Contextualists such as Cohen and DeRose claim that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions vary contextually, in particular that the strength of epistemic position required for one to be truly ascribed knowledge depends on features of the attributor's context. Contextualists support their view by appeal to our intuitions about when it's correct (or incorrect) to ascribe knowledge. Someone might argue that some of these intuitions merely reflect when it is conversationally appropriate to ascribe knowledge, not when knowledge is truly ascribed, (...) and so try to accommodate these intuitions even on an invariantist view. DeRose (Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, 1998; Philosophical Review, 2002) argues that any such 'warranted assertibility manoeuvre', or 'WAM', against contextualism is unlikely to succeed. Here, I argue that his objections to a WAM against contextualism are not persuasive and offer a pragmatic account of the data about ascriptions of knowledge. (shrink)
Feynman diagrams are now iconic. Like pictures of the Bohr atom, everyone knows they have something important to do with physics. Those who work in quantum field theory, string theory, and other esoteric fields of physics use them extensively. In spite of this, it is far from clear what they are or how they work. Are they mere calculating tools? Are they somehow pictures of physical reality? Are they models in any interesting sense? Or do they play some other kind (...) of role?It is safe to say they are linked to some sort of calculation tool, but after that it is far from clear. If you ask me how to get from Toronto to Montreal, I could respond two ways: I could tell you to drive north until you... (shrink)
Knowledge ascriptions are a central topic of research in both philosophy and science. In this collection of new essays on knowledge ascriptions, world class philosophers offer novel approaches to this long standing topic.
Stanley and Williamson have defended the intellectualist thesis that knowing-how is a subspecies of knowing-that by appeal to the syntax and semantics of ascriptions of knowing-how. Critics have objected that this way of defending intellectualism places undue weight on linguistic considerations and fails to give sufficient attention to empirical considerations from the scientific study of the mind. In this paper, I examine and reject Stanley's recent attempt to answer the critics.
It has become recently popular to suggest that knowledge is the epistemic norm of practical reasoning and that this provides an important constraint on the correct account of knowledge, one which favours subject-sensitive invariantism over contextualism and classic invariantism. I argue that there are putative counterexamples to both directions of the knowledge norm. Even if the knowledge norm can be defended against these counterexamples, I argue that it is a delicate issue whether it is true, one which relies on fine (...) distinctions among a variety of relevant notions of propriety which our intuitions may reflect. These notions variously apply to the agent herself, her character traits, her beliefs, her reasoning and any resultant action. Given the delicacy of these issues, I argue that the knowledge norm is not a fixed point from which to defend substantive and controversial views in epistemology. Rather, these views need to be defended on other grounds. (shrink)
Newton's bucket, Einstein's elevator, Schrödinger's cat – these are some of the best-known examples of thought experiments in the natural sciences. But what function do these experiments perform? Are they really experiments at all? Can they help us gain a greater understanding of the natural world? How is it possible that we can learn new things just by thinking? In this revised and updated new edition of his classic text _The Laboratory of the Mind_, James Robert Brown continues to defend (...) apriorism in the physical world. This edition features two new chapters, one on “counter thought experiments” and another on the development of inertial motion. With plenty of illustrations and updated coverage of the debate between Platonic rationalism and classic empiricism, this is a lively and engaging contribution to the field of philosophy of science. (shrink)
I will ask the conditional question: if folk attributions of "know" are not sensitive to the stakes and/or the salience of error, does this cast doubt on contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism (SSI)? I argue that if it should turn out that folk attributions of knowledge are insensitive to such factors, then this undermines contextualism, but not SSI. That is not to say that SSI is invulnerable to empirical work of any kind. Rather, I defend the more modest claim that leading (...) versions of SSI are not undermined by one particular kind of experimental result, namely the recent suggestion that knowledge attributions are insensitive to the stakes. (shrink)
The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been the subject of intense interest as a locus of cognitive control. Several computational models have been proposed to account for a range of effects, including error detection, conflict monitoring, error likelihood prediction, and numerous other effects observed with single-unit neurophysiology, fMRI, and lesion studies. Here, we review the state of computational models of cognitive control and offer a new theoretical synthesis of the mPFC as signaling response–outcome predictions. This new synthesis has two interacting (...) components. The first component learns to predict the various possible outcomes of a planned action, and the second component detects discrepancies between the actual and intended responses; the detected discrepancies in turn update the outcome predictions. This single construct is consistent with a wide array of performance monitoring effects in mPFC and suggests a unifying account of the cognitive role of medial PFC in performance monitoring. (shrink)
