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Very Improbable Knowing

Erkenntnis 79 (5):971-999 (2014)

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  1. Rational Self-Doubt and the Failure of Closure.Joshua Schechter - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (2):428-452.
    Closure for justification is the claim that thinkers are justified in believing the logical consequences of their justified beliefs, at least when those consequences are competently deduced. Many have found this principle to be very plausible. Even more attractive is the special case of Closure known as Single-Premise Closure. In this paper, I present a challenge to Single-Premise Closure. The challenge is based on the phenomenon of rational self-doubt – it can be rational to be less than fully confident in (...)
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  • Do You See What I Know? On Reasons, Perceptual Evidence, and Epistemic Status.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - Philosophical Issues.
    Our epistemology can shape the way we think about perception and experience. Speaking as an epistemologist, I should say that I don’t necessarily think that this is a good thing. If we think that we need perceptual evidence to have perceptual knowledge or perceptual justification, we will naturally feel some pressure to think of experience as a source of reasons or evidence. In trying to explain how experience can provide us with evidence, we run the risk of either adopting a (...)
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  • Random and Systematic Error in the Puzzle of the Unmarked Clock.Randall G. McCutcheon - manuscript
    A puzzle of an unmarked clock, used by Timothy Williamson to question the KK principle, was separately adapted by David Christensen and Adam Elga to critique a principle of Rational Reflection. Both authors, we argue, flout the received relationship between ideal agency and the classical distinction between systematic and random error, namely that ideal agents are subject only to the latter. As a result, these criticisms miss their mark.
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  • How to Argue for Pragmatic Encroachment.Blake Roeber - 2018 - Synthese.
    Purists think that changes in our practical interests can’t affect what we know unless those changes are truth-relevant with respect to the propositions in question. Impurists disagree. They think changes in our practical interests can affect what we know even if those changes aren’t truth-relevant with respect to the propositions in question. I argue that impurists are right, but for the wrong reasons, since they haven’t appreciated the best argument for their own view. Together with “Minimalism and the Limits of (...)
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  • Justification, knowledge, and normality.Clayton Littlejohn & Julien Dutant - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1593-1609.
    There is much to like about the idea that justification should be understood in terms of normality or normic support (Smith 2016, Goodman and Salow 2018). The view does a nice job explaining why we should think that lottery beliefs differ in justificatory status from mundane perceptual or testimonial beliefs. And it seems to do that in a way that is friendly to a broadly internalist approach to justification. In spite of its attractions, we think that the normic support view (...)
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  • Moore's Paradox and Assertion.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - In Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford University Press.
    If I were to say, “Agnes does not know that it is raining, but it is,” this seems like a perfectly coherent way of describing Agnes’s epistemic position. If I were to add, “And I don’t know if it is, either,” this seems quite strange. In this chapter, we shall look at some statements that seem, in some sense, contradictory, even though it seems that these statements can express propositions that are contingently true or false. Moore thought it was paradoxical (...)
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  • What is Epistemic Blame?Jessica Brown - 2020 - Noûs 54 (2):389-407.
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  • Evidence: A Guide for the Uncertain.Kevin Dorst - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):586-632.
    Assume that it is your evidence that determines what opinions you should have. I argue that since you should take peer disagreement seriously, evidence must have two features. (1) It must sometimes warrant being modest: uncertain what your evidence warrants, and (thus) uncertain whether you’re rational. (2) But it must always warrant being guided: disposed to treat your evidence as a guide. Surprisingly, it is very difficult to vindicate both (1) and (2). But diagnosing why this is so leads to (...)
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  • How Many Normative Notions of Rationality? A Critical Study of Wedgwood’s The Value of Rationality.Giacomo Melis - 2020 - Analysis 80 (1):174-185.
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  • Knowledge and Other Norms for Assertion, Action, and Belief: A Teleological Account.Neil Mehta - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):681-705.
