The paper discusses some themes in Duncan Pritchard’s last book, Epistemic Angst. Radical Skepticism and the Groundlessness of Our Believing. It considers it in relation to other forms of Wittgenstein-inspired hinge-epistemology. It focuses, in particular, on the proposed treatment of Closure in relation to entailments containing hinges, the treatment of Underdetermination-based skeptical paradox and the avail to disjunctivism to respond to the latter. It argues that, although bold and thought-provoking, the mix of hinge epistemology and disjunctivism Pritchard proposes is not (...) motivated. (shrink)
Changes in conversationally salient error possibilities, and/or changes in stakes, appear to generate shifts in our judgments regarding the correct application of ‘know’. One prominent response to these shifts is to argue that they arise due to shifts in belief and do not pose a problem for traditional semantic or metaphysical accounts of knowledge. Such doxastic proposals face familiar difficulties with cases where knowledge is ascribed to subjects in different practical or conversational situations from the speaker. Jennifer Nagel has recently (...) offered an ingenious response to these problematic cases—appeal to egocentric bias. Appeal to this kind of bias also has the potential for interesting application in other philosophical arenas, including discussions of epistemic modals. In this paper, I draw on relevant empirical literature to clarify the nature of egocentric bias as it manifests in children and adults, and argue that appeal to egocentric bias is ill-suited to respond to the problem cases for doxastic accounts. Our discussion also has significant impact on the prospects for application of egocentric bias in other arenas. (shrink)
Amodal completion is the representation of occluded parts of perceived objects. We argue for the following three claims: First, at least some amodal completion-involved experiences can ground knowledge about the occluded portions of perceived objects. Second, at least some instances of amodal completion-grounded knowledge are not sensitive, i.e., it is not the case that in the nearest worlds in which the relevant claim is false, that claim is not believed true. Third, at least some instances of amodal completion grounded knowledge (...) are not safe, i.e., it is not the case that in all or nearly all near worlds where the relevant claim is believed true, that claim is in fact true. Thus, certain instances of amodal completion-grounded knowledge refute both the view that knowledge is necessarily sensitive and the view that knowledge is necessarily safe. (shrink)
The skeptical puzzle consists of three allegedly incompatible claims: S knows that O, S doesn’t know that ~U, and the claim that knowledge is closed under the known entailment. I consider several famous instances of the puzzle and conclude that in all of those cases the presupposition that O entails ~U is false. I also consider two possible ways for trying to make it true and argue that both strategies ultimate fail. I conclude that this result at least completely discredits (...) any solution that denies the principle of epistemic closure. At most, denying that O entails ~U can itself be seen as a novel solution to the puzzle, preferred to any other solution: it accommodates both non-skeptical and skeptical intuitions but does not require us to give up the principle of closure, embrace contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism, or deny any commonly accepted principle of epistemology or logic. (shrink)
Moderate invariantism is the orthodox semantics for knowledge attributions (i.e., sentences of the form ⌜S knows/doesn’t know that Φ⌝). In recent years it has fallen out of favour, in large part because it fails to explain why ordinary speakers have the intuition that some utterances of knowledge attributions are felicitous and others infelicitous (felicity intuitions) in several types of cases. To address this issue moderate invariantists have developed a variety of what I call non-semantic theories (aka error theories) which they (...) claim account for the relevant felicity intuitions independently of moderate invariantist semantics. Some critics have responded by arguing that these non-semantic theories are implausible for one or more of the following reasons: (i) they do not have a basis in empirical data or established theory; (ii) they do not account for all of the relevant felicity intuitions; (iii) they are ad hoc; or (iv) they in fact explain too many felicity intuitions and thus undermine the case for moderate invariantism. I develop a new non-semantic theory––projective adaptivism––that I argue escapes issues (i) to (iv) above. (shrink)
Vogel, Sosa, and Huemer have all argued that sensitivity is incompatible with knowing that you do not believe falsely, therefore the sensitivity condition must be false. I show that this objection misses its mark because it fails to take account of the basis of belief. Moreover, if the objection is modified to account for the basis of belief then it collapses into the more familiar objection that sensitivity is incompatible with closure.
