Mental acts are conspicuously absent from philosophical debates over the nature of action. A typical protagonist of a typical scenario is far more likely to raise her arm or open the window than she is to perform a calculation in her head or talk to herself silently. One possible explanation for this omission is that the standard ‘causalist’ account of action, on which acts are analyzed in terms of mental states causing bodily movements, faces difficulties in accommodating some paradigmatic cases (...) of mental action – or so I argue. After drawing out these objections to causalism, I outline a more promising approach. Building on previous work, I show how the approach I favour, on which the attempt to analyze action is dispensed with, provides a unified account of both mental and physical action. (shrink)
Dorr et al. present a case that poses a challenge for a number of plausible principles about knowledge and objective chance. Implicit in their discussion is an interesting new argument against KK, the principle that anyone who knows p is in a position to know that they know p. We bring out this argument, and investigate possible responses for defenders of KK, establishing new connections between KK and various knowledge-chance principles.
In this paper, I develop a theory of how claims about an agent’s normative reasons are sensitive to the epistemic circumstances of this agent, which preserves the plausible ideas that reasons are facts and that reasons can be discovered in deliberation and disclosed in advice. I argue that a plausible theory of this kind must take into account the difference between synchronic and diachronic reasons, i.e. reasons for acting immediately and reasons for acting at some later point in time. I (...) provide a general account of the relation between synchronic and diachronic reasons, demonstrate its implications for the evidence-sensitivity of reasons and finally present and defend an argument for my view. (shrink)
According to perspectivism about moral obligation, our obligations are affected by our epistemic circumstances. But how exactly should this claim be understood? On Zimmerman’s “Prospective View”, perspectivism is spelled out as the thesis that an option is obligatory if and only if it maximizes what Zimmerman calls “prospective value”, which is in turn determined by the agent’s present evidence. In this article, I raise two objections to this approach. Firstly, I argue that spelling out the difference between perspectivism and anti-perspectivism (...) in terms of value creates a number of problems that can be avoided by an account that proceeds in terms of reasons. Secondly, I argue that Zimmerman focuses on the wrong body of evidence, and that this commits him to an implausible solution to the problem that perspectivists face with regard to advice from better-informed sources. (shrink)
Do we insult, offend or slight a speaker when we refuse her testimony? Do we compliment, commend or extol a speaker when we accept her testimony? I argue that the answer to both of these questions is “yes”, but only in some instances, since these respective insults and compliments track the reasons a hearer has for rejecting or accepting testimony. When disbelieving a speaker, a hearer may insult her because she judges the speaker to be either incompetent as a knower (...) or insincere as a teller. However, there are many instances where we reject testimony without making this negative evaluation of the speaker, and as such, without paying her an insult. Testimonial compliments are fewer in number, and are not constitutive of “everyday” testimonial exchanges, since, speakers who are competent as knowers and sincere as tellers are merely behaving correctly in accordance with the norms of testifying. Nevertheless, deferring to an authority on belief can be complimentary to that speaker if by doing so we judge her to have some mastery in a particular domain. Testimonial insults and compliments have important moral implications, particularly with regard to epistemic injustice and therapeutic trust. (shrink)
Norman forms the belief that the president is in New York by way of a clairvoyance faculty he doesn’t know he has. Many agree that his belief is unjustified but disagree about why it is unjustified. I argue that the lack of justification cannot be explained by a higher-level evidence requirement on justification, but it can be explained by a no-defeater requirement. I then explain how you can use cognitive faculties you don’t know you have. Lastly, I use lessons from (...) the foregoing to compare Norman’s belief, formed by clairvoyance, with Sally’s theistic belief, formed by a sensus divinitatis. (shrink)
