One thing about technical artefacts that needs to be explained is how their physical make-up, or structure, enables them to fulfil the behaviour associated with their function, or, more colloquially, how they work. In this paper I develop an account of such explanations based on the familiar notion of mechanistic explanation. To accomplish this, I outline two explanatory strategies that provide two different types of insight into an artefact’s functioning, and show how human action inevitably plays a role in artefact (...) explanation. I then use my own account to criticize other recent work on mechanistic explanation and conclude with some general implications for the philosophy of explanation.Keywords: Artefact; Technical function; Explanation; Levels of explanation; Mechanisms. (shrink)
I argue that scientific knowledge is collective knowledge, in a sense to be specified and defended. I first consider some existing proposals for construing collective knowledge and argue that they are unsatisfactory, at least for scientific knowledge as we encounter it in actual scientific practice. Then I introduce an alternative conception of collective knowledge, on which knowledge is collective if there is a strong form of mutual epistemic dependence among scientists, which makes it so that satisfaction of the justification condition (...) on knowledge ineliminably requires a collective. Next, I show how features of contemporary science support the conclusion that scientific knowledge is collective knowledge in this sense. Finally, I consider implications of my proposal and defend it against objections. (shrink)
If one is to believe recent popular scientific accounts of developments in physics, biology, neuroscience, and cognitive science, most of the perennial philosophical questions have been wrested from the hands of philosophers by now, only to be resolved (or sometimes dissolved) by contemporary science. To mention but a few examples of issues that science has now allegedly dealt with: the origin and destiny of the universe, the origin of human life, the soul, free will, morality, and religion. My aim in (...) this paper is threefold: (1) to show that these claims stem from the pervasive influence of a scientistic epistemology in popular science writing, (2) to argue that this influence is undesirable because it ultimately undermines not only the important role of popular science reporting in society but also the public’s trust in science, and (3) to offer suggestions on how popular science writing can be improved. (shrink)
We present a Reformed view on the relation between Christianity and non-Christian religions. We then explore what this view entails for the question whether Christians and non-Christian religious believers refer to, believe in, and worship the same God. We first analyze the concepts of worship, belief-in, and reference, as well as their interrelations. We then argue that adherents of the Abrahamic religions plausibly refer to the same God, whereas adherents of non-Abrahamic religions do not refer to this God. Nonetheless, it (...) would be wrong to say that adherents of all Abrahamic religions believe in and worship the same God. (shrink)
What is the rational response to disagreement with an epistemic peer? Some say the steadfast response of holding on to your own belief can be rational; others argue that some degree of conciliation is always rationally required. I argue that only an epistemological externalist about rationality—someone who holds that the rationality of a belief is partly constituted by factors outside a subject’s cognitive perspective—can defend the steadfast view. Or at least that this is so in the kinds of idealized cases (...) of peer disagreement that take center stage in the current debate about disagreement. The argument has three steps. First, I show how rationality internalism motivates conciliationism: in view of the mutually recognized internal epistemic symmetry between peers, it would be arbitrary for either peer to hold on to her own belief. Second, I strengthen this line of thought by considering various proposed ‘symmetry breakers’ that appear to introduce a relevant asymmetry between peers, which could be used to defend the rationality of a steadfast response. I argue that none of these alleged symmetry breakers can help internalists. Third, I show how externalism does have the resources to defend steadfastness and expose how extant defenses of steadfastness implicitly rely on externalist intuitions. (shrink)
Both scientists and society at large have rightfully become increasingly concerned about research integrity in recent decades. In response, codes of conduct for research have been developed and elaborated. We show that these codes contain substantial pluralism. First, there is metaphysical pluralism in that codes include values, norms, and virtues. Second, there is axiological pluralism, because there are different categories of values, norms, and virtues: epistemic, moral, professional, social, and legal. Within and between these different categories, norms can be incommensurable (...) or incompatible. Codes of conduct typically do not specify how to handle situations where different norms pull in different directions. We review some attempts to develop an ordering of different sorts of norm violations based on a common measure for their seriousness. We argue that they all fail to give adequate guidance for resolving cases of incommensurable and conflicting norms. We conclude that value pluralism is inherent to codes of conduct in research integrity. The application of codes needs careful reasoning and judgment together with an intellectually humble attitude that acknowledges the inevitability of value pluralism. