Earl Conee and Richard Feldman have recently argued that the evidential support relation should be understood in terms of explanatory coherence: roughly, one's evidence supports a proposition if and only if that proposition is part of the best available explanation of the evidence. Their thesis has been criticized through alleged counterexamples, perhaps the most important of which are cases where a subject has a justified belief about the future. Kevin McCain has defended the thesis against Byerly's counterexample. I argue that (...) McCain's defense is inadequate before pointing toward a more promising solution for explanationism. The Byerly–McCain exchange is important because it casts light on the difficult issues of the standards for justification and the nature of epistemic support. Furthermore, McCain's defense of explanationism about epistemic support represents an important recent development of the burgeoning explanationist program in epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
In this paper I consider the prospects for a skeptical version of infallibilism. For the reasons given above, I think skeptical invariantism has a lot going for it. However, a satisfactory theory of knowledge must account for all of our desiderata, including that our ordinary knowledge attributions are appropriate. This last part will not be easy for the infallibilist invariantist. Indeed, I will argue that it is much more difficult than those sympathetic to skepticism have acknowledged, as there are serious (...) problems with regarding paradigmatic, typical knowledge attributions as loose talk, exaggerations, or otherwise practical uses of language. So, I do not think the pragmatic story that skeptical invariantism needs is one that works without a supplemental error theory of the sort left aside by purely pragmatic accounts of knowledge attributions. In its place, I will offer a compromise pragmatic and error view that I think delivers everything that skeptics can reasonably hope to get. (shrink)
Duncan Pritchard has argued that luck is fundamentally a modal notion: an event is lucky when it occurs in the actual world, but does not occur in more than half of the relevant nearby possible worlds. Jennifer Lackey has provided counterexamples to accounts which, like Pritchard’s, only allow for the existence of improbable lucky events. Neil Levy has responded to Lackey by offering a modal account of luck which attempts to respect the intuition that some lucky events occur in more (...) than half of the relevant nearby possible worlds. But his account rejects that events which are as likely as those in Lackey’s examples are lucky. Instead, they are merely fortunate. I argue that Levy’s argument to this effect fails. I then offer a substitute account of the improbability condition which respects this intuition. This condition says that the relevant notion of probability for luck is epistemic. (shrink)
That a philosophical thesis entails a vicious regress is commonly taken to be decisive evidence that the thesis is false. In this paper, I argue that the existence of a vicious regress is insufficient to reject a proposed analysis provided that certain constraints on the analysis are met. When a vicious regress is present, some further consequence of the thesis must be established that, together with the presence of the vicious regress, shows the thesis to be false. The argument is (...) provided largely through the examination of Michael Bergmann's vicious regress argument against strong awareness internalism and a partial defense of that thesis against Bergmann. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that part of what makes an event lucky concerns how probable that event is. In this paper, I argue that an epistemic probability account of luck successfully resists recent arguments that all theories of luck, including probability theories, are subject to counterexample (Hales 2016). I argue that an event is lucky if and only if it is significant and sufficiently improbable. An event is significant when, given some reflection, the subject would regard the event as significant, and (...) the event’s epistemic probability, determined by the subject’s evidence, is the only kind of probability that directly bears on whether or not the event is lucky. I conclude with some lessons that are applicable to probability theorists of luck generally, including those defending non-epistemic probability theories. (shrink)
Strict moderate invariantism is the ho-hum, ‘obvious’ view about knowledge attributions. It says knowledge attributions are often true and that only traditional epistemic factors like belief, truth, and justification make them true. As commonsensical as strict moderate invariantism is, it is equally natural to withdraw a knowledge attribution when error possibilities are made salient. If strict moderate invariantism is true, these knowledge-denials are often false because the subject does in fact know the proposition. I argue that strict moderate invariantism needs (...) an explanation of this phenomenon, but it does not have one. That is significant, for if strict moderate invariantism does not square with ordinary intuition, then it cannot rely on ordinary intuition for support. Section 1 introduces the concept of epistemic relevance blindness, which says ordinary subjects are generally insensitive to whether or not error possibilities are relevant to knowledge attributions. Section 2 focuses on Patrick Rysiew’s influential strict moderate invariantist pragmatic explanation of knowledge-denials and argues that such pragmatic explanations of knowledge-denials depend on attributors being epistemic relevance blind. Section 3 targets psychological explanations of epistemic relevance blindness offered separately by Jennifer Nagel and Mikkel Gerken. I argue that strict moderate invariantists lack a plausible explanation of epistemic relevance blindness. (shrink)
Several arguments attempt to show that if traditional, acquaintance-based epistemic internalism is true, we cannot have foundational justification for believing falsehoods. I examine some of those arguments and find them wanting. Nevertheless, an infallibilist position about foundational justification is highly plausible: prima facie, much more plausible than moderate foundationalism. I conclude with some remarks about the dialectical position we infallibilists find ourselves in with respect to arguing for our preferred view and some considerations regarding how infallibilists should develop their account (...) of infallible foundational justification. In particular, I provide an account of how propositions that moderate foundationalists claim are foundationally justified derive their epistemic support from infallibly known propositions. This is possible when a foundational proposition is coarsely-grained enough to correspond to determinable properties exemplified in experience or determinate properties that a subject insufficiently attends to; one may have inferential justification derived from such a basis when a more finely-grained proposition includes in its content one of the ways that the foundational proposition could be true. (shrink)
After a period of inactivity, interest in explanationism as a thesis about the nature of epistemic justification has been renewed. Poston and McCain have both recently offered versions of explanationist evidentialism. In this paper, we pose two objections to explanationist evidentialism. First, explanationist evidentialism fails to state a sufficient condition for justification. Second, explanationist evidentialism implies a vicious regress.
