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James R. Beebe
State University of New York, Buffalo
  1. Scientific Realism in the Wild: An Empirical Study of Seven Sciences and History and Philosophy of Science.James R. Beebe & Finnur Dellsén - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (2):336-364.
    We report the results of a study that investigated the views of researchers working in seven scientific disciplines and in history and philosophy of science in regard to four hypothesized dimensions of scientific realism. Among other things, we found that natural scientists tended to express more strongly realist views than social scientists, that history and philosophy of science scholars tended to express more antirealist views than natural scientists, that van Fraassen’s characterization of scientific realism failed to cluster with more standard (...)
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  2. The Epistemic Side-Effect Effect.James R. Beebe & Wesley Buckwalter - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (4):474-498.
    Knobe (2003a, 2003b, 2004b) and others have demonstrated the surprising fact that the valence of a side-effect action can affect intuitions about whether that action was performed intentionally. Here we report the results of an experiment that extends these findings by testing for an analogous effect regarding knowledge attributions. Our results suggest that subjects are less likely to find that an agent knows an action will bring about a side-effect when the effect is good than when it is bad. It (...)
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  3.  70
    Moral Objectivism Across the Lifespan.James R. Beebe & David Sackris - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (6):912-929.
    We report the results of two studies that examine folk metaethical judgments about the objectivity of morality. We found that participants attributed almost as much objectivity to ethical statements as they did to statements of physical fact and significantly more objectivity to ethical statements than to statements about preferences or tastes. In both studies, younger participants attributed less objectivity to ethical statements than older participants. Females were observed to attribute slightly less objectivity to ethical statements than males, and we found (...)
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  4. The Empirical Case for Folk Indexical Moral Relativism.James R. Beebe - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy 4.
    Recent empirical work on folk moral objectivism has attempted to examine the extent to which folk morality presumes that moral judgments are objectively true or false. Some researchers report findings that they take to indicate folk commitment to objectivism (Goodwin & Darley, 2008, 2010, 2012; Nichols & Folds-Bennett, 2003; Wainryb et al., 2004), while others report findings that may reveal a more variable commitment to objectivism (Beebe, 2014; Beebe et al., 2015; Beebe & Sackris, 2016; Sarkissian, et al., 2011; Wright, (...)
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  5. Knowledge in and Out of Contrast.Mikkel Gerken & James R. Beebe - 2016 - Noûs 50 (1):133-164.
    We report and discuss the results of a series of experiments that address a contrast effect exhibited by folk judgments about knowledge ascriptions. The contrast effect, which was first reported by Schaffer and Knobe, is an important aspect of our folk epistemology. However, there are competing theoretical accounts of it. We shed light on the various accounts by providing novel empirical data and theoretical considerations. Our key findings are, firstly, that belief ascriptions exhibit a similar contrast effect and, secondly, that (...)
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  6. The Centrality of Belief and Reflection in Knobe-Effect Cases: A Unified Account of the Data.Mark Alfano, James R. Beebe & Brian Robinson - 2012 - The Monist 95 (2):264-289.
    Recent work in experimental philosophy has shown that people are more likely to attribute intentionality, knowledge, and other psychological properties to someone who causes a bad side effect than to someone who causes a good one. We argue that all of these asymmetries can be explained in terms of a single underlying asymmetry involving belief attribution because the belief that one’s action would result in a certain side effect is a necessary component of each of the psychological attitudes in question. (...)
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  7. How Different Kinds of Disagreement Impact Folk Metaethical Judgments.James R. Beebe - 2014 - In Jennifer Cole Wright & Hagop Sarkissian (eds.), Advances in Experimental Moral Psychology. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 167-187.
    Th e present article reports a series of experiments designed to extend the empirical investigation of folk metaethical intuitions by examining how different kinds of ethical disagreement can impact attributions of objectivity to ethical claims.
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  8. The Abductivist Reply to Skepticism.James R. Beebe - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):605-636.
    Abductivists claim that explanatory considerations (e.g., simplicity, parsimony, explanatory breadth, etc.) favor belief in the external world over skeptical hypotheses involving evil demons and brains in vats. After showing how most versions of abductivism succumb fairly easily to obvious and fatal objections, I explain how rationalist versions of abductivism can avoid these difficulties. I then discuss the most pressing challenges facing abductivist appeals to the a priori and offer suggestions on how to overcome them.
