The concept of knowledge is used to certify epistemic agents as good sources (on a certain point or subject matter) for an understood audience. Attributions of knowledge and denials of knowledge are used in a kind of epistemic gate keeping for (epistemic or practical) communities with which the attributor and interlocutors are associated. When combined with reflection on kinds of practical and epistemic communities, and their situated epistemic needs for gate keeping, this simple observation regarding the point and purpose of (...) the concept of knowledge has rich implications. First, it gives one general reason to prefer contextualism over various forms of sensitive invariantism. Second, when gate keeping for a select community of experts or authorities, with an associated body of results on which folk generally might then draw (when gate keeping for a general source community ) the contextual demands approximate those with which insensitive invariantists would be comfortable. (shrink)
Epistemic Evaluation aims to explore and apply a particular methodology in epistemology. The methodology is to consider the point or purpose of our epistemic evaluations, and to pursue epistemological theory in light of such matters. Call this purposeful epistemology. The idea is that considerations about the point and purpose of epistemic evaluation might fruitfully constrain epistemological theory and yield insights for epistemological reflection. Several contributions to this volume explicitly address this general methodology, or some version of it. Others focus on (...) advancing some application of the methodology rather than on theorizing about it. The papers go on to explore the idea that purposes allow one to understand the conceptual demands on knowing, examine how purposeful epistemology might shed light on the debate between internalist and externalist epistemologies, and further develop the idea of purposeful epistemology. (shrink)
Henderson and Horgan set out a broad new approach to epistemology. They defend the roles of the a priori and conceptual analysis, but with an essential empirical dimension. 'Transglobal reliability' is the key to epistemic justification. The question of which cognitive processes are reliable depends on contingent facts about human capacities.
One of the central points of contention in the epistemology of testimony concerns the uniqueness (or not) of the justification of beliefs formed through testimony--whether such justification can be accounted for in terms of, or 'reduced to,' other familiar sort of justification, e.g. without relying on any epistemic principles unique to testimony. One influential argument for the reductionist position, found in the work of Elizabeth Fricker, argues by appeal to the need for the hearer to monitor the testimony for credibility. (...) Fricker (1994) argues, first, that some monitoring for trustworthiness is required if the hearer is to avoid being gullible, and second, that reductionism but not anti-reductionism is compatible with ascribing an important role to the process of monitoring in the course of justifiably accepting observed testimony. In this paper we argue that such an argument fails. (shrink)
This paper explores a position that combines contextualism regarding knowledge with the idea that the central point or purpose of the concept of knowledge is to feature in attributions that keep epistemic gate for contextually salient communities. After highlighting the main outlines and virtues of the suggested gate-keeping contextualism, two issues are pursued. First, the motivation for the view is clarified in a discussion of the relation between evaluative concepts and the purposes they serve. This clarifies why one's sense for (...) the point of an evaluative concept ought to constrain and inform one's understanding of the concept. Second, the paper explores ways of avoiding a problem in the author's earlier development of gate-keeping contextualism. The initial development of the view opened the door to a form of skepticism that would hobble an important facet of our social-epistemic lives. (shrink)
The authors argue in favor of the “nonconciliation” (or “steadfast”) position concerning the problem of peer disagreement. Throughout the paper they place heavy emphasis on matters of phenomenology—on how things seem epistemically with respect to the net import of one’s available evidence vis-à-vis the disputed claim p, and on how such phenomenology is affected by the awareness that an interlocutor whom one initially regards as an epistemic peer disagrees with oneself about p. Central to the argument is a nested goal/sub-goal (...) hierarchy that the authors claim is inherent to the structure of epistemically responsible belief-formation: pursuing true beliefs by pursuing beliefs that are objectively likely given one’s total available evidence; pursuing this sub-goal by pursuing beliefs that are likely true (given that evidence) relative to one’s own deep epistemic sensibility; and pursuing this sub-sub-goal by forming beliefs in accordance with one’s own all-in, ultima facie, epistemic seemings. (shrink)
Refutes the methodological separatists who hold that the logic of explanation and testing in the human sciences is fundamentally different than in the natural sciences, and develops complementary accounts for interpretation and explanation, ...