Pragmatic encroachment theories have a problem with evidence. On the one hand, the arguments that knowledge is interest-relative look like they will generalise to show that evidence too is interest-relative. On the other hand, our best story of how interests affect knowledge presupposes an interest-invariant notion of evidence. -/- The aim of this paper is to sketch a theory of evidence that is interest-relative, but which allows that ‘best story’ to go through with minimal changes. The core idea is that (...) the evidence someone has is just what evidence a radical interpreter says they have. And a radical interpreter is playing a kind of game with the person they are interpreting. The cases that pose problems for pragmatic encroachment theorists generate fascinating games between the interpreter and the interpretee. They are games with multiple equilibria. To resolve them we need to detour into the theory of equilibrium selection. I’ll argue that the theory we need is the theory of risk-dominant equilibria. That theory will tell us how the interpreter will play the game, which in turn will tell us what evidence the person has. The evidence will be interest-relative, because what the equilibrium of the game is will be interest-relative. But it will not undermine the story we tell about how interests usually affect knowledge. (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)
We perceive a world of mind-independent macroscopic material objects such as stones, tables, trees, and animals. Our experience is the joint upshot of the way these things are and our route through them, along with the various relevant circumstances of perception; and it depends on the normal operation of our perceptual systems. How should we characterise our perceptual experience so as to respect its basis and explain its role in grounding empirical thought and knowledge? I offered an answer to this (...) question in Perception and its objects. Here I aim to clarify some of my central arguments and to develop and defend the position further in the light of subsequent critical discussion. (shrink)
Pascal Engel (2008) has insisted that a number of notable strategies for rejecting the knowledge norm of assertion are put forward on the basis of the wrong kinds of reasons. A central aim of this paper will be to establish the contrast point: I argue that one very familiar strategy for defending the knowledge norm of assertion—viz., that it is claimed to do better in various respects than its competitors (e.g. the justification and the truth norms)— relies on a presupposition (...) that is shown to be ultimately under motivated. That presupposition is the uniqueness thesis—that there is a unique epistemic rule for assertion, and that such a rule will govern assertions uniformly. In particular, the strategy I shall take here will be to challenge the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm in a way that at the same time counts against Williamson’s (2000) own rationale for the uniqueness thesis. However, rather than to challenge the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm via the familiar style of ‘expert opinion’ and, more generally, ‘second-hand knowledge’ cases (e.g. Lackey (2008)), a strategy that has recently been called into question by Benton (2014), I’ll instead advance a very different line of argument against the sufficiency thesis, one which turns on a phenomenon I call epistemic hypocrisy. (shrink)
I present a novel argument against the epistemic conception of perception according to which perception either is a form of knowledge or puts the subject in a position to gain knowledge about what is perceived. ECP closes the gap between a perceptual experience that veridically presents a given state of affairs and an experience capable of yielding the knowledge that the state of affairs obtains. Against ECP, I describe a particular case of perceptual experience in which the following triad of (...) claims is true: The experience presents a given state of affairs ; The experience is veridical; The experience cannot yield the knowledge that the state of affairs obtains. This case involves an empirically well-studied phenomenon, namely perceptual hysteresis, which involves the maintenance of a perceptual experience with a relatively stable content over progressively degrading sensory stimulations. (shrink)
In this article I argue that the value of epistemic justification cannot be adequately explained as being instrumental to truth. I intend to show that false belief, which is no means to truth, can nevertheless still be of epistemic value. This in turn will make a good prima facie case that justification is valuable for its own sake. If this is right, we will have also found reason to think that truth value monism is false: assuming that true belief does (...) have value, there is more of final epistemic value than mere true belief. (shrink)