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 69 - 90 It is often claimed that, as a result of scientific progress, we now _know_ that the natural world displays no design. Although we have no interest in defending design hypotheses, we will argue that establishing claims to the effect that we know the denials of design hypotheses is more difficult than it seems. We do so by issuing two skeptical challenges to design-deniers. The first challenge draws inspiration from radical skepticism (...) and shows how design claims are at least as compelling as radical skeptical scenarios in undermining knowledge claims, and in fact probably more so. The second challenge takes its cue from skeptical theism and shows how we are typically not in an epistemic position to rule out design. (shrink)
Empirical evidence shows that secrecy in science has increased over the past decades, partly as a result of the commercialization of science. There is a good prima facie case against secrecy in science. It is part of the traditional ethos of science that it is a collective and open truth-seeking endeavor. In this paper, I will investigate whether secrecy in science can ever be epistemically justified. To answer this question, I first distinguish between different sorts of secrecy. Next, I propose (...) an account of what it is for a practice to be epistemically justified, with the help of work by Alvin Goldman and Philip Kitcher. I then discuss motivations for secrecy in science that are found in the literature to see whether they amount to, or can be turned into, epistemic justifications for secrecy. The conclusion is that, although some forms of secrecy are epistemically justified, secrecy that arises from special, often commercial, interests is not. (shrink)
Technical artifacts have the capacity to fulfill their function in virtue of their physicochemical make-up. An explanation that purports to explicate this relation between artifact function and structure can be called a technological explanation. It might be argued, and Peter Kroes has in fact done so, that there issomething peculiar about technological explanations in that they are intrinsically normative in some sense. Since the notion of artifact function is a normative one (if an artifact has a proper function, it ought (...) to behave in specific ways) an explanation of an artifact’s function must inherit this normativity.In this paper I will resist this conclusion by outlining and defending a ‘buck-passing account’ of the normativity of technological explanations. I will first argue that it is important to distinguish properly between (1) a theory of function ascriptions and (2) an explanation of how a function is realized. The task of the former is to spell out the conditions under which one is justified in ascribing a function to an artifact; the latter should show how the physicochemical make-up of an artifact enables it to fulfill its function. Second, I wish to maintain that a good theory of function ascriptions should account for the normativity of these ascriptions. Provided such a function theory can be formulated — as I think it can — a technological explanation may pass the normativity buck to it. Third, to flesh out these abstract claims, I show how a particular function theory — to wit, the ICE theory by Pieter Vermaas and Wybo Houkes — can be dovetailed smoothly with my own thoughts on technological explanation. (shrink)
Technical artifacts have the capacity to fulfill their function in virtue of their physicochemical make-up. An explanation that purports to explicate this relation between artifact function and structure can be called a technological explanation. It might be argued, and Peter Kroes has in fact done so, that there issomething peculiar about technological explanations in that they are intrinsically normative in some sense. Since the notion of artifact function is a normative one an explanation of an artifact’s function must inherit this (...) normativity.In this paper I will resist this conclusion by outlining and defending a ‘buck-passing account’ of the normativity of technological explanations. I will first argue that it is important to distinguish properly between a theory of function ascriptions and an explanation of how a function is realized. The task of the former is to spell out the conditions under which one is justified in ascribing a function to an artifact; the latter should show how the physicochemical make-up of an artifact enables it to fulfill its function. Second, I wish to maintain that a good theory of function ascriptions should account for the normativity of these ascriptions. Provided such a function theory can be formulated — as I think it can — a technological explanation may pass the normativity buck to it. Third, to flesh out these abstract claims, I show how a particular function theory — to wit, the ICE theory by Pieter Vermaas and Wybo Houkes — can be dovetailed smoothly with my own thoughts on technological explanation. (shrink)
John Turri has recently provided two problem cases for the knowledge account of assertion (KAA) to argue for the express knowledge account of assertion (EKAA). We defend KAA by explaining away the intuitions about the problem cases and by showing that our explanation is theoretically superior to EKAA.
