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Profile: Ema Sullivan-Bissett (University of Birmingham)
  1.  38
    Fictional Persuasion, Transparency, and the Aim of Belief.Ema Sullivan-Bissett & Lisa Bortolotti - 2017 - In E. Sullivan-Bissett (ed.), Art and Belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 153-73.
    In this chapter we argue that some beliefs present a problem for the truth-aim teleological account of belief, according to which it is constitutive of belief that it is aimed at truth. We draw on empirical literature which shows that subjects form beliefs about the real world when they read fictional narratives, even when those narratives are presented as fiction, and subjects are warned that the narratives may contain falsehoods. We consider Nishi Shah’s teleologist’s dilemma and a response to it (...)
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  2.  80
    Implicit Bias, Confabulation, and Epistemic Innocence.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2015 - Consciousness and Cognition 33:548-560.
    In this paper I explore the nature of confabulatory explanations of action guided by implicit bias. I claim that such explanations can have significant epistemic benefits in spite of their obvious epistemic costs, and that such benefits are not otherwise obtainable by the subject at the time at which the explanation is offered. I start by outlining the kinds of cases I have in mind, before characterising the phenomenon of confabulation by focusing on a few common features. Then I introduce (...)
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  3.  81
    Another Defence of Owen’s Exclusivity Objection to Beliefs Having Aims.Ema Sullivan-Bissett & Paul Noordhof - 2017 - Logos and Episteme 8 (1):147-153.
    David Owens objected to the truth-aim account of belief on the grounds that the putative aim of belief does not meet a necessary condition on aims, namely, that aims can be weighed against other aims. If the putative aim of belief cannot be weighed, then belief does not have an aim after all. Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen responded to this objection by appeal to other deliberative contexts in which the aim could be weighed, and we argued that this response to Owens failed (...)
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  4.  66
    A Defence of Owens' Exclusivity Objection to Beliefs Having Aims.Ema Sullivan-Bissett & Paul Noordhof - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (2):453-457.
    In this paper we argue that Steglich-Petersen’s response to Owens’ Exclusivity Objection does not work. Our first point is that the examples Steglich-Petersen uses to demonstrate his argument do not work because they employ an undefended conception of the truth aim not shared by his target (and officially eschewed by Steglich-Petersen himself). Secondly we will make the point that deliberating over whether to form a belief about p is not part of the belief forming process. When an agent enters into (...)
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  5.  11
    Biological Function and Epistemic Normativity.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (1):94-110.
    I give a biological account of epistemic normativity. My account explains the sense in which it is true that belief is subject to a standard of correctness, and reduces epistemic norms to there being doxastic strategies which guide how best to meet that standard. Additionally, I give an explanation of the mistakes we make in our epistemic discourse, understood as either taking epistemic properties and norms to be sui generis and irreducible, and/or as failing to recognize the reductive base of (...)
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  6.  13
    How Can False or Irrational Beliefs Be Useful?Lisa Bortolotti & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup1):1-3.
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  7. The Epistemic Innocence of Clinical Memory Distortions.Lisa Bortolotti & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    In some neuropsychological disorders memory distortions seemingly fill gaps in people’s knowledge about their past, where people’s self-image, history, and prospects are often enhanced. False beliefs about the past compromise both people’s capacity to construct a reliable autobiography and their trustworthiness as communicators. However, such beliefs contribute to people’s sense of competence and self-confidence, increasing psychological wellbeing. Here we consider both psychological benefits and epistemic costs, and argue that distorting the past is likely to also have epistemic benefits that cannot (...)
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  8.  11
    Aims and Exclusivity.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (3):721-731.
    If belief has an aim by being a intentional activity, then it ought to be the case that the aim of belief can be weighed against other aims one might have. However, this is not so with the putative truth aim of belief: from the first-person perspective, one can only be motivated by truth considerations in deliberation over what to believe. From this perspective then, the aim cannot be weighed. This problem is captured by David Owens's Exclusivity Objection to belief (...)
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  9.  27
    Malfunction Defended.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2501-2522.
    Historical accounts of biological function are thought to have, as a point in their favour, their being able to accommodate malfunction. Recently, this has been brought into doubt by Paul Sheldon Davies’s argument for the claim that both selected malfunction (that of the selected functions account) and weak etiological malfunction (that of the weak etiological account), are impossible. In this paper I suggest that in light of Davies’s objection, historical accounts of biological function need to be adjusted to accommodate malfunction. (...)
