Hay dos supuestos sobre el valor epistémico que guían las discusiones más recientes sobre éste. El primero es que hay algo bueno con respecto a la creencia verdadera. El segundo supuesto es que es posible que dos creencias difieran en su valor incluso si ambas creencias son igualmente correctas. El veritista tiene fácil explicar el primer supuesto, pero tiene más difícil explicar el segundo. Para explicarlo, el veritista tiene que mostrar que las creencias verdaderas pueden diferir en su valor porque (...) encarnan diferentes valores de bienes derivativos. El veritista tiene que proporcionarnos una historia de cómo es posible que pares de creencias verdaderas difieran en su valor epistémico no-instrumental. La forma más prometedora que una explicación de este tipo puede tomar, en mi opinión, apela al trabajo de Sosa (2007) sobre el valor epistémico y la naturaleza del conocimiento. Según la postura de Sosa, el conocimiento es un tipo de logro, un tipo de éxito que es atribuible al sujeto y a sus habilidades. Estos logros, nos sugiere, son más valiosos que un caso de éxito atribuible a la suerte y que no constituye un logro. Presentaré algunas dificultades potenciales para su postura y consideraré si tiene los recursos para lidiar con ellas. Voy a delinear los detalles de una postura alternativa que evade estas dificultades. Tal postura retiene el análisis del conocimiento de Sosa, pero requiere que revisemos algunas propuestas veritistas sobre el valor epistémico. La postura revisada nos proporciona algunas herramientas que serán útiles al tratar de ofrecer una teoría de la creencia racional o diestra. (shrink)
While it is generally believed that justification is a fallible guide to the truth, there might be interesting exceptions to this general rule. In recent work on bridge-principles, an increasing number of authors have argued that truths about what a subject ought to do are truths we stand in some privileged epistemic relation to and that our justified normative beliefs are beliefs that will not lead us astray. If these bridge-principles hold, it suggests that justification might play an interesting role (...) in our normative theories. In turn, this might help us understand the value of justification, a value that's notoriously difficult to understand if we think of justification as but a fallible means to a desired end. We will argue that these bridge-principles will be incredibly difficult to defend. While we do not think that normative facts necessarily stand in any interesting relationship to our justified beliefs about them, there might well be a way of defending the idea that our justified beliefs about what to do won't lead us astray. In turn, this might help us understand the value of justification, but this way of thinking about justification and its value comes with costs few would be willing to pay. (shrink)
Is it appropriate to convict and punish defendants using only statistical evidence? In this paper, I argue that it is not and try to explain why it is not. This is difficult to do because there is a powerful argument for thinking that we should convict and punish using statistical evidence. It looks as if the relevant cases are cases of decision under risk and it seems pretty clear that we should act to maximize expected value in such cases. Given (...) some standard assumptions about the values at stake, the case for convicting and punishing using statistical evidence seems solid. In trying to show where this argument goes wrong, I shall argue (against Lockeans, reliabilists, and others) that beliefs supported only by statistical evidence are epistemically defective and (against Enoch, Fisher, and Spectre) that these epistemic considerations should matter to the law. The key to solving the puzzle about the role of statistical evidence in the law is to revise some commonly held views about epistemic value and to defend the relevance of epistemology to this practical question. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a puzzle about epistemic rationality. It seems plausible that it should be rational to believe a proposition if you have sufficient evidential support for it. It seems plausible that it rationality requires you to conform to the categorical requirements of rationality. It also seems plausible that our first-order attitudes ought to mesh with our higher-order attitudes. It seems unfortunate that we cannot accept all three claims about rationality. I will present three ways of trying to (...) resolve this tension and argue that the best way to do this is to reject the idea that strong evidential support is the stuff rationality is made of. In the course of doing this, I shall argue that there is a special class of propositions about the requirements of rationality that we cannot make rational mistakes about and explain how this can be. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend externalist accounts of justified belief from Cohen's new evil demon objection. While I think that Cohen might be right that the person is justified in believing what she does, I argue that this is because we can defend the person from criticism and that defending a person is a very different thing from defending a person's attitudes or actions. To defend a person's attitudes or actions, we need to show that they met standards or did (...) not violate norms. Intuitions about whether we can defend a person from criticism are a poor guide when it comes to determining whether norms were violated or standards were met. It turns out that even radical forms of externalism about justification are compatible with the intuitions that Cohen's example elicits. Properly understood, those intuitions show that the believer should be excused from criticism (and excused for failing to believe with adequate justification). (shrink)
