This is a collective study of the epistemic significance of disagreement: twelve contributors explore rival responses to the problems that it raises for philosophy. They develop our understanding of epistemic phenomena that are central to any thoughtful engagement with others' beliefs.
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.
According to Duncan Pritchard’s version of epistemological disjunctivism, in paradigm cases of perceptual knowledge, one’s knowledge that p is grounded in one’s seeing that p, and one can, by reflection alone, come to know that they see that p. In this paper, I argue that the epistemic conception of introspective indiscriminability is incompatible with epistemological disjunctivism, so understood. This has the consequence that theories of the nature of sensory experience which accept the epistemic conception of introspective indiscriminability—such as phenomenal character (...) disjunctivism and certain forms of naïve realism—are inconsistent with epistemological disjunctivism, so understood. I then argue that proponents of epistemological disjunctivism face a formidable challenge explaining in what sense, if any, one can have purely reflective knowledge of their factive rational support. (shrink)
Probabilistic models have much to offer to philosophy. We continually receive information from a variety of sources: from our senses, from witnesses, from scientific instruments. When considering whether we should believe this information, we assess whether the sources are independent, how reliable they are, and how plausible and coherent the information is. Bovens and Hartmann provide a systematic Bayesian account of these features of reasoning. Simple Bayesian Networks allow us to model alternative assumptions about the nature of the information sources. (...) Measurement of the coherence of information is a controversial matter: arguably, the more coherent a set of information is, the more confident we may be that its content is true, other things being equal. The authors offer a new treatment of coherence which respects this claim and shows its relevance to scientific theory choice. Bovens and Hartmann apply this methodology to a wide range of much discussed issues regarding evidence, testimony, scientific theories, and voting. Bayesian Epistemology is an essential tool for anyone working on probabilistic methods in philosophy, and has broad implications for many other disciplines. (shrink)
An overview of the epistemology of perception, covering the nature of justification, immediate justification, the relationship between the metaphysics of perceptual experience and its rational role, the rational role of attention, and cognitive penetrability. The published version will contain a smaller bibliography, due to space constraints in the volume.
In this concise book, one of the world's leading epistemologists provides a sophisticated, revisionist introduction to the problem of knowledge in Western philosophy. Modern and contemporary accounts of epistemology tend to focus on limited questions of knowledge and skepticism, such as how we can know the external world, other minds, the past through memory, the future through induction, or the world’s depth and structure through inference. This book steps back for a better view of the more general issues posed (...) by the ancient Greek Pyrrhonists. Returning to and illuminating this older, broader epistemological tradition, Ernest Sosa develops an original account of the subject, giving it substance not with Cartesian theology but with science and common sense. -/- Descartes is a part of this ancient tradition, but he goes beyond it by considering not just whether knowledge is possible at all but also how we can properly attain it. In Cartesian epistemology, Sosa finds a virtue-theoretic account, one that he extends beyond the Cartesian context. Once epistemology is viewed in this light, many of its problems can be solved or fall away. -/- The result is an important reevaluation of epistemology that will be essential reading for students and teachers. (shrink)
Ernest Sosa presents a new approach to the problems of knowledge and scepticism. He argues for two levels of knowledge, the animal and the reflective, each viewed as a distinctive human accomplishment. Sosa's virtue epistemology illuminates different varieties of scepticism, the nature and status of intuitions, and epistemic normativity.
