One type of argument to sceptical paradox proceeds by making a case that a certain kind of metaphysically “heavyweight or “cornerstone” proposition is beyond all possible evidence and hence may not be known or justifiably believed. Crispin Wright has argued that we can concede that our acceptance of these propositions is evidentially risky and still remain rationally entitled to those of our ordinary knowledge claims that are seemingly threatened by that concession. A problem for Wright’s proposal is the so-called Leaching (...) worry: if we are merely rationally entitled to accept the cornerstones without evidence, how can we achieve evidence-based knowledge of the multitude of quotidian propositions that we think we know, which require the cornerstones to be true? This paper presents a rigorous, novel explication of this worry within a Bayesian framework, and offers the Entitlement theorist two distinct responses. (shrink)
This paper is about two topics: metaepistemological absolutism and the epistemic principles governing perceptual warrant. Our aim is to highlight—by taking the debate between dogmatists and conservativists about perceptual warrant as a case study—a surprising and hitherto unnoticed problem with metaepistemological absolutism, at least as it has been influentially defended by Paul Boghossian as the principal metaepistemological contrast point to relativism. What we find is that the metaepistemological commitments at play on both sides of this dogmatism/conservativism debate do not line (...) up with epistemic relativism nor do they line up with absolutism, at least as Boghossian articulates this position. What this case study reveals is the need in metaepistemological option space for the recognition of a weaker and less tendentious form of absolutism, what we call “environment relativism”. On this view, epistemic principles are knowable, objective, and they can serve as the basis of particular epistemic evaluations, but their validity is relative to the wider global environment in which they are applied. (shrink)
This is the first edited collection entirely dedicated to non-evidentialist epistemology or non-evidentialism—the controversial view that evidence is not required in order for doxastic attitudes to enjoy a positive epistemic status. Belief or acceptance can be epistemically justified, warranted, or rational without evidence. The volume is divided into three section: the first focuses on hinge epistemology, the second offers a critical reflection about evidentialist and non-evidentialist epistemologies, and the third explores extensions of non-evidentialism to the fields of social psychology, psychiatry, (...) and mathematics. Contributors: N. Ashton, A. Coliva, J. Kim, K. McCain, A. Meylan, L. Moretti, S. Moruzzi, J. Ohlorst, N. Pedersen, T. Piazza, L. Zanetti. (shrink)
Una de las bifurcaciones en el debate contemporáneo sobre la legitimidad de la democracia explora si ésta ofrece ventajas distintivamente epistémicas frente a otras alternativas políticas. Quienes defienden la tesis de la democracia epistémica afirman que la democracia es instrumentalmente superior o equiparable a otras formas de organización política en lo que concierne a la obtención de varios bienes epistémicos. En este ensayo presento dos (grupos de) argumentos a favor de la democracia epistémica, que se inspiran en resultados formales: el (...) teorema del jurado de Condorcet [TJC] y el teorema ‘diversidad supera habilidad’ [DSH]. Pese a su gran atractivo, sostengo que estos argumentos son incapaces de respaldar dicha tesis: no brindan razones para considerar que la democracia es epistémicamente superior (o equiparable) a algunas alternativas políticas no democráticas. En su lugar, sugiero que, sin requerir un cambio radical en nuestras formas de organización política, la epistemología democrática –el estudio de las ‘circunstancias epistémicas de la democracia’– puede ofrecer valiosas lecciones de sobre cómo optimizar, en nuestra situación, instituciones y procedimientos de toma de decisiones. Para ello, primero distingo entre varias maneras de evaluar procedimientos de toma de decisión colectiva. Argumento que, al considerarlos como formas de organización política, un factor importante en la evaluación de tales procedimientos involucra asuntos fácticos sobre los cuales puede aspirarse a obtener o promover algunos bienes epistémicos. En este contexto, presento algunos de los argumentos más importantes a favor de la democracia epistémica. A continuación, reúno algunas de las objeciones sobre la aplicabilidad de dichos argumentos y ofrezco razones independientes para dudar de que ofrezcan apoyo a la tesis de la democracia epistémica. Finalmente, defiendo que la epistemología democrática puede desempeñar un papel significativo en la legitimación de formas de organización colectiva que podrían denominarse ‘democráticas’. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga’s religious epistemology has been used to respond to many debunking arguments against theistic belief. However, critics have claimed that Plantinga’s religious epistemology conflicts with skeptical theism, a view often used in response to the problem of evil. If they are correct, then a common way of responding to debunking arguments conflicts with a common way of responding to the problem of evil. In this paper, I examine the critics’ claims and argue that they are right. I then present (...) two revised versions of Plantinga’s argument for his religious epistemology. I call the first a 'religion-based argument' and the second an 'intention-based argument'. Both are compatible with skeptical theism, and both can be used to respond to debunking arguments. They apply only to theistic beliefs of actual persons who have what I call 'doxastically valuable relationships' with God – valuable relationships the goods of which entail the belief that God exists. (shrink)
According to proper functionalist theories of warrant, a belief is warranted only if it is formed by cognitive faculties that are properly functioning according to a good, truth-aimed design plan, one that is often thought to be specified either by intentional design or by natural selection. A formidable challenge to proper functionalist theories is the Swampman objection, according to which there are scenarios involving creatures who have warranted beliefs but whose cognitive faculties are not properly functioning, or are poorly designed, (...) or are not aimed at truth. In this paper, we draw lessons from cognitive science in order to develop a novel argument for the conclusion that the Swampman objection fails against proper functionalist theories of warrant. Our argument not only shows that the underlying, central intuition motivating Swampman-like scenarios is false but also motivates proper function as a necessary condition for warrant, thereby lending support to the claim that any theory of knowledge that lacks a proper function requirement is false. (shrink)
Reformed epistemology, roughly, is the thesis that religious belief can be rational without argument. After providing some background, I present Plantinga’s defense of reformed epistemology and its influence on religious debunking arguments. I then discuss three objections to Plantinga’s arguments that arise from the following topics: skeptical theism, cognitive science of religion, and basicality. I then show how reformed epistemology has recently been undergirded by a number of epistemological theories, including phenomenal conservatism and virtue epistemology. I end by noting that (...) a good objection to reformed epistemology must criticize either a substantive epistemological theory or the application of that theory to religious belief; I also show that the famous Great Pumpkin Objection is an example of the former. (shrink)
Plantinga argues that cases involving ‘fixed’ beliefs refute the coherentist thesis that a belief’s belonging to a coherent set of beliefs suffices for its having justification (warrant). According to Plantinga, a belief cannot be justified if there is a ‘lack of fit’ between it and its subject’s experiences. I defend coherentism by showing that if Plantinga means to claim that any ‘lack of fit’ destroys justification, his argument is obviously false. If he means to claim that significant ‘lack of fit’ (...) destroys justification, his argument suffers a critical lack of support. Either way, Plantinga’s argument fails and coherentism emerges unscathed. (shrink)
We all have an intuitive grasp of the concept of evidence. Evidence makes beliefs reasonable, justifies jury verdicts, and helps resolve our disagreements. Yet getting clear about what evidence is is surprisingly difficult. Among other possibilities, evidence might consist in physical objects like a candlestick found at the crime scene, propositions like ‘a candlestick was found at the crime scene,’ or experiences like the experience of witnessing a candlestick at the crime scene. This dissertation is a defense of the latter (...) view. Evidence, we will argue, consists in experiences or mental states called ‘seeming states.’ We begin with a look at why the logical positivists came to abandon the experiential or “phenomenal” conception of evidence and adopted what I call “the courtroom conception.” Despite its appeal, we argue that this latter view is too objective; it has trouble playing the role of subjective reasons-provider. Being more subjective, the phenomenal conception deserves another look. However, many have thought that the phenomenal conception itself is unable to fulfill other important roles of evidence. In chapter two we dispute this, arguing that the phenomenal conception can play all four of the chief roles of evidence. Examining the religious epistemology of Alvin Plantinga in chapter three we come to see that the phenomenal conception, while attractive, is in danger of being too subjective. If the phenomenal conception of evidence is to be tenable, it must be offered in conjunction with a conservative epistemic principle which tethers together experiences with the beliefs they evidence in an epistemically appropriate manner. Hence in chapter four we consider a number of conservative epistemic principles and argue for the superiority of one in particular. But these principles have themselves been subject to criticism. For this reason, in chapter five we close by responding to a recent and pressing challenge to conservative principles in epistemology (Michael Bergmann’s dilemma for internalism) which might prevent their deployment alongside the phenomenal conception. If our arguments are correct, the phenomenal conception of evidence is still an attractive account of evidence today. (shrink)
How is the burden of proof to be distributed among individuals who are involved in resolving a particular issue? Under what conditions should the burden of proof be distributed unevenly? We distinguish attitudinal from dialectical burdens and argue that these questions should be answered differently, depending on which is in play. One has an attitudinal burden with respect to some proposition when one is required to possess sufficient evidence for it. One has a dialectical burden with respect to some proposition (...) when one is required to provide supporting arguments for it as part of a deliberative process. We show that the attitudinal burden with respect to certain propositions is unevenly distributed in some deliberative contexts, but in all of these contexts, establishing the degree of support for the proposition is merely a means to some other deliberative end, such as action guidance, or persuasion. By contrast, uneven distributions of the dialectical burden regularly further the aims of deliberation, even in contexts where the quest for truth is the sole deliberative aim, rather than merely a means to some different deliberative end. We argue that our distinction between these two burdens resolves puzzles about unevenness that have been raised in the literature. (shrink)
El estudio y análisis de las argumentaciones cotidianas entendidas como interacciones discursivas e intencionales encaminadas a dar cuenta de algo con el fin de lograr que aquello que se sostiene sea aceptado, sería inconcebible sin la aparición de la teoría de los actos de habla de Austin (1962), la propuesta de Searle (1969), el trabajo de Grice sobre la teoría de la conversación (1975) y el importante estudio sistemático de Hamblin sobre el argumento falaz (1970). Como una reelaboración de dichas (...) obras cabe entender la teoría pragmadialéctica de la argumentación propuesta inicialmente por Frans H. van Eemeren y Rob Grootendorst (1984). Algunos autores (Blair, 2006: 11; Woods, 1992) creen ver en ella, más que una teoría, una amalgama de varias teorías y una particular versión de la teoría pragmadialéctica de la argumentación, entendiendo ésta bajo una acepción más general. Otros consideran que ni es útil ni tampoco especulativamente productivo sostener que de toda argumentación pueda buscarse un modelo según el cual ésta buscaría resolver una diferencia de opinión (Goodwin, 1999). (shrink)
Moral reasoning is as fallible as reasoning in any other cognitive domain, but we often behave as if it were not. I argue for a form of epistemically-based moral humility, in which we downgrade our moral beliefs in the face of moral disagreement. My argument combines work in metaethics and moral intuitionism with recent developments in epistemology. I argue against any demands for deep self-sufficiency in moral reasoning. Instead, I argue that we need to take into account significant socially sourced (...) information, especially as a check for failures on our own moral intuitions and reasoning. -/- First, I argue for an epistemically plausible version of moral intuitionism, based on recent work in epistemic entitlement and epistemic warrant. Second, I argue that getting clear on the epistemic basis shows the defeasibility of moral judgment. Third, I argue the existence of moral disagreement is a reason to reduce our certainty in moral judgment. Fourth, I argue that this effect is not a violation of norms of autonomy for moral judgment. (shrink)
Warrant is what fills the gap between mere true belief and knowledge. But a problem arises. Is there just one condition that satisfies this description? Suppose there isn’t: can anything interesting be said about warrant after all? Call this the uniqueness problem. In this paper, I solve the problem. I examine one plausible argument that there is no one condition filling the gap between mere true belief and knowledge. I then motivate and formulate revisions of the standard analysis of warrant. (...) Given these revisions, I argue that there is, after all, exactly one warrant condition. (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)