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  10.  18
    Another Failed Refutation of Scepticism.Tom Stoneham & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 36 (2):19-30.
    Jessica Wilson has recently offered a more sophisticated version of the self-defeat objection to Cartesian scepicism. She argues that the assertion of Cartesian scepticism results in an unstable vicious regress. The way out of the regress is to not engage with the Cartesian sceptic at all, to stop the regress before it starts, at the warranted assertion that the external world exists. We offer three reasons why this objection fails: first, the sceptic need not accept Wilson’s characterization of the sceptical (...)
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  11.  12
    Explaining Doxastic Transparency: Aim, Norm, or Function?Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Synthese:1-24.
    I argue that explanations of doxastic transparency which go via an appeal to an aim or norm of belief are problematic. I offer a new explanation by appeal to a biological function of our mechanisms for belief production. I begin by characterizing the phenomenon, and then move to the teleological and normative accounts of belief, advertised by their proponents as able to give an explanation of it. I argue that, at the very least, both accounts face serious difficulties in this (...)
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  12.  30
    What Makes a Belief Delusional?Lisa Bortolotti, Ema Sullivan-Bissett & Rachel Gunn - 2016 - In I. McCarthy, K. Sellevold & O. Smith (eds.), Cognitive Confusions. Legenda. pp. 37-51.
    In philosophy, psychiatry, and cognitive science, definitions of clinical delusions are not based on the mechanisms responsible for the formation of delusions. Some of the defining features of delusions are epistemic and focus on whether delusions are true, justified, or rational, as in the definition of delusions as fixed beliefs that are badly supported by evidence). Other defining features of delusions are psychological and they focus on whether delusions are harmful, as in the definition of delusions as beliefs that disrupt (...)
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  13.  30
    Costs and Benefits of Imperfect Cognitions.Lisa Bortolotti & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2015 - Consciousness and Cognition 33:487-489.
  14.  17
    The Role of Emotions and Values in Competence.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2016 - Journal of Medical Ethics (6):379-380.
  15.  51
    Better No Longer to Be.Ema Sullivan-Bissett & Rafe Mcgregor - 2012 - South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):55-68.
    David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a harm, and that – for all of us unfortunate enough to have come into existence – it would be better had we never come to be. We contend that if one accepts Benatar’s arguments for the asymmetry between the presence and absence of pleasure and pain, and the poor quality of life, one must also accept that suicide is preferable to continued existence, and that his view therefore implies both anti-natalism (...)
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  16.  34
    Nikolaj Nottelmann (Ed.), New Essays on Belief: Constitution, Content and Structure, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, Xii + 258 Pp., GBP 55 (Hardback), ISBN 9781137026514. [REVIEW]Lisa Bortolotti & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (1):141-146.
  17.  17
    The Aim of Belief, Edited by Timothy Chan.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2015 - Mind 124 (496):1258-1264.
    Review of Timothy Chan's (ed.) The Aim of Belief.
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  18.  10
    Changing Approaches to Blindsight: Relevant, but Not Decisive: Reply to Foley.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2012 - Philosophical Writings:56-60.
  19.  14
    Review of New Essays on Belief: Constitution, Content and Structure by Nikolaj Nottelmann. [REVIEW]Lisa Botolotti & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (1):141-146.
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  20. The Epistemic Innocence of Clinical Memory Distortions.Lisa Bortolotti & Ema Sullivan-Bissett - forthcoming - Mind & Language.
  21. Art and Belief.Ema Sullivan-Bissett, Helen Bradley & Paul Noordhof (eds.) - 2017 - Oxford University Press.
    Art and Belief presents new work at the intersection of philosophy of mind and philosophy of art. Topics include the cognitive contributions artworks can make, the phenomenon of fictional persuasion, and the nature of aesthetic testimony, and the relation between belief and truth in our experience of art.
     
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  22. Monothematic Delusion: A Case of Innocence From Experience.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.
    Empiricists about monothematic delusion formation agree that anomalous experience is a factor in the formation of these attitudes, but disagree markedly on which further factors (if any) need to be specified. I argue that epistemic innocence may be a unifying feature of monothematic delusions, insofar as a judgement of epistemic innocence to this class of attitudes is one that opposing empiricist accounts can make. The notion of epistemic innocence allows us to tell a richer story when investigating the epistemic status (...)
     
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