This book provides a clear and comprehensive introduction to the work of Willard van Orman Quine, the most important and influential American philosopher of the post-war period. An understanding of Quine's work is essential for anyone who wishes to follow contemporary debates in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind and metaphysics. Hookway traces the development of Quine's work from his early criticisms of logical positivism and empiricism to his more recent theories about mind and meaning. He gives particular (...) attention to Quine's controversial arguments concerning the indeterminacy of translation, comparing Quine's views with those of Davidson, Putnam and others. Hookway concludes by offering a critical appraisal of Quine's approach and of some of his fundamental philosophical commitments. This lucid and balanced study will be essential reading for students of philosophy. It will also be invaluable for students in the social sciences and other disciplines who are looking for a clear introduction to Quine's ideas. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker's important study of epistemic injustice is focussed primarily on testimonial injustice and hermeneutic injustice. It explores how agents' capacities to make assertions and provide testimony can be impaired in ways that can involve forms of distinctively epistemic injustice. My paper identifies a wider range of forms of epistemic injustice that do not all involve the ability to make assertions or offer testimony. The paper considers some examples of some other ways in which injustice can prevent someone from participating (...) in inquiry. (shrink)
Christopher Hookway presents a series of studies of themes from the work of the great American philosopher and pragmatist, Charles S. Peirce (1839-1913). These themes center on the question of how we are to investigate the world rationally. Hookway shows how Peirce's ideas about this continue to play an important role in contemporary philosophy.
This chapter points out that standard versions of virtue epistemology accept and are motivated by the same central problems in epistemology — such as analyzing the concepts of knowledge and justification, and addressing skeptical challenges — which motivate contemporary epistemology. The only significant difference is that virtue epistemology claims that the concepts of knowledge and justification must be analyzed in terms of virtues. What motivates virtue ethicists, however, is not what is motivating other ethicists. The contemporary census amongst ethicists has (...) a different set of problems than the ones motivating virtue ethicists. Virtue epistemologists should mount a similar challenge to their contemporaries: instead of focusing on static states such as beliefs and evaluating whether or not they are justified, they should focus their efforts on evaluating and regulating the activities of inquiry and deliberation, and the role which virtues play in such evaluation and regulation. (shrink)
Scepticism is a subject which has preoccupied philosophers for two thousand years. This book presents an historical perspective on scepticism by considering contrasting views, such as those of Sextus Empiricus, Descartes and Hume, on why scepticism is important. With its historical perspective and analysis of contemporary discussions, _Scepticism_ provides a broad focus on the subject, differing from other discussions of the topic in the importance it attaches to scepticism both in Greek thought and in pre-twentieth century views generally.
Ethics studies the evaluation of actions, agents and their mental states and characters from a distinctive viewpoint or employing a distinctive vocabulary. And epistemology examines the evaluation of actions (inquiries and assertions), agents (believers and inquirers), and their states (belief and attitudes) from a different viewpoint. Given this common concern with evaluation, we should surely expect there to be considerable similarities between the issues examined and the ideas employed in the two areas. However, when we examine most textbooks in ethics (...) and epistemology, this expectation is not fulfilled. Of course, the vocabularies of evaluation are different: in ethics, we are concerned with issues of right and wrong, virtue and vice, moral obligation, and so on; and in epistemology, it is most commonly assumed that we are interested in whether states count as knowledge or as justified beliefs, with whether beliefs and strategies of belief formation are rational. (shrink)
Questions are relevant to epistemology because they formulate cognitive goals, they are used to elicit information, they are used in Socratic reflection and knowledge sentences often have indirect question complements. The paper explores what capacities we must possess if we are to understand questions and identify and evaluate potential answers to them. The later sections explore different ways in which these matters depend upon pragmatic and other contextual considerations.
The paper offers an explanation of what reasons for belief are, following Paul Grice in focusing on the roles of reasons in the goal-directed activity of reasoning. Reasons are particularly salient considerations that we use as indicators of the truth of beliefs and candidates for belief. Reasons are distinguished from enabling conditions by being things that we should be able to attend to in the course of our reasoning, and in assessing how well our beliefs are supported. The final section (...) argues that epistemic virtues have a role in enabling us to identify reasons and explores this by reference to the example of being observant. (shrink)
William James’s paper “The Will to Believe” defends some distinctive and con-troversial views about the normative standards that should be adopted when we are re-flecting upon what we should believe. He holds that, in certain special kinds of cases, it is rational to believe propositions even if we have little or no evidence to support our be-liefs. And, in such cases, he holds that our beliefs can be determined by what he calls “passional considerations” which include “fear and hope, prejudice (...) and passion, imitation and partisanship, the circumpressure of our caste and set” . On most occasions “we find ourselves believing, we hardly know how or why”. When James allows pas-sional considerations a major role in determining the rationality of belief and argues that it is rational to form beliefs in advance of the evidence, he can easily be understood as hold-ing that belief can be responsible when it is not warranted by epistemological norms. Be-lief can be rational and responsible when the reasons which support it are entirely pruden-tial or practical. The question I am concerned with here is: how far can James’s argument in “The Will to Believe” be understood as an application of some views which are genu-inely epistemological? One question we can ask about these views is: how far are they an application of a distinctively pragmatist approach to epistemological concerns about when belief is justified? One possibility is that James is making some original contributions to epistemology which may have echoes in contemporary epistemology. I shall argue that this interpretation of James’s argument is more plausible than it at first appears. (shrink)
Appeal to the idea of an epistemic virtue promises insight into our practices of epistemic evaluation through employing a distinctive view of the ways in which we formulate and respond to reasons. Traits of ‘epistemic character’ guide our reasoning and reflection, and can be responsible for various forms of irrationality. One component of such a view is that emotions, sentiments and other affective states are far more central to questions of epistemic rationality than is commonly supposed. This paper explains why (...) this is so, and then illustrates the value of this way of looking at the matter by considering two particular examples: the role of states of doubt in regulating our deliberations and inquiries; and the character of our response to some distinctive kinds of irrationality. This will involve a brief discussion of some forms of epistemic akrasia. (shrink)
The paper explores Quine's ?naturalized epistemology?, investigating whether its adoption would prevent the description or vindication of normative standards standardly employed in regulating beliefs and inquiries. Quine's defence of naturalized epistemology rejects traditional epistemological questions rather than using psychology to answer them. Although one could persuade those sensitive to the force of traditional epistemological problems only by employing the kind of argument whose philosophical relevance Quine is committed to denying, Quine can support his view by showing how scientific inquiry need (...) not confront any evaluative issues which cannot be addressed in naturalistic terms. A survey of Quine's own epistemological writings supports this account of his position: naturalized epistemology, it is argued, requires acceptance of the shallowness of epistemic reflection, and traditional epistemology employs general epistemic norms and principles which Quine endeavours to show that we can do without. The closing sections of the paper argue that Quine can consistently resist recent criticisms by Alvin Plantinga in spite of the fact that an unsympathetic reader could reasonably be unimpressed by this resistance. Finally, an attempt is made to understand the normative role of Quine's empiricism and of his claim that prediction is the checkpoint of inquiry. (shrink)