In this paper we argue that knowledge is characteristically safe true belief. We argue that an adequate approach to epistemic luck must not be indexed to methods of belief formation, but rather to explanations for belief. This shift is problematic for several prominent approaches to the theory of knowledge, including virtue reliabilism and proper functionalism (as normally conceived). The view that knowledge is characteristically safe true belief is better able to accommodate the shift in question.
According to the Counterfactual Comparative Account of harm and benefit, an event is overall harmful for a subject to the extent that this subject would have been better off if it had not occurred. In this paper we present a challenge for the Counterfactual Comparative Account. We argue that if physical processes are chancy in the manner suggested by our best physical theories, then CCA faces a dilemma: If it is developed in line with the standard approach to counterfactuals, then (...) it delivers that the value of any event for a subject is indeterminate to the extreme, ranging from terribly harmful to highly beneficial. This problem can only be avoided by developing CCA in line with theories of counterfactuals that allow us to ignore a-typical scenarios. Doing this generates a different problem: when the actual world is itself a-typical we will sometimes get the result that the counterfactual nonoccurrence of an actual benefit is itself a benefit. An account of overall harm bearing either of these two implications is deficient. Given the general aspiration to account for deprivational harms and the dominance of the Counterfactual Comparative Account in this respect, theorists of harm and benefit face a deadlock. (shrink)
Transmission views of testimony hold that a speaker's knowledge or justification can become the audience's knowledge or justification. We argue that transmission views are incompatible with the hypothesis that one's epistemic state, together with one's practical circumstances, determines what actions are rationally permissible for an agent. We argue that there are cases where, if the speaker's epistemic state were transmitted to the audience, then the audience would be warranted in acting in particular ways. Yet, the audience in these cases is (...) not so warranted, as their strength of justification does not come close to the speaker's. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that if ontological disputes turn out to be verbal they ought to be dismissed. I dissociate the semantic question concerning the verbalness of ontological disputes from the pragmatic question on whether they ought to be dismissed. I argue that in the context of ontological disputes ontologists ought to be taken to communicate views with conflicting ontological commitments even if it turns out that on the correct view of semantics they fail to literally-express their disagreement. I argue, (...) that is, against dismissing ontological disputes on grounds of verbalness. This serves to discharge the ongoing debate on the verbalness of ontological disputes from the metaontological consequences typically associated with it. (shrink)
What determines the degree to which some event harms a subject? According to the counterfactual comparative account, an event is harmful for a subject to the extent that she would have been overall better off if it had not occurred. Unlike the causation based account, this view nicely accounts for deprivational harms, including the harm of death, and for cases in which events constitute a harm rather than causing it. However, I argue, it ultimately fails, since not every intrinsically bad (...) state that is counterfactually dependent on an event contributes to its degree of harm. So while the causation based account is too restrictive, the counterfactual comparative view is not restrictive enough. In light of this, I suggest an alternative, explanation based account of overall harm, according to which the degree to which some event is harmful for a subject is determined by the degree to which (crudely) the states explained by it are overall more intrinsically bad than intrinsically good for her. (shrink)
Before the semester begins, a teacher tells his students: “There will be exactly one exam this semester. It will not take place on a day that is an immediate-successor of a day that you are currently in a position to know is not the exam-day”. Both the students and the teacher know – it is common knowledge – that no exam can be given on the first day of the semester. Since the teacher is truthful and reliable, it seems that (...) the students can know that what he says is true. However, in that case, assuming the students can know that they know whatever it is they know (KK) and assuming their knowledge is closed under entailment (closure), the students can reason from what they know to the conclusion that no exam will take place during the semester. This conclusion contradicts what they supposedly know: that there will be an exam. This puzzle, we argue, gives rise to a new consideration for the rejection of KK. We discuss unique features of the argument, especially in comparison to Timothy Williamson's rejection of KK in light of other versions of the surprise exam paradox. (shrink)
Suppose we take a picture containing a full image of a duck and slice it right through, leaving some of the duck image on one slice and some of it on the other. How many duck images will we be left with? Received theories of pictorial representation presuppose that a surface cannot come to contain new images just by changing its physical relations with other surfaces, such as physical continuity. But as it turns out, this is in tension with received (...) theories’ approach to incomplete images. I address three views with respect to the circumstances in which incomplete images of X represent X. 1. A liberal, non-restrictive view: ‘Iff they meet relevant requirements posed by received theory of pictorial representation.’ 2. Moderate restrictions of this view and 3. A fully restrictive view. After investigating challenges for the liberal view, I end up supporting it. The main challenges rest on the fact that only the fully restrictive view can plausibly accommodate some principles that seem inherent to our theory of representation. For instance: only this view accommodates received theories’ presupposition that the representational properties of a surface depend on its configurational properties such that new images may appear on a surface only if its configurational properties have changed. Since the liberal view is overall more plausible than the restrictive view, I reject this presupposition and bear the consequences. (shrink)