Certain philosophers maintain that there is a ‘constitutive threshold for belief’: to believe that p just is to have a degree of confidence that p above a certain threshold. On the basis of this view, these philosophers defend what is known as ‘the Lockean Thesis ’, according to which it is rational to believe that p just in case it is rational to have a degree of confidence that p above the constitutive threshold for belief. While not directly speaking to (...) the controversy over the Lockean Thesis, this paper defends the general idea behind it—namely, the thesis that there is some threshold such that it is rational to believe that p if and only if it is rational to have a degree of confidence great than that threshold. This paper identifies the threshold in question—not with the alleged constitutive threshold for belief—but with what I call ‘the practical threshold for rational belief’. Roughly, the thesis defended here is that it is rational to believe that p if and only if it is rational to have a degree of confidence that p that rationalizes engaging in certain types of practical reasoning. (shrink)
Moral debunking arguments are meant to show that, by realist lights, moral beliefs are not explained by moral facts, which in turn is meant to show that they lack some significant counterfactual connection to the moral facts (e.g., safety, sensitivity, reliability). The dominant, “minimalist” response to the arguments—sometimes defended under the heading of “third-factors” or “pre-established harmonies”—involves affirming that moral beliefs enjoy the relevant counterfactual connection while granting that these beliefs are not explained by the moral facts. We show that (...) the minimalist gambit rests on a controversial thesis about epistemic priority: that explanatory concessions derive their epistemic import from what they reveal about counterfactual connections. We then challenge this epistemic priority thesis, which undermines the minimalist response to debunking arguments (in ethics and elsewhere). (shrink)
The Reasonableness of Christianity is a major work by one of the greatest modern philosophers. Published anonymously in 1695, it entered a world upset by fierce theological conflict and immediately became a subject of controversy. At issue were the author’s intentions. John Edwards labelled it a Socinian work and charged that it was subversive not only of Christianity but of religion itself others praised it as a sure preservative of both. Few understood Locke’s intentions, and perhaps no one fully. (...) This new collection describes the background to Locke’s book and documents the disputes that followed its publication. Providing an invaluable insight into the context of its conception and reception, it includes contributions by Samuel Bold, John Edwards, Charles Blount, and Daniel Waterland, bringing the discussion up to the eighteenth century. Also included is a review of the Reasonableness found among Locke’s unpublished papers and published here for the first time. The volume will be of interest to philosophers of religion and theologians as well as historians. (shrink)
Structuralism and quidditism are competing views of the metaphysics of property individuation: structuralists claim that properties are individuated by their nomological roles; quidditists claim that they are individuated by something else. This paper (1) refutes what many see as the best reason to accept structuralism over quidditism and (2) offers a methodological argument in favor of a quidditism. The standard charge against quidditism is that it commits us to something ontologically otiose: intrinsic aspects of properties, so-called ‘quiddities’. Here I grant (...) that quiddities are ontologically otiose, but deny that quidditism requires them. According to a view I call ‘austere quidditism’, properties are individuated by bare numerical identity. I argue that, as far as ontological parsimony is concerned, austere quidditism and structuralism are on a par. But is austere quidditism a coherent alternative to structuralism? To see that it is, we must get clear on what exactly we mean by ‘property individuation’. What we discover is that structuralism is a counterpart theory for properties, and that austere quidditism is simply the rejection of counterpart theory. I conclude with a methodological argument to the effect that counterpart theory for properties ought to be rejected. This paper begins by situating the debate between structuralists and quidditists within the context of a debate over the epistemic limits of fundamental science. At the center of this debate is David Lewis’s posthumously published ‘Ramseyan Humility’ (2008). In the appendix I explain the precise role of austere quidditism in Lewis’s argument. (shrink)
When we engage in practical deliberation, we sometimes engage in careful probabilistic reasoning. At other times, we simply make flat out assumptions about how the world is or will be. A question thus arises: when, if ever, is it rationally permissible to engage in the latter, less sophisticated kind of practical deliberation? Recently, a number of authors have argued that the answer concerns whether one knows that p. Others have argued that the answer concerns whether one is justified in believing (...) that one knows that p. Against both of these, this paper argues that the answer concerns whether p is ‘practically certain’—that is, whether the actual epistemic probability that p differs from epistemic certainty that p only in ways that are irrelevant to the decision one currently faces. (shrink)
According to a number of recent philosophers, knowledge has an intimate relationship with rationality. Some philosophers hold, in particular, that rational agents do things for good motivating reasons, and that p can be one’s motivating reason for -ing (acting/believing/fearing/etc.) only if one knows that p. This paper argues against this view and in favor of the view that p cannot be one’s motivating reason for -ing—in the relevant sense—unless there is an appropriate explanatory connection between the fact that p and (...) one’s -ing. I argue that this view offers a better account of the cases alleged to support the knowledge view. (shrink)
This chapter argues that we are irremediably ignorant about the identities of the fundamental properties that figure in the actual realization of the true final theory. Of the three published responses to Lewis’s work, each argues that even if Lewis’s metaphysical assumption, the thesis known as “quidditism,” is accepted, we need not accept his epistemic conclusion, the thesis of Humility. The aim of this chapter is to defend Lewis against these critics. Ann Whittle attempts to refute Humility by an appeal (...) to a more lenient account of identification. Following is a defense of Lewis carried by showing that his taxing account of identification is a perfectly good account of at least one perfectly legitimate sense of identification. (shrink)