The main contribution of this paper is a new account of how a community may introduce a term for a natural kind in advance of knowing the correct scientific account of that kind. The account is motivated by the inadequacy of the currently dominant accounts of how a community may do this, namely those proposed by Kripke and by Putman. Their accounts fail to deal satisfactorily with the facts that (1) typically, an item that instantiates one natural kind instantiates several (...) - 'the higher-level natural kinds problem', and (2) natural kinds often occur in nature in impure form - 'the composition problem' .On the account I propose, a term for a natural kind gains its reference by being associated with a recognitional capacity for that kind. I show how members of a scientifically ignorant community could have a recognitional capacity for a natural kind, say gold, as opposed to a certain kind of appearance, for instance the appearance that gold actually has. I argue that members of such a community can have recognitional capacities for particular natural kinds despite the actual or possible existence of duplicate kinds, e.g. water. After developing the account in detail, I show how it can deal with the two problems faced by Kripke's and Putnam's problem. The case of natural kind terms is crucial to the central debate in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind about whether we can refer non-descriptively to objects and kinds in the world. I take the account I propose to be a non-descriptive account of linguistic reference to natural kinds that can be used to support externalism in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
I consider but reject one broad strategy for answering the threshold problem for fallibilist accounts of knowledge, namely what fixes the degree of probability required for one to know? According to the impurist strategy to be considered, the required degree of probability is fixed by one's practical reasoning situation. I distinguish two different ways to implement the suggested impurist strategy. According to the Relevance Approach, the threshold for a subject to know a proposition at a time is determined by the (...) practical reasoning situations she is then in to which that particular proposition is relevant. According to the Unity Approach, the threshold for a subject to know any proposition whatsoever at a time is determined by a privileged practical reasoning situation she then faces, most plausibly the highest stakes practical reasoning situation she is then in. I argue that neither way of implementing the impurist strategy succeeds and so impurism does not offer a satisfactory response to the threshold problem. (shrink)
Contextualists support their view by appeal to cases which show that whether an attribution of knowledge seems correct depends on attributor factors. Contextualists conclude that the truth-conditions of knowledge attributions depend on the attributor's context. Invariantists respond that these cases show only that the warranted assertability-conditions of knowledge attributions depend on the attributor's context. I examine DeRose's recent argument against the possibility of such an invariantist response, an argument which appeals to the knowledge account of assertion and the context-sensitivity of (...) assertion. I argue that DeRose's new argument does not rule out either of the two forms of invariantism, classic and subject-sensitive invariantism. Further, I argue against DeRose that an invariantist can explain the context-sensitivity of assertion. (shrink)
What is the nature of the evidence provided by thought experiments in philosophy? For instance, what evidence is provided by the Gettier thought experiment against the JTB theory of knowledge? According to one view, it provides as evidence only a certain psychological proposition, e.g. that it seems to one that the subject in the Gettier case lacks knowledge. On an alternative, nonpsychological view, the Gettier thought experiment provides as evidence the nonpsychological proposition that the subject in the Gettier case lacks (...) knowledge (e.g., Williamson 2007). Given the centrality of thought experiments to philosophical enquiry, the correct account of thought experiment evidence is important for understanding the nature of philosophical methodology. Further, Williamson argues that a misguided adherence to the psychological view of thought experiment evidence encourages scepticism about philosophy since it opens a gap between our evidence and the nonpsychological subject matter of philosophy. The main aim of this paper is to defend the psychological view against recent objections. In particular, I argue that even if thought experiment evidence is psychological, it can still provide justification for non-psychological claims which are the subject matter of philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend McKinsey's argument (Analysis 1991) that Burge's antiindividualist position is incompatible with privileged access, viz. the claim that each subject can know his own thought contents just by reflection and without having undertaken an empirical investigation. I argue that Burge thinks that there are certain necessary conditions for a subject to have thoughts involving certain sorts of concepts; these conditions are appropriately different for thoughts involving natural kind concepts and thoughts involving non-natural kind concepts. I use (...) Burge's commitment to these entailments to show that his antiindividualist position is incompatible with privileged access. (shrink)
