In Educating Reason, Harvey Siegel presented the case regarding rationality and critical thinking as fundamental education ideals. In Rationality Redeemed? , a collection of essays written since that time, he develops this view, responds to major criticisms raised against it, and engages those critics in dialogue. In developing his ideas and responding to critics, Siegel addresses main currents in contemporary thought, including feminism, postmodernism and multiculturalism.
Wittgenstein famously introduced the notion of ‘hinge propositions’: propositions that are assumptions or presuppositions of our languages, conceptual schemes, and language games, presuppositions that cannot themselves be rationally established, defended, or challenged. This idea has given rise to an epistemological approach, ‘hinge epistemology’, which itself has important implications for argumentation. In particular, it develops and provides support for Robert Fogelin’s case for deep disagreements: disagreements that cannot be rationally resolved by processes of rational argumentation. In this paper, I first examine (...) hinge epistemology in its own right, and then explore its implications for arguments and the theory of argumentation. I argue that the Wittgensteinian approach to hinge propositions is problematic, and that, suitably understood, they can be rationally challenged, defended, and evaluated; there are no well-formed, coherent propositions, ‘hinge’ or otherwise, that are beyond epistemic evaluation, critical scrutiny, and argumentative support/critique; and good arguments concerning hinge propositions are not only possible but common. My arguments will rely on a thoroughgoing fallibilism, a rejection of ‘privileged’ frameworks, and an insistence on the challengeability of all frameworks, both from within and from without. (shrink)
In his recent work in social epistemology, Alvin Goldman argues that truth is the fundamental epistemic end of education, and that critical thinking is of merely instrumental value with respect to that fundamental end. He also argues that there is a central place for testimony and trust in the classroom, and an educational danger in over-emphasizing the fostering of students’ critical thinking. In this paper I take issue with these claims, and argue that (1) critical thinking is a fundamental end (...) of education, independently of its instrumental tie to truth, and (2) it is critical thinking, rather than testimony and trust,that is educationally basic. (shrink)
Reichenbach's well-known distinction between the context of discovery and the context of justification has recently come under attack from several quarters. In this paper I attempt to reconsider the distinction and evaluate various recent criticisms of it. These criticisms fall into two main groups: those which directly challenge Reichenbach's distinction; and those which (I argue) indirectly but no less seriously challenge that distinction by rejecting the related distinction between psychology and epistemology, and defending the "naturalizing" of epistemology. I argue that (...) these recent criticisms fail, and that the distinction remains an important conceptual tool necessary for an adequate understanding of the way in which scientific claims purport to appropriately portray our natural environment. (shrink)
In this paper we defend a particular version of the epistemic approach to argumentation. We advance some general considerations in favor of the approach and then examine the ways in which different versions of it play out with respect to the theory of fallacies, which we see as central to an understanding of argumentation. Epistemic theories divide into objective and subjective versions. We argue in favor of the objective version, showing that it provides a better account than its subjectivist rival (...) of the central fallacy of begging the question. We suggest that the strengths of the objective epistemic theory of fallacies provide support for the epistemic approach to argumentation more generally. (shrink)
The traditional views of science as the possessor of a special method, and as the epitome or apex of rationality, have come under severe challenges for a variety of historical, psychological, sociological, political, and philosophical reasons. As a result, many philosophers are either denying science its claim to rationality, or else casting about for a new account of its rationality. In this paper a defense of the traditional view is offered. It is argued that contemporary philosophical discussion regarding the rationality (...) of science is plagued by a failure to distinguish among three different questions, all taken to be "the" question of the rationality of science. Once these questions are delineated, it becomes possible to answer one of them in such a way that the traditional link between science's rationality and its method is reestablished--although the scientific method is itself given a non-traditional rendering. In short, it is argued that there is a feature of science which is appropriately characterized as its method; that this method does in fact secure science's rationality; and that science is therefore correctly construed as preeminently rational. It is suggested in addition that the philosophy of science is itself best seen as a primarily epistemological activity, and consequently that a correction from the excessively historicist conception of recent philosophy of science is in order. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: While we applaud several aspects of Lilian Bermejo-Luque's novel theory of argumentation and especially welcome its epistemological dimensions, in this discussion we raise doubts about her conception of argumentation, her account of argumentative goodness, and her treatments of the notion of “giving reasons” and of justification.RESUMEN: Aunque aprobamos varios aspectos de la nueva teoría de la argumentación propuesta por Lilian Bermejo Luque y, en particular, su dimensión epistemológica, en este debate planteamos algunas dudas sobre su concepción de la argumentación, (...) su análisis de la bondad argumentativa y su tratamiento de la noción de “dar razones” y de justificación. (shrink)
