. We eagerly anticipate events only when they are future and regard them with nostalgia only when they are past.
One winter’s Saturday Clarence wakes up. He realises he has left his umbrella at work. The oﬃce is locked, and he can’t get in. Being one of those people who punish themselves for their mistakes, he can’t bring himself to buy a replacement. He has an engagement six kilometres down the road and starts wondering whether it will rain. Normally, this would not be a problem, but his motor vehicle has broken down because he forgot to have it serviced. And (...) of course, he blames himself for this mistake, so it is only natural that he can’t bring himself to hire a cab or take a bus. He really should hope that it rains and that he gets drenched on the way to his engagement, but he is only human after all, and a small part of himhopes that it is a sunny day. (shrink)