Quasi-realists aspire to accommodate core features of ordinary normative thought and discourse in an expressivist framework. One apparent such feature is that we can be more or less confident in our normative judgments—they vary in credence. Michael Smith has argued that quasi-realists cannot plausibly accommodate these distinctions simply because they understand normative judgments as desires, but desires lack the structure needed to distinguish these three features. Existing attempts to meet Smith’s challenge have accepted Smith’s presupposition that the way to meet (...) the challenge is to show that normative judgments have more structure than they initially seem to have. I argue that accepting this presupposition is accepting too much. The orthodox view of certitude, insofar as there is one, understands certitude very roughly in terms of counterfactual betting behaviour. Counterfactual betting behaviour, though, is not in any useful sense a structural feature of a given judgment. It is rather a more holistic feature of a given agent’s cognitive system. Insofar as it can meet the other challenges it faces, quasi-realism can characterize credences in terms of counterfactual betting behaviour and effectively say exactly what many realists will want to say about credences, thus meeting Smith’s challenge much more directly. (shrink)
Michael Smith has recently argued that non-cognitivists are unable to accommodate crucial structural features of moral belief, and in particular that non-cognitivists have trouble accounting for subjects' certitude with respect to their moral beliefs. James Lenman and Michael Ridge have independently constructed 'ecumenical' versions of non-cognitivism, intended to block this objection. We argue that these responses do not work. If ecumenical non-cognitivism, a hybrid view which incorporates both non-cognitivist and cognitivist elements, fails to meet Smith's challenge, it is unlikely (...) that 'purer' and more familiar versions of non-cognitivism will succeed. (shrink)
In the late 19th century great changes in theories of light and electricity were in direct conflict with certitude, the view that scientific knowledge is infallible. What is, then, the epistemic status of scientific theory? To resolve this issue Duhem and Poincaré proposed images of fallible knowledge, Instrumentalism and Conventionalism, respectively. Only in 1919–1922, after Einstein's relativity was published, he offered arguments to support Fallibilism, the view that certainty cannot be achieved in science. Though Einstein did not consider Duhem's (...) Instrumentalism, he argued against Poincaré's Conventionalism. Hitherto, Einstein's Fallibilism, as presented at first in a rarely known essay of 1919, was left in the dark. Recently, Howard obscured its meaning. Einstein's essay was never translated into English. In my paper I provide its translation and attempt to shed light on Einstein's view and its context; I also direct attention to Einstein's images of philosophical opportunism in scientific practice. (shrink)
Michael Smith has recently argued that non‐cognitivists are unable to accommodate crucial structural features of moral belief, and in particular that non‐cognitivists have trouble accounting for subjects' certitude with respect to their moral beliefs. James Lenman and Michael Ridge have independently constructed ‘ecumenical’ versions of non‐cognitivism, intended to block this objection. We argue that these responses do not work. If ecumenical non‐cognitivism, a hybrid view which incorporates both non‐cognitivist and cognitivist elements, fails to meet Smith's challenge, it is unlikely (...) that ‘purer’ and more familiar versions of non‐cognitivism will succeed. (shrink)
Dans la formulation de la question du concours de l’Académie de Berlin de 1763, le texte français utilise le mot « évidence » là où le texte allemand mentionne des deutliche Beweisen. Que manifeste cette différence ? Quelles en sont les conséquences ? Les termes « évidence », Deutlichkeit, « certitude » apparaissent de manières très différentes dans les réponses. La multiplication terminologique et conceptuelle correspond à une profonde ambiguïté épistémologique. Au sein des réponses rédigées en allemand, la notion (...) de Deutlichkeit n’est pas centrale, tandis que l’est celle de Gewißheit. Les réponses rédigées en français font, quant à elles, toutes référence à l’« évidence », mais ce terme apparaît peu défini et trop ample. Ainsi, c’est l’esprit plutôt que la lettre de la question qui a été en jeu. La plupart des réponses se rejoignent cependant sur une analyse de la « nécessité de croire » à l’œuvre à la fois dans l’évidence, la certitude et la Deutlichkeit et sur la force coercitive de la démonstration. (shrink)