In this paper, I shall discuss a problem that arises when you try to combine an attractive account of what constitutes evidence with an independently plausible account of the kind of access we have to our evidence. According to E = K, our evidence consists of what we know. According to the principle of armchair access, we can know from the armchair what our evidence is. Combined, these claims entail that we can have armchair knowledge of the external world. Because (...) it seems that the principle of armchair access is supported by widely shared intuitions about epistemic rationality, it seems we ought to embrace an internalist conception of evidence. I shall argue that this response is mistaken. Because externalism about evidence can accommodate the relevant intuitions about epistemic rationality, the principle of armchair access is unmotivated. We also have independent reasons for preferring externalism about evidence to the principle of armchair access. (shrink)
The central thesis of robust virtue epistemology (RVE) is that the difference between knowledge and mere true belief is that knowledge involves success that is attributable to a subject's abilities. An influential objection to this approach is that RVE delivers the wrong verdicts in cases of environmental luck. Critics of RVE argue that the view needs to be supplemented with modal anti-luck condition. This particular criticism rests on a number of mistakes about the nature of ability that I shall try (...) to rectify here. (shrink)
This is part of an authors meets critics session on Daniel Star's wonderful book, Knowing Better. I discuss a potential problem with Kearns and Star's Reasons as Evidence thesis. The issue has to do with the difficulties we face is we treat normative reasons as evidence and impose no possession conditions on evidence. On such a view, it's hard to see how practical reasoning could be a non-monotonic process. One way out of the difficulty would be to allow for (potent) (...) unpossessed reasons but insist that all evidence is possessed evidence. This option, I argue, isn't open to proponents of the Reasons as Evidence thesis. Instead, it seems that they'll have to say that all normative reasons are identified with pieces of possessed evidence. This requires the proponents of the Reasons as Evidence thesis to impose epistemic constraints on norms that some of us find objectionable. (shrink)
There has been considerable discussion recently of consequentialist justifications of epistemic norms. In this paper, I shall argue that these justifications are not justifications. The consequentialist needs a value theory, a theory of the epistemic good. The standard theory treats accuracy as the fundamental epistemic good and assumes that it is a good that calls for promotion. Both claims are mistaken. The fundamental epistemic good involves accuracy, but it involves more than just that. The fundamental epistemic good is knowledge, not (...) mere true belief, because the goodness of an epistemic state is connected to that state's ability to give us reasons. If I'm right about the value theory, this has a number of significant implications for the consequentialist project. First, the good-making features that attach to valuable full beliefs are not features of partial belief. The resulting value theory does not give us the values we need to give consequentialist justifications of credal norms. Second, the relevant kind of good does not call for promotion. It is good to know, but the rational standing of a belief is not determined by the belief's location in a ranked set of options. In the paper's final section, I explain why the present view is a kind of teleological non-consequentialism. There is a kind of good that is prior to the right, but as the relevant kind of good does not call for promotion the value theory shows us what is wrong with the consequentialist project. (shrink)
What can we learn from cases of knowledge from falsehood? Critics of knowledge-first epistemology have argued that these cases provide us with good reason for rejecting the knowledge accounts of evidence, justification, and the norm of belief. I shall offer a limited defense of the knowledge-first approach to these matters. Knowledge from falsehood cases should undermine our confidence in like-from-like reasoning in epistemology. Just as we should be open to the idea that knowledge can come from non-knowledge, we should be (...) open to the idea that justified beliefs can come from unjustified beliefs. (shrink)
There is a kind of objectivism in epistemology that involves the acceptance of objective epistemic norms. It is generally regarded as harmless. There is another kind of objectivism in epistemology that involves the acceptance of an objectivist account of justification, one that takes the justification of a belief to turn on its accuracy. It is generally regarded as hopeless. It is a strange and unfortunate sociological fact that these attitudes are so prevalent. Objectivism about norms and justification stand or fall (...) together. Justification is simply a matter of conforming to norms. In this essay, I shall make the case for objectivism about justification. (shrink)
This is a critical discussion of the accuracy-first approach to epistemic norms. If you think of accuracy (gradational or categorical) as the fundamental epistemic good and think of epistemic goods as things that call for promotion, you might think that we should use broadly consequentialist reasoning to determine which norms govern partial and full belief. After presenting consequentialist arguments for probabilism and the normative Lockean view, I shall argue that the consequentialist framework isn't nearly as promising as it might first (...) appear. (shrink)
A defense of the idea that knowledge is first in the sense that there is nothing prior to knowledge that puts reasons or evidence in your possession. Includes a critical discussion of the idea that perception or perceptual experience might provide reasons and a defense of a knowledge-first approach to justified belief.
