In “The Myth of Factive Verbs” (Hazlett 2010), I had four closely related goals. The first (pp. 497-99, p. 522) was to criticize appeals to ordinary language in epistemology. The second (p. 499) was to criticize the argument that truth is a necessary condition on knowledge because “knows” is factive. The third (pp. 507-19) – which was the intended means of achieving the first two – was to defend a semantics for “knows” on which <S knows p> can be true (...) even if p isn’t true. The fourth (Ibid.) – which seemed necessary for the success of the third – was to defend a pragmatic account of the fact that utterances of <S knows p> typically imply p, on which the implication in those cases is down to conversational implicature. In this paper I’ll go after these goals again, with an emphasis on the second. Our topic will be whether the factivity of “knows” (whatever this amounts to) supports the truth condition on knowledge. A new goal will be to defend my argument against some criticisms from John Turri (2011) and Savas Tsohatzidis (forthcoming). We’ll first look at the truth condition (§1) and factive presupposition (§§2 – 3), before turning to replies to Turri and Tsohatzidis (§§4 – 7). (shrink)
Allan Hazlett challenges the philosophical assumption of the value of true belief. He critiques the view that true belief is better for us than false belief, and the view that truth is "the aim of belief". An alternative picture is provided, on which the fact that some people love truth is all there is to "the value of true belief".
There is, I shall assume, such a thing as moral evil (more on which below). My question is whether is also such a thing as non-moral evil, and in particular whether there are such things as aesthetic evil and epistemic evil. More exactly, my question is whether there is such a thing as moral evil but not such a thing as non-moral evil, in some sense that reveals something special about the moral, as opposed to such would-be non-moral domains as (...) the aesthetic and the epistemic. The philosophical issue at stake here is that of the nature of these different normative domains, and the nature and extent of their difference. (shrink)
We argue that the value of authenticity does not explain the value of self-knowledge. There are a plurality of species of authenticity; in this paper we consider four species: avoiding pretense (section 2), Frankfurtian wholeheartedness (section 3), existential self-knowledge (section 4), and spontaneity (section 5). Our thesis is that, for each of these species, the value of (that species of) authenticity does not (partially) explain the value of self-knowledge. Moreover, when it comes to spontaneity, the value of (that species of) (...) authenticity conflicts with the value of self-knowledge. (shrink)
What is the relationship between the value of sincerity and the value of truth? You might assume that the value of sincerity and the value of truth (more exactly: true belief) are part of an evaluative package, such that they stand or fall together. In this spirit, Bernard Williams (2002) offers an account of the “virtues of truth,” which include sincerity and accuracy. My goal in this paper is to undermine the assumption that the value of sincerity is tied to (...) the value of truth. To this end, I’ll criticize the view that the badness of lying is explained by the badness of false belief (§2), and articulate and defend an alternative account, which appeals to the badness of false promising (§3). On my view, the value of truth is orthogonal to the badness of lying. (shrink)
Most people not only think that it is possible for reasonable people to disagree, but that it is possible for people to recognize that they are parties to a reasonable disagreement. The aim of this paper is to explain how such mutually recognized reasonable disagreements are possible. I appeal to an which implies a form of relativism about reasonable belief, based on the idea that whether a belief is reasonable for a person can depend on the fact that she has (...) inherited a particular worldview from her community. (shrink)
The problem of multi-peer disagreement concerns the reasonable response to a situation in which you believe P1 … Pn and disagree with a group of ‘epistemic peers’ of yours, who believe ∼P1 … ∼Pn, respectively. However, the problem of multi-peer disagreement is a variant on the preface paradox; because of this the problem poses no challenge to the so-called ‘steadfast view’ in the epistemology of disagreement, on which it is sometimes reasonable to believe P in the face of peer disagreement (...) about P. After some terminology is defined (§1), Peter van Inwagen's challenge to the steadfast view will be presented (§2). The preface paradox will then be presented and diagnosed (§3), and it will be argued that van Inwagen's challenge relies on the same principle that generates the preface paradox (§4). The reasonable response to multi-peer disagreement will be discussed (§5), and an objection addressed (§6). (shrink)
You are clever, Thrasymachus, I said, for you know very well that if you asked anyone how much is twelve, and as you asked him you warned him: "Do not, my man, say that twelve is twice six, or three times four, or six times two, or four times three, for I will not accept such nonsense," it would be quite clear to you that no one can answer a question asked in those terms. (Republic 337b).
