In this chapter, I argue for the thesis that phenomenal consciousness is the basis of epistemicjustification. More precisely, I argue for the thesis of phenomenal mentalism, according to which epistemic facts about which doxastic attitudes one has justification to hold are determined by non-epistemic facts about one’s phenomenally individuated mental states. I begin by providing intuitive motivations for phenomenal mentalism and then proceed to sketch a more theoretical line of argument according to which phenomenal (...) mentalism provides the best explanation of the independently motivated thesis of access internalism. The result is a theory of epistemicjustification that brings intuition and theory into reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
The lottery paradox can be solved if epistemicjustification is assumed to be a species of permissibility. Given this assumption, the starting point of the paradox can be formulated as the claim that, for each lottery ticket, I am permitted to believe that it will lose. This claim is ambiguous between two readings, depending on the scope of ‘permitted’. On one reading, the claim is false; on another, it is true, but, owing to the general failure of permissibility (...) to agglomerate, does not generate the paradox. The solution generalizes to formulations of the paradox in terms of rational acceptability and doxastic rationality. (shrink)
Thomas Kroedel argues that the lottery paradox can be solved by identifying epistemicjustification with epistemic permissibility rather than epistemic obligation. According to his permissibility solution, we are permitted to believe of each lottery ticket that it will lose, but since permissions do not agglomerate, it does not follow that we are permitted to have all of these beliefs together, and therefore it also does not follow that we are permitted to believe that all tickets will (...) lose. I present two objections to this solution. First, even if justification itself amounts to no more than epistemic permissibility, the lottery paradox recurs at the level of doxastic obligations unless one adopts an extremely permissive view about suspension of belief that is in tension with our practice of doxastic criticism. Second, even if there are no obligations to believe lottery propositions, the permissibility solution fails because epistemic permissions typically agglomerate, and the lottery case provides no exception to this rule. (shrink)
A popular account of epistemicjustification holds that justification, in essence, aims at truth. An influential objection against this account points out that it is committed to holding that only true beliefs could be justified, which most epistemologists regard as sufficient reason to reject the account. In this paper I defend the view that epistemicjustification aims at truth, not by denying that it is committed to epistemicjustification being factive, but by showing (...) that, when we focus on the relevant sense of ‘justification’, it isn’t in fact possible for a belief to be at once justified and false. To this end, I consider and reject three popular intuitions speaking in favor of the possibility of justified false beliefs, and show that a factive account of epistemicjustification is less detrimental to our normal belief forming practices than often supposed. (shrink)
It has recently been argued that beliefs formed on the basis of implicit biases pose a challenge for accessibilism, since implicit biases are consciously inaccessible, yet they seem to be relevant to epistemicjustification. Recent empirical evidence suggests, however, that while we may typically lack conscious access to the source of implicit attitudes and their impact on our beliefs and behaviour, we do have access to their content. In this paper, I discuss the notion of accessibility required for (...) this argument to work vis-à-vis these empirical results and offer two ways in which the accessibilist could meet the challenge posed by implicit biases. Ultimately both strategies fail, but the way in which they do, I conclude, reveals something general and important about our epistemic obligations and about the intuitions that inform the role of implicit biases in accessibilist justification. (shrink)
For decades, philosophers have displayed an interest in what it is to have an epistemically justified belief. Recently, we also find among philosophers a renewed interest in the so-called ethics of belief: what is it to believe responsibly and when is one’s belief blameworthy? This paper explores how epistemically justified belief and responsible belief are related to each other. On the so-called ‘deontological conception of epistemicjustification’, they are identical: to believe epistemically responsibly is to believe epistemically justifiedly. (...) I argue that William Alston’s criticism of a deontological conception of epistemicjustification in terms of our influence on our beliefs is unconvincing. Moreover, such a conception meets three criteria that one might put forward in order for an account of epistemicjustification to be plausible: it shows a concern with the Jamesian goal of having true rather than false beliefs, it is relevantly similar to accounts of justification in non-doxastic realms, such as action, and there is good reason to think that, if spelled out in sufficient detail, it may well provide a necessary condition for knowledge. I conclude that the deontological conception of epistemicjustification is stronger than is often thought: it is worth exploring whether epistemically justified belief is epistemically responsible belief. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to offer an account of epistemicjustification suitable for the context of theory pursuit, that is, for the context in which new scientific ideas, possibly incompatible with the already established theories, emerge and are pursued by scientists. We will frame our account paradigmatically on the basis of one of the influential systems of epistemicjustification: Laurence Bonjour’s coherence theory of justification. The idea underlying our approach is to develop a (...) set of criteria which indicate that the pursued system is promising of contributing to the epistemic goal of robustness of scientific knowledge and of developing into a candidate for acceptance. In order to realize this we will (a) adjust the scope of Bonjour’s standards—consistency, inferential density, and explanatory power, and (b) complement them by the requirement of a programmatic character. In this way we allow for the evaluation of the “potential coherence” of the given epistemic system. (shrink)
This paper undertakes two projects: Firstly, it offers a new account of the so-called deontological conception of epistemicjustification (DCEJ). Secondly, it brings out the basic weaknesses of DCEJ, thus accounted for. It concludes that strong reasons speak against its acceptance. The new account takes it departure from William Alston’s influential work. Section 1 argues that a fair account of DCEJ is only achieved by modifying Alston’s account and brings out the crucial difference between DCEJ and the less (...) radical position of epistemic deontologism. Section 2 starts by setting up two fundamental problems for proponents of DCEJ to solve. It argues further that proponents of DCEJ may not convincingly solve those problems by appeal to a notion of permissible belief. Section 3 investigates, whether an appeal to the notion of blameless belief may help DCEJ overcome its central problems. It argues that, even if an appeal to the notion of blameless belief has advantages over an appeal to the notion of permissible belief, DCEJ cannot convincingly overcome the problems set up for it. Further, it is brought out that DCEJ commits its proponents to a problematic non-standard view regarding the intrinsic value of epistemicjustification. Section 4 concludes that DCEJ is not the natural conception of epistemicjustification, that Alston takes it to be. However, its problems do not leave a scratch on epistemic deontologism, properly conceived. (shrink)
Stewart Cohen argues that much contemporary epistemological theorizing is hampered by the fact that ‘epistemicjustification’ is a term of art and one that is never given any serious explication in a non-tendentious, theory-neutral way. He suggests that epistemologists are therefore better off theorizing in terms of rationality, rather than in terms of ‘epistemicjustification’. Against this, I argue that even if the term ‘epistemicjustification’ is not broadly known, the concept it picks out (...) is quite familiar, and partly because it’s a term of art, justification talk is a better vehicle for philosophical theorizing. ‘Rational’ is too unclear for our philosophical purposes, and the fact that ‘epistemicjustification’ gets fleshed out by appeal to substantive, controversial theses is no obstacle to its playing the needed role in epistemological theorizing. (shrink)
Many of us care about the existence of ethical facts because such facts appear crucial to making sense of our practical lives. On one tempting line of thought, this idea does more than raise the metaethical stakes: it can also play a central role in justifying our belief in those facts. In recent work, David Enoch has developed this tempting thought into a formidable new proposal in moral epistemology, that aims to explain how the deliberative indispensability of ethical facts gives (...) us epistemicjustification for believing in such facts. In this paper, we argue that Enoch’s proposal fails because it conflicts with a central fact about epistemicjustification: that the norms of epistemicjustification have the content that they do in part because of some positive connection between those norms and the truth of the beliefs that these norms govern. We then argue that the most salient alternatives to Enoch’s attempt to defend the idea that deliberative indispensability confers epistemicjustification fail for parallel reasons. We conclude that the tempting line of thought should be rejected: deliberative indispensability does not provide epistemicjustification. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Andrew Johnson seeks to defend the “New Atheism” against several objections. We provide a philosophical assessment of his defense of contemporary atheistic arguments that are said to amount to bifurcation fallacies. This point of discussion leads to our critical discussion of the presumption of atheism and the epistemicjustification of atheism.