Alvin Goldman’s contributions to contemporary epistemology are impressive—few epistemologists have provided others so many occasions for reflecting on the fundamental character of their discipline and its concepts. His work has informed the way epistemological questions have changed (and remained consistent) over the last two decades. We (the authors of this paper) can perhaps best suggest our indebtedness by noting that there is probably no paper on epistemology that either of us individually or jointly have produced that does not in its (...) notes and references bear clear testimony to the influence of Professor Goldman’s arguments. The present paper is no exception (and this would be a particularly inapt place to break with our tradition of indebtedness). Professor Goldman has produced a series of discussions that we find particularly important for coming to terms with the venerable idea that there may be truths that can be known a priori (Goldman 1992a, 1992b, 1999). We do not altogether follow his lead, while he draws on the idea that a priori justification has something to do with innateness or processess, we prefer to accentuate the idea that a priori justification turns on a conceptually grounded truths and access via acquired conceptual competence (at least in many significant philosophical cases). Still, in developing our understanding we have been aided by much that Professor Goldman says regarding concepts, conceptual competence, and related psychological processes. The influences should become progressively clear, particularly in the later sections of this paper. What would it take for there to be a priori knowledge or justification? We can begin by reflecting on a widely agreed on answer to this question—one that purports to identify something that would at least be adequate for a priori justification. The answer will then serve as one anchor for the present investigation, a bit of shared ground on which empiricists and rationalists can, and typically do, agree.. (shrink)
We propose an approach to epistemic justification that incorporates elements of both reliabilism and evidentialism, while also transforming these elements in significant ways. After briefly describing and motivating the non-standard version of reliabilism that Henderson and Horgan call “transglobal” reliabilism, we harness some of Henderson and Horgan’s conceptual machinery to provide a non-reliabilist account of propositional justification (i.e., evidential support). We then invoke this account, together with the notion of a transglobally reliable belief-forming process, to give an account of doxastic (...) justification. (shrink)
Disagreement affords humans as members of epistemic communities important opportunities for refining or improving their epistemic situations with respect to many of their beliefs. To get such epistemic gains, one needs to explore and gauge one’s own epistemic situation and the epistemic situations of others. Accordingly, a fitting response to disagreement regarding some matter, p, typically will turn on the resolution of two strongly interrelated questions: whether p, and why one’s interlocutor disagrees with oneself about p. When one has high (...) intellectual respect for one’s interlocutor, answering question involves arriving at a sympathetic explanatory understanding of the interlocutor’s own epistemic attitude toward p. Sorting out is an abductive matter. Further, so far as the abductive explanation conditions one’s epistemic take regarding, there will be an abductive character to one’s epistemic position with respect to whether p—even where one’s initial purchase on whether p was not an abductive matter. We explain here how this can be managed naturally and tractably. (shrink)
Reliablists have argued that the important evaluative epistemic concept of being justified in holding a belief, at least to the extent that that concept is associated with knowledge, is best understood as concerned with the objective appropriateness of the processes by which a given belief is generated and sustained. In particular, they hold that a belief is justified only when it is fostered by processes that are reliable (at least minimally so) in the believer’s actual world. Of course, reliablists typically (...) recognize other concepts of justification--typically subjective notions--which are given a noncompeting sort of epistemic legitimacy. However, they have tended to focus on the epistemically central notion of "strong justification," and have come to settle on this familiar reliablist analysis, supposing that it pretty much exhausts what there is to say about "objective justification.". (shrink)
In What Philosophers Know, Gary Gutting provides an epistemology of philosophical reflection. This paper focuses on the roles that various intuitive inputs are said to play in philosophical thought. Gutting argues that philosophers are defeasibly entitled to believe some of these, prior to the outcome of the philosophical reflection, and that they then rightly serve as significant (again defeasible) anchors on reflection. This paper develops a view of epistemic entitlement and applies it to argue that many prephilosophical convictions of the (...) kind Gutting discusses would be just the sort of belief for which entitlement would plausibly be defeated from the start. They then could not properly play the role in philosophical reflection that Gutting envisions for them. (shrink)
This paper is a beginning—an initial attempt to think of the function and character of epistemic norms as a kind of social norm. We draw on social scientific thinking about social norms and the social games to which they respond. Assume that people individually follow epistemic norms for the sake of acquiring a stock of true beliefs. When they live in groups and share information with each other, they will in turn produce a shared store of true beliefs, an epistemic (...) public good. True beliefs, produced individually or in groups, constitute an epistemic good—one commonly stockpiled and distributed within a community. Epistemic norms can then be understood as a kind of socially developed and transmitted normative sensibility having to do with the production of this individual and public good. Epistemic norms should serve to regulate this practice—coordinating the practice of individuals so as to afford the benefits of life in an interdependent epistemic community—and to manage the risks of being epistemically dependent on others within such a community. Here, we provide some attempts to characterize the central aspects of "the epistemic game"—the epistemic choice situation confronted by communities of epistemic agents. (shrink)
