Hilary Kornblith argues for a naturalistic approach to investigating knowledge. Knowledge, he explains, is a feature of the natural world, and so should be investigated using scientific methods. He offers an account of knowledge derived from the science of animal behavior, and defends this against its philosophical rivals. This controversial and refreshingly original book offers philosophers a new way to do epistemology.
Hilary Kornblith presents a new account of mental reflection, and its importance for knowledge, reasoning, freedom, and normativity. He argues that reflection cannot solve the philosophical problems it has traditionally been thought to, and offers a more realistic, demystified view of its nature which draws on dual process approaches to cognition.
This paper examines the relationship between methodological naturalism and the standard practice within philosophy of constructing theories on the basis of our intuitions about imaginary cases, especially in the work of Alvin Goldman. It is argued that current work in cognitive science presents serious problems for Goldman's approach.
This paper examines the source and content of epistemic norms. In virtue of what is it that epistemic norms have their normative force? A semantic approach to this question, due to Alvin Goldman, is examined and found unacceptable. Instead, accounts seeking to ground epistemic norms in our desires are argued to be most promising. All of these accounts make epistemic norms a variety of hypothetical imperative. It is argued that such an account may be offered, grounding our epistemic norms in (...) desire, which nevertheless makes these imperatives universal. The account is contrasted with some recent work of Stephen Stich. (shrink)
A number of philosophers, from Thomas Reid1 through C. A. J. Coady2, have argued that one is justified in relying on the testimony of others, and furthermore, that this should be taken as a basic epistemic presumption. If such a general presumption were not ultimately dependent on evidence for the reliability of other people, the ground for this presumption would be a priori. Such a presumption would then have a status like that which Roderick Chisholm claims for the epistemic principle (...) that we are justified in believing what our senses tell us. (shrink)
Jonathan Vogel has presented a disturbing problem for reliabilism. 1 Reliabilists claim that knowledge is reliably produced true belief. Reliabilism is, of course, a version of externalism, and on such a view, a knower need have no knowledge, no justified belief, indeed, no conception that his or her belief is reliably produced. It is the fact that the knower's true belief is reliably produced which makes it a case of knowledge, not any appreciation of this fact. But Vogel now argues (...) that reliabilists will, by a process he calls ‘bootstrapping’, far too easily gain knowledge of the reliability of the processes by which their knowledge is produced. For the reliabilist, knowledge which should be difficult to come by is quite easily and trivially attainable, Vogel argues. And this, of course, seems to show a fundamental flaw in the reliabilist conception of knowledge.One solution to this puzzle is offered by van Cleve . Bootstrapping may seem unattractive, van Cleve claims, but only when we fail to consider the alternative. Any epistemological view which does not legitimate bootstrapping, he argues, will inevitably lead to scepticism. And if the choice is between bootstrapping and scepticism, van Cleve will happily accept bootstrapping.It would be nice, certainly, if we could avoid this unpalatable dilemma.Vogel's argument is disturbingly straightforward. Suppose that Roxanne gains knowledge that the gas tank in her car is full by looking at her gas gauge, and let us further suppose that Roxanne has no reason at all to believe that her gas gauge is reliable. As Vogel points out, reliabilists cannot object to these assumptions. Precisely because reliabilism is a version of externalism, reliabilists must allow that there are cases meeting these very conditions. That is, reliabilists must allow that one can gain knowledge by way of a …. (shrink)
This is a unique collection of new and recently-published articles which debate the merits of virtue-theoretic approaches to the core epistemological issues of knowledge and justified belief. The readings all contribute to our understanding of the relative importance, for a theory of justified belief, of the reliability of our cognitive faculties and of the individuals responsibility in gathering and weighing evidence. Highlights of the readings include direct exchanges between leading exponents of this approach and their critics.