This article leverages insights from the body of Adam Smith’s work, including two lesser-known manuscripts—the Theory of Moral Sentiments and Lectures in Jurisprudence —to help answer the question as to how companies should morally prioritize corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and stakeholder claims. Smith makes philosophical distinctions between justice and beneficence and perfect and imperfect rights, and we leverage those distinctions to speak to contemporary CSR and stakeholder management theories. We address the often-neglected question as to how far a company (...) should be expected to go in pursuit of CSR initiatives and we offer a fresh perspective as to the role of business in relation to stakeholders and to society as a whole. Smith’s moral insights help us to propose a practical framework of legitimacy in stakeholder claims that can help managers select appropriate and responsible CSR activities. (shrink)
In this paper, I focus on the most important form of argument for anti-intellectualism, one that exploits alleged connections between knowledge and practical reasoning. I first focus on a form of this argument which exploits a universal principle, Sufficiency, connecting knowledge and practical reasoning. In the face of putative counterexamples to Sufficiency, a number of authors have attempted to reformulate the argument with a weaker principle. However, I argue that the weaker principles suggested are also problematic. I conclude that, so (...) far, there is no good argument for anti-intellectualism that rests on connections between knowledge and practical reasoning. (shrink)
In the past two decades, reinforcement learning has become a popular framework for understanding brain function. A key component of RL models, prediction error, has been associated with neural signals throughout the brain, including subcortical nuclei, primary sensory cortices, and prefrontal cortex. Depending on the location in which activity is observed, the functional interpretation of prediction error may change: Prediction errors may reflect a discrepancy in the anticipated and actual value of reward, a signal indicating the salience or novelty of (...) a stimulus, and many other interpretations. Anterior cingulate cortex has long been recognized as a region involved in processing behavioral error, and recent computational models of the region have expanded this interpretation to include a more general role for the region in predicting likely events, broadly construed, and signaling deviations between expected and observed events. Ongoing modeling work investigating the interaction between ACC and additional regions involved in cognitive control suggests an even broader role for cingulate in computing a hierarchically structured surprise signal critical for learning models of the environment. The result is a predictive coding model of the frontal lobes, suggesting that predictive coding may be a unifying computational principle across the neocortex. (shrink)
Experimental philosophers have recently conducted surveys of folk judgements about a range of phenomena of interest to philosophy including knowledge, reference, and free will. Some experimental philosophers take these results to undermine the philosophical practice of appealing to intuitions as evidence. I consider several different replies to the suggestion that these results undermine philosophical appeal to intuition, both piecemeal replies which raise concerns about particular surveys, and more general replies. The general replies include the suggestions that the surveys consider the (...) wrong sort of judgement, or the wrong kind of judge, or that the results of the surveys do not generate scepticism about philosophical appeal to intuition in particular, but rather a more problematic and general scepticism. I argue that the last of these general replies is the most promising. To assess its merits, I consider the most developed account of how the survey results are supposed to raise sceptical problems specifically for philosophical appeal to intuition, that presented in Weinberg (Midwest Stud Philos XXXI:318–343, 2007). I argue that there are significant objections to Weinberg’s account. I conclude that, so far, experimental philosophers have failed to show how their survey results raise a sceptical challenge that applies to philosophical appeal to intuition in particular, rather than having a problematic, more general scope. (shrink)
_Philosophy of Mathematics_ is an excellent introductory text. This student friendly book discusses the great philosophers and the importance of mathematics to their thought. It includes the following topics: * the mathematical image * platonism * picture-proofs * applied mathematics * Hilbert and Godel * knots and nations * definitions * picture-proofs and Wittgenstein * computation, proof and conjecture. The book is ideal for courses on philosophy of mathematics and logic.
