What the rational thing to do in the face of disagreement by an epistemic peer is has been much discussed recently. Those who think that a peer's disagreement is itself evidence against one's belief, as many do, are committed to a special form of epistemic dependence. If such disagreement is really evidence, it seems reasonable to take it into account and to adjust one's belief accordingly. But then it seems that the belief one ends up with depends, in part, on (...) what someone else believes, even if one does not now why that someone believes what he does. While the practical impossibility of finding actual cases of peer disagreement has been often noted, its conceptual possibility has gone unquestioned. Here we challenge this consensus and argue, first, that, strictly speaking, peer disagreement is impossible and, second, that cases of -- all-too-common -- near-peer disagreement present no special puzzle and require nothing more than adhering to standard principles of sensible epistemic conduct. In particular, we argue that in such cases there is no good reason to adopt the widely accepted principle that evidence of evidence is evidence. If so, even if one takes a near-peer's disagreement as a reason for re-examining one's belief, one is not epistemically dependent in the sense one would be if that disagreement were evidence concerning the matter in question. (shrink)
The so–called truthmaker solution to the problem Gettier is thought to have posed for the analysis of knowledge as justified true belief is to add a fourth condition, requiring that one’s evidence for one’s belief be the state of affairs that makes the belief true. Adrian Heathcote argues that the reason why one lacks knowledge in Russell’s case of the stopped clock is that, as in the classic Gettier–style cases, this condition is not satisfied. I argue that the proposed solution (...) fails, as it embodies a misunderstanding of what evidence is. (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)
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)
In defending the startling claim that that there are no artifacts, indeed, no inanimate material objects of the familiar sort, Peter van Inwagen has argued that truths about such putative objects can be paraphrased as truths that do not make essential reference to them and that we should endorse only the ontological commitments of the paraphrase. In this note I argue that the paraphrases van Inwagen recommends cannot meet his condition. Read one way, they lose us some truths. Read another, (...) they entail the existence of the very objects they are supposed to rid us of. However, we need not share van Inwagen's distaste for the latter: to say that they exist is not to say that anything exists in addition to the simples composing them. (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)
That in Gettier's alleged counterexamples to the traditional analysis of knowledge as justified true belief the belief condition is satisfied has rarely been questioned. Yet there is reason to doubt that a rational person would come to believe what Gettier's protagonists are said to believe in the way they are said to have come to believe it. If they would not, the examples are not counter-examples to the traditional analysis. I go on to discuss a number of examples inspired by (...) Gettier's and argue that they, too, fail to be counter-examples either for reasons similar to those I have urged or because it is not clear that their subject does not know. (shrink)
A number of writers have deployed the notion of a point of view as a key to the allegedly theory-resistant subjective aspect of experience. I examine that notion more closely than is usually done and find that it cannot support the anti-objectivist's case. Experience may indeed have an irreducibly subjective aspect, but the notion of a point of view cannot be used to show that it does.
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)
Adrian Heathcote and I agree that a stopped clock does not show—as the adage has it—the right time twice a day, but he thinks, as I do not, that it does show what time it stopped. To think that it does is to treat the position of its hands as evidence of its stopping at the time it did. Add to the justified-true-belief analysis of knowledge the requirement that the evidence on the basis of which the believer is justified be (...) evidence of what is believed in this sense, and you have the long-sought fourth condition to block Gettier cases. I argue that requiring that one’s evidence be evidence in this sense is incompatible with the fallibilism on which Gettier cases are predicated. (shrink)
This collection of previously unpublished essays on Spinoza provides a representative sample of new and interesting research on the philosopher. Spinoza's philosophy still has an underserved reputation for being obscure and incomprehensible. In these chapters, Spinoza is seen mostly as a metaphysician who tried to pave the way for the new science. The essays investigate several themes, notably Spinoza's monism, the nature of the individual, the relation between mind and body, and his place in 17th century philosophy including his relation (...) to Descartes and Leibniz. The top scholars working on Spinoza today are all represented, including John Carriero, Michael Della Rocca, and Don Garrett. (shrink)
Davidson's paratactic account of indirect speech exploits the fact that ‘that’ can be either a demonstrative pronoun or a subordinating conjunction. Davidson thinks that the fact that it is plausible to think that it inherited the latter function from the former lends support to his account. However, in other languages the two functions are performed by unrelated words, which makes the account impossible to apply to them. I argue that this shows that, rather than revealing the underlying form of indirect (...) reports, the account reflects only a quirk of English. (shrink)