The purpose of this paper is to raise a new objection to externalist process reliabilism about epistemicjustification. The objection is that epistemicjustification is intensional—it does not permit the substitution of co-referring expressions—and reliabilism cannot accommodate that.
This paper concerns the epistemology of difficult moral cases where the difficulty is not traceable to ignorance about non-moral matters. The paper first argues for a principle concerning the epistemic status of moral beliefs about difficult moral cases. The basic idea behind the principle is that one’s belief about the moral status of a potential action in a difficult moral case is not justified unless one has some appreciation of what the relevant moral considerations are and how they bear (...) on the moral status of the potential action. The paper then argues that this principle has important ramifications for moral epistemology and moral metaphysics. It puts pressure on some views of the justification of moral belief, such as ethical intuitionism and reliabilism. It puts pressure on some antirealist views of moral metaphysics, including simple versions of relativism. It also provides some direct positive support for broadly realist views of morality. (shrink)
I undermine the argument that ‘high’ epistemic standards are false because children and other cognitively unsophisticated subjects possess justification while lacking certain logical and epistemic concepts. I argue, instead, that the standards we often use to attribute logical and epistemic concepts to ordinary, cognitively sophisticated adults can easily be seen to cover many unsophisticated subjects; therefore, the alleged lack of certain concepts is no basis for rejecting ‘high’ epistemic standards. Whether or not such standards are (...) correct has to be argued on other grounds. (shrink)
Ever since Plato it has been thought that one knows only if one's belief hits the mark of truth and does so with adequate justification. The issues debated by Laurence BonJour and Ernest Sosa concern mostly the nature and conditions of such epistemicjustification, and its place in our understanding of human knowledge. Presents central issues pertaining to internalism vs. externalism and foundationalism vs. virtue epistemology in the form of a philosophical debate. Introduces students to fundamental questions (...) within epistemology while engaging in contemporary debates. Written by two of today’s foremost epistemologists. Includes an extensive bibliography. (shrink)
In this article I distinguish a type of justification that is "epistemic" in pertaining to the grounds of one's belief, and "practical" in its connection to what act(s) one may undertake, based on that belief. Such justification, on the proposed account, depends mainly on the proportioning of "inner epistemic virtue" to the "outer risks" implied by one's act. The resulting conception strikes a balance between the unduly moralistic conception of William Clifford and contemporary naturalist virtue theories.
Epistemic expressivists maintain, to a first approximation, that epistemic assertions express non-cognitive mental states, like endorsements, valuations, or pro-attitudes, rather than cognitive mental states such as beliefs. Proponents of epistemic expressivism include Chrisman, Gibbard, Field, Kappel, and Ridge, among others. In this paper, I argue for an alternative view to epistemic expressivism. The view I seek to advocate is inspired by hybrid expressivist theories about moral judgments, Copp Oxford studies in metaethics, 2009), Finlay, Strandberg ). According (...) to these hybrid views, moral judgments express semantically cognitive or representational states and pragmatically convey the speaker’s non-cognitive mental states via implicatures. I will argue that a particular version of this view can reasonably be extended to epistemic judgments and that it has several advantages over its expressivist and cognitivist competitors. In particular, I will try to show that there exist certain phenomena in the epistemic domain that seem to be best accounted for by expressivist theories of epistemic judgments. However, a version of hybrid expressivism that maintains that epistemic judgments convey the attributor’s non-cognitive mental states via generalized conversational implicatures is able to account for these phenomena just as well without running afoul of the main problems that have been identified for different versions of epistemic expressivism. (shrink)
I discuss Alston's theory of religious experience and maintain that his argument to the effect that it is rational to suppose that the 'mystical doxastic practice' is epistemically reliable does not stand up to scrutiny. While Alston's transitions from practical to epistemic rationality don't work here, his arguments may be taken to show that, under certain conditions, it is not epistemically irresponsible to trust one's religious experiences.