I present a puzzle – the “puzzle of aesthetic testimony” – along with a solution to it that appeals to the impossibility of testimonial understanding. I'll criticize this solution by defending the possibility of testimonial understanding, including testimonial aesthetic understanding.
In the Phaedrus, Socreates sympathetically describes the ability “to cut up each kind according to its species along its natural joints, and to try not to splinter any part, as a bad butcher might do.” (265e) In contemporary philosophy, Ted Sider (2009, 2011) defends the same idea. As I shall put it, Plato and Sider’s idea is that limning structure is an epistemic goal. My aim in this paper is to articulate and defend this idea. First, I’ll articulate the notion (...) of a structural proposition (§1), and the notion of an epistemic goal (§2), where I’ll assume that epistemic goals are species of accuracy. Then (§3), I’ll argue against some proposals for understanding the idea that limning structure is an epistemic goal: limning structure is neither an aim of belief (§3.1), nor of inquiry (§3.2), nor of concept possession (§3.3). Importantly, non-structural belief is not thereby inaccurate; belief does not “aim” at being structural. Next (§4), I’ll propose a framework for understanding the idea that limning structure is an epistemic goal, and defend that idea. What is required, to defend the view that limning structure is an epistemic goal, is the notion of (what I call) theorizing – a propositional attitude that, unlike belief, does “aim” at being structural (§4.1). I’ll argue that structural truths constitute a species of “important” truths (§4.2), and that apt theorizing is a species of understanding (§4.3). Finally (§5), I’ll discuss the possibility that there is no structure. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend the claim, made by G. E. M. Anscombe and J. L. Austin, that you can insult someone by refusing her testimony. I argue that refusing someone’s testimony can manifest doubt about her credibility, which in the relevant cases is offensive to her, given that she presupposed her credibility by telling what she did. I conclude by sketching three applications of my conclusion: to the issue of valuable false belief, to the issue of testimonial injustice, and (...) to the issue of skepticism about testimonial knowledge. (shrink)
Consider the claim that openmindedness is an epistemic virtue, the claim that true belief is epistemically valuable, and the claim that one epistemically ought to cleave to one’s evidence. These are examples of what I’ll call “ epistemic discourse.” In this paper I’ll propose and defend a view called “convention-relativism about epistemic discourse.” In particular, I’ll argue that convention-relativismis superior to its main rival, expressivism about epistemic discourse. Expressivism and conventionalism both jibe with anti-realism about epistemic normativity, which is motivated (...) by appeal to philosophical naturalism. Convention-relativism says that epistemic discourse describes how things stands relative to a conventional set of “ epistemic ” values; such discourse is akin to normative discourse relative to the conventional rules of a club. I defend conventionalism by appeal to a “reverse open question argument,” which says, pace expressivism, that epistemic discourse leaves the relevant normative questions open. (shrink)
I defend the view that there is a privileged class of propositions – that there is an external world, among other such 'hinge propositions'– that possess a special epistemic status: justified belief in these propositions is not defeated unless one has sufficient reason to believe their negation. Two arguments are given for this conclusion. Finally, three proposals are offered as morals of the preceding story: first, our justification for hinge propositions must be understood as defeatable, second, antiskeptics must explain our (...) knowledge in the face of 'actual world' skepticism (like dreaming skepticism) as much as in the face of the usual sort (like brain-in-vat skepticism), and, finally, our justification for hinge propositions is basic (i.e. non-inferential). (shrink)
Here I defend response moralism, the view that some emotional responses to fi ctions are morally right, and others morally wrong, from the objection that responses to merely fi ctional characters and events cannot be morally evaluated. I defend the view that emotional responses to fi ctions can be morally evaluated only to the extent that said responses are responses to real people and events.
A number of epistemologists have recently concluded that a piece of reasoning may be epistemically permissible even when it is impossible for the reasoning subject to present her reasoning as an argument without begging the question. I agree with these epistemologists, but argue that none has sufficiently divorced the notion of begging the question from epistemic notions. I present a proposal for a characterization of begging the question in purely pragmatic terms.