Richard Feldman’s well-known principle about disagreement and evidence – usually encapsulated in the slogan, ‘evidence of evidence is evidence’, (EEE) – invites the question, what should a rational believer do when faced by such evidence, especially when the disagreement is with an epistemic peer? The question has been the subject of much controversy. However, it has been recently suggested both that the principle is subject to counterexamples and that it is trivial. If either is the case, the question of what (...) to do in the face of evidence of evi- dence becomes less pressing. We contend that even if one or the other of these suggestions is right about (EEE) as a general principle about evidence, they leave it untouched insofar as it plays a role in the debates about the rational way to respond to disagreement and, in particular, to disagreement by an epistemic peer. This is because in such cases the evidence about which one has evidence and which is supposed to provide evidence against one's belief is the mere fact of someone’s disagreeing, rather than something that is related to the content of the proposition about which the parties disagree. We go on to argue that, so understood, the principle is false. (shrink)
A widely held view has it that sometimes there is more than one thing in exactly the same place, as is the case, allegedly, with a clay statue. There is the statue, but there also is a piece of clay—both obviously in the same place yet distinct in virtue of their differing properties, if only modal ones. Those holding this view—pluralists—often describe the relation between such objects as one of constitution, with the piece of clay being said to constitute the (...) statue. In the first part of this paper I consider ways in which the supposed relation of constitution may be understood. I conclude that the only coherent interpretation of ‘x constitutes y’ is one on which it is presupposed that x and y are identical. While this does not, by itself, show that pluralism is false, it is something that should make us suspicious of it. In the second part of the paper I propose a simple way with the temporal and modal facts the pluralist appeals to, showing that they do not force us into accepting his puzzling doctrine. (shrink)
Our concern in this paper is with the question of how irrational an intentional agent can be, and, in particular, with an argument Stephen Stich has given for the claim that there are only very minimal a priori requirements on the rationality of intentional agents. The argument appears in chapter 2 of The Fragmentation of Reason.1 Stich is concerned there with the prospects for the ‘reform-minded epistemologist’. If there are a priori limits on how irrational we can be, there are (...) limits to how much reform we could expect to achieve. With this in mind, Stich sets out to determine what a priori limits there are on irrationality by examining `a cluster of influential arguments aimed at showing that there are conceptual constraints on how badly a person can reason’ (p. 30). Stich aims to remove the threat of a priori limits on the project of reforming our cognitive practices by showing, first, that these influential arguments are bad arguments, and, second, that at best there are only minimal constraints on how irrational we can be.2 We aim to show three things. The first is that Stich’s own arguments against strong a priori limits on how badly a person can reason are unsuccessful, because Stich fails to take into account that the concept of rationality is an epistemic, not just a logical concept, and because he fails to take into account the connection between having a concept and being able to recognize conceptually simple inferences involving the concept. The second is that the position Stich argues for, on the basis of Richard Grandy’s principle of humanity, turns out not to be distinct from the one he rejects. The third is that, in any case, the position that Stich rejects in order to preserve some scope for the project of improving our reasoning is not only no danger to that project but must be presupposed by it. (shrink)
Many who agree with Kripke that ‘sloppy, colloquial speech’ often confuses use and mention would deem ‘ a is called N’ an example of such confusion, insisting on ‘ a is called "N"’ as the properly philosophical, un-sloppy, way of saying what is usually intended. Delia Graff Fara demurs – in my view, rightly. But the reasons she gives for doing so are, I think, themselves questionable and in any case do not go to the heart of the mistake on (...) which Kripke's condemnation of colloquial speech as sloppy rests. I discuss Fara's claims that what is behind the mistake is failing to appreciate the difference between "appellative" and "referring" uses of names and overlooking the fact that names sometimes function as predicates, finding fault with both. I then argue that the mistake stems from adherence to a widely accepted picture of the mechanics of mentioning and that it is that picture that is confused, not ordinary speakers. (shrink)
This collection of previously unpublished essays on Spinoza provides a sample of new and interesting research on the philosopher. The essays investigate such themes as Spinoza's monism, the nature of the individual, the relation between mind and body, and his place in 17th century philosophy.
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.