The idea of higher-order vagueness is usually associated with conceptions of vagueness that focus on the existence of borderline cases. What sense can be made of it within a conception of vagueness that focuses on tolerance instead? A proposal is offered here. It involves understanding ‘definitely’ not as a sentence operator but as a predicate modifier, and more precisely as an intensifier, that is, an operator that shifts the predicate extension along a scale. This idea is combined with the author’s (...) earlier approach to the semantics of vague expressions, which builds on the idea of a central gap associated with a predicate. The central gap approach is generalized to handle arbitrarily many iterations of ‘definitely’. (shrink)
I discuss Engel’s critique of pragmatic encroachment in epistemology and his related discussion of epistemic value. While I am sympathetic to Engel’s remarks on the former, I think he makes a crucial misstep when he relates this discussion to the latter topic. The goal of this paper is to offer a better articulation of the relationship between these two epistemological issues, with the ultimate goal of lending further support to Engel’s scepticism about pragmatic encroachment in epistemology. As we will see, (...) key to this articulation will be the drawing of a distinction between two importantly different ways of thinking about epistemic value. (shrink)
Is understanding epistemic in nature? Does a correct account of what constitutes understanding of a concept mention epistemological notions such as knowledge, justification or epistemic rationality? We defend the view that understanding is epistemic in nature – we defend epistemological conceptions of understanding. We focus our discussion with a critical evaluation of Tim Williamson's challenges to epistemological conceptions of understanding in The Philosophy of Philosophy. Against Williamson, we distinguish three kinds of epistemological conceptions and argue that Williamson's arguments succeed against (...) only the most heavily committed kind, and leave the less heavily committed kinds untouched. Further, we argue that Williamson's elaboration of lessons from his arguments point in a direction opposite of his own conclusions and give vivid articulation and support to epistemological conceptions. We suggest also that skepticism about Williamson's larger metaphilosophical conclusions – according to which understanding plays no special role in the epistemology of philosophy – may be in order. (shrink)
This paper defends a principle I call Equal Treatment, according to which the rationality of a belief is determined in precisely the same way as the rationality of any other state. For example, if wearing a raincoat is rational just in case doing so maximizes expected value, then believing some proposition P is rational just in case doing so maximizes expected value. This contrasts with the popular view that the rationality of belief is determined by evidential support. It also contrasts (...) with the common idea that in the case of belief, there are two different incommensurable senses of rationality, one of which is distinctively epistemic. I present considerations that favor Equal Treatment over these two alternatives, reply to objections, and criticize some arguments for Evidentialism. I also show how Equal Treatment opens the door to a distinctive kind of response to skepticism. (shrink)
A knowledge-based decision theory faces what has been called the prodigality problem : given that many propositions are assigned probability 1, agents will be inclined to risk everything when betting on propositions which are known. In order to undo probability 1 assignments in high risk situations, the paper develops a theory which systematically connects higher level goods with higher-order knowledge.
We examine whether the "evidence of evidence is evidence" principle is true. We distinguish several different versions of the principle and evaluate recent attacks on some of those versions. We argue that, whatever the merits of those attacks, they leave the more important rendition of the principle untouched. That version is, however, also subject to new kinds of counterexamples. We end by suggesting how to formulate a better version of the principle that takes into account those new counterexamples.
One of the popular realist responses to the pessimistic meta-induction is the ‘selective’ move, where a realist only commits to the ‘working posits’ of a successful theory, and withholds commitment to ‘idle posits’. Antirealists often criticise selective realists for not being able to articulate exactly what is meant by ‘working’ and/or not being able to identify the working posits except in hindsight. This paper aims to establish two results: sometimes a proposition is, in an important sense, ‘doing work’, and yet (...) does not warrant realist commitment, and the realist will be able to respond to PMI-style historical challenges if she can merely show that certain selected posits do not require realist commitment. These two results act to significantly adjust the dialectic vis-à-vis PMI-style challenges to selective realism. (shrink)
