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".
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)
there seems to be some kind of asymmetry, at least in some cases, between moral testimony and non-moral testimony, between aesthetic testimony and non-aesthetic testimony, and between religious testimony and non-religious testimony. In these domains, at least in some cases, we object to deference, and for this reason expect people to form their beliefs on non-testimonial grounds, in a way that we do not object to deference in paradigm cases of testimonial knowledge. Our philosophical puzzle is therefore: what explains these (...) (apparent) asymmetries (or are they merely apparent)? My aim here is to criticize three accounts of these testimonial asymmetries and to suggest an alternative strategy for solving our puzzle. I’ll consider the idea that testimony cannot be a source of understanding (§2), the idea that testimony cannot be a source of acquaintance (§3), and the idea that testimonial belief is not conducive to moral virtue (§4). These accounts all explain the badness of testimonial belief, in the relevant cases, by appeal to its consequences for the believer—respectively, a lack of understanding, acquaintance, or moral virtue. I’ll conclude by suggesting a way forward (§5): we should try to understand the badness of testimonial belief, in the relevant cases, as deriving from its consequences for the believer’s society. (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)
This chapter explores a species of false modesty, false intellectual humility, which is defined as affected or pretended intellectual humility concealing intellectual arrogance. False intellectual humility is situated in a virtue epistemological framework, where it is contrasted with intellectual humility, understood as excellence in self-attribution of intellectual weakness. False intellectual humility characteristically takes the form of insincere expressions of ignorance or uncertainty – as when dogmatically committed conspiracy theorists insist that they just want to know what’s going on – and, (...) in such cases, false intellectual humility is a kind of false skepticism or false fallibilism. In connection with this, the chapter further explores the relationship between the concepts of intellectual humility, skepticism, and fallibilism. A distinction can be drawn between the virtues of intellectual humility, skepticism, and fallibilism, but the traditional association of skepticism and fallibilism with intellectual humility is vindicated by the fact that the virtues of intellectual humility, skepticism, and fallibilism overlap. (shrink)
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)
Can understanding be transmitted by testimony, in the same sense that propositional knowledge can be transmitted by testimony? Some contemporary philosophers – call them testimonial understanding pessimists – say No, and others – call them testimonial understanding optimists – say Yes. In this chapter I will articulate testimonial understanding pessimism (§1) and consider some arguments for it (§2).
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)
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).
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Intellectual pride is pride about intellectual matters – for example, knowledge about what you know, about your intellectual virtues, or about your intellectual achievements. It is the opposite of intellectual humility (e.g. knowledge about what you don’t know, about your intellectual vices, or about your intellectual failures). In this paper I will advocate for intellectual pride by explaining its importance in the contexts of education (where a lack of pride threatens to undermine motivation), intellectual marginalization (where a lack of pride (...) threatens to facilitate oppression), and collective inquiry (where a lack of pride threatens to undermine public discourse). In these contexts, intellectual humility is problematic and intellectual pride is valuable. I’ll go on to offer a sketch of intellectual pride as a virtue. Just as the virtue of intellectual humility comprises excellence in negative intellectual self-evaluation, the virtue of intellectual pride comprises excellence in positive intellectual self-evaluation. (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.
I argue that desire sometimes amounts to knowledge, in the same sense that belief sometimes amounts to knowledge. The argument rests on two assumptions: that goodness is the correctness condition for desire and that knowledge is apt mental representation. Desire that amounts to knowledge—or ‘conative knowledge’—is illustrated by cases in which someone knows the goodness of something despite not believing that it is good.
In this paper I examine unjust deficits of criticism, or what I call cases of “critical injustice.” In paradigm cases of testimonial injustice, prejudice leads one person to give insufficient credibility to another. In paradigm cases critical injustice, prejudice leads one person to offer insufficient criticism of another. Here I articulate the concept of critical injustice and give an explanation of why it is a species of injustice. I also describe a non-prejudicial species of critical injustice and discuss a possible (...) tension between the goal of preventing testimonial injustice and the goal of preventing critical injustice. (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)
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’.