According to epistemic internalists, facts about justification supervene upon one's internal reasons for believing certain propositions. Epistemic externalists, on the other hand, deny this. More specifically, externalists think that the supervenience base of justification isn't exhausted by one's internal reasons for believing certain propositions. In the last decade, the internalism–externalism debate has made its mark on the epistemology of testimony. The proponent of internalism about the epistemology of testimony claims that a hearer's testimonial justification for (...) believing that p supervenes upon his internal reasons for thinking that the speaker’s testimony that p is true. Recently, however, several objections have been raised against this view. -/- In this paper, I present an argument providing intuitive support for internalism about the epistemology of testimony. Moreover, I also defend the argument against three objections offered by Stephen Wright in a couple of recent papers. The upshot of my discussion is that external conditions do make an epistemic difference when it comes to our testimonial beliefs, but that they cannot make any difference with respect to their justificatory status – i.e., they are justificationally irrelevant. (shrink)
Sceptics have been accused of achieving their sceptical conclusions by an arbitrary (though usually implicit) redefinition of terms like “justified”, so that, while it may be true that no belief is justified in the sceptic’s new sense of the word, all the beliefs we have taken as justified remain so in the ordinary, standard meaning of the term. This paper defends scepticism against this charge. It is pointed out that there are several sorts of case where someone’s belief may be (...) properly termed justified in one “sense”, or from one “point of view”, but from another, equally properly termed unjustified. It is argued that the point of view of the sceptic, or the sense in which he uses the term, is one of the perfectly standard ones, and not some arbitrarily introduced new sense. In addition, an explanation that is not damaging to scepticism is provided of a sceptic’s own continued ascriptions of justifiedness in everyday contexts. (shrink)
Richard Swinburne offers an original treatment of a question at the heart of epistemology: what makes a belief rational, or justified in holding? He maps the rival accounts of philosophers on epistemicjustification ("internalist" and "externalist"), arguing that they are really accounts of different concepts. He distinguishes between synchronic justification (justification at a time) and diachronic justification (synchronic justification resulting from adequate investigation)--both internalist and externalist. He also argues that most kinds of justification (...) are worth having because they are indicative of truth; however, it is only justification of internalist kinds that can guide a believer's actions. Swinburne goes on to show the usefulness of the probability calculus in elucidating how empirical evidence makes beliefs probably true. (shrink)
Two arguments against the compatibility of epistemic internalism and content externalism are considered. Both arguments are shown to fail, because they equivocate on the concept of justification involved in their premises. To spell out the involved equivocation, a distinction between subjective and objective justification is introduced, which can also be independently motivated on the basis of a wide range of thought experiments to be found in the mainstream literature on epistemology. The subjective/objective justification distinction is also (...) ideally suited for providing new insights with respect to central issues within epistemology, including the internalism/externalism debate and the New Evil Demon intuition. (shrink)
According to many, to have epistemicjustification to believe P is just for it to be epistemically permissible to believe P. Others think it is for believing P to be epistemically good. Yet others think it has to do with being epistemically blameless in believing P. All such views of justification encounter problems. Here, a new view of justification is proposed according to which justification is a kind of composite normative status. The result is a (...) view of justification that offers hope of solving some longstanding epistemological problems. (shrink)
This paper describes a formal measure of epistemicjustification motivated by the dual goal of cognition, which is to increase true beliefs and reduce false beliefs. From this perspective the degree of epistemicjustification should not be the conditional probability of the proposition given the evidence, as it is commonly thought. It should be determined instead by the combination of the conditional probability and the prior probability. This is also true of the degree of incremental confirmation, (...) and I argue that any measure of epistemicjustification is also a measure of incremental confirmation. However, the degree of epistemicjustification must meet an additional condition, and all known measures of incremental confirmation fail to meet it. I describe this additional condition as well as a measure that meets it. The paper then applies the measure to the conjunction fallacy and proposes an explanation of the fallacy. (shrink)