Epistemic norms play an increasingly important role in current debates in epistemology and beyond. In this volume a team of established and emerging scholars presents new work on the key debates. They consider what epistemic requirements constrain appropriate belief, assertion, and action, and explore the interconnections between these standards.
Belief does aim at the truth. When our beliefs do not fit the facts, they cannot do what they are supposed to do, because they cannot provide us with reasons. We cannot plausibly deny that a truth norm is among the norms that govern belief. What we should not say is that the truth norm is the fundamental epistemic norm. In this paper, I shall argue that knowledge is the norm of belief and that the truth norm has a derivative (...) status. Only a knowledge-first approach to epistemic normativity can explain why epistemic assessment has its inward-looking focus. (shrink)
What relation is there between knowledge and action? According to Hawthorne and Stanley, where your choice is p-dependent, it is appropriate to treat the proposition that p as a reason for acting iff you know that p (RKP). In this paper, I shall argue that it is permissible to treat something as a reason for action even if it isn't known to be true and address Hawthorne and Stanley's arguments for RKP.
Ignorance is often a perfectly good excuse. There are interesting debates about whether non-culpable factual ignorance and mistake subvert obligation, but little disagreement about whether non-culpable factual ignorance and mistake exculpate. What about agents who have all the relevant facts in view but fail to meet their obligations because they do not have the right moral beliefs? If their ignorance of their obligations derives from mistaken moral beliefs or from ignorance of the moral significance of the facts they have in (...) view, should they be excused for failing to meet their moral obligations? It is not obvious that they should. In this paper we argue that the best non-skeptical accounts of moral responsibility acknowledge that factual ignorance and mistake will diminish moral responsibility in a way that moral ignorance and mistake will not. That is because factual ignorance is often non-culpable so long as it meets certain merely procedural epistemic standards but the same is not true of moral ignorance. Our argument is that the assumption that it is gets the standards of culpability for moral ignorance wrong, and that the mistake is encouraged by the thought that culpability in general requires an instance of known wrongdoing: that acting wrongly requires de dicto unresponsiveness to one’s obligations at some stage. We deny this and conclude that, therefore, ignorance and mistaken belief are indeed often perfectly good excuses – but far less often than some philosophers claim. (shrink)
The typical epistemology course begins with a discussion of the distinction between justification and knowledge and ends without any discussion of the distinction between justification and excuse. This is unfortunate. If we had a better understanding of the justification-excuse distinction, we would have a better understanding of the intuitions that shape the internalism-externalism debate. My aims in this paper are these. First, I will explain how the kinds of excuses that should interest epistemologists exculpate. Second, I will explain why the (...) intuitions that underwrite the new evil demon argument don't provide support for the internalist claim that justification is just in the head. The positive response that Cohen's example elicits is an indication that the subject should be excused if she violates an epistemic norm, not an indication that no norm has been violated. For just about any conceivable norm we can think of we can imagine situations in which someone violates that norm because they're moved by evidence that misleadingly suggests that they'd conform to it. When that happens, we'll respond positively in just the way we do when we consider Cohen's deceived subjects. When that happens, we cannot say that the subjects' responses were justified because we've stipulated that the subjects' responses contravene the relevant norms. Regardless of whether you think of norms along internalist or externalist lines, you should see that the intuitions that underwrite the new evil demon objection tell us nothing at all about whether a subject conforms to a norm. They tell us nothing about justification. (shrink)
Cases of reasonable, mistaken belief figure prominently in discussions of the knowledge norm of assertion and practical reason as putative counterexamples to these norms. These cases are supposed to show that the knowledge norm is too demanding and that some weaker norm ought to put in its place. These cases don't show what they're intended to. When you assert something false or treat some falsehood as if it's a reason for action, you might deserve an excuse. You often don't deserve (...) even that. (shrink)
