In this paper I formulate the thesis of the Division of Epistemic Labor as a thesis of epistemic dependence, illustrate several ways in which individual subjects are epistemically dependent on one or more of the members of their community in the process of knowledge acquisition, and draw conclusions about the cognitively distributed nature of some knowledge acquisition.
Sanford C. Goldberg presents a novel account of the speech act of assertion. He argues that this type of speech act is answerable to an epistemic, context-sensitive norm. On this basis he shows the philosophical importance of assertion for key debates in philosophy of language and mind, epistemology, and ethics.
Elsewhere I and others have argued that evidence one should have had can bear on the justification of one's belief, in the form of defeating one's justification. In this paper, I am interested in knowing how evidence one should have had (on the one hand) and one's higher-order evidence (on the other) interact in determinations of the justification of belief. In doing so I aim to address two types of scenario that previous discussions have left open. In one type of (...) scenario, there is a clash between a subject's higher-order evidence and the evidence she should have had: S's higher-order evidence is misleading as to the existence or likely epistemic bearing of further evidence she should have. In the other, while there is further evidence S should have had, this evidence would only have offered additional support for S's belief that p. The picture I offer derives from two “epistemic ceiling” principles linking evidence to justification: one's justification for the belief that p can be no higher than it is on one's total evidence, nor can it be higher than what it would have been had one had all of the evidence one should have had. Together, these two principles entail what I call the doctrine of Epistemic Strict Liability: insofar as one fails to have evidence one should have had, one is epistemically answerable to that evidence whatever reasons one happened to have regarding the likely epistemic bearing of that evidence. I suggest that such a position can account for the battery of intuitions elicited in the full range of cases I will be considering. (shrink)
In this paper I will be arguing that there are cases in which a subject, S, should have known that p, even though, given her state of evidence at the time, she was in no position to know it. My argument for this result will involve making two claims. The uncontroversial claim is this: S should have known that p when another person has, or would have, legitimate expectations regarding S’s epistemic condition, the satisfaction of these expectations would require that (...) S knows that p, and S fails to know that p. The controversial claim is that these three conditions are sometimes jointly satisfied. I will spend the majority of my time defending the controversial claim. I will argue that there are two main sources of legitimate expectations regarding another’s epistemic condition: participation in a legitimate social practice ; and moral and epistemic expectations more generally . In developing my position on this score, I will have an opportunity to defend the doctrine that there are “practice-generated entitlements” to expect certain things, where it can happen that the satisfaction of these expectations requires another’s having certain pieces of knowledge; to contrast practice-generated entitlements to expect with epistemic reasons to believe; to defend the idea that moral and epistemic standards themselves can be taken to reflect legitimate expectations we have of each other; to compare the “should have known” phenomenon with a widely-discussed phenomenon in the ethics literature—that of culpable ignorance; and finally to suggest the bearing of the “should have known” phenomenon to epistemology itself. (shrink)
In Relying on others [Goldberg, S. 2010a. Relying on others: An essay in epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press], I argued that, from the perspective of an interest in epistemic assessment, the testimonial belief-forming process should be regarded as interpersonally extended. At the same time, I explicitly rejected the extendedness model for beliefs formed through reliance on a mere mechanism, such as a clock. In this paper, I try to bolster my defense of this asymmetric treatment. I argue that a crucial (...) assumption lying behind the argument I used to establish interpersonal extendedness in testimony cases does not apply to beliefs formed through reliance on instruments. In this respect, at least, there appears to be something epistemically distinctive about relying on another epistemic agent. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there can be cases of testimonial knowledge acquired through the acceptance of testimony which itself is unsafe. This has implications both for the epistemology of testimony and for the social nature of knowledge more generally.