    Here I advance a unified account of the structure of the epistemic normativity of assertion, action, and belief. According to my Teleological Account, all of these are epistemically successful just in case they fulfill the primary aim of knowledgeability, an aim which in turn generates a host of secondary epistemic norms. The central features of the Teleological Account are these: it is compact in its reliance on a single central explanatory posit, knowledge-centered in its insistence that knowledge sets the fundamental (...)
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  • Radical Externalism.Amia Srinivasan - manuscript
  • On the Normativity of Rationality and of Normative Reasons.Clayton Littlejohn & Julien Dutant - manuscript
    Abstract: Scepticism about the normativity of rationality is often partially based on the assumption that normative reasons are normative. Starting from the assumption that normative reasons are normative, someone will argue that reasons and rationality can require different things from us and conclude that rationality must not be normative. We think that the assumption that normative reasons are normative is one that deserves more scrutiny, particularly if it turns out, as we shall argue, that no one has yet shown that (...)
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  • Doing Without Believing: Intellectualism, Knowledge-How, and Belief-Attribution.Michael Brownstein & Eliot Michaelson - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9):2815–2836.
    We consider a range of cases—both hypothetical and actual—in which agents apparently know how to \ but fail to believe that the way in which they in fact \ is a way for them to \. These “no-belief” cases present a prima facie problem for Intellectualism about knowledge-how. The problem is this: if knowledge-that entails belief, and if knowing how to \ just is knowing that some w is a way for one to \, then an agent cannot both know (...)
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  • Higher-Order Uncertainty.Kevin Dorst - forthcoming - In Mattias Skipper & Asbjørn Steglich Petersen (eds.), Higher-Order Evidence: New Essays.
    You have higher-order uncertainty iff you are uncertain of what opinions you should have. I defend three claims about it. First, the higher-order evidence debate can be helpfully reframed in terms of higher-order uncertainty. The central question becomes how your first- and higher-order opinions should relate—a precise question that can be embedded within a general, tractable framework. Second, this question is nontrivial. Rational higher-order uncertainty is pervasive, and lies at the foundations of the epistemology of disagreement. Third, the answer is (...)
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  • Dilemmic Epistemology.Nick Hughes - 2019 - Synthese 196 (10):4059-4090.
    This article argues that there can be epistemic dilemmas: situations in which one faces conflicting epistemic requirements with the result that whatever one does, one is doomed to do wrong from the epistemic point of view. Accepting this view, I argue, may enable us to solve several epistemological puzzles.
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  • Anti-Intellectualism.Blake Roeber - 2018 - Mind 127 (506):437-466.
    Intellectualists disagree with anti-intellectualists about the relationship between knowledge and truth. According to intellectualists, this relationship is intimate. Knowledge entails true belief, and in fact everything required for knowledge is somehow relevant to the probability that the belief in question is true. According to anti-intellectualists, this relationship isn’t intimate. Or, at least, it’s not as intimate as intellectualists think. Factors that aren’t in any way relevant to the probability that a belief is true can make a difference to whether it (...)
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  • Updating for Externalists.J. Dmitri Gallow - forthcoming - Noûs.
    The externalist says that your evidence could fail to tell you what evidence you do or not do have. In that case, it could be rational for you to be uncertain about what your evidence is. This is a kind of uncertainty which orthodox Bayesian epistemology has difficulty modeling. For, if externalism is correct, then the orthodox Bayesian learning norms of conditionalization and reflection are inconsistent with each other. I recommend that an externalist Bayesian reject conditionalization. In its stead, I (...)
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  • Diachronic Dutch Books and Evidential Import.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (1):49-80.
    A handful of well-known arguments (the 'diachronic Dutch book arguments') rely upon theorems establishing that, in certain circumstances, you are immune from sure monetary loss (you are not 'diachronically Dutch bookable') if and only if you adopt the strategy of conditionalizing (or Jeffrey conditionalizing) on whatever evidence you happen to receive. These theorems require non-trivial assumptions about which evidence you might acquire---in the case of conditionalization, the assumption is that, if you might learn that e, then it is not the (...)