On a standard view about reasons, evidence, and justification, there is justification for you to believe all and only what your evidence supports and the reasons that determine whether there is justification to believe are all just pieces of evidence. This view is mistaken about two things. It is mistaken about the rational role of evidence. It is also mistaken about the rational role of reasons. To show this, I present two basis problems for the standard view and argue that (...) it lacks the resources to solve these problems. It is easy to spot these mistakes once we are clear on the ontology of reasons and have a better understanding of the role that belief plays in the theory of possessed evidence. After attacking the standard view, I offer an alternative account of justification. On this view, the justificatory status of a belief is not a function of the reasons/evidence on which it is based (it might not be based on any) but is instead a function of the basis that it can provide. (shrink)
A discussion of Star's wonderful book, Knowing Better. The discussion focuses on the idea that reasons are pieces of evidence. One difficulty that this view faces, I argue, is that it seems that the epistemic relations we bear to pieces of evidence and normative reasons differ. I gesture at a possible solution, but one that I think is misguided (albeit not unpopular).
This paper takes a critical look at the idea that knowledge involves reflective access to reasons that provide rational support. After distinguishing between different kinds of awareness, I argue that the kind of awareness involved in awareness of reasons is awareness of something general rather than awareness of something that instances some generality. Such awareness involves the exercise of conceptual capacities and just is knowledge. Since such awareness is knowledge, this kind of awareness cannot play any interesting role in a (...) story about how knowledge is acquired. After arguing that reflective access to reasons is not a precondition on acquiring knowledge, I look at one motivation for introducing this kind of access requirement. I argue that the argument for the access requirement rests on a mistaken assumption about the relationship between reasons and responsibility. While the target of this critical discussion is a version of epistemological disjunctivism, the criticism applies mutatis mutandis to many traditional internalist views in epistemology. (shrink)
We shall evaluate two strategies for motivating the view that knowledge is the norm of belief. The first draws on observations concerning belief's aim and the parallels between belief and assertion. The second appeals to observations concerning Moore's Paradox. Neither of these strategies gives us good reason to accept the knowledge account. The considerations offered in support of this account motivate only the weaker account on which truth is the fundamental norm of belief.
According to Williamson, your evidence consists of all and only what you know (E = K). According to his critics, it doesn’t. While E = K calls for revision, the revisions it calls for are minor. E = K gets this much right. Only true propositions can constitute evidence and anything you know non-inferentially is part of your evidence. In this paper, I defend these two theses about evidence and its possession from Williamson’s critics who think we should break more (...) radically from E = K. (shrink)
The equal weight view says that if you discover that you disagree with a peer, you should decrease your confidence that you are in the right. Since peer disagreement seems to be quite prevalent, the equal weight view seems to tell us that we cannot reasonably believe many of the interesting things we believe because we can always count on a peer to contest the interesting things that we believe. While the equal weight view seems to have skeptical implications, few (...) epistemologists worry about these implications because the equal weight view is quickly falling out of favor. In this paper, I present an analogical argument for the view and defend it from critics who think that we can justifiably retain confidence in the face of peer disagreement. (shrink)
Abstract: On the standard story about knowledge, knowledge has a normative dimension by virtue of the fact that knowledge involves justification. On the standard story, justification is necessary but insufficient for knowledge. The additional conditions that distinguish knowledge from justified belief are normatively insignificant. In this chapter we will consider whether the concept of knowledge might be irrelevant to normative questions in epistemology. Some proponents of the standard story might think that it is, but we shall see that the concept (...) of knowledge might play three important roles in answering normative questions in epistemology. The concept might be useful in helping us understand evidence and epistemic reasons, the kind of rational support required for justification, and in formulating epistemic norms. (shrink)