The philosophical case for extended cognition is often made with reference to ‘extended-memory cases’ ; though, unfortunately, proponents of the hypothesis of extended cognition as well as their adversaries have failed to appreciate the kinds of epistemological problems extended-memory cases pose for mainstream thinking in the epistemology of memory. It is time to give these problems a closer look. Our plan is as follows: in §1, we argue that an epistemological theory remains compatible with HEC only if its epistemic assessments (...) do not violate what we call ‘the epistemic parity principle’. In §2, we show how the constraint of respecting the epistemic parity principle stands in what appears to be a prima facie intractable tension with mainstream thinking about cases of propositional memory. We then outline and evaluate in §3 several lines of response. (shrink)
Expert testimony figures in recent debates over how best to understand the norm of assertion and the domain-specific epistemic expectations placed on testifiers. Cases of experts asserting with only isolated second-hand knowledge (Lackey 2011, 2013) have been used to shed light on whether knowledge is sufficient for epistemically permissible assertion. I argue that relying on such cases of expert testimony introduces several problems concerning how we understand expert knowledge, and the sharing of such knowledge through testimony. Refinements are needed to (...) clarify exactly what principles are being tested by such cases; but once refined, such cases raise more questions than they answer. (shrink)
Some philosophers oppose recent arguments for the Knowledge Norm of Assertion by claiming that assertion, being an act much like any other, will be subject to norms governing acts generally, such as those articulated by Grice for the purpose of successful, cooperative endeavours. But in fact, Grice is a traitor to their cause; or rather, they are his dissenters, not his disciples. Drawing on Grice's unpublished papers, I show that he thought of asserting as a special linguistic act in need (...) of its own norm, and he tied his maxim of Quality to knowledge. I also develop a simple Gricean-inspired argument showing that the Quality maxim is not dependent on the Cooperative Principle. If it is not thus dependent, then the Cooperative Principle cannot be the explanation of, or source of normativity for, the Quality maxim. Thus, leveraging the insights informing the maxim of Quality actually provides the resources for a distinctive positive case that knowledge is the constitutive norm of assertion. (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)
According to orthodoxy, perceptual beliefs are caused by perceptual experiences. The paper argues that this view makes it impossible to explain how experiences can be epistemically significant. A rival account, on which experiences in the “good case” are ways of knowing, is set out and defended.
According to reductive intellectualists about knowledge-how :147–190, 2008; Philos Phenomenol Res 78:439–467, 2009) knowledge-how is a kind of knowledge-that. To the extent that this is right, then insofar as we might conceive of ways knowledge could be extended with reference to active externalist :7–19, 1998; Clark in Supersizing the mind: embodiment, action, and cognitive extension: embodiment, action, and cognitive extension. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008) approaches in the philosophy of mind, we should expect no interesting difference between the two. However, (...) insofar as anti-intellectualist approaches to knowledge-how are a viable option, there is an overlooked issue of how knowledge-how might be extended, via active externalism, in ways very differently from knowledge-that. This paper explores this overlooked space, and in doing so, illustrates how a novel form of extended knowledge-how emerges from a pairing of active externalism in the philosophy of mind with anti-intellectualism in the theory of knowledge. Crucial to our argument will be a new way of thinking about the extended mind thesis, as it pertains to the kinds of state one is in when one knows how to do something, and how this state connects with non-accidentally successful performance. (shrink)