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  • Higher-Order Defeat and Doxastic Resilience.Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2019 - In Mattias Skipper & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (eds.), Higher-Order Evidence: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
    It seems obvious that when higher-order evidence makes it rational for one to doubt that one’s own belief on some matter is rational, this can undermine the rationality of that belief. This is known as higher-order defeat. However, despite its intuitive plausibility, it has proved puzzling how higher-order defeat works, exactly. To highlight two prominent sources of puzzlement, higher-order defeat seems to defy being understood in terms of conditionalization; and higher-order defeat can sometimes place agents in what seem like epistemic (...)
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  • Rational Moral Ignorance.Zach Barnett - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    What should a person do when, through no fault of her own, she ends up believing a false moral theory? Some suggest that she should act against what the false theory recommends; others argue that she should follow her rationally held moral beliefs. While the former view better accords with intuitions about cases, the latter one seems to enjoy a critical advantage: It seems better able to render moral requirements ‘followable’ or ‘action-guiding.’ But this tempting thought proves difficult to justify. (...)
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  • The Structure of Justification.Sven Rosenkranz - 2018 - Mind 127 (506):629-629.
    The paper explores a structural account of propositional justification in terms of the notion of being in a position to know and negation. Combined with a non-normal logic for being in a position to know, the account allows for the derivation of plausible principles of justification. The account is neutral on whether justification is grounded in internally individuated mental states, and likewise on whether it is grounded in facts that are already accessible by introspection or reflection alone. To this extent, (...)
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  • Problems for Credulism.James Pryor - 2013 - In Chris Tucker (ed.), Seemings and Justification: New Essays on Dogmatism and Phenomenal Conservatism.
    We have several intuitive paradigms of defeating evidence. For example, let E be the fact that Ernie tells me that the notorious pet Precious is a bird. This supports the premise F, that Precious can fly. However, Orna gives me *opposing* evidence. She says that Precious is a dog. Alternatively, defeating evidence might not oppose Ernie's testimony in that direct way. There might be other ways for it to weaken the support that Ernie's testimony gives me for believing F, without (...)
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  • Against Epistemic Partiality in Friendship: Value-Reflecting Reasons.Sanford Goldberg - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2221-2242.
    It has been alleged that the demands of friendship conflict with the norms of epistemology—in particular, that there are cases in which the moral demands of friendship would require one to give a friend the benefit of the doubt, and thereby come to believe something in violation of ordinary epistemic standards on justified or responsible belief :329–351, 2004; Stroud in Ethics 116:498–524, 2006; Hazlett in A luxury of the understanding: on the value of true belief, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013). (...)
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  • Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):1-14.
    The possibility of justified true belief without knowledge is normally motivated by informally classified examples. This paper shows that it can also be motivated more formally, by a natural class of epistemic models in which both knowledge and justified belief are represented. The models involve a distinction between appearance and reality. Gettier cases arise because the agent's ignorance increases as the gap between appearance and reality widens. The models also exhibit an epistemic asymmetry between good and bad cases that sceptics (...)
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  • Inexact Knowledge Without Improbable Knowing.Jeremy Goodman - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):30-53.
    In a series of recent papers, Timothy Williamson has argued for the surprising conclusion that there are cases in which you know a proposition in spite of its being overwhelmingly improbable given what you know that you know it. His argument relies on certain formal models of our imprecise knowledge of the values of perceptible and measurable magnitudes. This paper suggests an alternative class of models that do not predict this sort of improbable knowing. I show that such models are (...)
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  • Response to Cohen, Comesaña, Goodman, Nagel, and Weatherson on Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):77-96.
    The five commentators on my paper ‘Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic’ (GCEL) demonstrate how fruitful the topic can be. Especially in Brian Weatherson's contribution, and to some extent in those of Jennifer Nagel and Jeremy Goodman, much of the material constitutes valuable development and refinement of ideas in GCEL, rather than criticism. In response, I draw some threads together, and answer objections, mainly those in the papers by Stewart Cohen and Juan Comesaña and by Goodman.
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  • Disagreement, Drugs, Etc.: From Accuracy to Akrasia.David Christensen - 2016 - Episteme 13 (4):397-422.
