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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
The paper explores Putnam's denial of the "fact/value dichotomy." After attempting to identify the main themes in this aspect of Putnam's thought, I explore its implications for our understanding of epistemic evaluation and also consider its relations to some similar moves by other philosophers in the pragmatist tradition. The final section examines an argument of Putnam's which is sued to suggest that such a dichotomy can be self defeating when applied to epistemic evaluation.
: T.L. Short's book argues that Peirce's early theory of signs was flawed, and that the development of his mature theories required a new start and the rejection of some fundamental doctrines from the earlier view. While agreeing that Peirce's view of signs changed and agreeing on the new developments that were of most significance, I express some doubts about Short's diagnosis of why such changes were required. I argue that the changes were required, not by internal inconsistencies in the (...) earlier position, but rather by the need to come up with an adequate account of the role of experience in cognition. (shrink)