Certain combinations of attitudes are manifestly unreasonable. It is unreasonable to believe that dogs bark, for example, if one concedes that one has no justification to believe this. Why are the irrational combinations irrational? One suggestion is that these are attitudes that a subject cannot have justification to have. If this is right, we can test claims about the structure of propositional justification by relying on our observations about which combinations of attitudes constitute Moorean absurd pairs. In a recent defense (...) of access internalism, Smithies argues that only access internalism can explain why various combinations of attitude are irrational. In this paper, I shall argue that access internalism cannot explain the relevant data. Reflection on Moore's Paradox will not tell us much of anything about propositional justification and cannot support access internalism. (shrink)
According to the phenomenal conservatives, beliefs are justified by non-doxastic states we might speak of as ‘appearances’ or ‘seemings’. Those who defend the view say that there is something self-defeating about believing that phenomenal conservatism is mistaken. They also claim that the view captures an important internalist insight about justification. I shall argue that phenomenal conservatism is indefensible. The considerations that seem to support the view commit the phenomenal conservatives to condoning morally abhorrent behavior. They can deny that their view (...) forces them to condone morally abhorrent behavior, but then they undercut the defenses of their own view. (shrink)
If evidence is propositional, is one’s evidence limited to true propositions or might false propositions constitute evidence? In this paper, I consider three recent attempts to show that there can be ‘false evidence,’ and argue that each of these attempts fails. The evidence for the thesis that evidence consists of truths is much stronger than the evidence offered in support of the theoretical assumptions that people have relied on to argue against this thesis. While I shall not defend the view (...) that evidence is propositional, I shall defend the view that any propositional evidence must be true. (shrink)
The paper discusses some challenges to veritism, the view that the fundamental epistemic good is knowledge. It looks like the best way to meet these challenges might be to appeal to some of Sosa's ideas about the value of achievements, but I argue that the performance normativity framework only gives us part of what we want. What we need is a more radical break with the veritist approach. We need to embrace gnosticism, the view that knowledge is the fundamental epistemic (...) good. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a non-skeptical intuitionist approach to moral epistemology from recent criticisms. Starting with Sinnott-Armstrong's skeptical attacks, I argue that a familiar sort of skeptical argument rests on a problematic conception of the evidential grounds of our moral judgments. The success of his argument turns on whether we conceive of the evidential grounds of our moral judgments as consisting entirely of non-normative considerations. While we cannot avoid skepticism if we accept this conception of our evidential grounds, that's (...) because accepting this conception of our evidential grounds is tantamount to accepting the skeptic's conclusion. We have nothing to fear from arguments for skepticism from skepticism. (shrink)
In recent work, Thomas Kroedel has proposed a novel solution to the lottery paradox. As he sees it, we are permitted/justified in believing some lottery propositions, but we are not permitted/justified in believing them all. I criticize this proposal on two fronts. First, I think that if we had the right to add some lottery beliefs to our belief set, we would not have any decisive reason to stop adding more. Suggestions to the contrary run into the wrong kind of (...) reason problem. Reflection on the preface paradox suggests as much. Second, while I agree with Kroedel that permissions do not agglomerate, I do not think that this fact can help us solve the lottery paradox. First, I do not think we have any good reason to think that we’re permitted to believe any lottery propositions. Second, I do not see any good reason to think that epistemic permissions do not agglomerate. (shrink)
A discussion of epistemic reasons, theoretical rationality, and the relationship between them. Discusses the ontology of reasons and evidence, the relationship between reasons (motivating, normative, possessed, apparent, genuine, etc.) and rationality, the relationship between epistemic reasons and evidence, the relationship between rationality, justification, and knowledge, and many other related topics.
Some recent defenses of the 'ought' implies 'can' (OIC) principle try to derive that principle from uncontroversial claims about reasons for action. Reasons for action, it's said, are reasons only for 'potential' actions, which are actions that an agent can perform. Given that 'ought' implies 'reasons', it seems we have our proof of OIC. In this paper, I argue that this latest strategy for defending OIC fails.
There has been a considerable amount of debate about the norms of belief, but little discussion to date about what the reasons associated with these norms demand from us. By working out an account of what reasons demand, we can better understand the nature of justification.
