This paper explores the ramifications of the extended cognition thesis in the philosophy of mind for contemporary epistemology. In particular, it argues that all theories of knowledge need to accommodate the ability intuition that knowledge involves cognitive ability, but that once this requirement is understood correctly there is no reason why one could not have a conception of cognitive ability that was consistent with the extended cognition thesis. There is thus, surprisingly, a straightforward way of developing our (...) current thinking about knowledge such that it incorporates the extended cognition thesis. (shrink)
In a series of papers, Jesper Kallestrup and Duncan Pritchard argue that the thesis that knowledge is a cognitive success because of cognitive ability is incompatible with the idea that whether or not an agent’s true belief amounts to knowledge can significantly depend upon factors beyond her cognitive agency. In particular, certain purely modal facts seem to preclude knowledge, while the contribution of other agents’ cognitive abilities seems to enable it. Kallestrup and Pritchard’s arguments are targeted against views that (...) hold that all it takes to manifest one’s cognitive agency is to properly exercise one’s belief-forming abilities. I offer an account of the notion of cognitive ability according to which our epistemic resources are not exhausted by abilities to produce true beliefs as outputs, but also include dispositions to stop belief-formation when actual or modal circumstances are not suitable for it. Knowledge, I argue, can be accordingly conceived as a cognitive success that is also due to the latter. The resulting version of robust virtue epistemology helps explain how purely modal facts as well as other agents’ cognitive abilities may have a bearing on the manifestation of one’s cognitive agency, which shows in turn that robust virtue epistemology and epistemic dependence are not incompatible after all. (shrink)
Seemingly one of the most prominent issues that divide theorists about free will and moral responsibility concerns whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. I defend two claims in this paper. First, that this appearance is illusory: everyone thinks an ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility. The central issue is not whether the ability to do otherwise is necessary for freedom and responsibility but which abilities to do otherwise (...) are necessary. Second, I argue that we cannot determine which abilities are necessary until we have determined the nature and justification of moral responsibility. Thus, theorizing about moral responsibility ought to take pride of place in theorizing about free will. (shrink)
According to the knowledge argument, physicalism fails because when physically omniscient Mary first sees red, her gain in phenomenal knowledge involves a gain in factual knowledge. Thus not all facts are physical facts. According to the ability hypothesis, the knowledge argument fails because Mary only acquires abilities to imagine, remember and recognise redness, and not new factual knowledge. I argue that reducing Mary’s new knowledge to abilities does not affect the issue of whether she also learns factually: I show (...) that gaining specific new phenomenal knowledge is required for acquiring abilities of the relevant kind. Phenomenal knowledge being basic to abilities, and not vice versa, it is left an open question whether someone who acquires such abilities also learns something factual. The answer depends on whether the new phenomenal knowledge involved is factual. But this is the same question we wanted to settle when first considering the knowledge argument. The ability hypothesis, therefore, has offered us no dialectical progress with the knowledge argument, and is best forgotten. (shrink)
Recently, psychologists have explored moral concepts including obligation, blame, and ability. While little empirical work has studied the relationships among these concepts, philosophers have widely assumed such a relationship in the principle that “ought” implies “can,” which states that if someone ought to do something, then they must be able to do it. The cognitive underpinnings of these concepts are tested in the three experiments reported here. In Experiment 1, most participants judge that an agent ought to keep a (...) promise that he is unable to keep, but only when he is to blame for the inability. Experiment 2 shows that such “ought” judgments correlate with judgments of blame, rather than with judgments of the agent’s ability. Experiment 3 replicates these findings for moral “ought” judgments and finds that they do not hold for nonmoral “ought” judgments, such as what someone ought to do to fulfill their desires. These results together show that folk moral judgments do not conform to a widely assumed philosophical principle that “ought” implies “can.” Instead, judgments of blame play a modulatory role in some judgments of obligation. (shrink)
There are close parallels between Frank Jackson's case of black-and-white Mary and David Lewis's case of the two omniscient gods. This essay develops and defends what may be called “the ability hypothesis” about the knowledge that the gods lack, by adapting Lewis's ability hypothesis about the knowledge that Mary acquires. What the gods might lack despite their propositional omniscience is not any distinctive kind of information, but certain abilities of introspection. The motivating idea is that knowledge one acquires (...) by exercising introspective abilities cannot fail to be knowledge about oneself or indexical knowledge. So in order to envisage the gods' epistemic situation coherently, we need to assume that they lack those introspective abilities. But once we recognize that, it turns out that positing a special kind of information is a gratuitous addition. The two gods' ignorance simply consists in their lack of introspective abilities. (shrink)