Sharon Street (2006) has argued that, given certain plausible evolutionary considerations, normative realism leads to normative skepticism. Street calls this ‘the Darwinian dilemma’. This paper considers the two most popular responses to the Darwinian dilemma and argues that both are problematic. According to the naturalist response, the evolutionary account of our normative dispositions reveals that there was selection for normative dispositions that were reliable with respect to normative truth. According to the minimalist response, the evolutionary account reveals that there was (...) selection of normative dispositions that were reliable with respect to normative truth. This paper argues that the minimalist response is in principle unacceptable, and that the naturalist response faces a very serious difficulty. (shrink)
Jonathan Ichikawa (2012) argues that the standard counterexamples to the knowledge norm of practical reasoning are no such thing. More precisely, he argues that those alleged counterexamples rest on claims about which actions are appropriate rather than on claims about which propositions can be appropriately treated as reasons for action. Since the knowledge norm of practical reasoning concerns the latter and not the former, Ichikawa contends that proponents of the alleged counterexamples must offer a theory that bridges the gap between (...) the two types of claims. I argue, first, that the standard counterexamples do not rest on claims about which actions are appropriate, second, that even if they did, we would not need a theory to bridge the gap between the two types of claims, and, third, that even if we did need such a theory, a plausible theory is on offer. (shrink)
This paper offers a novel conversational implicature account of the pragmatic sensitivity of knowledge attributions. Developing an account I first suggested elsewhere and independently proposed by Lutz, this paper explores the idea that the relevant implicatures are generated by a constitutive relationship between believing a proposition and a disposition to treat that proposition as true in practical deliberation. I argue that while this view has a certain advantage over standard implicature accounts of pragmatic sensitivity, it comes with a significant concession (...) to proponents of pragmatic encroachment. On the account offered here, knowledge attributions have locally-pragmatically-sensitive implicatures because they have non-locally-pragmatically-sensitive entailments. The view thus represents a unique and powerful hybrid of these two approaches to the pragmatic sensitivity of knowledge attributions. (shrink)
In general, properties realize certain roles in the workings of nature. For example, mass makes objects resist acceleration. But what is the relationship between these roles and the properties that realize them? According to ‘quidditism’, the roles are contingently realized by the properties that in fact realize them. Opponents charge that quidditism implies the existence of epiphenomenal and unknowable “quiddities” or “inner natures”. The purpose of this dissertation is to argue in favor of quidditism and explore its epistemic and pragmatic (...) consequences. (shrink)
This first octavo edition of John Locke's Works has set the pattern for all subsequent English Works editions until the present time. It contains all the famous philosophical writings, as well as a life of the author based on that of Le Clerc but using a large number of unpublished letters. For the first time all correspondence is placed together, and the non-correspondence items in Desmaizeaux's Collection are repositioned to follow the relevant works. Set in context with a new (...) introduction by Locke scholar John Yolton, this edition remains the preferred choice for many academics today. (shrink)
Locke lived at a time of heightened religious sensibility, and religious motives and theological beliefs were fundamental to his philosophical outlook. Here, Victor Nuovo brings together the first comprehensive collection of Locke's writings on religion and theology. These writings illustrate the deep religious motivation in Locke's thought.
A scholarly edition of The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: Some Thoughts Concerning Education by John W. Yolton and Jean S. Yolton. The edition presents an authoritative text, together with an introduction, commentary notes, and scholarly apparatus.
John Locke's 1695 enquiry into the foundations of Christian belief is here presented for the first time in a critical edition. Locke maintains that the essentials of the faith, few and simple, can be found by anyone for themselves in the Scripture, and that this provides a basis for tolerant agreeement among Christians. An authoritative text is accompanied by abundant information conducive to an understanding of Locke's religious thought.
This is the first of three volumes which will contain all of John Locke's writings which relate to An Essay concerning Human Understanding . This volume contains an accurate version of the two earliest known drafts of the Essay. Virtually all of Locke's changes are recorded in footnotes. Volume I was largely completed by Peter Nidditch before his death in 1983. His pioneering editorial techniques won him acclaim for his edition of An Essay concerning Human Understanding in this (...) series in 1975. (shrink)
In 1695 John Locke published The Reasonableness of Christianity, an enquiry into the foundations of Christian belief. He did so anonymously, to avoid public involvement in the fiercely partisan religious controversies of the day. In the Reasonableness Locke considered what it was to which all Christians must assent in faith; he argued that the answer could be found by anyone for themselves in the divine revelation of Scripture alone. He maintained that the requirements of Scripture were few and (...) simple, and therefore offered a basis for tolerant agreement among all Christians, and the promise of peace, stability, and security through toleration. This is the first critical edition of the Reasonableness: for the first time an authoritative annotated text is presented, with full information about sources, variants, amendments, and the publishing history of the work. Also provided in the editorial notes are cross-references, references to other works by Locke, definitions of terms, and other information conducive to an understanding of the text. Though modern interest has focused particularly on Locke's philosophy and political theory, increasing attention is being paid to his religious thought. These different strands cannot be understood properly in isolation from each other: so the broader aim of this edition is to help towards an improved understanding of his religious thought in the context of his work as a philosopher, political theorist, and exponent of religious toleration. In his editorial introduction John Higgins-Biddle investigates how Locke's ideas developed, and offers a critical assessment of the three main contemporary and subsequent interpretations of Locke's religious thought, all of which are shown to be unsatisfactory. (shrink)