The opponent in either an ordinary or religious disagreement asserts you have made a mistake. To avoid mistakes we strive to have good justification for beliefs which holds us connected to them during difficult challenges, similar to how a good boat tether, pictured on this book's front cover, holds a valuable boat throughout the many stresses placed on it. The problem is that an equivalently informed and capable opponent shows a possible mistake as relevant, and this ought to reduce confidence (...) in the justification of the religious belief. The Epistemology of Religious Disagreement develops, by looking at foundational issues in the theory of knowledge, an understanding of justification specifically designed to describe exactly why this reduction happens. (shrink)
Stewart Cohen argues that basic knowledge is problematic, as it implies that subjects can acquire knowledge or justified beliefs about certain matters in ways that are supposedly too easy. Cohen raises two versions of the problem of easy knowledge, one involving the principle of closure and the other track-record style bootstrapping reasoning. In this paper I confront the problem of easy knowledge from the perspective of epistemological disjunctivism about perception. I argue that disjunctivism can do a better job than dogmatism (...) at responding to the version of the problem involving closure. I also argue that while disjunctivism would permit subjects to bootstrap their way to justified beliefs about the reliability of their perceptual powers, the disjunctivist can distinguish in a principled manner between this sort of bootstrapping and instances of it that we should agree are objectionable. (shrink)
Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions has been enduringly influential in philosophy of science, challenging many common presuppositions about the nature of science and the growth of scientific knowledge. However, philosophers have misunderstood Kuhn's view, treating him as a relativist or social constructionist. In this book, Brad Wray argues that Kuhn provides a useful framework for developing an epistemology of science that takes account of the constructive role that social factors play in scientific inquiry. He examines the core concepts of (...) Structure and explains the main characteristics of both Kuhn's evolutionary epistemology and his social epistemology, relating Structure to Kuhn's developed view presented in his later writings. The discussion includes analyses of the Copernican revolution in astronomy and the plate tectonics revolution in geology. The book will be useful for scholars working in science studies, sociologists and historians of science as well as philosophers of science. (shrink)
In this book, Phillips gives an overview of the contribution of Nyaya--the classical Indian school that defends an externalist position about knowledge as well as an internalist position about justification. Nyaya literature extends almost two thousand years and comprises hundreds of texts, and in this book, Phillips presents a useful overview of the under-studied system of thought. For the philosopher rather than the scholar of Sanskrit, the book makes a whole range of Nyaya positions and arguments accessible to students of (...)epistemology who are unfamiliar with classical Indian systems. (shrink)
Contemporary virtue epistemology (hereafter ‘VE’) is a diverse collection of approaches to epistemology. At least two central tendencies are discernible among the approaches. First, they view epistemology as a normative discipline. Second, they view intellectual agents and communities as the primary focus of epistemic evaluation, with a focus on the intellectual virtues and vices embodied in and expressed by these agents and communities. -/- This entry introduces many of the most important results of the contemporary VE research (...) program. These include novel attempts to resolve longstanding disputes, solve perennial problems, grapple with novel challenges, and expand epistemology’s horizons. In the process, it reveals the diversity within VE. Beyond sharing the two unifying commitments mentioned above, its practitioners diverge over the nature of intellectual virtues, which questions to ask, and which methods to use. -/- It will be helpful to note some terminology before proceeding. First, we use ‘cognitive’, ‘epistemic’ and ‘intellectual’ synonymously. Second, we often use ‘normative’ broadly to include not only norms and rules, but also duties and values. Finally, ‘practitioners’ names contemporary virtue epistemologists. (shrink)
Bishop and Trout here present a unique and provocative new approach to epistemology. Their approach aims to liberate epistemology from the scholastic debates of standard analytic epistemology, and treat it as a branch of the philosophy of science. The approach is novel in its use of cost-benefit analysis to guide people facing real reasoning problems and in its framework for resolving normative disputes in psychology. Based on empirical data, Bishop and Trout show how people can improve their (...) reasoning by relying on Statistical Prediction Rules. They then develop and articulate the positive core of the book. Their view, Strategic Reliabilism, claims that epistemic excellence consists in the efficient allocation of cognitive resources to reliable reasoning strategies, applied to significant problems. The last third of the book develops the implications of this view for standard analytic epistemology; for resolving normative disputes in psychology; and for offering practical, concrete advice on how this theory can improve real people's reasoning. This is a truly distinctive and controversial work that spans many disciplines and will speak to an unusually diverse group, including people in epistemology, philosophy of science, decision theory, cognitive and clinical psychology, and ethics and public policy. (shrink)
The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism’s impact on modal arguments in the philosophy of mind -- for example, Yablo’s disembodiment argument and Chalmers’s zombie argument. A (...) less vulnerable style of modal argument is defended, which nevertheless wins the same anti-materialist conclusions sought by these other arguments. (shrink)
This article surveys work in epistemology since the mid-1980s. It focuses on contextualism about knowledge attributions, modest forms of foundationalism, and the internalism/externalism debate and its connections to the ethics of belief.