Logics of joint strategic ability have recently received attention, with arguably the most influential being those in a family that includes Coalition Logic (CL) and Alternating-time Temporal Logic (ATL). Notably, both CL and ATL bypass the epistemic issues that underpin Schelling-type coordination problems, by apparently relying on the meta-level assumption of (perfectly reliable) communication between cooperating rational agents. Yet such epistemic issues arise naturally in settings relevant to ATL and CL: these logics are standardly interpreted on structures where agents (...) move simultaneously, opening the possibility that an agent cannot foresee the concurrent choices of other agents. In this paper we introduce a variant of CL we call Two-Player Strategic Coordination Logic (SCL2). The key novelty of this framework is an operator for capturing coalitional ability when the cooperating agents cannot share strategic information. We identify significant differences in the expressive power and validities of SCL2 and CL2, and present a sound and complete axiomatization for SCL2. We briefly address conceptual challenges when shifting attention to games with more than two players and stronger notions of rationality. (shrink)
One natural way to argue for the existence of some subjective constraint on agents’ obligations is to maintain that without that particular constraint, agents will sometimes be obligated to do that which they lack the ability to do. In this paper, I maintain that while such a strategy appears promising, it is fraught with pitfalls. Specifically, I argue that because the truth of an ability ascription depends on an (almost always implicit) characterization of the relevant possibility space, different (...) metaethical accounts take obligation to be constrained by different senses of ability. As a result, what initially looks to be a point of consensus—that ability constrains obligation—turns out to be a point of contention, and arguments with this at the foundation are much more likely to obscure, rather than resolve, metaethical disputes. Despite this, appeals to ability in metaethics aren’t doomed to be fruitless. On the contrary, if we can independently establish a particular sense of ability as the normatively relevant one, then we have good grounds for ruling out metaethical accounts that are inconsistent with it. In the final section, I make just such an argument. What seems right about the thought that ability constrains obligation is that an agent cannot be obligated to do that which her circumstances prevent her from doing. I argue that only a sense of ability that is both epistemically and motivationally restricted adequately respects the limits of agential control. (shrink)
Many have argued we have a moral obligation to assist others in need, but given the scope of global suffering, how far does this obligation extend? According to one traditional philosophical view, the obligation to help others is limited by our ability to help them, or by the principle that “ought implies can”. This view is primarily defended on the grounds that it is a core principle of commonsense moral psychology. This paper reviews findings from experimental philosophy in cognitive (...) science demonstrating that “ought implies can” is rejected by moral psychology. Researchers find that moral obligations are ascribed to agents who cannot fulfill them, suggesting that moral requirements do sometimes extend beyond what we are able to do. This research furthers our understanding of moral obligation, identifies an important need for further cross-cultural work in moral psychology, and demonstrates a way in which scientific experimentation can be applied to improve upon the conceptual analysis of important philosophical concepts in normative ethics. (shrink)
A company’s product-harm crises often lead to negative publicity which substantially affects purchase intention. This study attempts to examine the purchase intention and its antecedents (e.g., perceived negative publicity) during product-harm crises by simultaneously including perceived corporate ability (CA) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) as moderators. In the study’s proposed model, purchase intention is indirectly affected by perceived CA, negative publicity, and CSR via the mediation of trust and affective identification. At the same time, the influences of perceived negative (...) publicity on trust and affective identification are moderated by perceived CA and CSR, respectively. Empirical testing using a survey of car users from 477 working professionals confirms most of our hypothesized effects except the insignificant moderating effects of perceived CA. Finally, managerial implications and limitations of our findings are discussed. (shrink)
What follows for the ability hypothesis reply to the knowledge argument if knowledge-how is just a form of knowledge-that? The obvious answer is that the ability hypothesis is false. For the ability hypothesis says that, when Mary sees red for the first time, Frank Jackson’s super-scientist gains only knowledge-how and not knowledge-that. In this paper I argue that this obvious answer is wrong: a version of the ability hypothesis might be true even if knowledge-how is a (...) form of knowledge-that. To establish this conclusion I utilize Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson’s well-known account of knowledge-how as “simply a species of propositional knowledge” . I demonstrate that we can restate the core claims of the ability hypothesis – that Mary only gains new knowledge-how and not knowledge-that – within their account of knowledge-how as a species of knowledge-that. I examine the implications of this result for both critics and proponents of the ability hypothesis. (shrink)
The conditional analysis of ability faces familiar counterexamples involving cases of volitional incapacity. An interesting response to the problem of volitional incapacity is to try to explain away the responses elicited by such counterexamples by distinguishing between what we are able to do and what we are able to bring ourselves to do. We argue that this error-theoretic response fails. Either it succeeds in solving the problem of volitional incapacity at the cost of making the conditional analysis vulnerable to (...) obvious counterexamples to its necessity. Or, it avoids the counterexamples to its necessity but fails to solve the problem of volitional incapacity. (shrink)