One of the deepest ideological divides in contemporary epistemology concerns the relative importance of belief versus credence. A prominent consideration in favor of credence-based epistemology is the ease with which it appears to account for rational action. In contrast, cases with risky payoff structures threaten to break the link between rational belief and rational action. This threat poses a challenge to traditional epistemology, which maintains the theoretical prominence of belief. The core problem, we suggest, is that belief may not be (...) enough to register all aspects of a subject’s epistemic position with respect to any given proposition. We claim this problem can be solved by introducing other doxastic attitudes—genuine representations—that differ in strength from belief. The resulting alternative picture, a kind of doxastic states pluralism, retains the central features of traditional epistemology—most saliently, an emphasis on truth as a kind of objective accuracy—while adequately accounting for rational action. (shrink)
It is a natural assumption in mainstream epistemological theory that ascriptions of knowledge of a proposition p track strength of epistemic position vis-à-vis p. It is equally natural to assume that the strength of one’s epistemic position is maximally high in cases where p concerns a simple analytic truth. For instance, it seems reasonable to suppose that one’s epistemic position vis-à-vis “a cat is a cat” is harder to improve than one’s position vis-à-vis “a cat is on the mat”, and (...) consequently, that the former is at least as unambiguous a case of knowledge as the latter. The current paper, however, presents empirical evidence which challenges this intuitive line of reasoning. Our study on the epistemic intuitions of hundreds of academic philosophers supports the idea that simple and uncontroversial analytic propositions are less likely to qualify as knowledge than empirical ones. We show that our results, though at odds with orthodox theories of knowledge in mainstream epistemology, can be explained in a way consistent with Wittgenstein’s remarks on ‘hinge propositions’ or with Stalnaker’s pragmatics of assertion. We then present and evaluate a number of lines of response mainstream theories of knowledge could appeal to in accommodating our results. Finally, we show how each line of response runs into some prima facie difficulties. Thus, our observed asymmetry between knowing “a cat is a cat” and knowing “a cat is on the mat” presents a puzzle which mainstream epistemology needs to resolve. (shrink)
A very natural view about perceptual knowledge is articulated, one on which perceptual knowledge is closely related to perceptual discrimination, and which fits well with a relevant alternatives account of knowledge. It is shown that this kind of proposal faces a problem, and various options for resolving this difficulty are explored. In light of this discussion, a two-tiered relevant alternatives account of perceptual knowledge is offered which avoids the closure problem. It is further shown how this proposal can: accommodate our (...) intuitions about perceptual knowledge and perceptual discrimination in terms of the notion of primary relevance, give an account of how alternatives can be rationally excluded without appeal to perceptual discrimination in terms of the notion of secondary relevance, and deal with the problem posed by inverted Gettier cases, and hence explain what it means to rationally exclude alternatives which are of secondary relevance. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to explore the presuppositionality of factive verbs, with special emphasis on the verbs know and regret. The hypothesis put forward here is that the factivity related to know and the factivity related to regret are two different phenomena, as the former is a semantic implication that is licensed by the conventional meaning of know, while the latter is a purely pragmatic phenomenon that arises conversationally. More specifically, it is argued that know is factive in (...) the sense that it both entails and presupposes p, while regret is factive in the sense that it only presupposes p. In a recent article, Hazlett, 497–522, 2010) shows with authentic examples how know is used non-factively in ordinary language, and he observes in these examples, as he says, “a threat to Factivity.” I argue that non-factive uses of factive verbs, such as know and regret, far from being a threat to factivity, show that, on the one hand, know is ambiguous between a factive and a non-factive sense; on the other hand, in the case of regret, the presupposition of factivity has to be intended as a merely pragmatic implication which can be suspended by the speaker herself. (shrink)
In this paper, I revisit the Davidsonian thesis that all reasons are causes. Drawing on a better taxonomy of reasons than the one Davidson provides, I argue that this thesis is either indefensible or uninteresting.