Boghossian has argued that Putnam's externalism is incompatible with privileged access, i.e., the claim that a subject can have nonempirical knowledge of her thought contents ('What the externalist can know a priori', PAS 1997). Boghossian's argument assumes that Oscar can know a priori that (1) 'water' aims to name a natural kind; and (2) 'water' expresses an atomic concept. However, I show that if Burge's externalism is correct, then these assumptions may well be false. This leaves Boghossian with two options: (...) (a) (heroically) to show that Burge's externalism is false; or (b) to reformulate the argument such that it does not require the two assumptions in question. I suggest one way of reformulating the argument. (shrink)
Following Burge, many anti-individualists suppose that a subject can possess a concept even if she incompletely understands it. While agreeing that this is possible, I argue that there is a limit on the extent to which a subject can incompletely understand the set of concepts she thinks with. This limit derives from our conception of our ability to reflectively evaluate our own thoughts or, as Burge puts it, our ability to engage in critical reasoning. The paper extends Burge’s own work (...) on critical reasoning. He argued that critical reasoning imposes a limit on the extent to which we can be mistaken about what thoughts we are having; in general, we can know non-empirically what we are thinking . He does not explicitly consider whether critical reasoning also imposes a limit on incomplete understanding of thoughts. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine a contextualist thesis that has been little discussed in comparison with contextualism about knowledge, namely contextualism about evidential support. This seems surprising since, prima facie, evidential support statements seem shifty in a way parallel to knowledge ascriptions. I examine but reject the suggestion that contrastivism about evidential support is motivated by arguments analogous to those used to motivate contrastivism about knowledge including sceptical closure arguments, the nature of inquiry, the existence of explicitly contrastive evidential support (...) statements, and the intuitive shiftiness of some binary evidential support statements. I end by discussing the relations between contextualism about evidential support, evidence and knowledge. In particular, I argue that my discussion of contrastivism about evidential support undermines Neta's contextualist view about evidence, and his broader suggestion that the shiftiness of evidence statements explains the shiftiness of knowledge ascriptions. (shrink)
According to one contemporary formulation of infallibilism, probability 1 infallibilism, if a subject knows that p, then the probability of p on her evidence is 1. To avoid an implausible scepticism about knowledge, probability 1 infallibilism needs to allow that, in a wide range of cases, a proposition can be evidence for itself. However, such infallibilism needs to explain why it is typically infelicitous to cite p as evidence for p itself. I argue that probability 1 infallibilism has no explanation (...) of this infelicity and should be rejected. (shrink)
In this paper, I criticise one main strategy for supporting anti-intellectualism, the view that whether a subject knows may depend on the stakes. This strategy appeals to difficulties with developing contextualist and pragmatic treatments of the shiftiness of our talk about knowledge to motivate anti-intellectualism. I criticise this strategy by drawing an analogy between debates about causation and knowledge. In each case, talk about a phenomenon is shifty and contextualist and pragmatic explanations of the shifty talk face the same objections. (...) However, in the case of causation it would be implausible to argue that difficulties with the relevant contextualist and pragmatic accounts motivate a revisionary metaphysics of causation. I conclude that the defender of anti-intellectualism needs to employ a different strategy to defend her view. (shrink)
Everyone appreciates a clever mathematical picture, but the prevailing attitude is one of scepticism: diagrams, illustrations, and pictures prove nothing; they are psychologically important and heuristically useful, but only a traditional verbal/symbolic proof provides genuine evidence for a purported theorem. Like some other recent writers (Barwise and Etchemendy ; Shin ; and Giaquinto ) I take a different view and argue, from historical considerations and some striking examples, for a positive evidential role for pictures in mathematics.