Corroborative evidence may be understood as having two epistemic effects: a primary effect by which it offers direct evidence for some claim, and a secondary effect by which it bolsters the appraised probative, or evidential, value of some other piece of evidence for that claim. This paper argues that the bolstering effect of corroborative evidence is epistemically legitimate because corroboration provides a reason to count the belief based on the initial evidence as sensitive to, and safe from, defeat in a (...) way that it was not previously recognized to be. Discovering that our initial evidence tracks the truth in a way we previously did not recognize provides a reason to positively reappraise the probative value of that evidence. The final section of the paper relates the proposed sensitivity- and safety-based account of corroboration to an explanation-based account. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 25 This is a pre-print. Please cite only the revised published version. This paper presents an original, ambitious, truth-directed transcendental argument for the existence of an ‘external world’. It begins with a double-headed starting-point: Stroud’s own remarks on the necessary conditions of language in general, and Hegel’s critique of the “fear of error.” The paper argues that the sceptical challenge requires a particular critical concept of thought as that which may diverge from reality, and that this (...) concept is possible only through reflection on situations of error, in which how things are thought to be diverges from how things really are with independent items in an objective world. The existence of such a world is therefore a necessary condition of the possibility of scepticism: such scepticism is therefore false. I defend the argument against objections from Stroud’s sceptic and others. Drawing on Heidegger, the paper concludes by indicating that the chain of necessary conditions includes practical engagement with the world. (shrink)
Interest-relative invariantism is the view that practical interests encroach upon knowledge. In other words, the more that is at stake for S, the harder it is for her true belief to be an instance of knowledge. Russell and Doris argue that IRI theorists are committed to indifference being knowledge-making feature of IRI, where knowledge comes easier for subjects the less they care. In this paper, I explain why indifference cases are problematic and which assumptions about IRI generate them. I then (...) argue IRI theorists can immunize themselves from indifference problems by grounding practical interests in either Aristotelianism or a restricted form of Humeanism, both of which link practical interests to some conception of well-being. I then argue that besides solving indifference problems, these approaches present a reasonable conception of practical interests, while also saving IRI theorists from abandoning plausible theses about knowledge. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 167 - 191 This paper presents an original, ambitious, truth-directed transcendental argument for the existence of an ‘external world’. It begins with a double-headed starting-point: Stroud’s own remarks on the necessary conditions of language in general, and Hegel’s critique of the “fear of error.” The paper argues that the sceptical challenge requires a particular critical concept of thought as that which may diverge from reality, and that this concept is possible only through reflection (...) on situations of error, in which how things are thought to be diverges from how things really are with independent items in an objective world. The existence of such a world is therefore a necessary condition of the possibility of scepticism: such scepticism is therefore false. I defend the argument against objections from Stroud’s sceptic and others. Drawing on Heidegger, the paper concludes by indicating that the chain of necessary conditions includes practical engagement with the world. (shrink)
A powerful objection to subject-sensitive invariantism concerns various ‘strange-but-true’ conditionals. One popular response to this objection is to argue that strange-but-true conditionals pose a problem for non-sceptical epistemological theories in general. In the present paper, it is argued that strange-but-true conditionals are not a problem for contextualism about ‘know’. This observation undercuts the proposed defence of SSI, and supplies a surprising new argument for contextualism.
The mentioning of error-possibilities makes us less likely to ascribe knowledge. This paper offers a novel psychological account of this data. The account appeals to “subadditivity,” a well-known psychological tendency to judge possibilities as more likely when they are disjunctively described.