According to ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ (OIC), your obligation can never be to do what you cannot do. In a recent attack on OIC, Graham has argued that intuitions about justified intervention can help us determine whether the agent whose actions we use force to prevent would have acted permissibly or not. These intuitions, he suggests, cause trouble for the idea that you can be obligated to refrain from doing what you can refrain from doing. I offer a defense of OIC (...) and explain how non-consequentialists can accommodate his intuitions about his cases. (shrink)
In trying to distinguish the right kinds of reasons from the wrong, epistemologists often appeal to the connection to truth to explain why practical considerations cannot constitute reasons. The view they typically opt for is one on which only evidence can constitute a reason to believe. Talbot has shown that these approaches don’t exclude the possibility that there are non-evidential reasons for belief that can justify a belief without being evidence for that belief. He thinksthat there are indeed such reasons (...) and that they are theright kind of reasons to justify belief. The existence of such truth promoting non-epistemic reasons is said tofollow from the fact that we have an epistemic end that involves the attainment of true belief. I shall argue thatthere are no such reasons precisely because there is anepistemic end that has normative authority. (shrink)
My contribution to the author meets critics discussion of Pritchard's _Epistemological Disjunctivism_. In this paper, I examine some of the possible motivations for epistemological disjunctivism and look at some of the costs associated with the view. While Pritchard's view seems to be that our visual beliefs constitute knowledge because they're based on reasons, I argue that the claim that visual beliefs are based on reasons or evidence hasn't been sufficiently motivated. In the end I suggest that we'll get all the (...) benefits with none of the costs of epistemological disjunctivism if we accept E=K. (shrink)
Thomas Kroedel argues that we can solve a version of the lottery paradox if we identify justified beliefs with permissible beliefs. Since permissions do not agglomerate, we might grant that someone could justifiably believe any ticket in a large and fair lottery is a loser without being permitted to believe that all the tickets will lose. I shall argue that Kroedel’s solution fails. While permissions do not agglomerate, we would have too many permissions if we characterized justified belief as sufficiently (...) probable belief. If we reject the idea that justified beliefs can be characterized as sufficiently probably beliefs, Kroedel’s solution is otiose because the paradox can be dissolved at the outset. (shrink)
A standard objection to the suggestion that the fundamental norm of assertion is the truth norm (i.e., one must not assert p unless p) is that this norm cannot explain why warrant requires knowledge-level evidence. In a recent paper, Whiting has defended the truth-first approach to the norms of assertion by appeal to a distinction between the warrant there is to assert and the warrant one has to assert. I shall argue that this latest defensive strategy is unsuccessful.
In a recent article Dylan Dodd has argued that anyone who holds that all knowledge is evidence must concede that we know next to nothing about die external world. The argument is intended to show that any infallibilist account of knowledge is committed to scepticism, and that anyone who identifies our evidence with the propositions we know is committed to infallibilism. I shall offer some reasons for thinking Dodd's argument is unsound, and explain where his argument goes wrong.
In this paper, I shall evaluate a strategy recently used to try to demonstrate the impossibility of behaviorally undetectable spectrum inversion. After showing that the impossibility proof proves too much, I shall identify where it goes wrong. In turn, I shall explain why someone attracted to functionalist and representationalist assumptions might rightly remain agnostic about the possibility of inversion.
According to the explanationist, we can rely on inference to best explanation to justifiably believe familiar skeptical hypotheses are false. On this view, commonsense beliefs about the existence and character of familiar, medium-sized dry goods provides the best explanation of our evidence and so justifies our belief that we're not brains-in-vats. This explanationist approach seems prima facie plausible until we press the explanationist to tell us what the data is that we're trying to explain by appeal to our beliefs about (...) external objects and how we could have access to it. (shrink)
Lewis thought concessive knowledge attributions (e.g., ‘I know that Harry is a zebra, but it might be that he’s just a cleverly disguised mule’) caused serious trouble for fallibilists. As he saw it, CKAs are overt statements of the fallibilist view and they are contradictory. Dougherty and Rysiew have argued that CKAs are pragmatically defective rather than semantically defective. Stanley thinks that their pragmatic response to Lewis fails, but the fallibilist cause is not lost because Lewis was wrong about the (...) commitments of fallibilism. There are problems with Dougherty and Rysiew’s response to Stanley and there are problems with Stanley’s response to Lewis. I’ll offer a defense of fallibilism of my own and show that fallibilists needn’t worry about CKAs. (shrink)