In this paper, I will look at what role being able to provide justification plays in several prominent conceptions of epistemology, and argue that taking the ability to provide reasons as necessary for knowledge leads to a biasing toward false negatives. However, I will also argue that asking for reasons is a common practice among the general public, and one that is endorsed by “folk epistemology.” I will then discuss the fact that this asking for reasons is done neither (...) constantly nor arbitrarily, but rather in a systematic way that produces ignorance by oppressing some knowledge and some knowers, in particular those from already marginalized groups. After looking at the implications of all this, I will ultimately argue that we must be very careful when we ask for reasons, and acknowledge it as the powerful weapon it is. (shrink)
In this paper, I will present and defend an argument from the conditional character of inferential justification against the version of epistemic infinitism Klein advances. More specifically, after proposing a distinction between propositional and doxastic infinitism, which is based on a standard distinction between propositional and doxastic justification, I will describe in considerable detail the argument from conditionality, which is mainly an argument against propositional infinitism, and clarify some of its main underlying assumptions. There are various responses (...) to be found in Klein’s works to this argument, and my aim is to show that none of those responses can be plausibly held without infinitism losing its title to being a genuine non-skeptical alternative. (shrink)
Michael Bergmann seeks to motivate his externalist, proper function theory of epistemicjustification by providing three objections to the mentalism and mentalist evidentialism characteristic of nonexternalists such as Richard Feldman and Earl Conee. Bergmann argues that (i) mentalism is committed to the false thesis that justification depends on mental states; (ii) mentalism is committed to the false thesis that the epistemic fittingness of an epistemic input to a belief-forming process must be due to an essential (...) feature of that input, and, relatedly, that mentalist evidentialism is committed to the false thesis that the epistemic fittingness of doxastic response B to evidence E is an essential property of B–E; and (iii) mentalist evidentialism is “unmotivated”. I object to each argument. The argument for (i) begs the question. The argument for (ii) suffers from the fact that mentalist evidentialists are not committed to the consequences claimed for them; nevertheless, I show that there is, in the neighborhood, a substantive dispute concerning the nature of doxastic epistemic fittingness. That dispute involves what I call “Necessary Fittingness”, the view that, necessarily, exactly one (at most) doxastic attitude ( belief , or disbelief , or suspension of judgment ) toward a proposition is epistemically fitting with respect to a person’s total evidence at any time. Reflection on my super-blooper epistemic design counterexamples to Bergmann’s proper function theory reveals both the plausibility of Necessary Fittingness and a good reason to deny (iii). Mentalist evidentialism is thus vindicated against the objections. (shrink)
This volume gathers eleven new and three previously unpublished essays that take on questions of epistemicjustification, responsibility, and virtue. It contains the best recent work in this area by major figures such as Ernest Sosa, Robert Audi, Alvin Goldman, and Susan Haak.
Epistemic internalism, by stressing the indispensability of the subject’s perspective, strikes many as plausible at first blush. However, many people have tended to reject the position because certain kinds of beliefs have been thought to pose special problems for epistemic internalism. For example, internalists tend to hold that so long as a justifier is available to the subject either immediately or upon introspection, it can serve to justify beliefs. Many have thought it obvious that no such view can (...) be correct, as it has been alleged that internalism cannot account for the possibility of the justification of beliefs stored in memory. -/- My aim in this paper is to offer a response that explains how memory justification is possible in a way that is consistent with epistemic internalism and an awareness condition on justification. Specifically, I will explore the plausibility of various options open to internalists, including both foundationalist and non-foundationalist approaches to the structure of justification. I intend to show that despite other difficult challenges that epistemic internalism might face, memory belief poses no special problems that the resources of internalism cannot adequately address. (shrink)
This book explores the concept of epistemicjustification and our understanding of the problem of skepticism. Providing critical examination of key responses to the skeptical challenge, Hamid Vahid presents a theory which is shown to work alongside the internalism/externalism issue and the thesis of semantic externalism, with a deontological conception of justification at its core.