In the past few years there has been a turn towards evaluating the empirical foundation of epistemic contextualism using formal (rather than armchair) experimental methods. By-and-large, the results of these experiments have not supported the original motivation for epistemic contextualism. That is partly because experiments have only uncovered effects of changing context on knowledge ascriptions in limited experimental circumstances (when contrast is present, for example), and partly because existing experiments have not been designed to distinguish between contextualism and one of (...) its main competing theories, subject-sensitive invariantism. In this paper, we discuss how a particular, "third-person", experimental design is needed to provide evidence that would support contextualism over subject-sensitive invariantism. In spite of the theoretical significance of third-person knowledge ascriptions for debates surrounding contextualism, no formal experiments evaluating such ascriptions that assess contextualist claims have previously been conducted. In this paper, we conduct an experiment specifically designed to examine that central gap in contextualism’s empirical foundation. The results of our experiment provide crucial support for epistemic contextualism over subject-sensitive invariantism. (shrink)
In this paper, I present and defend a novel account of doubt. In Part 1, I make some preliminary observations about the nature of doubt. In Part 2, I introduce a new puzzle about the relationship between three psychological states: doubt, belief, and confidence. I present this puzzle because my account of doubt emerges as a possible solution to it. Lastly, in Part 3, I elaborate on and defend my account of doubt. Roughly, one has doubt if and only if (...) one believes one might be wrong; I argue that this is superior to the account that says that one has doubt if and only if one has less than the highest degree of confidence. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 35 In his recent work, Duncan Pritchard defends a novel Wittgensteinian response to the problem of radical scepticism. The response makes essential use of a form of non-epistemicism about the nature of hinge commitments. According to non-epistemicism, hinge commitments cannot be known or grounded in rational considerations, such as reasons and evidence. On Pritchard’s version of non-epistemicism, hinge commitments express propositions but cannot be believed. This is the non-belief theory of hinge commitments. One of the main (...) reasons in favour of NBT over rival anti-sceptical Wittgensteinian views is that it has less theoretical costs and revisionary consequences than its rivals. In this paper, I argue that NBT fares at least as bad as its rivals in terms of its theoretical costs and revisionism. In particular, I argue that NBT is inconsistent with certain cases of philosophical disagreement; that it faces worries with mental-state scepticism; and that it faces difficulties in explaining how we can represent ourselves as committed to hinge commitments. (shrink)
In his recent work, Duncan Pritchard defends a novel Wittgensteinian response to the problem of radical scepticism. The response makes essential use of a form of non-epistemicism about the nature of hinge commitments. According to non-epistemicism, hinge commitments cannot be known or grounded in rational considerations, such as reasons and evidence. On Pritchard’s version of non-epistemicism, hinge commitments express propositions but cannot be believed. This is the non-belief theory of hinge commitments. One of the main reasons in favour of NBT (...) over rival anti-sceptical Wittgensteinian views is that it has less theoretical costs and revisionary consequences than its rivals. In this paper, I argue that NBT fares at least as bad as its rivals in terms of its theoretical costs and revisionism. In particular, I argue that NBT is inconsistent with certain cases of philosophical disagreement; that it faces worries with mental-state scepticism; and that it faces difficulties in explaining how we can represent ourselves as committed to hinge commitments. (shrink)
Sosa, Pritchard, and Vogel have all argued that there are cases in which one knows something inductively but does not believe it sensitively, and that sensitivity therefore cannot be necessary for knowledge. I defend sensitivity by showing that inductive knowledge is sensitive.
