The knowledge norm of assertion is mainly in competition with a high probability or rational credibility norm. The argument for the knowledge norm that I offer turns on cases in which a hearer responds to a speaker's assertion by asserting another sentence that would lower the probability of the speaker's assertion, were its probability less than one. In cases like this, though with qualifications, is the hearer's contribution a challenge to the speaker's assertion or complementary to it? My answer is (...) the latter, and that only the knowledge norm yields that answer.The cases that I rely on follow from an elementary probability relation, though one that is inconsistent with the still influential relevance criterion for confirmation and evidence . Assume, for illustrative purposes, that p is in your belief corpus, as a consequence of your believing ∨ ∨ . 1 You learn that ∼ & ∼ , which would lessen the probability of p, were its probability less than one, 2 since it eliminates two rows of the truth-table in which p holds. What conclusion do you reach about p?Rather than withdrawing p, you acquire the belief that p & ∼ s & ∼ r, even though Formula where pr would be the subjective or epistemic probability of p on a probabilistic view of the knowledge norm before learning ∼ & ∼ . Instead of withdrawal …. (shrink)
Fair lotteries offer familiar ways to pose a number of epistemological problems, prominently those of closure and of scepticism. Although these problems apply to many epistemological positions, in this paper I develop a variant of a lottery case to raise a difficulty with the reliabilist's fundamental claim that justification or knowledge is to be analyzed as a high truth-ratio (of the relevant belief-forming processes). In developing the difficulty broader issues are joined including fallibility and the relation of reliability to understanding.
Davidson's account of weakness of will depends upon a parallel that he draws between practical and theoretical reasoning. I argue that the parallel generates a misleading picture of theoretical reasoning. Once the misleading picture is corrected, I conclude that the attempt to model akratic belief on Davidson's account of akratic action cannot work. The arguments that deny the possibility of akratic belief also undermine, more generally, various attempts to assimilate theoretical to practical reasoning.
Conductive Arguments are held to be defeasible, non-conclusive, and neither inductive nor deductive (Blair and Johnson in Conductive argument: An overlooked type of defeasible reasoning. College, London, 2011). Of the different kinds of Conductive Arguments, I am concerned only with those for which it is claimed that countervailing considerations detract from the support for the conclusion, complimentary to the positive reasons increasing that support. Here’s an example from Wellman (Challenge and response: justification in ethics. Southern Illinois University Press, Chicago, 1971): (...) Although your lawn needs cutting, you ought to take your son to the movies because the picture is ideal for children and will be gone by tomorrow. (1971: 57) I argue that Conductive Arguments are not possible—the “ought” conclusion only holds if countervailing considerations are nullified. (shrink)
A critique of conversational epistemic contextualism focusing initially on why pragmatic encroachment for knowledge is to be avoided. The data for pragmatic encroachment by way of greater costs of error and the complementary means to raise standards of introducing counter-possibilities are argued to be accountable for by prudence, fallibility and pragmatics. This theme is sharpened by a contrast in recommendations: holding a number of factors constant, when allegedly higher standards for knowing hold, invariantists still recommend assertion (action), while contextualists do (...) not. Given the knowledge norm of assertion, if one recommendation is preferable to the other, the result favors the preferred recommendation's account of knowledge. In the final section, I offer a unification of these criticisms centering on the contextualist use of 'epistemic position'. Their use imposes on threshold notions of justification, warrant, or knowledge tests that are suitable only to unlimited comparative or scalar notions like confidence or certainty and places them at one with an important strand of sceptical reasoning. (shrink)
Defence of conditions to withdraw an assertion that require evidence or epistemic reasons that the assertion is not true or warranted. (Adler, J. 2006. Withdrawal and contextualism. Analysis 66: 280–85) The defence replies to the claim that better methods justify withdrawal without meeting that requirement and without pragmatic encroachment.