I argue that we should question the orthodox way of thinking about epistemological disjunctivism. I suggest that we can formulate epistemological disjunctivism in terms of states of seeing things as opposed to states of seeing that p. Not only does this alternative formulation capture the core aspects of epistemological disjunctivism as standardly formulated, it has two salient advantages. First, it avoids a crucial problem that arises for a standard formulation of epistemological disjunctivism—the basis problem. And second, it is less committed (...) than standard formulations are in the metaphysics of perception. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Alexander argues that relaxing the requirement that sound knowers know their own soundness might provide a solution to Fitch’s paradox and introduces a suitable axiomatic system where the paradox is avoided. In this paper an analysis of this solution is proposed according to which the effective move for solving the paradox depends on the axiomatic treatment of the ontic modality rather than the limitations imposed on the epistemic one. It is then shown that, once the ontic (...) modality is standardly introduced, the paradox still follows and, in addition, some puzzling consequences arise. (shrink)
According to intentionalism, perceptual experience is a mental state with representational content. When it comes to the epistemology of perception, it is only natural for the intentionalist to hold that the justificatory role of experience is at least in part a function of its content. In this paper, I argue that standard versions of intentionalism trying to hold on to this natural principle face what I call the “defeasibility problem”. This problem arises from the combination of standard intentionalism with further (...) plausible principles governing the epistemology of perception: that experience provides defeasible justification for empirical belief, and that such justification is best construed as probabilification. After exploring some ways in which the standard intentionalist could deal with the defeasibility problem, I argue that the best option is to replace standard intentionalism by what I call “phenomenal intentionalism”. Where standard intentionalism construes experiences as of p as having the content p, phenomenal intentionalism construes experiences as of p as having “phenomenal” or “looks contents”: contents of the form Lp. (shrink)
Phenomenal particularism is the view that particular external objects are sometimes part of the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. It is a central part of naïve realist or relational views of perception. We consider a series of recent objections to phenomenal particularism and argue that naïve realism has the resources to block them. In particular, we show that these objections rest on assumptions about the nature of phenomenal character that the naïve realist will reject, and that they ignore the full (...) resources that naïve realism has to offer in explaining phenomenal character. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a new theory of normative reasons called reasons as good bases, according to which a normative reason to φ is something that is a good basis for φing. The idea is that the grounds on which we do things—bases—can be better or worse as things of their kind, and a normative reason—a good reason—is something that is just a good instance of such a ground. After introducing RGB, I clarify what it is to be a (...) good basis, and argue that RGB has various attractive features: it has intuitive implications, makes good sense of the weights of reasons, and attractively explains the relationship between normative reasons and motivating reasons. I then briefly defend the view from objections and compare it to rivals. Finally, I sketch two possible implications of RGB: some kind of constitutivism, according to which the norms that govern us are explained by the nature of agency, and second, the claim that agents who do things for reasons generally do them for good reasons. (shrink)
It is tempting to posit an intimate relationship between belief and assertion. The speech act of assertion seems like a way of transferring the speaker’s belief to his or her audience. If this is right, then you might think that the evidential warrant required for asserting a proposition is just the same as the warrant for believing it. We call this thesis entitlement equality. We argue here that entitlement equality is false, because our everyday notion of belief is unambiguously a (...) weak one. Believing something is true, we argue, is compatible with having relatively little confidence in it. Asserting something requires something closer to complete confidence. Specifically, we argue that believing a proposition merely requires thinking it likely, but that thinking that a proposition is likely does not entitle one to assert it. This conclusion conflict with a standard view that ‘full belief’ is the central commonsense non-factive attitude. (shrink)
The central question of this article is how to combine counterfactual theories of knowledge with the notion of actuality. It is argued that the straightforward combination of these two elements leads to problems, viz. the problem of easy knowledge and the problem of missing knowledge. In other words, there is overgeneration of knowledge and there is undergeneration of knowledge. The combination of these problems cannot be solved by appealing to methods by which beliefs are formed. An alternative solution is put (...) forward. The key is to rethink the closeness relation that is at the heart of counterfactual theories of knowledge. (shrink)