    We often get evidence concerning the reliability of our own thinking about some particular matter. This “higher-order evidence” can come from the disagreement of others, or from information about our being subject to the effects of drugs, fatigue, emotional ties, implicit biases, etc. This paper examines some pros and cons of two fairly general models for accommodating higher-order evidence. The one that currently seems most promising also turns out to have the consequence that epistemic akrasia should occur more frequently than (...)
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  • The Puzzle of the Unmarked Clock and the New Rational Reflection Principle.Adam Elga - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):127-139.
    The “puzzle of the unmarked clock” derives from a conflict between the following: (1) a plausible principle of epistemic modesty, and (2) “Rational Reflection”, a principle saying how one’s beliefs about what it is rational to believe constrain the rest of one’s beliefs. An independently motivated improvement to Rational Reflection preserves its spirit while resolving the conflict.
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  • Quantum Information Versus Epistemic Logic: An Analysis of the Frauchiger–Renner Theorem.Florian J. Boge - 2019 - Foundations of Physics 49 (10):1143-1165.
    A recent no-go theorem (Frauchiger and Renner in Nat Commun 9(1):3711, 2018) establishes a contradiction from a specific application of quantum theory to a multi- agent setting. The proof of this theorem relies heavily on notions such as ‘knows’ or ‘is certain that’. This has stimulated an analysis of the theorem by Nurgalieva and del Rio (in: Selinger P, Chiribella G (eds) Proceedings of the 15th international conference on quantum physics and logic (QPL 2018). EPTCS 287, Open Publishing Association, Waterloo, (...)
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  • Conditionalization and Not Knowing That One Knows.Aaron Bronfman - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (4):871-892.
    Bayesian Conditionalization is a widely used proposal for how to update one’s beliefs upon the receipt of new evidence. This is in part because of its attention to the totality of one’s evidence, which often includes facts about what one’s new evidence is and how one has come to have it. However, an increasingly popular position in epistemology holds that one may gain new evidence, construed as knowledge, without being in a position to know that one has gained this evidence. (...)
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  • Discussion of Susanna Siegel's “Can Perceptual Experiences Be Rational?”.Ori Beck, Mazviita Chirimuuta, Raja Rosenhagen, Susanna Siegel, Declan Smithies & Alison Springle - 2018 - Analytic Philosophy 59 (1):175-190.
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  • Indicative Conditionals Without Iterative Epistemology.Ben Holguín - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper argues that two widely accepted principles about the indicative conditional jointly presuppose the falsity of one of the most prominent arguments against epistemological iteration principles. The first principle about the indicative conditional, which has close ties both to the Ramsey test and the “or-to-if” inference, says that knowing a material conditional suffices for knowing the corresponding indicative. The second principle says that conditional contradictions cannot be true when their antecedents are epistemically possible. Taken together, these principles entail that (...)
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  • Against Right Reason.Robert Steel - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (2):431-460.
    I argue against ‘right reason’ style accounts of how we should manage our beliefs in the face of higher-order evidence. I start from the observation that such views seem to have bad practical consequences when we imagine someone acting on them. I then catalogs ways that Williamson, Weatherson, and Lasonen-Aarnio have tried to block objections based on these consequences; I argue all fail. I then move on to offer my own theoretical picture of a rational ‘should believe,’ and show that, (...)
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  • Defeatism Defeated.Max Baker-Hytch & Matthew A. Benton - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):40-66.
    Many epistemologists are enamored with a defeat condition on knowledge. In this paper we present some implementation problems for defeatism, understood along either internalist or externalist lines. We then propose that one who accepts a knowledge norm of belief, according to which one ought to believe only what one knows, can explain away much of the motivation for defeatism. This is an important result, because on the one hand it respects the plausibility of the intuitions about defeat shared by many (...)
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  • Lost in Translation: Unknowable Propositions in Probabilistic Frameworks.Eleonora Cresto - 2017 - Synthese 194 (10):3955-3977.