Testimony is a crucial source of knowledge: we are to a large extent reliant upon what others tell us. It has been the subject of much recent interest in epistemology, and this volume collects twelve original essays on the topic by some of the world's leading philosophers. It will be the starting point for future research in this fertile field. Contributors include Robert Audi, C. A. J. Coady, Elizabeth Fricker, Richard Fumerton, Sanford C. Goldberg, Peter Graham, Jennifer Lackey, Keith (...) Lehrer, Richard Moran, Frederick F. Schmitt, Ernest Sosa, and James Van Cleve. (shrink)
Metaethical—or, more generally, metanormative— realism faces a serious epistemological challenge. Realists owe us—very roughly speaking—an account of how it is that we can have epistemic access to the normative truths about which they are realists. This much is, it seems, uncontroversial among metaethicists, myself included. But this is as far as the agreement goes, for it is not clear—nor uncontroversial—how best to understand the challenge, what the best realist way of coping with it is, and how successful this attempt is. (...) In this paper I try, first, to present the challenge in its strongest version, and second, to show how realists—indeed, robust realists—can cope with it. The strongest version of the challenge is, I argue, that of explaining the correlation between our normative beliefs and the independent normative truths. And I suggest an evolutionary explanation as a way of solving it. (shrink)
Designed to accompany _Epistemology: An Anthology_ or stand alone as a concise primer, this is a straightforward and accessible introduction to contemporary epistemology for those studying the topic for the first time. A step-by-step introduction to contemporary epistemology, with coverage of skepticism, epistemic justification, epistemic closure, virtue epistemology, naturalized epistemology, and more Explains the main arguments of the most influential publications from the last 50 years Contextualizes key concepts and themes, instead of treating them in isolation (...) Straightforward and accessible for those studying the topic for the first time Designed to accompany the second edition of _Epistemology: An Anthology _, but stands on its own as a concise introduction to the key ideas and arguments in epistemology. (shrink)
Virtue Epistemology is a new movement receiving the bulk of recent attention from top epistemologists and ethicists; this volume reflects the best work in that vein. Included are unpublished articles by such eminent philosophers as Robert Audi, Simon Blackburn, Alvin Goldman, Christopher Hookway, Keith Lehrer, and Ernest Sosa.
Vice epistemology is the philosophical study of the nature, identity, and epistemological significance of intellectual vices. Such vices include gullibility, dogmatism, prejudice, closed-mindedness, and negligence. These are intellectual character vices, that is, intellectual vices that are also character traits. I ask how the notion of an intellectual character vice should be understood, whether such vices exist, and how they might be epistemologically significant. The proposal is that intellectual character vices are intellectual character traits that impede effective and responsible inquiry. (...) I argue that situationist critiques of virtue epistemology pose no significant threat to this proposal. Studies by social psychologists of belief in conspiracy theories suggest that it is sometimes appropriate to explain questionable beliefs by reference to intellectual character vices. Neither ‘regulative’ nor ‘analytic’ epistemology has any good reason to question the epistemological significance of such vices. (shrink)
Many important metaphysical arguments validly deduce an actuality from a possibility. For example: Because it is possible for me to exist in the absence of anything material, I am not my body. I argue that there is no reason to suppose that our capacity for modal judgment is equal to the task of determining whether the "possibility" premise of any of these arguments is true. I connect this thesis with Stephen Yablo's recent work on the epistemology of modal statements.
There is a long tradition comparing moral knowledge to mathematical knowledge. In this paper, I discuss apparent similarities and differences between knowledge in the two areas, realistically conceived. I argue that many of these are only apparent, while others are less philosophically significant than might be thought. The picture that emerges is surprising. There are definitely differences between epistemological arguments in the two areas. However, these differences, if anything, increase the plausibility of moral realism as compared to mathematical realism. It (...) is hard to see how one might argue, on epistemological grounds, for moral antirealism while maintaining commitment to mathematical realism. But it may be possible to do the opposite. (shrink)
This is the most up-to-date collection of essays by the leading proponent of process reliabilism, refining and clarifying that theory and critiquing its rivals. The volume features important essays on the internalism/externalism debate, epistemic value, the intuitional methodology of philosophy, and social epistemology.