There is a line of reasoning in metaepistemology that is congenial to naturalism and hard to resist, yet ultimately misguided: that knowledge might be a natural kind, and that this would undermine the use of conceptual analysis in the theory of knowledge. In this paper, I first bring out various problems with Hilary Kornblith’s argument from the causal–explanatory indispensability of knowledge to the natural kindhood of knowledge. I then criticize the argument from the natural kindhood of knowledge against the method (...) of conceptual analysis in the theory of knowledge. A natural motivation for this argument is the following seemingly plausible principle: if knowledge is a natural kind, then the concept of knowledge is a natural kind concept. Since this principle lacks adequate support, the crucial semantic claim that the concept of knowledge is a natural kind concept must be defended in some more direct way. However, there are two striking epistemic disanalogies between the concept of knowledge and paradigmatic natural kind concepts that militate against this semantic claim. Conceptual analyses of knowledge are not affected by total error, and the proponents of such analyses are not subject to a priori conceptual obliviousness. I conclude that the argument from natural kindhood does not succeed in undermining the use of conceptual analysis in the theory of knowledge. (shrink)
Experimental restrictionists have challenged philosophers’ reliance on intuitions about thought experiment cases based on experimental findings. According to the expertise defense, only the intuitions of philosophical experts count—yet the bulk of experimental philosophy consists in studies with lay people. In this paper, we argue that direct strategies for assessing the expertise defense are preferable to indirect strategies. A direct argument in support of the expertise defense would have to show: first, that there is a significant difference between expert and lay (...) intuitions; second, that expert intuitions are superior to lay intuitions; and third, that expert intuitions accord with the relevant philosophical consensus. At present, there is only little experimental evidence that bears on these issues. To advance the debate, we conducted two new experiments on intuitions about knowledge with experts and lay people. Our results suggest that the intuitions of epistemological experts are superior in some respects, but they also pose an unexpected challenge to the expertise defense. Most strikingly, we found that even epistemological experts tend to ascribe knowledge in fake-barn-style cases. This suggests that philosophy, as a discipline, might fail to adequately map the intuitions of its expert practitioners onto a disciplinary consensus. (shrink)
Although mind-wandering occupies up to half of our waking thoughts, it is seldom discussed in philosophy. My paper brings these neglected thoughts into focus. I propose that mind-wandering is unguided attention. Guidance in my sense concerns how attention is monitored and regulated as it unfolds over time. Roughly speaking, someone’s attention is guided if she would feel pulled back, were she distracted from her current focus. Because our wandering thoughts drift unchecked from topic to topic, they are unguided. One motivation (...) for my theory is what I call the “Puzzle of the Purposeful Wanderer”. On the one hand, mind-wandering seems essentially purposeless; almost by definition, it contrasts with goal-directed cognition. On the other hand, empirical evidence suggests that our minds frequently wander to our goals. My solution to the puzzle is this: mind-wandering is purposeless in one way—it is unguided—but purposeful in another—it is frequently caused, and thus motivated, by our goals. Another motivation for my theory is to distinguish mind-wandering from two antithetical forms of cognition: absorption and rumination. Surprisingly, previous theories cannot capture these distinctions. I can: on my view, absorption and rumination are guided, whereas mind-wandering is not. My paper has four parts. Section 1 spells out the puzzle. Sections 2 and 3 explicate two extant views of mind-wandering—the first held by most cognitive scientists, the second by Thomas Metzinger. Section 4 uses the limitations of these theories to motivate my own: mind-wandering is unguided attention. (shrink)
This paper critically examines currently influential transparency accounts of our knowledge of our own beliefs that say that self-ascriptions of belief typically are arrived at by “looking outward” onto the world. For example, one version of the transparency account says that one self-ascribes beliefs via an inference from a premise to the conclusion that one believes that premise. This rule of inference reliably yields accurate self-ascriptions because you cannot infer a conclusion from a premise without believing the premise, and so (...) you cannot infer from a premise that you believe the premise unless you do believe it. I argue that this procedure cannot be a source of justification, however, because one can be justified in inferring from p that q only if p amounts to strong evidence that q is true. This is incompatible with the transparency account because p often is not very strong evidence that you believe that p. For example, unless you are a weather expert, the fact that it will rain is not very strong evidence that you believe it will rain. After showing how this intuitive problem can be made precise, I conclude with a broader lesson about the nature of inferential justification: that beliefs, when justified, must be underwritten by beliefs, when justified, must be underwritten by evidential relationships between the facts or propositions which those beliefs represent. (shrink)