Among epistemologists, it is not uncommon to relate various forms of epistemic luck to the vexed debate between internalists and externalists. But there are many internalism/externalism debates in epistemology, and it is not always clear how these debates relate to each other. In the present paper I investigate the relation between epistemic luck and prominent internalist and externalist accounts of epistemicjustification. I argue that the dichotomy between internalist and externalist concepts of justification can be (...) characterized in terms of epistemic luck. Whereas externalist theories of justification are incompatible with veritic luck but not with reflective luck, the converse is true for internalist theories of justification. These results are found to explain and cohere with some recent findings from elsewhere in epistemology, and support a surprising picture of justification, on which internalism and externalism are complementary rather than contradictory positions. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that there are two kinds of epistemicjustification: one is objective and the other, subjective. Internalists are interested in the subjective variety of justification. Externalists are interested in the objective notion of justification. A paper by Stewart Cohen fails to distinguish these two varieties of epistemicjustification and, as a result, criticizes externalists for failing to address the internalist, subjective notion of epistemicjustification. But, since that notion (...) is not the one that externallists care about, I argue that his evil demon example fails to be a counterexample against externalists. (shrink)
Abstract I provide an account of the nature of seemings that explains why they are necessary for justification. The account grows out of a picture of cognition that explains what is required for epistemic agency. According to this account, epistemic agency requires (1) possessing the epistemic aims of forming true beliefs and avoiding errors, and (2) having some means of forming beliefs in order to satisfy those aims. I then argue that seeming are motives for belief (...) characterized by their role of providing us with doxastic instructions guided by our epistemic aims. Understanding the nature of seemings allows us to underwrite recent epistemological work by Michael Huemer, and shows why he was right to claim that seemings are the source of all justification. I then look at some objections both to my arguments regarding the connection between seemings and justification, and to Huemer’s related “Principle of Phenomenal Conservatism”. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-21 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9830-2 Authors Matthew Skene, Syracuse University, 8330 E. Quincy Ave., I-307, Denver, CO 80237, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
Evidentialism is a popular theory of epistemicjustification, yet, as early proponents of the theory Earl Conee and Richard Feldman admit, there are many elements that must be developed before Evidentialism can provide a full account of epistemicjustification, or well-founded belief. It is the aim of this book to provide the details that are lacking; here McCain moves past Evidentialism as a mere schema by putting forward and defending a full-fledged theory of epistemic (...) class='Hi'>justification. In this book McCain offers novel approaches to several elements of well-founded belief. Key among these are an original account of what it takes to have information as evidence, an account of epistemic support in terms of explanation, and a causal account of the basing relation that is far superior to previous accounts. The result is a fully developed Evidentialist account of well-founded belief. (shrink)
What are the consequences of evolutionary theory for the epistemic standing of our beliefs? Evolutionary considerations can be used to either justify or debunk a variety of beliefs. This paper argues that evolutionary approaches to human cognition must at least allow for approximately reliable cognitive capacities. Approaches that portray human cognition as so deeply biased and deficient that no knowledge is possible are internally incoherent and self-defeating. As evolutionary theory offers the current best hope for a naturalistic epistemology, evolutionary (...) approaches to epistemicjustification seem to be committed to the view that our sensory systems and belief-formation processes are at least approximately accurate. However, for that reason they are vulnerable to the charge of circularity, and their success seems to be limited to commonsense beliefs. This paper offers an extension of evolutionary arguments by considering the use of external media in human cognitive processes: we suggest that the way humans supplement their evolved cognitive capacities with external tools may provide an effective way to increase the reliability of their beliefs and to counter evolved cognitive biases. (shrink)
Theories of epistemicjustification are commonly assessed by exploring their predictions about particular hypothetical cases – predictions as to whether justification is present or absent in this or that case. With a few exceptions, it is much less common for theories of epistemicjustification to be assessed by exploring their predictions about logical principles. The exceptions are a handful of ‘closure’ principles, which have received a lot of attention, and which certain theories of justification (...) are well known to invalidate. But these closure principles are only a small sample of the logical principles that we might consider. In this paper, I will outline four further logical principles that plausibly hold for justification and two which plausibly do not. While my primary aim is just to put these principles forward, I will use them to evaluate some different approaches to justification and (tentatively) conclude that a ‘normic’ theory of justification best captures its logic. (shrink)
Against various detractors , this book develops a foundationalist theory of epistemicjustification. In contrast with Laurence BonJour and borrowing from John McDowell, the essential argument is that conceptualized perpetual experience provides a non-doxastic foundation for perceptual beliefs about physical objects.