Unlike more standard non-normative naturalizations of epistemology and philosophy of science, Larry Laudan's naturalized philosophy of science explicitly maintains a normative dimension. This paper critically assesses Laudan's normative naturalism. After summarizing Laudan's position, the paper examines (1) Laudan's construal of methodological rules as 'instrumentalities' connecting methodological means and cognitive ends; (2) Laudan's instrumental conception of scientific rationality; (3) Laudan's naturalistic account of the axiology of science; and (4) the extent to which a normative philosophy of science can be naturalized. It (...) is concluded that Laudan's normative naturalism is as problematic as its non-normative naturalist cousins. (shrink)
Recent work in epistemology has focused increasingly on the social dimensions of knowledge and inquiry. Education is one important social arena in which knowledge plays a leading role, and in which knowledge-claims are presented, analyzed, evaluated, and transmitted. Philosophers of education have long attended to the epistemological issues raised by the theory and practice of education . While historically philosophical issues concerning education were treated alongside other philosophical issues, in recent times the former set of issues have been largely neglected (...) by philosophers working in the core areas of the discipline. Interestingly, the rise of social epistemology has been accompanied by a renewed interest by mainstream philosophers in philosophical questions concerning education. Whether or not this accompaniment is accidental, or is legitimately explainable in terms of broad intellectual, philosophical, or social/political currents and movements, I will not endeavor to address here. The increasing respectability of and philosophical interest in both social epistemology and philosophy of education are in any case salutary developments, each signaling both a broadening of the set of interests and issues deemed legitimate by practitioners of the parent discipline, and an increased willingness to take seriously the philosophical problems raised by the ubiquitous social/communal effort to transmit/transform culture by way of education. (shrink)
In this review of Christopher Winch's new book, Education, Autonomy and Critical Thinking (2006), I discuss its main theses, supporting some and criticising others. In particular, I take issue with several of Winch's claims and arguments concerning critical thinking and rationality, and deplore his reliance on what I suggest are problematic strains of the later Wittgenstein. But these criticisms are not such as to upend Winch's powerful critique of antiperfectionism and 'strong autonomy' or his defence of 'weak autonomy'. His account (...) of autonomy as an educational aim is important and in several respects compelling. (shrink)
In his 1983 article, Paul A. Roth defends the Quinean project of naturalized epistemology from the criticism presented in my 1980 article. In this note I would like to respond to Roth's effort. I will argue that, while helpful in advancing and clarifying the issues, Roth's defense of naturalized epistemology does not succeed. The primary topic to be clarified is Quine's "no first philosophy" doctrine; but I will address myself to other points as well.
In two recent papers, I criticized Ronald N. Giere's and Larry Laudan's arguments for 'naturalizing' the philosophy of science (Siegel 1989, 1990). Both Giere and Laudan replied to my criticisms (Giere 1989, Laudan 1990b). The key issue arising in both interchanges is these naturalists' embrace of instrumental conceptions of rationality, and their concomitant rejection of non-instrumental conceptions of that key normative notion. In this reply I argue that their accounts of science's rationality as exclusively instrumental fail, and consequently that their (...) cases for 'normatively naturalizing' the philosophy of science fail as well. (shrink)
In Biro and Siegel we argued that a theory of argumentation mustfully engage the normativity of judgments about arguments, and we developedsuch a theory. In this paper we further develop and defend our theory.
A major virtue of the Pragma-Dialectical theory of argumentation is its commitment to reasonableness and rationality as central criteria of argumentative quality. However, the account of these key notions offered by the originators of this theory, Frans van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst, seems to us problematic in several respects. In what follows we criticize that account and suggest an alternative, offered elsewhere, that seems to us to be both independently preferable and more in keeping with the epistemic approach to arguments (...) and argumentation we favor. (shrink)
This paper considers two philosophical problems and their relation to science education. The first involves the rationality of science; it is argued here that the traditional view, according to which science is rational because of its adherence to (a non-standard conception of) scientific method, successfully answers one central question concerning science''s rationality. The second involves the aims of education; here it is argued that a fundamental educational aim is the fostering of rationality, or its educational cognate, critical thinking. The ramifications (...) of these two philosophical theses for science education are then considered, and a science education which takes reasons in science as its fundamental feature is sketched. (shrink)
Garssen and van Laar in effect concede our main criticism of the pragma-dialectical approach. The criticism is that the conclusions of arguments can be ‘P-D reasonable’ yet patently unreasonable, epistemically speaking. The concession consists in the claim that the theory “remains restricted to the investigation of standpoints in the light of particular sets of starting points” which are “up to individual disputants to create” and the admission that all the relevant terms of normative appraisal have been redefined. We also discuss (...) their criticisms of the epistemic account of argumentation and argument evaluation and raise some new questions about the approach they defend. (shrink)