The dominant approach to environmental policy endorsed by conservative and libertarian policy thinkers, so-called (FME), is grounded in the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources. Despite this normative commitment to property rights, most self-described FME advocates adopt a utilitarian, welfare-maximization approach to climate change policy, arguing that the costs of mitigation measures could outweigh the costs of climate change itself. Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic, human-induced climate change is likely to contribute (...) to environmental changes that violate traditional conceptions of property rights. Viewed globally, the actions of some countriesare likely to increase environmental harms suffered by other countries—less developed nations that have not (as of yet) made any significant contribution to climate change. It may well be that aggregate human welfare would be maximized in a warmer, wealthier world, or that the gains from climate change will offset environmental losses. Yet such claims, even if demonstrated, would not address the normative concern that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming would infringe upon the rights of people in less-developed nations. As a consequence, this paper calls for a rethinking of FME approaches to climate change policy. (shrink)
Is there a duty to respond to objections in order to present a good argument? Ralph Johnson argues that there is such a duty, which he refers to as the ‘dialectical tier’ of an argument. I deny the (alleged) duty primarily on grounds that it would exert too great a demand on arguers, harming argumentation practices. The valuable aim of responding to objections, which Johnson’s dialectical tier is meant to satisfy, can be achieved in better ways, as argumentation is a (...) social-epistemic activity. (shrink)
n 1902, 70 million years after it tripped lightly through the Mesozoic forests in search of meat, the skeleton of a 20-foothightyrannosaurus was dynamited out of a sandstone bluff near Hell Creek, Mont. Wrapped in burlap and plaster and shipped back to New York, the bones were painstakingly reassembled by fossil curator Barnum Brown of the American Museum of Natural History. It was there, one day in 1947, that they happened to scare the bejesus out of 5-year-old Stephen Jay Gould. (...) With a mouthful of teeth as big as bananas, the great reptile gaped down at the little mammal who had usurped its place at the head of the food chain and set him scurrying for the safety of his daddy's pant leg. It was a sublime epiphany. Long after Gould could stare with equanimity at the skull of tyrannosaurus, he was left with the essential mystery that still motivates him as perhaps America's foremost writer and thinker on evolution: why should dinosaurs have ended up in human museums instead of—as one among an infinite number of evolutionary possibilities—the other way around? (shrink)
This paper argues for the importance of the distinction between internal and external negation over expressions for belief. The common fallacy is to confuse statement like (1) and (2): (1) John believes that the school is not closed on Tuesday; (2) John does not believe that the school is closed on Tuesday. The fallacy has ramifications in teaching, reasoning, and argumentation. Analysis of the fallacy and suggestions for teaching are offered.
Why is there so much misrepresentation of arguments in public forums? Standard explanations, such as self-interested biases, are insufficient. An additional part of the explanation is our commitment to, or belief in, norms that disallow responses that amount to no firm judgment, as contrasted with definite agreement or disagreement. In disallowing no-firm-judgment responses, these norms deny not only degrees of support or dissent and a variety of ways of suspending judgment, but also indifference. Since these norms leave us with only (...) constricted options that are very intellectually demanding, in accepting these norms we impose on ourselves a pressure to justify our judgment that lends itself to relief through misrepresentation or distortion. (shrink)
Three fallacies in the rationality debate obscure the possibility for reconciling the opposed camps. I focus on how these fallacies arise in the view that subjects interpret their task differently from the experimenters (owing to the influence of conversational expectations). The themes are: first, critical assessment must start from subjects' understanding; second, a modal fallacy; and third, fallacies of distribution.
Analogies must be symmetric. If a is like b, then b is like a. So if a has property R, and if R is within the scope of the analogy, then b (probably) has R. However, analogical arguments generally single out, or depend upon, only one of a or b to serve as the basis for the inference. In this respect, analogical arguments are directed by an asymmetry. I defend the importance of this neglected – even when explicitly mentioned – (...) feature in understanding analogical arguments. (shrink)