Here is a definition of knowledge: for you to know a proposition p is for you to have an outright belief in p that is correct precisely because it manifests the virtue of rationality. This definition resembles Ernest Sosa’s “virtue theory”, except that on this definition, the only virtue that must be manifested in all instances of knowledge is rationality, and no reductive account of rationality is attempted—rationality is assumed to be an irreducibly normative notion. This definition is compatible with (...) “internalism” about rationality, and with a form of “pragmatic encroachment” on the conditions of rational outright belief. An interpretation is given of this definition, and especially of the sense of ’because’ that it involves. On this interpretation, this definition entails that both safety and adherence are necessary conditions on knowledge; it supports a kind of contextualism about terms like ‘knowledge’; and it provides resources to defend safety, adherence, and contextualism, against some recent objections. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 246 - 257 The two main components of Coliva’s view are Moderatism and Extended Rationality. According to Moderatism, a belief about specific material objects is perceptually justified iff, absent defeaters, one has the appropriate course of experience and it is assumed that there is an external world. I grant Moderatism and instead focus on Extended Rationality, according to which it is epistemically rational to believe evidentially warranted propositions and to accept those unwarrantable assumptions (...) that make the acquisition of perceptual warrants possible and are therefore constitutive of ordinary evidential warrants. I suggest that, even though Extended Rationality might be true, it cannot do the work that Coliva wants it to do. Although my objections do not show that it is false, they can serve to clarify what sorts of problem a theory of justification or rationality could possibly address. This provides an alternative to Coliva’s view of the skeptical problem and the question, on what does rationality hinge? (shrink)
A number of prominent epistemologists claim that the principle of sensitivity “play[s] a starring role in the solution to some important epistemological problems”. I argue that traditional sensitivity accounts fail to explain even the most basic data that are usually considered to constitute their primary motivation. To establish this result I develop Gettier and lottery cases involving necessary truths. Since beliefs in necessary truths are sensitive by default, the resulting cases give rise to a serious explanatory problem for the defenders (...) of sensitivity accounts. It is furthermore argued that attempts to modally strengthen traditional sensitivity accounts to avoid the problem must appeal to a notion of safety—the primary competitor of sensitivity in the literature. The paper concludes that the explanatory virtues of sensitivity accounts are largely illusory. In the framework of modal epistemology, it is safety rather than sensitivity that does the heavy explanatory lifting with respect to Gettier cases, lottery examples, and other pertinent cases. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 173 - 198 The _skeptical puzzle_ consists of three independently plausible yet jointly inconsistent claims: S knows a certain _o_rdinary _p_roposition op; S does not know the denial of a certain _s_keptical _h_ypothesis sh; and S knows that op only if S knows that not-sh. The _variantist solution _ claims that and not- are true in the _ordinary_ context, but false in the _skeptical_ one. _Epistemic contextualism_ has offered a _standards-variantist solution_, which is (...) the most prominent variantist solution on the market. In this paper, I argue that the standards-variantist solution in general is epistemically uninteresting. Proponents of the variantist solution should opt for the _position-variantist solution_ instead. I will discuss some important implications of my findings. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend the heterogeneity problem for sensitivity accounts of knowledge against an objection that has been recently proposed by Wallbridge in Philosophia. I argue in, 479–496, 2015) that sensitivity accounts of knowledge face a heterogeneity problem when it comes to higher-level knowledge about the truth of one’s own beliefs. Beliefs in weaker higher-level propositions are insensitive, but beliefs in stronger higher-level propositions are sensitive. The resulting picture that we can know the stronger propositions without being in a (...) position to know the weaker propositions is too heterogeneous to be plausible. Wallbridge objects that there is no heterogeneity problem because beliefs in the weaker higher-level propositions are also sensitive. I argue against Wallbridge that the heterogeneity problem is not solved but only displaced. Only some beliefs in the weaker higher-level propositions are sensitive. I conclude that the heterogeneity problem is one of a family of instability problems that sensitivity accounts of knowledge face and that Wallbridge’s account raises a further problem of this kind. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 147 - 172 The Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu has seldom been considered in conjunction with the problem of external-world skepticism despite the fact that his text, _Twenty Verses_, presents arguments from ignorance based on dreams. In this article, an epistemological phenomenalist interpretation of Vasubandhu is supported in opposition to a metaphysical idealist interpretation. On either interpretation, Vasubandhu gives an invitation to the problem of external-world skepticism, although his final conclusion is closer to skepticism (...) on the epistemological phenomenalist interpretation. The article ends with reflections on what light Vasubandhu might shed on the issue of whether skepticism is a natural problem in epistemology as well as why, despite Vasubandhu, the skeptical problem was not a central issue in the later Indian tradition. (shrink)