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)
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)
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 this chapter I sympathetically consider the idea that skepticism is an epistemic virtue. I argue that this depends on whether skepticism is admirable, and articulate three defenses of skepticism as admirable: a Pyrrhonian defense (on which skepticism leads to tranquility), a Cartesian defense (on which skepticism is prophylactic against error), and a liberal defense (on which skepticism counteracts dogmatism and closed-mindedness). I give the liberal defense the most attention: I distinguish skepticism from several species of dogmatism that are sometimes (...) called “skeptical” (e.g. that of “climate change skeptics”), and associate skepticism with political moderation and intellectual independence. (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)
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)
The badness of having conflicting emotions is a familiar theme in academic ethics, clinical psychology, and commercial self-help, where emotional harmony is often put forward as an ideal. Many philosophers give emotional harmony pride of place in their theories of practical reason.1 Here we offer a defense of a particular species of emotional conflict, namely, ambivalence. We articulate an conception of ambivalence, on which ambivalence is unresolved inconsistent desire (§1) and present a case of appropriate ambivalence (§2), before considering two (...) alternative defenses of emotional conflict (§3). We then argue that inconsistent desires can be fitting (§4) and that it can be reasonable not to resolve inconsistent desires (§5), before considering an objection (§6) and concluding the discussion (§7). (shrink)
Introduction; A.Hazlett Quantification, Naturalness, and Ontology; R.P.Cameron Two Problems of Composition in Collective Action; S.R.Chant Another Look at the Reality of Race, By Which I Mean Racef; J.Glasgow Bringing Things About; N.Judisch Interpretation: Its Scope and Limits; U.Kriegel Empirical Analyses of Causation; D.Kutach Brutal Individuation; A.Hazlett Ghosts in the World Machine? Humility and Its Alternatives; R.Langton& C.Robichaud Is Everything Relative? Anti-Realism, Truth, and Feminism; M.Mikkola Minimalism and Modality: The Nature of Mathematical Objects; K.Miller Are There Fundamental Intrinsic Properties?; A.Ney On (...) the Very Idea of an Ecosystem; J.Odenbaugh The Prince of Wales Problem for Counterfactual Theories of Causation; C.Sartorio Index. (shrink)
Here is a familiar liberal argument: just as it can be beneficial to establish a marketplace, in which producers of goods freely compete for the custom of consumers, it can be beneficial to establish a “marketplace of ideas,” in which defenders of ideas freely compete for the acceptance of those ideas by others. This paper is about the preconditions for the proper functioning of liberal marketplaces, and of marketplaces of ideas in particular. I will argue that, just as the proper (...) functioning of marketplaces, in general, requires certain kinds of mutual trust among their participants, the proper functioning of marketplaces of ideas requires certain kinds of mutual trust – which I unite under the heading of “intellectual trust” – among their participants. I apply this conclusion to one problem for the familiar liberal argument, the problem of offensive speech, by arguing that intellectual trust can partially mitigate the harms of offensive speech. (shrink)
: 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.
Populism, as I shall understand the term here, is a style of political rhetoric that posits a Manichean conflict between the people and corrupt elites. In the present decade, populism has played a particularly salient role in the politics of the United States and Europe. Moreover, populism is commonly associated with a kind of skepticism about expertise, on which the opinions of non- experts are to be preferred to any expert consensus. In light of all this, populist expertise skepticism appears (...) to be a kind of pathology of excessive intellectual autonomy. I shall argue, however, that this connection between populism and intellectual autonomy is mere appearance: populist expertise skepticism does not involve excessive intellectual autonomy, because it does not involve a disposition for non-deferential belief, but rather a disposition for deference to “alternative” sources of information. (shrink)
Hume argued that passions, unlike judgments of the understanding, cannot be reasonable or unreasonable. Crucial for his argument was the premise that passions cannot be correct or incorrect. As he put it: “[a] passion is an original existence … and contains not any representative quality” and “passions are not susceptible of any … agreement or disagreement either to the real relations of ideas, or to real existence and matter of fact … being original facts and realities, compleat in themselves.” In (...) this paper I will argue that desires, like beliefs, can be correct or incorrect. Specifically, I will argue that goodness is the correctness condition for desire, in the same way that truth is the correctness condition for belief. (shrink)
It is natural to think that the badness of false belief explains the badness of lying. In this paper, I argue against this: I argue that the badness of false belief does not explain the badness of lying and that, given a popular account of the badness of lying, the badness of false belief is orthogonal to the badness of lying.
I argue that propositional faith presupposes trustworthiness, in this sense: faith that p is fitting only if the one in whom you have faith to bring it about that p is trustworthy to bring it about that p. In defence of this, I argue that propositional faith is a species of interpersonal faith and that interpersonal faith presupposes trustworthiness. I also discuss some of the consequences of my thesis for theistic propositional faith.
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.
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.