This paper offers a reconstruction of Alessandro Piccolomini's philosophy of mathematics, and reconstructs the role of Themistius and Averroes in the Renaissance debate on Aristotle's theory of proof. It also describes the interpretative context within which Piccolomini was working in order to show that he was not an isolated figure, but rather that he was fully involved in the debate on mathematics and physics of Italian Aristotelians of his time. The ideas of Lodovico Boccadiferro and Sperone Speroni will be analysed. (...) This paper demonstrates that Piccolomini's attack on the certitude of mathematics was a product of discussions between Aristotelians. (shrink)
Abū Ma'shar and al-Qābīsī were active astrologers and defenders of the scientific character of their discipline. They wrote works on criticisms brought forward against the discipline and challenged practitioners whom they considered as detrimental for the esteem and future fate of their science. Nevertheless, both writers can be seen as heirs to a single tradition of thought, which took its origins in Ptolemy's Tetrabiblios and developed largely independently of the religious or philosophical beliefs of a specific community. The arguments developed (...) for proving the scientific value of astrology are interesting in their own right, and merit further study not only by historians of science but also by historians of philosophy. (shrink)
The paper aims to relocate Bonaventure within the paradigm shift towards the Aristotelian conception of philosophy, which also had a deep impact on theology.But the standard narratives of a mere antagonism overlook to what extend the meeting of both the Aristotelian and the Augustinian tradition led to a mutualinfluence and transformation. This is especially true in epistemological matters, as I will show in this paper dealing with the central question of the foundation ofknowledge and its certainty. The paper focusses on (...) three topics: the rationes aeternae, illumination and exemplarism, and analysis vis-à-vis the question of the first known. While Bonaventure’s claim for a foundation of our understanding based on natural reasoning goes beyond the Aristotelian standard model, he also displays the critical attitude of the Augustinian epistemology with respect to natural human understanding, which reveals the boundaries of philosophical wisdom. His epistemological criticism leads to a fundamental critique of a metaphysics of the Aristotelian type from the point of view of an exemplaristic metaphysics, which goes hand in hand with a renewed concept of a sapientia christiana. (shrink)
Just as we can be more or less certain about empirical matters, we can be more or less certain about normative matters. Recently, it has been argued that this is a challenge for noncognitivism about normativity. Michael Smith presented the challenge in a 2002 paper and James Lenman and Michael Ridge responded independently. Andrew Sepielli has now joined the rescue operation. His basic idea is that noncognitivists should employ the notion of being for to account for normative certitude. We (...) shall argue that the being for account of normative certitude is vulnerable to many problems shared by other noncognitivist theories. Furthermore, we shall argue that Sepielli’s account has its own problems: His favored normalization procedure for degrees of being for has highly problematic implications. (shrink)
José Antonio Valdivia Fuenzalida | Résumé : Pendant le xiiie siècle, plusieurs auteurs scolastiques ont adopté des théories aristotéliciennes pour expliquer la connaissance humaine. Ces théories supposent que l’homme est capable d’acquérir la science en se servant de ses forces naturelles. Notre âme est capable de saisir l’essence des choses en obtenant une connaissance certaine à leur propos. Pourtant, un bon nombre de ces auteurs estimaient que, même en admettant les théories mentionnées, on ne saurait se passer de l’assistance de (...) Dieu afin d’expliquer l’acquisition des connaissances scientifiques. Cet article s’interroge sur les raisons qui ont conduit lesdits auteurs à adopter une telle position. L’analyse de certains textes de saint Bonaventure permet de comprendre ce que la doctrine de l’illumination divine veut expliquer, à savoir : que nous pouvons obtenir de la certitude malgré le fait que les choses créées ne possèdent qu’une « nécessité conditionnelle ». En effet, même l’essence des choses créées n’aurait pas le degré minimum de nécessité qui est requis pour fonder la certitude absolue présupposée dans le concept médiéval de scientia. |: During the 13th century, several scholastic authors adopted Aristotelian theories to explain human knowledge. These theories assume that man is capable of acquiring science by using his natural powers. Our soul is able to grasp the essence of things by obtaining a knowledge that is certain about them. Yet, many of these authors believed that even admitting those theories, God’s assistance could not be dispensed with in order to explain the acquisition of scientific knowledge. This paper examines the reasons that led these authors to such a position. The analysis of several texts by St. Bonaventure allows one to understand what the doctrine of divine illumination aims to explain : namely that we can obtain certainty in spite of the fact that created things only possess a “conditional necessity”. Indeed, even the essence of created things would not have the minimum level of necessity that is required to be the foundation of the absolute certainty presupposed in the medieval concept of Scientia. (shrink)