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)
Many epistemologists agree that even very young children sometimes acquire knowledge through testimony. In this paper I address two challenges facing this view. The first (building on a point made in Lackey (2005)) is the defeater challenge, which is to square the hypothesis that very young children acquire testimonial knowledge with the fact that children (whose cognitive immaturity prevents them from having or appreciating reasons) cannot be said to satisfy the No-Defeaters condition on knowledge. The second is the extension challenge, (...) which is to give a motivated, extensionally-adequate account of the conditions on testimonial knowledge in early childhood. Neither challenge can be met merely by endorsing externalism about knowledge; but we can meet both by reconceiving the process that eventuates in the child’s consumption of testimony. My central thesis is that this process should be seen as implicating features of the child's social environment. The result is a novel anti-individualistic externalism about knowledge. (shrink)
Most explorations of the epistemic implications of Semantic Anti- Individualism (SAI) focus on issues of self-knowledge (first-person au- thority) and/or external-world skepticism. Less explored has been SAIs implications forthe epistemology of reasoning. In this paperI argue that SAI has some nontrivial implications on this score. I bring these out by reflecting on a problem first raised by Boghossian (1992). Whereas Boghos- sians main interest was in establishing the incompatibility of SAI and the a priority of logical abilities (Boghossian 1992: 22), (...) I argue that Boghossians argument is better interpreted as pointing to SAIs implications for the na- ture of discursive justification. (shrink)
In her recent book Anti-Individualism and Knowledge, Jessica Brown has presented a novel answer to the self-knowledge achievement problem facing the proponent of anti-individualism. She argues that her answer is to be preferred to the traditional answer (based on Burge, 1988a). Here I present three objections to the claim that her proposed answer is to be preferred. The significance of these objections lies in what they tell us about the nature of the sort of knowledge that is in dispute. Perhaps (...) the most important lesson I draw from this discussion is that, given the nature of knowledge of one's own thoughts, discriminability (from relevant alternatives) is not a condition on knowledge as such. (shrink)
Several authors (Boghossian 1998; Segal 2000) allege that 'empty' would-be natural kind terms are a problem for anti-individualistic semantics. In this paper I rebut the charge by providing an anti-individualistic semantics for such terms.
In this paper I argue that the nature of our epistemic entitlement to rely on certain belief-forming processes—perception, memory, reasoning, and perhaps others—is not restricted to one's own belief-forming processes. I argue as well that we can have access to the outputs of others’ processes, in the form of their assertions. These two points support the conclusion that epistemic entitlements are “interpersonal.” I then proceed to argue that this opens the way for a non-standard version of anti-reductionism in the epistemology (...) of testimony, and a more “extended” epistemology—one that calls into question the epistemic significance that has traditionally been ascribed to the boundaries separating individual subjects. (shrink)
Social (epistemic) virtues are the virtues bound up with those forms of inquiry involved in social routes to knowledge. A thoroughly individualistic account of the social virtues endorses two claims: (1) we can fully characterize the nature of the social virtues independent of the social factors that are typically in play when these virtues are exemplified, and (2) even when a subject’s route to knowledge is social, the only epistemic virtues that are relevant to her acquisition of knowledge are those (...) she herself possesses. A social (or anti-individualistic) account of the social virtues, by contrast, denies one or both of these claims. I will offer some reasons for thinking that the individualistic account is not acceptable, and that one or the other social account provides a better understanding of the social virtues. The argument is not decisive, but it does suggest that the social dimension of social epistemic virtues is not fully characterizable in individualistic terms. (shrink)
Given anti-individualism, a subject might have a priori (non-empirical)knowledge that she herself is thinking that p, have complete and exhaustive explicational knowledge of all of the concepts composing the content that p, and yet still need empirical information (e.g. regarding her embedding conditions and history) prior to being in a position to apply her exhaustive conceptual knowledge in a knowledgeable way to the thought that p. This result should be welcomed by anti-individualists: it squares with everything that compatibilist-minded anti-individualists have (...) said regarding e.g. the compatibility of anti-individualism and basic self-knowledge; and more importantly it contains the crux of a response to McKinsey-style arguments against anti-individualism. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to defend a novel characterization of epistemic luck. Helping myself to the notions of epistemic entitlement and adequate explanation, I propose that a true belief suffers from epistemic luck iff an adequate explanation of the fact that the belief acquired is true must appeal to propositions to which the subject herself is not epistemically entitled. The burden of the argument is to show that there is a plausible construal of the notions of epistemic entitlement (...) and adequate explanation on which the resulting characterization of epistemic luck, though admittedly programmatic, has several important virtues. It avoids difficulties which plague modal accounts of epistemic luck; it can explain the conflicting temptations one can feel in certain alleged cases of epistemic luck; it offers a novel account of the value of knowledge, without committing itself to any particular analysis of knowledge; and it illuminates the significance for epistemology of the phenomenon of epistemic luck itself. (shrink)
A variant 'evil demon' case is used to argue against internalism about doxastic justification. The argument is not merely novel but surprising, since evil demon cases have long been used by internalists against externalist accounts of doxastic justification.