The doctrine is familiar. In a sentence, a priori truths are those that are knowable on the basis of reflection alone (independent of experience) by anyone who has acquired the relevant concepts. This expresses the classical conception of the a priori. Of course, there are those who despair of finding any truths that fully meet these demands. Some of the doubters are convinced, however, that the demands, are somewhat inflated by an epistemological tradition that was nevertheless on to something of (...) importance. These thinkers would then seek to reconceive the a priori somewhat--accommodating some of the classical demands within a "retentive analysis." Ultimately, we will urge a place for both the classical conception and a complementary revisionary but retentive conception as well. (shrink)
It seems that hope springs eternal for the cherished idea that norms (or normativeprinciples) explain actions or regularities in actions. But it also seems thatthere are many ways of going wrong when taking norms and normative principlesas explanatory. The author argues that neither norms nor normative principlesinsofar as they are the sort of things with normative forceis explanatoryof what is done. He considers the matter using both erotetic and ontic models ofexplanation. He further considers various understandings of norms. Key Words: (...) explanation norms social science rationality. (shrink)
Descriptions of social norms can be explanatory. The erotetic approach to explanation provides a useful framework. I describe one very broad kind of explanation-seeking why-question, a genus that is common to the special sciences, and argue that descriptions of norms can serve as an answer to such why-questions. I draw upon Woodwards recent discussion of the explanatory role of generalizations with a significant degree of invariance. Descriptions of norms provide what is, in effect, a generalization regarding the kind of historically (...) contingent system a group or society, a generalization with a significant degree of invariance. Key Words: explanation invariance norms social sciences erotetic laws. (shrink)
This paper explores the role and limits of cognitive simulation in understanding or explaining others. In simulation, one puts one's own cognitive processes to work on pretend input similar to that one supposes that the other plausibly had. Such a process is highly useful. However, it is also limited in important ways. Several limitations fall out from the various forms of cognitive diversity. Some of this diversity results from cultural differences, or from differences in individuals' cognitive biographies. Such diversity is (...) clearly important in history. Some sorts of such diversity are discussed, with attention to the results of contemporary cognitive science. It is argued that one must sometimes employ mixed (simulation-based/theory-based) strategies, and that sometimes what is done will be neither purely simulation nor purely theory-based. (shrink)
In recent years the literature on bioethics has begun to pose the sociological challenge of how to explore organisational processes that facilitate a systemic response to ethical concerns. The present discussion seeks to make a contribution to this important new direction in ethical research by presenting findings from an Australian pilot study. The research was initiated by the Clinical Ethics Committee of Redland Hospital at Bayside Health Service District in Queensland, Australia, and explores health professionals’ understanding of the nature of (...) ethics and their experience with ethical decision-making within an acute medical ward. This study focuses on the actual experience, understanding and attitudes of clinical professionals in a general medical ward. In particular, the discussion explores the specific findings from the study concerned with how a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals define and operationalise the notion of ethics in an acute ward hospital setting. The key issue reported is that health professionals are not only able to clearly articulate notions of ethics, but that the notions expressed by a multi-disciplinary diversity of participants share a common definitional concept of ethics as patient-centred care. The central finding is that all professional groups indicated that there is a guiding principle to address their ethical sense of the ‘good’ or the ‘ought’ and that is to act in a way that furthered the interests of patients and their families. The findings affirm the importance of a sociological perspective as a productive new direction in bioethical research. (shrink)
Common formulations of the principle of charity in translation seem to undermine attributions of irrationality in social scientific accounts that are otherwise unexceptionable. This I call the problem of irrationality. Here I resolve the problem of irrationality by developing two complementary views of the principle of charity. First, I develop the view (ill-developed in the literature at present) that the principle of charity is preparatory, being needed in the construction of provisional first-approximation translation manuals. These serve as the basis for (...) explanatory accounts and associated refinements in the translation manual. In developing such explanatory accounts, the principle of charity is no longer constraining. Thus, the principle of charity applies only in the early stages of constructing translation manuals, and there is no problem of irrationality in the later stages of constructing translation manuals. Second, I reduce the principle of charity, where it does apply, to a special case of what I call the principle of explicability: so translate as to attribute explicable beliefs and practices to the speakers of the source-language. I show that the appropriate formulation of the principle of charity counsels just what the principle of explicability requires in the early stages of social scientific investigation. (shrink)
The night sky has been radically altered by light pollution, artificially produced light that obscures the stars. The effects and costs of this are diverse and poorly appreciated. A survey of the economically quantifiable aspects of this problem demonstrates that the value of the starry sky is immense, and yet it remains stubbornly beyond the ken of the market. The attempts to quantify this value and the ultimate impossibility of the task give lie to the economic pretense that the dollar (...) can commensurate all value. The case of light pollution exemplifies the importance of regulation to the protection of environmental value. (shrink)