Whether responsibility for actions and omissions requires the ability to do otherwise is an important issue in contemporary philosophy. However, a closely related but distinct issue, namely whether doxastic responsibility requires the ability to believe otherwise, has been largely neglected. This paper fills this remarkable lacuna by providing a defence of the thesis that doxastic responsibility entails the ability to believe otherwise. On the one hand, it is argued that the fact that unavoidability is normally an excuse (...) counts in favour of this thesis. On the other hand, three objections against this thesis are discussed and criticized. First, one might think that what suffices for doxastic responsibility is control over or influence on certain desirable or undesirable properties of beliefs. It is argued that this objection misrepresents the issue under consideration. Second, it may be objected that the thesis is contradicted by our intuitions in doxastic analogues of Frankfurt-style scenarios. It is argued that distinguishing between belief-universals and belief-particulars helps to see why this argument fails. Third and finally, one might draw an analogy with the asymmetry thesis in ethics by arguing that even if blameworthy belief requires the ability to believe otherwise, praiseworthy belief does not. It is argued that the main arguments in favour of this presumed asymmetry are wanting, partly because they fail to distinguish between two different kinds of praiseworthiness. Finally, the author sketches three implications of the thesis that doxastic responsibility entails the ability to believe otherwise: counterfactual construals of responsible belief might be tenable, the deontological conception of epistemic justification needs revision on an important point, and there might be an important asymmetry between beliefs on the one hand and actions and many non-doxastic consequences on the other. (shrink)
David Lewis and Laurence Nemirow claim that knowing what an experience is like is knowing-how, not knowing-that. They identify this know-how with the abilities to remember, imagine, and recognize experiences, and Lewis labels their view ‘the Ability Hypothesis’. The Ability Hypothesis has intrinsic interest. But Lewis and Nemirow devised it specifically to block certain anti-physicalist arguments due to Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson . Does it?
It is nearly universally thought that the kind of decision-making competence that gives one a strong prima facie right to make one's own medical decisions essentially involves having an ability (or abilities) of some sort, or having a certain level or degree of ability (or abilities). When put under philosophical scrutiny, however, this kind of theory does not hold up. I will argue that being competent does not essentially involve abilities, and I will propose and defend a theory (...) of decision-making competence according to which one is competent only if one possesses a certain kind of rationality in making treatment decisions. (shrink)
This paper considers the distribution of responsibility for prevention of negative social or ecological effects of production and consumption. Responsibility is related to ability and ability depends on welfare. An increase in competition between Western companies depresses their profitability, but increases the welfare of Western consumers and,hence, their ability to acknowledge social values. Therefore, an increase in competition on consumer markets shifts the balance in responsibility from companies to consumers to prevent negative external effects from production and (...) consumption patterns. An increase in competition on investor markets will shift the balance in an opposite direction. (shrink)
This paper examines the relationship between knowing how to G and the ability to G, which is typically presented in one of the following ways: knowing how to G entails the ability to G; knowing how to G does not entail the ability to G. In an attempt to reconcile these two putatively opposing positions, I distinguish between type and token actions. It is my contention that S can know how to G in the absence of an (...)ability to \, where this action is derived from an action-type, but not in the absence of the ability to perform the action-type itself \\). This refinement is an attempt to reconcile differences between intellectualism and anti-intellectualism with regard to knowledge how and ability. (shrink)
One diagnosis of what is wrong with the Knowledge Argument rests on the Ability Hypothesis. This couples an ability analysis of knowing what an experience is like together with a denial that phenomenal propositions exist. I argue against both components. I consider three arguments against the existence of phenomenal propositions and find them wanting. Nevertheless I deny that knowing phenomenal propositions is part of knowing what an experience is like. I provide a hybrid account of knowing what an (...) experience is like which is the coherent expression of a single idea: knowing what an experience is like is knowing what it would be like to have the phenomenal content of the experience as the content of an experience one is currently having. I explain how my conclusions indicate that the focus of discussion should be on the alleged explanatory gap between phenomenal facts and physical facts and not on the Knowledge Argument. The latter is a poor expression of the difficulty Physicalists face. (shrink)
According to the Ability Hypothesis, knowing what it is like to have experience E is just having the ability to imagine or recognize or remember having experience E. I examine various versions of the Ability Hypothesis and point out that they all face serious objections. Then I propose a new version that is not vulnerable to these objections: knowing what it is like to experience E is having the ability todiscriminate imagining or having experience E from (...) imagining or having any other experience. I argue that if we replace the ability to imagine or recognize with the ability to discriminate, the Ability Hypothesis can be salvaged. (shrink)