Duncan Pritchard has recently ventured to carve out a novel position in the epistemology of religious belief called quasi-fideism. Its core is an application of ideas from Wittgensteinian hinge epistemology to religious belief. Among its many advertised benefits are that it can do justice to two seemingly conflicting ideas about religious belief, to wit: that it is, at least at some level, a matter of ungrounded faith, but also that it can be epistemically rationally grounded. In this paper, I argue (...) that quasi-fideism fails. Its central tenets either have unattractive consequences or are implausible. (shrink)
Much of Alvin Plantinga’s Where the Conflict Really Lies will contain few surprises for those who have been following his work over the past decades. This —I hasten to add — is nothing against the book. The fact alone that his ideas on various topics, which have appeared scattered throughout the literature, are now actualized, applied to the debate about the conflict between science and religion, and organized into an overarching argument with a single focus makes this book worthwhile. Moreover, (...) I see this book making significant progress on two opposite ends of the spectrum of views about science and religion. On the one end, we find the so-called new atheists and other conflict-mongers. Compared to the overheated rhetoric that oozes from their writings, this book is a breath of fresh air. Plantinga cuts right to the chase and soberly exposes the bare bones of the new atheists’ arguments. It immediately becomes clear how embarrassingly bare these bones really are. On the other end of the spectrum are theologians and scientists who envisage harmony and concord between science and religion. (shrink)
Epistemology socialized Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9579-4 Authors Jeroen de Ridder, Faculty of Philosophy, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Discussions about the relationship between science and religion have never been absent from the public arena, but they seem to have made something of a comeback in the past decade or two. It is hard to say what accounts for such large-scale developments in society. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it has become increasingly clear that the secularization thesis, i.e., the claim that the modernization and rationalization of societies goes hand in hand with the gradual (...) disappearance of religion, must be put to rest at the graveyard of disconfirmed sociological predictions. Religion is here to stay, it now appears. Thoroughly secularized societies like those we find in Western Europe may be exceptional rather than exemplary. (shrink)
Veel wetenschappers, filosofen en theologen zijn van mening dat God nooit opgevoerd mag worden als verklaring voor een verschijnsel. Eén argument dat ze hiervoor aandragen is dat het op de een of andere manier in de aard van wetenschap zit dat God er geen rol in kan spelen. In dit artikel ga ik in op een specifieke versie van dit argument. Ik vraag me af of de aard van wetenschappelijke verklaringen uitsluit dat God als verklaringsgrond wordt genoemd. Om die vraag (...) te beantwoorden ga ik na of de door wetenschapsfilosofen ontwikkelde standaardmodellen van wetenschappelijk verklaren ruimte bieden aan theïstische verklaringen. Dat blijkt inderdaad zo te zijn, enige kwalificaties daargelaten. De conclusie moet dan ook luiden dat de aard van wetenschappelijke verklaringen niet zodanig is dat theïstische verklaringen uitgesloten zijn. (shrink)
Like David Silver before them, Erik Baldwin and Michael Thune argue that the facts of religious pluralism present an insurmountable challenge to the rationality of basic exclusive religious belief as construed by Reformed Epistemology. I will show that their argument is unsuccessful. First, their claim that the facts of religious pluralism make it necessary for the religious exclusivist to support her exclusive beliefs with significant reasons is one that the reformed epistemologist has the resources to reject. Secondly, they fail to (...) demonstrate that it is impossible for basic religious beliefs to return to their properly basic state after defeaters against them have been defeated. Finally, I consider whether there is perhaps a similar but better argument in the neighbourhood and conclude in the negative. Reformed Epistemology's defence of exclusivism thus remains undefeated. (shrink)
This handbook provides an overview of key ideas, questions, and puzzles in political epistemology. It is divided into seven sections: (1) Politics and Truth: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives; (2) Political Disagreement and Polarization; (3) Fake News, Propaganda, Misinformation; (4) Ignorance and Irrationality in Politics; (5) Epistemic Virtues and Vices in Politics; (6) Democracy and Epistemology; (7) Trust, Expertise, and Doubt.
An intuitive and widely accepted view is that (a) beliefs aim at truth, (b) many citizens have stable and meaningful political beliefs, and (c) citizens choose to support political candidates or parties on the basis of their political beliefs. We argue that all three claims are false. First, we argue that political beliefs often differ from ordinary world-modelling beliefs because they do not aim at truth. Second, we draw on empirical evidence from political science and psychology to argue that most (...) people lack stable and meaningful political beliefs. Third, we claim that the true psychological basis for voting behavior is not an individual’s political beliefs but rather group identity. Along the way, we reflect on what this means for normative democratic theory. (shrink)