There are two different kinds of theories of the concept of epistemic defeat. One theory begins with propositional relationships, only by implication describing what happens in the context of a noetic system. Such a theory places inforrmation about defeat up front, not informing us of how the defeat relationships play out in the context of actual belief, at least not initially. The other theory takes a back door to the concept of defeat, assuming a context of actual belief and an (...) entire noetic system, and describing defeat in terms of what sort of doxastic and noetic responses would be appropriate to the addition of particular pieces of information. Where the house is the noetic structure itself, the front door approach characterizes the concept of defeat in terms of the propositional contents a belief might have, thus characterizing defeat at the front door. The backdoor approach characterizes defeat in terms of what leaves the house, in terms of beliefs that exit the noetic system in response to changes to it, in terms of what the staff of a well-run household kicks out the backdoor for making a mess of things. Alvin Plantinga’s theory of epistemic defeat is a back-door theory, and here I will argue that his theory and approaches like it will be unable to explicate accurately the concept of epistemic defeat. I will argue that a front door approach is needed rather than a back door approach. (shrink)
In his most recent treatment of a priori knowledge, Philip Kitcher argues against what he takes to be the widespread view that our knowledge and warranted belief is 'tradition-independent'. Furthermore, he argues that defeasible conceptions of a priori warrant entail that it is not tradition-independent, a conclusion which he thinks is contrary to what most epistemologists hold. I argue that knowledge is not widely believed to be tradition-independent, and that, while warrant is widely believed to be tradition-independent, Kitcher's arguments show (...) neither that this widespread view is mistaken nor that it conflicts with defeasible a warrant. I conjecture that Kitcher may be misled by a lack of clarity regarding the analysandum designated by 'warrant'. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga theorizes about an epistemic property he calls "warrant," defined as that which makes the difference "between knowledge and mere true belief." I show that, given this account, Plantinga can have no justification for claiming that a false belief is warranted nor for claiming that warrant comes in degrees.
Warrant is that, whatever it is, which makes the difference between knowledge and mere true belief. In "Warrant Entails Truth" (PPR, December 1995), I argued that it is impossible that a false belief be warranted. Sharon Ryan attacked the argument of that paper in her "Does Warrant Entail Truth?" (PPR, March 1996). In "More on Warrant's Entailing Truth" I present arguments for the claim that warrant entails truth that are, I think, significantly more compelling than the arguments of my original (...) "Warrant Entails Truth." This paper responds to Ryan's objections, but it is not merely a reply to Ryan's article. It is, rather, a free-standing defense of warrant's entailing truth that is the product of discussion and argument for over two years with many philosophers, including Ryan, over the arguments contained in my original paper. (shrink)
Plantinga thus offers an approach that begins by assessing the faculties or abilities of a cognitive system or agent. Once such an assessment is complete, the epistemologist is in a position to infer the epistemic status of the doxastic products of those faculties or abilities.
Warrant is “that, whatever precisely it is, which makes the difference between knowledge and mere true belief.” S knows that p, therefore, if and only if S’s belief that p is warranted and p is true. This is a purely formal characterization of warrant. Warrant may, no doubt, be a messy item: a substantive analysis might be full of disjuncts and conjuncts and conditionals and caveats. But if there are true beliefs that are not knowledge, then there is something that (...) all beliefs that are knowledge share, and all merely true beliefs lack. This is warrant. I want to argue that warrant, whatever it is that makes the difference between mere true belief and knowledge, entails truth. (shrink)
Crispin Wright argues persuasively that truth cannot be understood in terms of warranted assertibility, on the basis of some very simple facts about negation. The argument, he claims, undermines not only simply assertibility theories of truth, but more idealized ones according to which truth is to be understood in terms of what is assertible in the long run, or assertible within some ideal scientific theory.