During the 'sixties and 'seventies, Hilary Putnam, Jerry Fodor, and Richard Boyd, among others, developed a type of materialism that eschews reductionist claims.1 In this view, explana- tions, natural kinds, and properties in psychology do not reduce to counterparts in more basic sciences, such as neurophysiology or physics. Nevertheless, all token psychological entities-- states, processes, and faculties--are wholly constituted of physical entities, ultimately out of entities over which microphysics quantifies. This view quickly became the standard position in philosophy of mind, (...) and reductionism fell out of favor. Recently, however, reductionism has been experiencing a rebirth, and many have suggested that the non-reductive approach was accepted too quickly and too uncritically. In this paper, we attempt to provide a more thorough account of the anti-reductionist position, and, in the process, to defend it against its recent critics. (shrink)
This paper defends an approach to epistemology which treats the study of knowledge as on a par with the study of natural kinds. Knowledge is seen as a natural phenomenon subject to empirical investigation. In particular, it is argued that work in cognitive ethology is relevant to understanding the nature of knowledge, and that this approach sheds light on traditional philosophical questions about knowledge, including questions about the source of epistemic normativity.
Can we learn something interesting about knowledge by examining our concept of knowledge? Quite a bit, many argue. My own view, however, is that the concept of knowledge is of little epistemological interest. In this paper, I critically examine one particularly interesting defense of the view that the concept of knowledge is of great epistemological interest: Edward Craig's Knowledge and the State of Nature. A minimalist view about the value of examining our concept of knowledge is defended.
This paper describes and assesses a number of dispositions which are instrumental in allowing us to take on the opinions of others unselfconsciously. It is argued that these dispositions are in fact reliable in the environments in which they tend to come into play. In addition, it is argued that agents are, by their own lights, justified in the beliefs they arrive at as a result of these processes. Finally, these processes are argued to provide a basis for rejecting the (...) claim that fixation of belief is radically holistic. (shrink)
Ernest Sosa draws a distinction between animal knowledge and reflective knowledge, and this distinction forms the centerpiece of his new book, A Virtue Epistemology . This paper argues that the distinction cannot do the work which Sosa assigns to it.
Ernest Sosa’s Judgment and Agency marks an important change from his earlier work in epistemology. While belief was at the center of his earlier approach to epistemological issues, a far more sophisticated mental state, judgment, plays the central role here. This paper examines the significance of this change in focus, and argues that there is reason to favor the earlier belief-centered approach over this new judgment-centered account.
This paper examines Laurence BonJour''s defense of internalism inThe Structure of Empirical Knowledge with an eye toward better understanding the issues which separate internalists from externalists. It is argued that BonJour''s Doxastic Presumption cannot play the role which is required of it to make his internalism work. It is further argued that BonJour''s internalism, and, indeed, all other internalisms, are motivated by a Cartesian view of an agent''s access to her own mental states. This Caretsian view is argued to be (...) untenable, and, accordingly, so is internalism. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson's new book, The Philosophy of Philosophy, has a number of central themes. The very idea that philosophy has a method which is different in kind from the sciences is one Williamson rejects. “… the common assumption of philosophical exceptionalism is false. Even the distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori turns out to obscure underlying similarities”. Although Williamson sees the book as “a defense of armchair philosophy”, he also argues that “the differences in subject matter between (...) philosophy and the other sciences are also less deep than is often supposed. In particular, few philosophical questions are conceptual questions in any distinctive sense. …”. In addition, Williamson argues that “the current philosophical mainstream has failed to articulate an adequate philosophical methodology, in part because it has fallen into the classic epistemological error of psychologizing the data. … The picture is wrong; we frequently have better epistemic access to our immediate physical environment than to our own psychology. … Our understanding of philosophical methodology must be rid of internalist preconceptions”. I am tremendously sympathetic with all of these views.In this review, I want to raise a number of questions about philosophical methodology which Williamson does not address. While Williamson is wonderfully forthright on many important issues about philosophical methodology, the view he presents is compatible with a surprisingly wide range of approaches to philosophical questions. This may be precisely what Williamson wants. At this stage in our understanding of the philosophical enterprise, it may be premature to narrow the range of methodological options more than Williamson does. There are some hints, however, that Williamson may favor some of these options more than others, and, if that is so, it would be useful to make that clear and …. (shrink)