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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
Philosophy of Mathematics is clear and engaging, and student friendly The book discusses the great philosophers and the importance of mathematics to their thought. Among topics discussed in the book are the mathematical image, platonism, picture-proofs, applied mathematics, Hilbert and Godel, knots and notation definitions, picture-proofs and Wittgenstein, computation, proof and conjecture.
The issue of whether biological and psychological properties associated with disability can be harmful, beneficial, or neutral brings up an important philosophical question about how we evaluate disability, and disability’s impact on well-being. The debate is usually characterized as between those who argue disability is intrinsically harmful, and disability rights advocates who argue that disability is just another way of being different, in part, because disability can also provide important benefits. I argue that this debate is a false one, as (...) neither view can capture the more complicated relationship between disability and well-being. I argue that many disabilities are best understood as a kind of pro-tanto extrinsic harm that is characterized in counterfactual terms. This means that our judgments concerning disability and harm must be context-sensitive. (shrink)
The article conveys the portrait of a man for whom understanding was a matter of the highest spiritual intimacy, a man who continuously disregarded his possible engagement in the public life as a philosopher, finally a man whom we find, in the twilight of his life, concerned with the intricate tension between the “muteness” of philosophy (as being able “only” to double life by means of rational discourse) and religion. Alexandru Dragomir’s portrait is portrayed in comparison to another important Romanian (...) philosopher, Constantin Noica. The comparison is not accidental, since they both come to represent two paradigmatic ways of making philosophy: traditional ontology (centered around Descartes – Kant – Hegel) vs. modern phenomenology (centered around Husserl – Heidegger). (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)
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 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)
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.
Contextualism is motivated by cases in which the intuitive correctness of a range of phenomena, including knowledge attributions, assertions and reasoning, depends on the attributor's context. Contextualists offer a charitable understanding of these intuitions, interpreting them as reflecting the truth value of the knowledge attributions and the appropriateness of the relevant assertions and reasoning. Here, I investigate a range of different invariantist accounts and examine the extent to which they too can offer a charitable account of the contextualist data.
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)
There is sufficient evidence that intellectual property rights are corrupting medical research. One could respond to this from a moral or from an epistemic point of view. I take the latter route. Often in the sciences factual discoveries lead to new methodological norms. Medical research is an example. Surprisingly, the methodological change required will involve political change. Instead of new regulations aimed at controlling the problem, the outright socialization of research seems called for, for the sake of better science. I (...) appeal to an analogy between socialized medicine and socialized research. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8, Canada; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Thought experiments have a long and illustrious history. But in spite of their acknowledged importance, there has until recently been remarkably little said about them. How do they work? Why do they work? What are the different ways in which they work? And above all: How is it possible that just by thinking we can learn something new about the world? This paper surveys some of the recent approaches, including my own , and discusses their various prospects. Chief among the (...) alternatives is John Norton′s argument view. The paper ends by drawing attention to some of the outstanding problems in thought experiments. These are some of the issues that will likely be the focus of attention and research in the future. (shrink)
Examples of classic thought experiments are presented and some morals drawn. The views of my fellow symposiasts, Tamar Gendler, John Norton, and James McAllister, are evaluated. An account of thought experiments along a priori and Platonistic lines is given. I also cite the related example of proving theorems in mathematics with pictures and diagrams. To illustrate the power of these methods, a possible refutation of the continuum hypothesis using a thought experiment is sketched.