We study the logic of strategic ability of coalitions of agents with bounded memory by introducing Alternating-time Temporal Logic with Bounded Memory (ATLBM), a variant of Alternating-time Temporal Logic (ATL). ATLBM accounts for two main consequences of the assumption that agents have bounded memory. First, an agent can only remember a strategy that specifies actions in a bounded number of different circumstances. While the ATL-formula means that coalition C has a joint strategy which will make φ true forever, the (...) ATLBM-formula means that C has a joint strategy which for each agent in C specifies what to do in no more than n different circumstances and which will make φ true forever. Second, an agent has bounded recall—a strategy can only take the last m states of the system into account. We use the logic to study the interaction between strategic ability, bounded number of decisions, bounded recall and incomplete information. We discuss the logical properties and expressiveness of ATLBM, and its relationship to ATL. We show that ATLBM can express properties of strategic ability under bounded memory which cannot be expressed in ATL. (shrink)
The meaning of niche and competitive ability have long been surrounded by controversy. The reason for this stems from the obscure relationship that exists between these terms. This extends from the views of Darwin through Eltonian tradition to current views in which the meaning of competitive ability is implicitly infused into the paradigm of niche. Distinct operational definitions for niche and competitive ability are therefore established with special reference to plants. It is proposed that potential niche refer (...) explicitly to a theoretical hyperspace of places where a species would leave descendents if all biotic interactions were precluded, and that competitive ability refer to the relative capacity to leave descendents in a particular place in the face of restrictions imposed by competitive interaction. This leads to a qualitative comprehensive theory for coexistence which may be extended to any type of biotic interaction. Niche and competitive ability are both determined by the biological attributes of a species and may be independently adjusted in a population by natural selection in contexts of competition. Species coexistence in nature may therefore be a consequence of alternative evolutionary mechanisms which may operate to various degrees in concert: (1) natural selection leading to niche differentiation; (2) an ongoing process of reciprocal selection (coevolution) which maintains an approximate balance in relative competitive abilities for contested resources. (shrink)
This paper argues that if 'reforms' of education designed to raise standards leave unquestioned the notion of fixed differential ability, then they are likely to be self-defeating. It considers alternative ways of formulating knowledge about individual differences reflected both in the literature and in classroom practice, and concludes by making a case for further research to be undertaken to establish frameworks for teaching consistent with an anti-determinist view of individual potential.
This paper looks at the attribution of the ability to lie and not at lying or lies. It also departs from more familiar approaches by focussing on the appraisal of an ability and not on the ability in itself. We believe that this attribution perspective is required to bring out the cognitive and intentional basis of the ability to lie.
Science and technology, including nanoscale science and technology, influences and is influenced by various discourses and areas of action. Ableism is one concept and ability expectation is one dynamic that impacts the direction, vision, and application of nanoscale science and technology and vice versa. At the same time, policy documents that involve or relate to disabled people exhibit ability expectations of disabled people. The authors present ability expectations exhibited within two science and technology direction documents from Asia, (...) as well as in two policy documents generated and influenced by disabled people from Asia. As well, the authors discuss the impact of the ability expectations exhibited in these four documents with respect to the relationship between science and technology and disabled people. (shrink)
We challenge a line of thinking at the fore of recent work on epistemic value: the line (suggested by Kvanvig in The value of knowledge and the pursuit of understanding, 2003 and others) that if the value of knowledge is “swamped” by the value of mere true belief, then we have good reason to doubt its theoretical importance in epistemology. We offer a value-driven argument for the theoretical importance of knowledge—one that stands even if the value of knowledge is “swamped” (...) by the value of true belief. Specifically, we contend that even if knowledge itself has no special epistemic value, its relationship to other items of value—cognitive abilities—gives ample reason to locate the concept at the very core of epistemology. (shrink)
Here it is argued that in order for something someone “does” to count as a genuine action, the person needn’t have been able to refrain from doing it. If this is right, then two recent defenses of the principle of alternative possibilities, a version of which says that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have refrained from doing it, are unsuccessful.
It has been argued that in a deterministic universe, no one has any reason to do anything. Since we ought to do what we have most reason to do, no one ought to do anything either. Firstly, it is argued that an agent cannot have reason to do anything unless she can do otherwise; secondly, that the relevant ‘can’ is incompatibilist. In this paper, I argue that even if the first step of the argument for reason incompatibilism succeeds, the second (...) one does not. It is argued that reasons require alternative possibilities, because reasons are action-guiding. A supposed reason to do the impossible, or to do what was inevitable anyway, could not fill this function. I discuss different interpretations of the claim that reasons are action-guiding, and show that according to one interpretation it is sufficient that the agent believes that she has several alternative options. According to other interpretations, the agent must really have alternative options, but only in a compatibilist sense. I suggest that an interpretation of action-guidance according to which reasons can only guide actions when we have several options open to us in an incompatibilist sense cannot be found. We should therefore assume that reasons and obligations are compatible with determinism. (shrink)