The following three propositions appear to be individually defensible but jointly inconsistent: (1) reliability is a necessary condition on epistemic justification; (2) on contested matters in philosophy, my beliefs are not reliably formed; (3) some of these beliefs are epistemically justified. I explore the nature and scope of the problem, examine and reject some candidate solutions, compare the issue with ones arising in discussions about disagreement, and offer a brief assessment of our predicament.
In this paper, I apply Duncan Pritchard’s anti-luck epistemology to the case of knowledge through testimony. I claim that Pritchard’s distinction between veritic and reflective luck provides a nice taxonomy of testimony cases, that the taxonomic categories that emerge can be used to suggest precisely what epistemic statuses are transmissible through testimony, and that the resulting picture can make clear how testimony can actually be knowledge-generating.
In this paper I argue that RadicalInterpretation (RI), taken to be a methodological doctrine regarding the conditions under which an interpretation of an utterance is both warranted and correct, has unacceptable implications for the conditions on (ascriptions of) understanding. The notion of understanding at play is that which underwrites the testimonial transmission of knowledge. After developing this notion I argue that, on the assumption of RI, hearers will fail to have such understanding in situations in which we should want to (...) maintain otherwise. The overall effect of the argument is to provide a heretofore unexamined source of motivation for anti-individualistic approaches to the semantics of utterances. (shrink)
While Process Reliabilism has long been regarded by many as a version of Foundationalism, this paper argues that there is a version of Process Reliabilism that can also been seen as at least a partial vindication of Coherentism as well. The significance of this result lies in what it tells us both about the prospects for a plausible Process Reliabilism, but also about the old-school debate between Foundationalists and Coherentists.
The process of education, and in particular that involving very young children, often involves students' taking their teachers' word on a good many things. At the same time, good education at every level ought to inculcate, develop, and support students' ability to think for themselves. While these two features of education need not be regarded as contradictory, it is not clear how they relate to one another, nor is it clear how (when taken together) these features ought to bear on (...) educational practice itself. This article, which is largely programmatic, aims to provide tentative answers to these questions. (shrink)
Externalism1 is the thesis that some propositional attitudes depend for their individuation on features of the thinker’s (social and/or physical) environment. The doctrine of self-knowledge of thoughts is the thesis that for all thinkers S and occurrent thoughts that p, S has authoritative and non-empirical knowledge of her thought that p. A much-discussed question in the literature is whether these two doctrines are compatible. In this paper I attempt to respond to one argument for an incompatibilist conclusion, Boghossian’s 1989 ‘Memory (...) Argument.’. (shrink)
A typical strategy of those who seek to show that externalism is compatible with authoritative knowledge of content is to show that externalism does nothing to undermine the claim that all thinkers can at any time form correct and justi?ed self-ascriptive judgements concerning their occurrent thoughts. In reaction, most incompat- ibilists have assumed the burden of denying that externalism is compatible with this claim about self-ascription. Here I suggest another way to attack the compatibilist strategy. I aim to show that (...) forming a justi?ed true self-ascriptive judgement about one. (shrink)
This paper addresses how the anonymity of an assertion affects the epistemological dimension of its production by speakers, and its reception by hearers. After arguing that anonymity does have implications in both respects, I go on to argue that at least some of these implications derive from a warranted diminishment in speakers' and hearers' expectations of one another when there are few mechanisms for enforcing the responsibilities attendant to speech. As a result, I argue, anonymous assertions do not carry the (...) same of the speaker's relevant epistemic authoritativeness that ordinary assertions do. If this is correct, the phenomenon of anonymity provides us with a lesson regarding ordinary assertions: their aptness for engendering belief in others, and so for communicating knowledge, depends in general on the very publicness of the act of assertion itself. (shrink)