Familiar accounts have it that one explains thoughts or actions by showing them to be rational. It is common to find that the standards of rationality presupposed in these accounts are drawn from what would be thought to be aprioristic sources. I advance an argument to show this must be mistaken. But, recent work in epistemology and on rationality takes a less aprioristic approach to such standards. Does the new (psychological or cognitive scientific) realism in accounts of rationality itself significantly (...) improve the prospects for unproblematic forms of rationalizing explanation? Do earlier misgivings about rationalizing explanation ring hollow when the rationality to be attributed is "naturalized"? Answer: while explanation in terms of naturalized rationality would be free of one fatal flaw possessed by explanation in terms of rationality understood in the traditional fashion, it would yet have parallel flaws. (shrink)
In "Epistemic Norms and the 'Epistemic Game' They Regulate", we advance a general case for the idea that epistemic norms regulating the production of beliefs might usefully be understood as social norms. There, we drew on the influential account of social norms developed by Cristina Bicchieri, and we managed to give a crude recognizable picture of important elements of what are recognizable as central epistemic norms. Here, we consider much needed elaboration, suggesting models that help one think about epistemic communities (...) and, ultimately, the temptations confronted in one's epistemic life. We suggest that once "the epistemic game" is embedded into a wider set of gains and losses, one can understand the epistemic choice situation as a form of mixed-motive game. This allows one to understand epistemic games more straightforwardly using Bicchieri's framework for thinking about social norms. That is, once the choice situation denominated only in terms of classical epistemic gains and losses is embedded in a wider accounting of goods that may compete with the production of true beliefs, one can see how an agent's individual and community epistemic project can be furthered by social norms regulating epistemic practices. We recommend thinking of epistemic norms as analogous to social norms for hygiene. (shrink)
Epistemology has recently come to more and more take the articulate form of an investigation into how we do, and perhaps might better, manage the cognitive chores of producing, modifying, and generally maintaining belief-sets with a view to having a true and systematic understanding of the world. While this approach has continuities with earlier philosophy, it admittedly makes a departure from the tradition of epistemology as first philosophy.
Accounts of what it is for an agent to be justified in holding a belief commonly carry commitments concerning what cognitive processes can and should be like. A concern for the plausibility of such commitments leads to a multi-faceted epistemology in which elements of traditionally conflicting epistemologies are vindicated within a single epistemological account. The accessible and articulable states that have been the exclusive focus of much epistemology must constitute only a proper subset of epistemologically relevant processing. The interaction of (...) such states looks rather contextualist. It might also be called quasi-foundationalist. However, in attending to our epistemological tasks we must rely on processing that is sensitive to information that we could not articulate, that is not accessible in the standard internalist sense. When focusing on the full range of epistemologically important processes, the structure of what makes for justification is rather more like that envisioned by some coherentists. (shrink)
The papers in this issue all concern the normative standards by which we do or should regulate our joint epistemic lives in communities. Plausibly, reflection on how we should regulate ourselves—what one should insist on in one's own practice and that of one's epistemic partners—takes some cues from reflection on what we do insist on. The reverse is plausibly also the case. These papers also, more or less explicitly, suggest that our epistemic sensibilities themselves reflect the demands of epistemic practice (...) within a community of interdependent agents. (shrink)
We here propose an account of what it is for an agent to be objectively justified in holding some belief. We present in outline this approach, which we call transglobal reliabilism, and we discuss how it is motivated by various thought experiments. While transglobal reliabilism is an externalist epistemology, we think that it accommodates traditional internalist concerns and objections in a uniquely natural and respectful way.
By a macro-level feature, I understand any feature that supervenes on, and is thus realized in, lower-level features. Recent discussions by Kim have suggested that such features cannot be causally relevant insofar as they are not classically reducible to lower-level features. This seems to render macro-level features causally irrelevant. I defend the causal relevance of some such features. Such features have been thought causally relevant in many examples that have underpinned philosophical work on causality. Additionally, in certain typical biological cases, (...) we conceive of causally relevant features at various compatible levels of analysis. When elaborated, these points make a strong prima facie case for macro-level causal relevance. However, we might abandon both the philosophical guideposts and the corresponding explanatory practice in the special sciences were we convinced that no reflective philosophical account could provide for the causal relevance there supposed. I show that such drastic measures are not necessary, for we can make sense of macro-level causal relevance by drawing on Paul Humphreys' recent work in ways suggested by the concrete examples considered here. (shrink)
Eliminative materialism, as William Lycan (this volume) tells us, is materialism plus the claim that no creature has ever had a belief, desire, intention, hope, wish, or other “folk-psychological” state. Some contemporary philosophers claim that eliminative materialism is very likely true. They sketch certain potential scenarios, for the way theory might develop in cognitive science and neuroscience, that they claim are fairly likely; and they maintain that if such.
Wilderness is often understood as land untouched by people. On this reading, wilderness management seems to be a simple contradiction, but it is in fact a thriving and functional practice. Wilderness is not simply an absence of human influence, but the presence of something else. Wilderness is land characterized by the flourishing of natural purpose. When this is understood, wilderness management becomes intelligible and several recent criticisms of wilderness preservation are defused.