This paper has four parts. In the first part I argue that moral facts are subject to a certain epistemic accessibility requirement. Namely, moral facts must be accessible to some possible agent. In the second part I show that because this accessibility requirement on moral facts holds, there is a route from facts about the moral disagreements of agents in idealized conditions to conclusions about what moral facts there are. In the third part I build on this route to show (...) that if there is significant moral disagreement in idealized conditions, then our understanding of morality is fatally flawed and we should accept relativism over non-naturalism and quasi-realism. So, if, like many, you think that there would be significant moral disagreement in idealized conditions, you should hold that our understanding of morality is fatally flawed and reject non-naturalism and quasi-realism. In the fourth part of this paper I show that undermines the plausibility of non-naturalism, quasi-realism, and the view that our understanding of morality is not fatally flawed even if we do not have sufficient reason to believe that there would be significant moral disagreement in idealized conditions. (shrink)
The present article illustrates a conflict between the claim that rational belief sets are closed under deductive consequences, and a very inclusive claim about the factors that are sufficient to determine whether it is rational to believe respective propositions. Inasmuch as it is implausible to hold that the factors listed here are insufficient to determine whether it is rational to believe respective propositions, we have good reason to deny that rational belief sets are closed under deductive consequences.
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 69 - 90 It is often claimed that, as a result of scientific progress, we now _know_ that the natural world displays no design. Although we have no interest in defending design hypotheses, we will argue that establishing claims to the effect that we know the denials of design hypotheses is more difficult than it seems. We do so by issuing two skeptical challenges to design-deniers. The first challenge draws inspiration from radical skepticism (...) and shows how design claims are at least as compelling as radical skeptical scenarios in undermining knowledge claims, and in fact probably more so. The second challenge takes its cue from skeptical theism and shows how we are typically not in an epistemic position to rule out design. (shrink)
According to radical scepticism, knowledge of the external world is impossible. Transcendental arguments are supposed to be anti-sceptical, but can they provide a satisfying response to radical scepticism? Especially, when radical scepticism is cast as posing a how-possible question, there is a concern that transcendental arguments are neither sufficient nor necessary for answering such question. In light of this worry, I argue that we can take a modest transcendental argument as a stepping stone for a diagnostic anti-sceptical proposal, and I (...) use a Wittgensteinian modest transcendental argument to illustrate my point. (shrink)
The possibility of knowledge attributions across contexts (where attributor and subject find themselves in different epistemic contexts) can create serious problems for certain views of knowledge. Amongst such views is subject—sensitive invariantism—the view that knowledge is determined not only by epistemic factors (belief, truth, evidence, etc.) but also by non—epistemic factors (practical interests, etc.). I argue that subject—sensitive invariantism either runs into a contradiction or has to make very implausible assumptions. The problem has been very much neglected but is so (...) serious that one should look for alternative accounts of knowledge. (shrink)
A central topic in experimental epistemology has been the ways that non-epistemic evaluations of an agent’s actions can affect whether the agent is taken to have certain kinds of knowledge. Several scholars have found that the positive or negative valence of an action can influence attributions of knowledge to the agent. These evaluative effects on knowledge attributions are commonly seen as performance errors, failing to reflect individuals’ genuine conceptual competence with knows. In the present article, I report the results of (...) a series of studies designed to test the leading version of this view, which appeals to the allegedly distorting influence of individuals’ motivation to blame. I argue that the data pose significant challenges to such a view. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine a contextualist thesis that has been little discussed in comparison with contextualism about knowledge, namely contextualism about evidential support. This seems surprising since, prima facie, evidential support statements seem shifty in a way parallel to knowledge ascriptions. I examine but reject the suggestion that contrastivism about evidential support is motivated by arguments analogous to those used to motivate contrastivism about knowledge including sceptical closure arguments, the nature of inquiry, the existence of explicitly contrastive evidential support (...) statements, and the intuitive shiftiness of some binary evidential support statements. I end by discussing the relations between contextualism about evidential support, evidence and knowledge. In particular, I argue that my discussion of contrastivism about evidential support undermines Neta's contextualist view about evidence, and his broader suggestion that the shiftiness of evidence statements explains the shiftiness of knowledge ascriptions. (shrink)
Single-premise epistemic closure is the principle that: if one is in an evidential position to know that P where P entails Q, then one is in an evidential position to know that Q. In this paper, I defend the viability of opposition to closure. A key task for such an opponent is to precisely formulate a restricted closure principle that remains true to the motivations for abandoning unrestricted closure but does not endorse particularly egregious instances of closure violation. I focus (...) on two brands of epistemic theory that naturally incorporate closure restrictions. The first type holds that the truth value of a knowledge ascription is relative to a relevant question. The second holds that the truth value of a knowledge ascription is relative to a relevant topic. For each approach, I offer a formalization of a leading theory from the literature and use this formalization to evaluate the theory’s adequacy in terms of a precise set of desiderata. I conclude that neither theory succeeds in meeting these desiderata, casting doubt on the viability of the underlying approaches. Finally, I offer a novel variant of the topic-sensitive approach that fares better. (shrink)
‘Know-that’, like so many natural language expressions, exhibits patterns of use that provide evidence for its context-sensitivity. A popular family of views – call it prag- matic invariantism – attempts to explain the shifty patterns by appeal to a pragmatic thesis: while the semantic meaning of ‘know-that’ is stable across all contexts of use, sentences of the form ‘S knows [doesn’t know] that p’ can be used to communicate a pragmatic content that depends on the context of use. In this (...) paper, the author argues that pragmatic invariantism makes inaccurate predictions for a wide range of well- known use data and is committed to attributing systematic pragmatic error to ordinary speakers. But pragmatic error is unprecedented, and it is doubtful that speakers are systematically wrong about what they intend to communicate. (shrink)
Positions in the debate about the correct semantics of “S knows that p” are sometimes motivated in part by an appeal to interpretive charity. In particular, non-skeptical views hold that many utterances of the sentence “S knows that p” are true and some of them think the fact that their views are able to respect this is a reason why their views are more charitable than skeptical invariantism. However, little attention has been paid to why charity should be understood in (...) this way and little effort has been spent justifying the notion that a charitable semantics is likely to be true. I distinguish two kinds of interpretive charity. One principle of charity is often appealed to in the literature. I introduce a second. I argue that while some positions better respect one principle of charity, the reverse is true of the other principle of charity. I conclude with some remarks about how to break this apparent tie. (shrink)
Many philosophers claim that interesting forms of epistemic evaluation are insensitive to truth in a very specific way. Suppose that two possible agents believe the same proposition based on the same evidence. Either both are justified or neither is; either both have good evidence for holding the belief or neither does. This does not change if, on this particular occasion, it turns out that only one of the two agents has a true belief. Epitomizing this line of thought are thought (...) experiments about radically deceived “brains in vats.” It is widely and uncritically assumed that such a brain is equally justified as its normally embodied human “twin.” This “parity” intuition is the heart of truth-insensitive theories of core epistemological properties such as justification and rationality. Rejecting the parity intuition is considered radical and revisionist. In this paper, I show that exactly the opposite is true. The parity intuition is idiosyncratic and widely rejected. A brain in a vat is not justified and has worse evidence than its normally embodied counterpart. On nearly every ordinary way of evaluating beliefs, a false belief is significantly inferior to a true belief. Of all the evaluations studied here, only blamelessness is truth-insensitive. (shrink)
Neil Sinhababu and I presented Backward Clock, an original counterexample to Robert Nozick’s truth-tracking analysis of propositional knowledge. Fred Adams, John Barker and Murray Clarke argue that Backward Clock is no such counterexample. Their argument fails to nullify Backward Clock which also shows that other tracking analyses, such as Dretske’s and one that Adams et al. may well have in mind, are inadequate.