In this paper, we develop an analysis of unrealistic fiction that captures the everyday sense of ‘unrealistic’. On our view, unrealistic fictions are a species of inconsistent fictions, but fictions for which such inconsistency, given the supporting role we claim played by genre, needn’t be a critical defect. We first consider and reject an analysis of unrealistic fiction as fiction that depicts or describes unlikely events; we then develop our own account and make an initial statement of it: unrealistic fictions (...) are those that invite us to believe something false. We further develop this account and restate it in terms of the notion of “import-export inconsistency.” That is, unrealistic fictions invite us to import certain propositions true in the actual world then invite us to export propositions entailing the negation of those imported. Finally, we consider whether for fiction being unrealistic is always an aesthetic flaw. (shrink)
Edmund Gettier’s paper “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” first appeared in an issue of Analysis , dated June of 1963, and although it’s tempting to wax hyperbolic when discussing the paper’s importance and influence, it is fair to say that its impact on contemporary philosophy has been substantial and wide-ranging. Epistemology has benefited from 50 years of sincere and rigorous discussion of issues arising from the paper, and Gettier’s conclusion that knowledge is not justified true belief is sometimes offered as (...) an example of the reality of philosophical progress. However, what can be called the Gettier problem has little to do with the text of the famous paper itself. The importance of the Gettier problem does not depend on the attribution of the tripartite theory of knowledge to Plato, Chisholm, and Ayer, nor on the psychological plausibility of the par .. (shrink)
Grice’s Razor is a principle of parsimony which states a preference for linguistic explanations in terms of conversational implicature, to explanations in terms of semantic context-dependence. Here I propose a Gricean theory of knowledge attributions, and contend on the basis of Grice’s Razor that it is superior to contextualism about ‘knows’.
It is often said that, according to common sense, there is a fundamental asymmetry between the past and future; namely, that the past is closed and the future is open. Eternalism in the ontology of time is often seen as conflicting with common sense on this point. Here I argue against the claim that common sense is committed to this fundamental asymmetry between the past and the future, on the grounds that facts about the past often depend on facts about (...) the future.1. (shrink)
We often prefer non-deferential belief to deferential belief. In the last twenty years, epistemology has seen a surge of sympathetic interest in testimony as a source of knowledge. We are urged to abandon ‘epistemic individualism’ and the ideal of the ‘autonomous knower’ in favour of ‘social epistemology’. In this connection, you might think that a preference for non-deferential belief is a manifestation of vicious individualism, egotism, or egoism. I shall call this the selfishness challenge to preferring non-deferential belief. The aim (...) of this paper is to meet the selfishness challenge by arguing that non-deferential belief is socially valuable. (shrink)
David Lewis maintained that epistemological contextualism (on which the truth-conditions for utterances of “S knows p” change in different contexts depending on the salient “alternative possibilities”) could solve the problem of skepticism as well as the Gettier problem. Contextualist approaches to skepticism have become commonplace, if not orthodox, in epistemology. But not so for contextualist approaches to the Gettier problem: the standard approach to this has been to add an “anti-luck” condition to the analysis of knowledge.
: Contemporary common sense holds that authenticity is an ethical ideal: that there is something bad about inauthenticity, and something good about authenticity. Here we criticize the view that authenticity is bad because it detracts from the wellbeing of the inauthentic person, and propose an alternative moral account of the badness of inauthenticity, based on the idea that inauthentic behaviour is potentially misleading.
Skepticism remains a central and defining issue in epistemology, and in the wider tradition of Western philosophy. To better understand the contemporary position of this important philosophical subject, Allan Hazlett introduces a range of topics, including: -/- • Ancient skepticism • skeptical arguments in the work of Hume and Descartes • Cartesian skepticism in contemporary epistemology • anti-skeptical strategies, including Mooreanism, nonclosure, and contextualism • additional varieties of skepticism • the practical consequences of Cartesian skepticism -/- Presenting a comprehensive survey (...) of the key problems, arguments, and theories, together with additional readings, A Critical Introduction to Skepticism is an ideal guide for students and scholars looking to understand how skepticism is shaping epistemology today. (shrink)
Objectivism and projectivism are standardly taken to be incompatible theories of color. Here we argue that this incompatibility is only apparent: objectivism and projectivism, properly articulated so as to deal with basic objections, are in fundamental agreement about the ontology of color and the phenomenology of color perception.
I consider an objection to Lewisian modal realism: the view entails that there are a great many real evils that we ought to care about, but in fact we shouldn’t care about these evils. I reply on behalf of the modal realist – we should and do care about possible evils, and this is shown in our reactions to fictions about evils, which (plausibly, for the modal realist) are understood as making certain possible evils salient.