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.
We often find that beliefs we hold are in conflict with the beliefs of epistemic peers, individuals who are just as intelligent, just as well-informed, and just as scrupulous in forming their beliefs as we are. Is it permissible to maintain our beliefs in the face of such disagreement? It is argued here that continued belief in these circumstances is not epistemically permissible, and that this has striking consequences for the practice of philosophy: we cannot reasonably hold on to our (...) philosophical views. (shrink)
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)
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.
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)
An account of inductive inference is presented which addresses both its epistemological and metaphysical dimensions. It is argued that inductive knowledge is possible by virtue of the fit between our innate psychological capacities and the causal structure of the world.
The notion of a reason often plays a central role in epistemological theories. Justification is often explained in terms of the having of appropriate reasons, and a variety of epistemological distinctions are most naturally explained, it seems, by adverting to reasons. This paper examines the extent to which we may, instead, make do without appeal to such a notion. It is argued that the extent to which the notion of a reason should play an important role in epistemological theorizing will (...) depend on how our psychological theories of belief acquisition and belief change are best conceptualized. (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)
The activity of reason-giving plays an important role in our intellectual lives. Some philosophers, however, have expressed a deep distrust of this activity. This chapter examines the grounds for such distrust and argues that it deserves a far more serious hearing than it is typically given. There are important cases in which the very activity of reason giving should be called into question, but the kinds of challenges to reason giving which are most concerning are, it is argued, ones which (...) do not lead to a fundamental breakdown of rationality. Rather, it is argued, there are ways in which the challenges to reason giving can be adequately met. (shrink)
Introspection plays an ineliminable role in affording us with self-knowledge, or so it is widely believed. It is argued here that introspective evidence, by itself, is often insufficient to ground reasonable belief about many of our mental states, and the knowledge we do have of much of our mental life is crucially dependent on other sources.
The Standard View in epistemology is that knowledge is justified, true belief plus something else. This chapter argues that Standard View should be rejected: knowledge does not require justification. The nature of knowledge and the nature of justification can be better understood if we stop viewing justification as one of the necessary conditions for knowledge.
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)
We sometimes stop to reflect on our mental states, and such reflection can lead, at times, to changing our minds. It can, as well, lead us to endorse the very attitudes which we previously held. Such reflective endorsement has been called upon to play a wide range of roles in philosophical theorizing. It has been thought to ground a distinction between two fundamentally different kinds of knowledge: reflective knowledge and mere animal knowledge. It has been thought to serve as a (...) ground for rational change of belief. It has been called upon to explain the possibility of freedom of the will. And it has been brought into service to explain the source of normativity. This chapter argues that it can play none of these roles. (shrink)
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.
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.
This volume draws together influential work by Hilary Kornblith on naturalistic epistemology. This approach sees epistemology not as conceptual analysis, but as an explanatory project constrained and informed by work in cognitive science. These essays expound and defend Kornblith's distinctive view of how we come to have knowledge of the world.
Over the years, the notion of epistemic agency has played a larger and larger role in Ernest Sosa’s epistemology. In his most recent work, epistemic agency plays an absolutely central role in explaining why it is that our beliefs are subject to normative evaluation. This chapter argues that there are problems with the accounts of epistemic agency which Sosa gives at every stage of his work. More than this, there are other resources within Sosa’s epistemology which can do all the (...) work he calls on epistemic agency to perform. As a result, the problematic appeal to epistemic agency may be deleted without any deleterious effects. (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.
Internalist theories of justification put introspection to work in service of the task of error detection. Introspecting to determine whether our beliefs are well-supported by reasons is supposed to reveal where it is that our beliefs fail to measure up to appropriate standards. Internalists do not, however, offer any empirical evidence that introspection can constructively play this role. This chapter examines relevant evidence from social psychology about the way in which introspection actually works. It is argued that introspection is especially (...) ill-suited to play this crucial role in epistemic self-improvement. (shrink)
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)
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)
Some philosophers believe that epistemological theories are a priori knowable. Others weaken this claim slightly, arguing that epistemological theorizing is properly conducted “from the armchair.” It is argued here that even this claim is far too strong. This paper defends the view that epistemological theorizing must take account of empirical work in psychology, and, without this, epistemology inevitably loses touch with the very phenomena it seeks to account for.
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.