I consider the problem of reflective knowledge faced by views that treat sensitivity as a sufficient condition for knowledge, or as a major ingredient of the concept, as in the analysis I advance in Scepticism and Reliable Belief. I present the problem as concerning the correct analysis of SATs — beliefs to the effect that one of my current beliefs is true. I suggest that a plausible analysis of SATs should treat them as neither true nor false when they ascribe (...) truth to a non-existent belief. I argue that the problem is inescapable if we construe SATs as ascribing the property of truth to a belief. Deflationism manages to avoid the problem of reflective knowledge, but it does so by violating alethic priority — the principle that our account of representation must be built on our account of truth. I argue that we can avoid the problem of reflective knowledge while preserving alethic priority with a pragmatist account of truth — according to which truth is explicated in terms of the rules that govern the practice of assessing judgments and related items as true or false. (shrink)
Fred Dretske notoriously claimed that knowledge closure sometimes fails. Crispin Wright agrees that warrant does not transmit in the relevant cases, but only because the agent must already be warranted in believing the conclusion in order to acquire her warrant for the premise. So the agent ends up being warranted in believing, and so knowing, the conclusion in those cases too: closure is preserved. Wright's argument requires that the conclusion's having to be warranted beforehand explains transmission failure. I argue that (...) it doesn't, and that the correct explanation does not imply that the agent will end up warranted in believing the conclusion when transmission fails. Those who agree that transmission does fail in those cases, therefore, might as well follow Dretske in denying knowledge closure too. (shrink)
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa has presented a series of examples that are meant to spell trouble for Presuppositional Epistemic Contextualism. In this short article I aim to establish two things. First, I argue that even if Ichikawa’s examples were viable counterexamples to PEC, they would not threaten the key ideas underlying the account in my 2009 article ‘Knowledge and Presuppositions’. The philosophically interesting work that is done in that article remains unaffected by Ichikawa’s alleged counterexamples. In the second part of the (...) paper, I argue that the examples are not in fact successful counterexamples to PEC. The data emerging from Ichikawa’s examples can be accounted for within the framework of PEC. (shrink)
Recent attempts to resolve the Paradox of the Gatecrasher rest on a now familiar distinction between individual and bare statistical evidence. This paper investigates two such approaches, the causal approach to individual evidence and a recently influential (and award-winning) modal account that explicates individual evidence in terms of Nozick's notion of sensitivity. This paper offers counterexamples to both approaches, explicates a problem concerning necessary truths for the sensitivity account, and argues that either view is implausibly committed to the impossibility of (...) no-fault wrongful convictions. The paper finally concludes that the distinction between individual and bare statistical evidence cannot be maintained in terms of causation or sensitivity. We have to look elsewhere for a solution of the Paradox of the Gatecrasher. (shrink)
The use of ‘S knows p’ varies from context to context. The contextualist theories of Cohen, Lewis, and DeRose explain this variation in terms of semantic hypotheses: ‘S knows p’ is indexical in meaning, referring to features of the ascriber’s context like salience, interests, and stakes. The linguistic evidence against contextualism is extensive. I maintain that the contextual variation of knowledge claims results from pragmatic factors. One is variable strictness :395–438, 2007). In addition to its strict use, ‘S knows p’ (...) may be used loosely to implicate that S is close enough to knowing p for contextually indicated purposes. Here I explore another variable: belief about what is known. This factor is pragmatic rather than semantic in that it affects the use of ‘S knows p’ without affecting its truth conditions. While variation in strictness accounts for the variation in the bank, parking, and some lottery cases, variation in belief accounts for the variation in other lottery cases and the epistemology cases. Along the way, I sketch an insensitive invariantist semantics that is strict but non-skeptical, and show how it works with these pragmatic factors. (shrink)
If epistemic contextualism is correct, then knowledge attributions do not have stable truth-conditions across different contexts. John Hawthorne, Timothy Williamson, and Patrick Rysiew argue that this unstable picture of knowledge attributions undermines the role that knowledge reports play in storing, retrieving, and transmitting useful information. Contrary to this view, I argue that the truth-conditions of knowledge attributions are more stable than critics have claimed, and that contextualism is compatible with the role knowledge attributions play in storing, retrieving, and transmitting information (...) across contexts. In particular, I discuss a social dimension of ‘knowledge’ that limits contextual variability. This indicates a new way of characterizing contextualism. (shrink)