How should we think about the interrelationships that obtain among Philosophy, Education, and Culture? In this paper I explore the contours of one such interrelationship: namely, the way in which educational and (other) philosophical ideals transcend individual cultures. I do so by considering the contemporary educational and philosophical commitment to multiculturalism. Consideration of multiculturalism, I argue, reveals important aspects of the character of both educational and philosophical ideals. Specifically, I advance the following claims: i) We are obliged to embrace the (...) moral and political directives of multiculturalism. ii) This obligation is a moral one: that is, multiculturalism is justified on moral grounds. iii) Far from entailing any philosophically problematic form of cultural relativism, multiculturalism is itself a ‘universal’ or ‘transcultural’ ideal. iv) Moreover, the advocacy of multiculturalism presupposes another kind of universality, dubbed below ‘transcultural normative reach.’ v) Consequently, multiculturalism should not be understood as entailing the demise of ‘universalistic’ dimensions of either philosophy or education. (shrink)
It is with some trepidation that I offer this critical review of Feyerabend's new book. I do not relish the prospect of getting involved in one of the nasty little fights Feyerabend picks with those who criticize his work. Nevertheless, Feyerabend's work cries out for critical attention. Of particular interest is the degree to which this new work deepens or enhances Feyerabend's earlier castigations of Reason. Fans of Feyerabend will be disappointed to learn that Feyerabend's philosophy is not deepened or (...) enhanced in any significant way, and that his responses to his critics are on the whole unconvincing. (shrink)
There are many contemporary sources and defenders of epistemological relativism which have not been considered thus far. I have, for example, barely touched on the voluminous literature regarding frameworks, conceptual schemes, and Wittgensteinian forms of life. Davidson's challenge to the scheme/content distinction and thereby to conceptual relativism, Rorty's acceptance of the Davidsonian argument and his use of it to defend a relativistic position, Winchian and other sociological and anthropological arguments for relativism, recent work in the sociology of science, and Goodman's (...) novel articulation of a relativism of worlds and of worldmaking, to mention just some of the contemporary loci of debate, all need to be addressed. So also do the plethora of relativistic arguments spawned by Kuhn and related literature in recent philosophy of science. Therefore, it cannot be said that there is no more to be said on behalf of epistemological relativism. Moreover, the positive task of delineating a defensible version of absolutism remains to be accomplished.Nevertheless, the defenses of relativism considered above do seem to have been successfully undercut. More specifically, the arguments for the incoherence of relativism are as compelling as ever, and have manifestly not been laid to rest by contemporary relativists. The basic Socratic insight that relativism is self-refuting, and so incoherent, remains a fundamental difficulty for those who would resuscitate and defend the ancient Protagorean doctrine or a modern variant of it. (shrink)
Advocates of naturalized epistemology who wish to secure epistemology’s normativity want that normativity to be restricted to instrumental concerns, because these can be understood naturalistically. But epistemic normativity cannot be so limited; a ‘categorical’ sort of normativity must be acknowledged. Naturalism can neither account for nor do away with this sort of normativity. Hence naturalism is at best a seriously incomplete and therefore inadequate meta-epistemological position.
William Hare has made fundamental contributions to philosophy of education. Among the most important of these contributions is his hugely important work on open-mindedness. In this paper I explore the several relationships that exist between Hare’s favored educational ideal and my own . I argue that while both are of central importance, it is the latter that is the more fundamental of the two.
Philosophy of education has an honored place in the history of Western philosophical thought. Its questions are as vital now, both philosophically and practically, as they have ever been. In recent decades, however, philosophical thinking about education has largely fallen off the philosophical radar screen. Philosophy of education has lost intimate contact with the parent discipline to a regrettably large extent--to the detriment of both. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education is intended to serve as a general introduction to (...) key issues in the field, to further the philosophical pursuit of those issues, and to bring philosophy of education back into closer contact with general philosophy. Distinguished philosophers and philosophers of education, most of whom have made important contributions to core areas of philosophy, turn their attention in these 28 essays to a broad range of philosophical questions concerning education. The chapters are accessible to readers with no prior exposure to philosophy of education, and provide both surveys of the general domain they address, and advance the discussion in those domains in original and fruitful ways. Together their authors constitute a new wave of general philosophers taking up fundamental philosophical questions about education--the first such cohort of outstanding general philosophers to do so (in English) in a generation. (shrink)
Is 'education' a thick epistemic concept? The answer depends, of course, on the viability of the 'thick/thin' distinction, as well as the degree to which education is an epistemic concept at all. I will concentrate mainly on the latter, and will argue that epistemological matters are central to education and our philosophical thinking about it; and that, insofar, education is indeed rightly thought of as an epistemic concept. In laying out education's epistemological dimensions, I hope to clarify the degree to (...) which it makes sense to regard the concept as 'thick'. I also discuss the relationship between philosophy of education and virtue epistemology and the sense in which being educated might itself be thought to be an epistemic virtue. Finally, I urge virtue epistemologists in particular and epistemologists generally to turn their attention to questions of education, to further both the philosophy of education and epistemology itself. (shrink)