Guided by an account of the norms governing justificatory conversations, I propose that person-level epistemicjustification is a matter of possessing a certain ability: the ability to provide objectively good reasons for one's belief by drawing upon considerations which one responsibly and correctly takes there to be no reason to doubt. On this view, justification requires responsible belief and is also objectively truth-conducive. The foundationalist doctrine of immediately justified beliefs is rejected, but so too is the thought (...) that coherence in one's total belief system is sufficient, or indeed necessary, for justification. The problem of the regress is solved by exploiting the 'localist' idea that in order to possess the ability to justify any given belief, one only needs to be in a position to draw upon appropriate justified background beliefs to provide good reasons for holding the belief; one needn't be able to defend the relevant background beliefs, and so on, all at one sitting. (shrink)
Critics of reliability theories of epistemic justificationoften claim that the `generality problem' is an insurmountabledifficulty for such theories. The generality problem is theproblem of specifying the level of generality at which abelief-forming process is to be described for the purposeof assessing its reliability. This problem is not asintractable as it seems. There are illuminating solutionsto analogous problems in the ethics literature. Reliabilistsought to attend to utilitarian approaches to choices betweeninfinite utility streams; they also ought to attend towelfarist approaches to (...) social choice situations that donot demand full aggregation of individual welfares.These analogies suggest that the traditional `single number'approach to reliability is misguided. I argue that a newapproach – the `vector reliability' approach – is preferable.Vector reliability theories associate target beliefs withreliability vectors – that is, structured collections ofreliability numbers – and construct criteria of epistemicjustification that appeal to these vectors. The bulk of thetheoretical labor involved in a reliability account of epistemicjustification is thus transferred from picking a uniquereliability number to constructing a plausible criterionof epistemicjustification. (shrink)
Richard Foley has suggested that the search for a good theory of epistemicjustification and the analysis of knowledge should be conceived of as two distinct projects. However, he has not offered much support for this claim, beyond highlighting certain salutary consequences it might have. In this paper, I offer some further support for Foley’s claim by offering an argument and a way to conceive the claim in a way that makes it as plausible as its denial, and (...) thus levelling the playing field. The burden of proof then lies with those who seek to deny Foley’s radical suggestion. (shrink)
This paper defends a coherentist approach to moral epistemology. In “The Immorality of Eating Meat”, I offer a coherentist consistency argument to show that our own beliefs rationally commit us to the immorality of eating meat. Elsewhere, I use our own beliefs as premises to argue that we have positive duties to assist the poor and to argue that biomedical animal experimentation is wrong. The present paper explores whether this consistency-based coherentist approach of grounding particular moral judgments on beliefs we (...) already hold, with no appeal to moral theory, is a legitimate way of doing practical ethics. I argue that grounding particular moral judgments on our core moral convictions and other core nonmoral beliefs is a legitimate way to justify moral judgments, that these moral judgments possess as much epistemicjustification and have as much claim to objectivity as moral judgments grounded on particular ethical theories, and that this internalistic coherentist method of grounding moral judgments is more likely to result in behavioral guidance than traditional theory-based approaches to practical ethics. By way of illustrating the approach, I briefly recapitulate my consistency-based argument for ethical vegetarianism. I then defend the coherentist approach implicit in the argument against a number of potentially fatal metatheoretical attacks. (shrink)