Many epistemologists think we can derive important theoretical insights by investigating the English word ‘know’ or the concept it expresses. However, fewer than six percent of the world’s population are native English speakers, and some empirical evidence suggests that the concept of knowledge is culturally relative. So why should we think that facts about the word ‘know’ or the concept it expresses have important ramifications for epistemology? This paper argues that the concept of knowledge is universal: it is expressed by (...) some word in every natural language. I also explore the implications of this thesis for philosophical methodology. (shrink)
Epistemic closure has been a central issue in epistemology over the last forty years. According to versions of the relevant alternatives and subjunctivist theories of knowledge, epistemic closure can fail: an agent who knows some propositions can fail to know a logical consequence of those propositions, even if the agent explicitly believes the consequence (having “competently deduced” it from the known propositions). In this sense, the claim that epistemic closure can fail must be distinguished from the fact that agents do (...) not always believe, let alone know, the consequences of what they know—a fact that raises the “problem of logical omniscience” that has been central in epistemic logic. This paper, part I of II, is a study of epistemic closure from the perspective of epistemic logic. First, I introduce models for epistemic logic, based on Lewis’s models for counterfactuals, that correspond closely to the pictures of the relevant alternatives and subjunctivist theories of knowledge in epistemology. Second, I give an exact characterization of the closure properties of knowledge according to these theories, as formalized. Finally, I consider the relation between closure and higher-order knowledge. The philosophical repercussions of these results and results from part II, which prompt a reassessment of the issue of closure in epistemology, are discussed further in companion papers. As a contribution to modal logic, this paper demonstrates an alternative approach to proving modal completeness theorems, without the standard canonical model construction. By “modal decomposition” I obtain completeness and other results for two non-normal modal logics with respect to new semantics. One of these logics, dubbed the logic of ranked relevant alternatives, appears not to have been previously identified in the modal logic literature. More broadly, the paper presents epistemology as a rich area for logical study. (shrink)
What is the role of sceptical scenarios—dreams, evil demons, brains in a vat—in scep- tical arguments? According to the error view, sceptical scenarios illustrate the possibil- ity of massive falsity in one’s beliefs, whereas according to the ignorance view, they illustrate the possibility of massive ignorance not necessarily due to falsity. In this paper, the ignorance view is defended by surveying the arguments in favour of it and by replying to two pressing objections against it. According to the first objection, (...) the ignorance view illicitly introduces the kk-principle into sceptical arguments. In reply I argue that kk is not less plausible than its main rival, the closure principle. According to the second objection, relying on veridical ignorance-possibilities contradicts the transparency of belief. In reply I introduce a version of transparency that is consistent with the ignorance view. (shrink)
Skeptical puzzles and arguments often employ knowledge-closure principles . Epistemologists widely believe that an adequate reply to the skeptic should explain why her reasoning is appealing albeit misleading; but it’s unclear what would explain the appeal of the skeptic’s closure principle, if not for its truth. In this paper, I aim to challenge the widespread commitment to knowledge-closure. But I proceed by first examining a new puzzle about failing to know—what I call the New Ignorance Puzzle . This puzzle resembles (...) to the Old Ignorance Puzzle , although it does not involve a closure principle. It instead centers on the standard view of ignorance, a highly intuitive principle stating that ignorance is merely a failure to know. In Sects. 2 and 3, I argue that the best way to solve the New Ignorance Puzzle is to reject the standard view of ignorance and to explain away its appeal via conversational implicature. I then use this solution to the New Ignorance Puzzle as a way of explaining why knowledge-closure principles would seem true, and why abominable conjunctions would seem abominable, even if such principles were false . The upshot is a new way of explaining why the skeptic’s reasoning is appealing albeit misleading. (shrink)