Accommodating degrees of moral certitude is a serious problem for non-cognitivism about ethics. In particular, non-cognitivism has trouble accommodating fundamental moral certitude. John Eriksson and Ragnar Francén Olinder  have recently proposed a solution. In fact, Eriksson and Francén Olinder offer two different proposals—one ‘classification’ account and one ‘projectivist’ account. We argue that the classification account faces the same problem as previous accounts do, while the projectivist account has unacceptable implications. Non-cognitivists will have to look elsewhere for a (...) plausible solution to the problem of accommodating fundamental moral certitude. (shrink)
Cet article est une réflexion sur le hasard en tant qu'objet scientifique, et en partant d'un point de vue matérialiste. On considère la relation entre mouvement et complexité en introduisant la notion de système ouvert et les catégories qui en découlent : état de la Nature et observables, ce qui permet de revoir le débat sur le hasard et la certitude.
I’ve been both fascinated and distressed by the arguments raging over how best to respond to the covid-19 pandemic. In particular, I’ve been struck by the way people claim scientific authority for their confident assurances of what needs to be done. And I’m especially intrigued by the scorn they often lavish on those who hold differing views on what science is telling us. The heat generated by the resulting debates is strikingly similar to the heat generated by debates over the (...) science connected with human-caused climate change. And in both cases, the disputants too often presuppose indefensibly naïve views about scientific authority and certitude, apparently unaware that even the allegedly most obvious logical truths lack the certainty attributed to scientific authority in these debates. As a rule, I dislike re-circulating my Editorials, but I think it’s time to resurrect one from a few years ago, addressing precisely this issue. …………………………………… “Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.” --Oscar Wilde I’ve often noticed how debates within the SSE community sometimes parallel debates in the political arena, perhaps especially with respect to the passion they elicit and the intolerance and condescension sometimes lavished on members of the “opposition.” Occasionally, of course, the debates in the SSE are nearly indistinguishable from those in the political arena—say, over the evidence for human-caused climate change. But what I find most striking is how the passion, intolerance, etc.—perhaps most often displayed by those defending whatever the “received” view happens to be—betrays either a surprising ignorance or else a seemingly convenient lapse of memory, one that probably wouldn’t appear in less emotionally-charged contexts. What impassioned partisans tend to ignore or forget concerns the tentative nature of both scientific pronouncements and knowledge claims generally, as well as the extensive network of assumptions on which every knowledge claim rests. So I’d like to offer what I hope will be a perspective-enhancer, concerning how even our allegedly most secure and fundamental pieces of a priori knowledge are themselves open to reasonable debate. A widespread, but naïve, view of logic is that no rational person could doubt its elementary laws. But that bit of popular “wisdom” is demonstrably false. And if that’s the case, then so much the worse for the degree of certitude we can expect in more controversial arenas. Let me illustrate with a few examples.  I’m indebted to Aune, 1970 for much of what follows. (shrink)
This book contains the fruits of decades of reflection and teaching on basic philosophical problems, historical, epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical. It does not purport to be a systematic, tightly demonstrative treatise, but a meditation in which opinion and critical irony sometimes have the upper hand. Though the author strongly leans towards Cartesian, Kantian, Hegelian or phenomenological viewpoints, it seems when the cards are down, that the fundamental inspiration of his philosophical thinking remains on the whole Aristotelian and Thomistic.