Frege’s ‘differential dubitability’ test is a test for differences in cognitive value: if one can rationally believe that p while simultaneously doubting that q, then the contents p and q amount to different ‘cognitive values’. If subject S is rational, does her simultaneous adoption of different attitudes towards p and q require that the difference between p and q(as cognitive values) be transparent to her? It is natural to think so. But I argue that, if attitude anti-individualism is true, then (...) rational differential dubitability does not presuppose that differences in cognitive value be transparent. The significance of this argument lies in what it tells us, both about the notion of cognitive value (and its relation to the differential dubitability test), but also about the prospects for a Burge-type position which aims to combine attitude anti-individualism with a (perhaps qualified) reliance on the differential dubitability test. (shrink)
In this paper I argue, first, that the most influential (and perhaps only acceptable) account of the epistemology of self-knowledge, developed and defended at great length in Wright (1989b) and (1989c) (among other places), leaves unanswered a question about the psychology of self-knowledge; second, that without an answer to this question about the psychology of self-knowledge, the epistemic account cannot be considered acceptable; and third, that neither Wright's own answer, nor an interpretation-based answer (based on a proposal from Jacobsen (1997)), (...) will suffice as an acceptable answer to the psychological question. My general ambition is thus to establish that more work is needed if we are to have a full account of self-knowledge in both its epistemological and psychological aspects. I conclude by suggesting how my thesis bears on those who aim to provide an empirical account of the cognition involved in self-knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there are cases in which a speaker S's observation of the fact that her assertion that p is accepted by another person enhances the strength of S's own epistemic position with respect to p, as compared to S's strength of epistemic position with respect to p prior to having made the assertion. I conclude by noting that the sorts of consideration that underwrite this possibility may go some distance towards explaining several aspects of our (...) group life as epistemic subjects—in particular, groupthink and group polarization. (shrink)
In other work I have defended the claim that, when we rely on other speakers by accepting what they tell us, our reliance on them differs in epistemically relevant ways from our reliance on instruments, when we rely on them by accepting what they “tell” us. However, where I have explored the former sort of reliance at great length, I have not done so with the latter. In this paper my aim is to do so. My key notions will be (...) those of our social practices, the normative expectations that are sanctioned by those practices, and the epistemically engineered environments constituted by some of these practices. With these notions in mind, I will argue that one’s reliance on instruments, while relevantly different from one’s reliance on other speakers, can nevertheless manifest a kind of epistemic dependence which epistemological theory can and should acknowledge. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the tendency to defer in matters semantic is rationalized by our reliance on the say-so of others for much of what we know about the world. The result, I contend, is a new and distinctly epistemic source of support for the doctrine of attitude anti-individualism.
Regarding testimony as evidence fails to predict the sort of epistemic support testimony provides for testimonial belief. As a result, testimony-based belief should not be assimilated into the category of epistemically inferential, evidence-based belief.
In this paper I argue that the implications of semantic externalism (SE) are even more far-reaching than has heretofore been acknowledged. If SE is true, then it is possible that a thinker's mental reality has joints that cannot in principle be discerned by the thinker herself.
Miranda Fricker's Epistemic Injustice is a wide-ranging and important book on a much-neglected topic: the injustice involved in cases in which distrust arises out of prejudice. Fricker has some important things to say about this sort of injustice: its nature, how it arises, what sustains it, and the unhappy outcomes associated with it for the victim and the society in which it takes place. In the course of developing this account, Fricker also develops an account of the epistemology of testimony. (...) Focusing my attention on that account, my central claims are two. First, at least some of Fricker's arguments against existing (inferentialist and non-inferentialist) views in the epistemology of testimony are less than fully persuasive, and the (non-inferentialist) view she ends up endorsing is not all that different from the views she criticizes. Second, her reasons for harboring doubts regarding the role of a principle of default entitlement within a non-inferentialist account are not persuasive. Neither of these claims affects the overall argument Fricker is trying to run. Rather, they suggest that Fricker may have picked more fights than she needed to in the epistemology of testimony. If so, we have reason to detach Fricker's important work on epistemic injustice from some of the details of the story she tells regarding the epistemology of testimony. (shrink)