The epistemology of essence is a topic that has received relatively little attention, although there are signs that this is changing. The lack of literature engaging directly with the topic is probably partly due to the mystery surrounding the notion of essence itself, and partly due to the sheer difficulty of developing a plausible epistemology. The need for such an account is clear especially for those, like E.J. Lowe, who are committed to a broadly Aristotelian conception of essence, (...) whereby essence plays an important theoretical role. In this chapter, our epistemic access to essence is examined in terms of the a posteriori vs. a priori distinction. The two main accounts to be contrasted are those of David S. Oderberg and E.J. Lowe. (shrink)
As current events around the world have illustrated, epistemological issues are at the center of our political lives. It has become increasingly difficult to discern legitimate sources of evidence, misinformation spreads faster than ever, and the role of truth in politics has allegedly decayed in recent years. It is therefore no coincidence that political discourse is currently saturated with epistemic notions like ‘post-truth,’ ‘fake news,’ ‘truth decay,’ ‘echo chambers,’ and ‘alternative facts.’ This book brings together leading philosophers to explore ways (...) in which the analytic and conceptual tools of epistemology bear on political philosophy, and vice versa. It is organized around three broad themes: truth and knowledge in politics; epistemic problems for democracy; and disagreement and polarization. The authors provide new and rich insights on topics such as: propaganda, fake news, weaponized skepticism, belief polarization, political disagreement, the epistemic value of democracy, voter ignorance, irrationality in politics, political bullshit, and identity politics. (shrink)
Epistemological disjunctivism (ED) has been thought to solve the conditionality problem for epistemic externalism. This problem arises from externalists’ characterization of our epistemic standings as conditional on the obtaining of worldly facts which we lack any reflective access to. ED is meant to avoid the conditionality problem by explicating subjects’ perceptual knowledge in paradigmatic cases of perceptual knowledge via their possession of perceptual reasons that are both factive and reflectively accessible. I argue that ED’s account of reflectively accessible factive perceptual (...) reasons is also prey to the conditionality problem. After that, I submit that Stroud’s influential formulation of the conditionality problem relies on a methodological requirement that is potentially dissociable from ED. So, it is possible to put ED in the service of a more modest anti-skeptical strategy. I close by suggesting that this modest anti-skeptical strategy successfully undercuts the underdetermination-based skeptical paradox. Nevertheless, it does not have substantial advantages over some forms of epistemic externalism. (shrink)
Abstract. The aim of this paper is to sketch a topological epistemology that can be characterized as a knowledge first epistemology. For this purpose, the standard topological semantics for knowledge in terms of the interior kernel operator K of a topological space is extended to a topological semantics of belief operators B in a new way. It is shown that a topological structure has a kind of “derivation” (its “assembly” or “lattice of nuclei”) that defines a profusion of (...) belief operators B. These operators are compatible with the knowledge operator K in the sense that the all the pairs (K, B) satisfy the rules and axioms of a (weak) Stalnaker logic of knowledge and belief. The family of belief operators B compatible with K is partially ordered such that different belief operators can be compared according to their strength or reliability. Thereby, for a given topological knowledge operator, a kind of intuitionist logic of belief operators B compatible with K is defined. In sum, the topological knowledge first epistemology presented in this paper amounts to a pluralist knowledge first epistemology that conceives the relation between knowledge and belief not as a 1-1-relation but as a pluralist 1-n-relation, i.e., one knowledge operator K gives rise to a numerous family of compatible belief operators B. (shrink)
This paper formulates a general epistemological argument against what I call non-causal realism, generalizing domain specific arguments by Benacerraf, Field, and others. First I lay out the background to the argument, making a number of distinctions that are sometimes missed in discussions of epistemological arguments against realism. Then I define the target of the argument—non-causal realism—and argue that any non-causal realist theory, no matter the subject matter, cannot be given a reasonable epistemology and so should be rejected. Finally I (...) discuss and respond to several possible responses to the argument. In addition to clearing up and avoiding numerous misunderstandings of arguments of this kind that are quite common in the literature, this paper aims to present and endorse a rigorous and fully general epistemological argument against realism. (shrink)