    Some propositions are structurally unknowable for certain agents. Let me call them ‘Moorean propositions’. The structural unknowability of Moorean propositions is normally taken to pave the way towards proving a familiar paradox from epistemic logic—the so-called ‘Knowability Paradox’, or ‘Fitch’s Paradox’—which purports to show that if all truths are knowable, then all truths are in fact known. The present paper explores how to translate Moorean statements into a probabilistic language. A successful translation should enable us to derive a version of (...)
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  • Williamson on Gettier Cases and Epistemic Logic.Stewart Cohen & Juan Comesaña - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (1):15-29.
    Timothy Williamson has fruitfully exploited formal resources to shed considerable light on the nature of knowledge. In the paper under examination, Williamson turns his attention to Gettier cases, showing how they can be motivated formally. At the same time, he disparages the kind of justification he thinks gives rise to these cases. He favors instead his own notion of justification for which Gettier cases cannot arise. We take issue both with his disparagement of the kind of justification that figures in (...)
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  • II—Some Comments on Fricker's‘Stating and Insinuating’.John Hawthorne - 2012 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (1):95-108.
    This discussion piece critically examines some of the key ideology that figures in Elizabeth Fricker's ‘Stating and Insinuating’, raises a number of queries about the details of Fricker's argumentation, and develops some ideas about the normative structure of testimony that relate to the themes of that paper.
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  • Blame and Wrongdoing.Jessica Brown - 2017 - Episteme 14 (3):275-296.
    The idea that one can blamelessly violate a norm is central to ethics and epistemology. The paper examines the prospects for an account of blameless norm violation applicable both to norms governing action and norms governing belief. In doing so, I remain neutral on just what are the norms governing action and belief. I examine three leading suggestions for understanding blameless violation of a norm which is not overridden by another norm: doxastic accounts; epistemic accounts; and appeal to expected value. (...)
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  • The Impossibility of Mere Animal Knowledge for Reflective Subjects.Sanford Goldberg & Jonathan Matheson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-12.
    In this paper we give reasons to think that reflective epistemic subjects cannot possess mere animal knowledge. To do so we bring together literature on defeat and higher-order evidence with literature on the distinction between animal knowledge and reflective knowledge. We then defend our argument from a series of possible objections.
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  • Luminosity Failure, Normative Guidance and the Principle ‘Ought-Implies-Can’.Nick Hughes - 2018 - Utilitas 30 (4):439-457.
    It is widely thought that moral obligations are necessarily guidance giving. This supposed fact has been put to service in defence of the ‘ought-implies-can’ principle according to which one cannot be morally obligated to do the impossible, since impossible-to-satisfy obligations would not give guidance. It is argued here that the supposed fact is no such thing; moral obligations are not necessarily guiding giving, and so the ‘guidance argument’ for ought-implies-can fails. This is the result of no non-trivial condition being ‘luminous’.
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  • A Note on Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic.Timothy Williamson - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (1):129-140.
    The paper explains how Gettier’s conclusion can be reached on general theoretical grounds within the framework of epistemic logic, without reliance on thought experiments. It extends the argument to permissive conceptions of justification that invalidate principles of multi-premise closure and require neighbourhood semantics rather than semantics of a more standard type. The paper concludes by recommending a robust methodology that aims at convergence in results between thought experimentation and more formal methods. It also warns against conjunctive definitions as sharing several (...)
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  • Safety, Explanation, Iteration.Daniel Greco - 2016 - Philosophical Issues 26 (1):187-208.
    This paper argues for several related theses. First, the epistemological position that knowledge requires safe belief can be motivated by views in the philosophy of science, according to which good explanations show that their explananda are robust. This motivation goes via the idea—recently defended on both conceptual and empirical grounds—that knowledge attributions play a crucial role in explaining successful action. Second, motivating the safety requirement in this way creates a choice point—depending on how we understand robustness, we'll end up with (...)
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  • “I'm Onto Something!” Learning About the World by Learning What I Think About It.Maria Lasonen‐Aarnio - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (4):267-297.