In his earlier writings, Fred Dretske proposed an anti-skeptical strategy that is based on a rejection of the view that knowledge is closed under known entailment. This strategy is seemingly congenial with a sensitivity condition for knowledge, which is often associated with Dretske’s epistemology. However, it is not obvious how Dretske’s early account meshes with the information-theoretic view developed in Knowledge and the Flow of Information. One aim of this paper is to elucidate the connections between these accounts. First I (...) argue that, contrary to an objection raised by Christoph Jäger, the information-theoretic account is compatible with Dretske’s anti-skeptical strategy based on the rejection of closure. This strategy invokes the notion of channel conditions, which are roughly speaking those conditions that are necessary and jointly sufficient for a signal to carry information. I propose an interpretation of the account that is based on the idea that a signal’s carrying information requires that the channel conditions are stable. It is shown that the resulting account incorporates both a sensitivity condition and a safety condition for knowledge. Finally, I demonstrate how this proposal allows for knowledge of modally robust propositions without making its acquisition too easy, as simple safety accounts do. I end with a suggestion concerning the direction that future research should take, based on the fact that in its present form the information-theoretic account does not capture inferential knowledge. (shrink)
What is it to have conclusive reasons to believe a proposition P? According to a view famously defended by Dretske, a reason R is conclusive for P just in case [R would not be the case unless P were the case]. I argue that, while knowing that P is plausibly related to having conclusive reasons to believe that P, having such reasons cannot be understood in terms of the truth of this counterfactual condition. Simple examples show that it is possible (...) to believe P on the basis of reasons that satisfy the counterfactual, and still get things right about P only as a matter of luck. Seeing where this account of conclusive reasons goes wrong points to an important distinction between having conclusive reasons and relying on reasons that are in point of fact conclusive. It also has wider consequences for whether modal principles like sensitivity and safety can rule out the pernicious kind of epistemic luck, or the kind of luck that interferes with knowledge. (shrink)
Fricker has proposed that a hearer’s knowledge that p acquired through trusting a speaker requires the speaker to know that p, and that therefore testimonial knowledge through trust is necessarily second-hand knowledge. In this paper, I argue that Fricker’s view is problematic for four reasons: firstly, Fricker’s dismissal of a central challenge to the second-handedness of testimonial knowledge is based on a significant misrepresentation of this challenge; secondly, on closer scrutiny an important distinction Fricker wants to draw is compromised by (...) her account of trust; thirdly, Fricker’s conception of trust is at odds with our natural understanding of this notion; fourthly, the reasons Fricker cites in support of her view are not sufficient to single out her view as the correct one, since rival views can also accommodate the relevant data. (shrink)
Much of the intuitive appeal of evidentialism results from conflating two importantly different conceptions of evidence. This is most clear in the case of perceptual justification, where experience is able to provide evidence in one sense of the term, although not in the sense that the evidentialist requires. I argue this, in part, by relying on a reading of the Sellarsian dilemma that differs from the version standardly encountered in contemporary epistemology, one that is aimed initially at the epistemology of (...) introspection but which generalizes to theories of perceptual justification as well. (shrink)
In this article, we present evidence that in four different cultural groups that speak quite different languages there are cases of justified true beliefs that are not judged to be cases of knowledge. We hypothesize that this intuitive judgment, which we call “the Gettier intuition,” may be a reflection of an underlying innate and universal core folk epistemology, and we highlight the philosophical significance of its universality.
In general, epistemic internalists hold that an individual’s justification for a belief is exhausted by her reflectively accessible reasons for thinking that the contents of her beliefs are true. Applying this to the epistemology of testimony, a hearer’s justification for beliefs acquired through testimony is exhausted by her reflectively accessible reasons to think that the contents of the speaker’s testimony is true. A consequence of internalism is that subjects that are alike with respect to their reflectively accessible reasons are alike (...) with respect to what they have justification to believe. Testimony should be thought no different: hearers that are alike with respect to reflectively accessible reasons to think that a speaker’s testimony is true are alike with respect to their justification for beliefs based upon that testimony. But it has been recently argued that this view faces powerful counterexamples. So the central question is this: assuming that a hearer can acquire justification to believe a proposition through the testimony of a speaker, can epistemic internalism provide the resources to explain how such justification is possible? My aim in this paper is to address these counterexamples, and in so doing, defend epistemic internalist accounts of testimony. (shrink)