It has been standard philosophical practice in analytic philosophy to employ intuitions generated in response to thought-experiments as evidence in the evaluation of philosophical claims. In part as a response to this practice, an exciting new movement—experimental philosophy—has recently emerged. This movement is unified behind both a common methodology and a common aim: the application of methods of experimental psychology to the study of the nature of intuitions. In this paper, we will introduce two different views concerning the relationship that (...) holds between experimental philosophy and the future of standard philosophical practice (what we call, the proper foundation view and the restrictionist view), discuss some of the more interesting and important results obtained by proponents of both views, and examine the pressure these results put on analytic philosophers to reform standard philosophical practice. We will also defend experimental philosophy from some recent objections, suggest future directions for work in experimental philosophy, and suggest what future lines of epistemological response might be available to those wishing to defend analytic epistemology from the challenges posed by experimental philosophy. (shrink)
Experimental epistemology uses experimental methods of the cognitive sciences to shed light on debates within epistemology,the philosophical study of knowledge and rationally justified belief. In this first critical collection on this exciting new subfield, leading researchers tackle key questions pertaining to knowledge, evidence, and rationally justified belief.
Though concise and introductory, this book argues inter alia that Dretske’s information-theoretic epistemology must take into account that many of our information channels are socially constructed, not least through learning concepts and information. These social aspects of human knowledge are consistent with realism about the objects of our empirical knowledge. It further argues that, though important, Margaret Gilbert’s social ontology in principle can neither accommodate nor account for the most fundamental social dimensions of human cognition.
One of the main goals of epistemologists is to provide a substantive and explanatory account of the conditions under which a belief has some desirable epistemic status (typically, justification or knowledge). According to the reliabilist approach to epistemology, any adequate account will need to mention the reliability of the process responsible for the belief, or truth-conducive considerations more generally. Historically, one major motivation for reliabilism—and one source of its enduring interest—is its naturalistic potential. According to reliabilists, epistemic properties can (...) be explained in terms of reliability, which in turn can be understood without reference to any unreduced epistemic notions, such as evidence or knowledge. This article begins by surveying some of the main forms of reliabilism, concentrating on process reliabilism as a theory of justification. It proceeds to review some of the main objections to reliabilism, and some of the responses that have been offered on the reliabilist’s behalf. After canvassing some recent developments in reliabilist epistemology, the article concludes by considering various cousins and spin-offs of reliabilist epistemology, including virtue reliabilism and various evidentialist-reliabilist hybrids. (shrink)
This article argues that there can be epistemic dilemmas: situations in which one faces conflicting epistemic requirements with the result that whatever one does, one is doomed to do wrong from the epistemic point of view. Accepting this view, I argue, may enable us to solve several epistemological puzzles.
In common with traditional forms of epistemic internalism, epistemological disjunctivism attempts to incorporate an awareness condition on justification. Unlike traditional forms of internalism, however, epistemological disjunctivism rejects the so-called New Evil Genius thesis. In so far as epistemological disjunctivism rejects the New Evil Genius thesis, it is revisionary. -/- After explaining what epistemological disjunctivism is, and how it relates to traditional forms of epistemic internalism / externalism, I shall argue that the epistemological disjunctivist’s account of the intuitions underlying the New (...) Evil Genius thought experiment is at best incomplete. As presented, therefore, epistemological disjunctivism is unable to accommodate the core guiding intuitions of epistemic internalism. Given the stated aim of not being revisionary on this score, the view is at a dialectical disadvantage over the traditional forms of epistemic internalism the position is meant to replace. Unfortunately, therefore, at present, the impasse between internalism and externalism remains. (shrink)
Epistemologists often appeal to the idea that a normative theory must provide useful, usable, guidance to argue for one normative epistemology over another. I argue that this is a mistake. Guidance considerations have no role to play in theory choice in epistemology. I show how this has implications for debates about the possibility and scope of epistemic dilemmas, the legitimacy of idealisation in Bayesian epistemology, uniqueness versus permissivism, sharp versus mushy credences, and internalism versus externalism.