Abstract Although expressivist theories have been applied to many normative discourses (moral, rationality, knowledge, etc.), the normative discourse of epistemicjustification has been somewhat neglected by expressivists. In this paper, I aspire to both remedy this unfortunate situation and introduce a novel version of expressivist theory: Habits-Expressivism. To pave the way for habits-expressivism, I turn to Allan Gibbard's (1990, 2003, 2008) seminal work on expressivism. I first examine Gibbard's (2003, 2008) late plan-reliance expressivism and argue that it faces (...) certain problems when applied to epistemicjustification discourse. As a response to these problems, I go on to introduce habits-expressivism and argue that not only does it avoid the identified problems for plan-reliance-expressivism, but it also captures the basic attractions of both plan-reliance expressivism and Gibbard's (1990) early theory of norm-expressivism. (shrink)
The main thesis of this paper is that it is not possible to determine the nature of epistemicjustification apart from scientific psychological investigation. I call this view the strong thesis of methodological psychologism. Two sub-theses provide the primary support for this claim. The first sub-thesis is that no account of epistemicjustification is correct which requires for the possession of at least one justified belief a psychological capacity which humans do not have. That is, the (...) correct account of epistemicjustification must be psychologically realistic. The second sub-thesis is that it is not possible to determine whether an account of epistemicjustification is psychologically realistic apart from scientific psychological investigation. After defending these subtheses, I point out some interesting consequences of the overall thesis which present a challenge to traditional epistemology. (shrink)
Theories of epistemicjustification are usually described as belonging to either deontological or nondeontological categories of justification with the former construing the concept of justification as involving the fulfillment of epistemic duty. Despite being the dominant view among traditional epistemologists, the deontological conception has been subjected to severe criticisms in the current literature for failing, among others, to do justice to the (alleged) truth-conducive character of epistemicjustification. In this paper I set out (...) to show that there is something deeply unsatisfying about the way these different conceptions of justification are usually introduced and contrasted with each other leaving it unclear just what it is that renders a particular conception deontological. In particular I look at Alston's treatment of the issue, and show that his reasons for rejecting the deontological conception involve question-begging assumptions demonstrating, at best, the possibility of its divergence from truth-conductive justification. Far from being able to settle the issue one way or another, the arguments, I shall suggest actually seem to show some sort of tolerant pluralism in justification theory to be a live option. (shrink)
Assume that epistemicjustification has a cognitive function and that a belief's being justified is not just its being caused by the appropriate information (for this property of the belief may be cognitively impenetrable). What is the function of epistemicjustification? it cannot be to actualize knowledge-The belief's being caused by appropriate information alone does that! so what is its function? I suggest it is to cause us to believe and/or take action.
What are the consequences of evolutionary theory for the epistemic standing of our beliefs? Evolutionary considerations can be used to either justify or debunk a variety of beliefs. This paper argues that evolutionary approaches to human cognition must at least allow for approximately reliable cognitive capacities. Approaches that portray human cognition as so deeply biased and deficient that no knowledge is possible are internally incoherent and self‐defeating. As evolutionary theory offers the current best hope for a naturalistic epistemology, evolutionary (...) approaches to epistemicjustification seem to be committed to the view that our sensory systems and belief‐formation processes are at least approximately accurate. However, for that reason they are vulnerable to the charge of circularity, and their success seems to be limited to commonsense beliefs. This paper offers an extension of evolutionary arguments by considering the use of external media in human cognitive processes: we suggest that the way humans supplement their evolved cognitive capacities with external tools may provide an effective way to increase the reliability of their beliefs and to counter evolved cognitive biases. (shrink)