In this paper, I explain the curious role played by the Argument from Absolute Terms in Peter Unger's book Ignorance, I provide a critical presentation of the argument, and I consider some outstanding issues and the argument’s contemporary significance.
I undermine the argument that ‘high’ epistemic standards are false because children and other cognitively unsophisticated subjects possess justification while lacking certain logical and epistemic concepts. I argue, instead, that the standards we often use to attribute logical and epistemic concepts to ordinary, cognitively sophisticated adults can easily be seen to cover many unsophisticated subjects; therefore, the alleged lack of certain concepts is no basis for rejecting ‘high’ epistemic standards. Whether or not such standards are correct has to be argued (...) on other grounds. (shrink)
Positions in the debate about the correct semantics of “S knows that p” are sometimes motivated in part by an appeal to interpretive charity. In particular, non-skeptical views hold that many utterances of the sentence “S knows that p” are true and some of them think the fact that their views are able to respect this is a reason why their views are more charitable than skeptical invariantism. However, little attention has been paid to why charity should be understood in (...) this way and little effort has been spent justifying the notion that a charitable semantics is likely to be true. I distinguish two kinds of interpretive charity. One principle of charity is often appealed to in the literature. I introduce a second. I argue that while some positions better respect one principle of charity, the reverse is true of the other principle of charity. I conclude with some remarks about how to break this apparent tie. (shrink)
Epistemic probability theories of luck come in two versions. They are easiest to distinguish by the epistemic property they claim eliminates luck. One view says that the property is knowledge. The other view says that the property is being guaranteed by a subject’s evidence. Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen defends the Knowledge Account (KA). He has recently argued that his view is preferable to my Epistemic Analysis of Luck (EAL), which defines luck in terms of evidential probability. In this paper, I defend EAL (...) against Steglich-Petersen’s arguments, clarify the view, and argue for the explanatory significance of EAL with respect to some core epistemological issues. My overall goal is to show that an epistemic probability account of luck rooted in the concepts of evidence and evidential support remains a viable and fruitful overall account of luck. (shrink)
“I know that p but it is possible that not-p” sounds contradictory. Some philosophers, notably David Lewis, have taken this as evidence that knowledge requires infallibility. Others have attempted to undermine that inference by arguing that there is a plausible pragmatic explanation of why such sentences sound odd, and thus do not undermine fallibilism. I argue that the proffered pragmatic explanations fail and I raise challenges for any possible pragmatic explanation of the character of concessive knowledge attributions. It is reasonable (...) to conclude that concessive knowledge attributions are genuine contradictions. (shrink)
Joel Pust has recently challenged the Thomas Reid-inspired argument against the reliability of the a priori defended by Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William Alston, and Michael Bergmann. The Reidian argument alleges that the Cartesian insistence on the primacy of a priori rationality and subjective sensory experience as the foundations of epistemic justification is unwarranted because the same kind of global skeptical scenario that Cartesians recognize as challenging the legitimacy of perceptual beliefs about the external world also undermine the reliability of (...) a priori rationality. In reply, Pust contends that some a priori propositions are beyond doubt and that fact can be used to support the overall reliability of reason. This paper challenges Pust’s argument. I argue that while Pust successfully undermines a radical skeptical view of reason, he does not refute a more modest skepticism. I conclude with some suggestions for Cartesian a priorists. (shrink)