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  9. Surprising Connections Between Knowledge and Action: The Robustness of the Epistemic Side-Effect Effect.James R. Beebe & Mark Jensen - 2012 - Philosophical Psychology 25 (5):689 - 715.
    A number of researchers have begun to demonstrate that the widely discussed ?Knobe effect? (wherein participants are more likely to think that actions with bad side-effects are brought about intentionally than actions with good or neutral side-effects) can be found in theory of mind judgments that do not involve the concept of intentional action. In this article we report experimental results that show that attributions of knowledge can be influenced by the kinds of (non-epistemic) concerns that drive the Knobe effect. (...)
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  10.  60
    Individual and Cross-Cultural Differences in Semantic Intuitions: New Experimental Findings.James R. Beebe & Ryan Undercoffer - 2016 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 16 (3-4):322-357.
    In 2004 Edouard Machery, Ron Mallon, Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich published what has become one of the most widely discussed papers in experimental philosophy, in which they reported that East Asian and Western participants had different intuitions about the semantic reference of proper names. A flurry of criticisms of their work has emerged, and although various replications have been performed, many critics remain unconvinced. We review the current debate over Machery et al.’s (2004) results and take note of which (...)
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  11. A Knobe Effect for Belief Ascriptions.James R. Beebe - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (2):235-258.
    Knobe (Analysis 63:190-193, 2003a, Philosophical Psychology 16:309-324, 2003b, Analysis 64:181-187, 2004b) found that people are more likely to attribute intentionality to agents whose actions resulted in negative side-effects that to agents whose actions resulted in positive ones. Subsequent investigation has extended this result to a variety of other folk psychological attributions. The present article reports experimental findings that demonstrate an analogous effect for belief ascriptions. Participants were found to be more likely to ascribe belief, higher degrees of belief, higher degrees (...)
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  12.  66
    Social Functions of Knowledge Attributions.James R. Beebe - 2012 - In Jessica Brown & Mikkel Gerken (eds.), Knowledge Ascriptions. Oxford University Press. pp. 220--242.
    Drawing upon work in evolutionary game theory and experimental philosophy, I argue that one of the roles the concept of knowledge plays in our social cognitive ecology is that of enabling us to make adaptively important distinctions between different kinds of blameworthy and blameless behaviors. In particular, I argue that knowledge enables us to distinguish which agents are most worthy of blame for inflicting harms, violating social norms, or cheating in situations of social exchange.
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  13. Moral Relativism in Context.James R. Beebe - 2010 - Noûs 44 (4):691-724.
    Consider the following facts about the average, philosophically untrained moral relativist: (1.1) The average moral relativist denies the existence of “absolute moral truths.” (1.2) The average moral relativist often expresses her commitment to moral relativism with slogans like ‘What’s true (or right) for you may not be what’s true (or right) for me’ or ‘What’s true (or right) for your culture may not be what’s true (or right) for my culture.’ (1.3) The average moral relativist endorses relativistic views of morality (...)
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  14. The Generality Problem, Statistical Relevance and the Tri-Level Hypothesis.James R. Beebe - 2004 - Noûs 38 (1):177 - 195.
    In this paper I critically examine the Generality Problem and argue that it does not succeed as an objection to reliabilism. Although those who urge the Generality Problem are correct in claiming that any process token can be given indefinitely many descriptions that pick out indefinitely many process types, they are mistaken in thinking that reliabilists have no principled way to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant process types.
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  15.  93
    Moral Valence and Semantic Intuitions.James R. Beebe & Ryan J. Undercoffer - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (2):445-466.
    Despite the swirling tide of controversy surrounding the work of Machery et al. , the cross-cultural differences they observed in semantic intuitions about the reference of proper names have proven to be robust. In the present article, we report cross-cultural and individual differences in semantic intuitions obtained using new experimental materials. In light of the pervasiveness of the Knobe effect and the fact that Machery et al.’s original materials incorporated elements of wrongdoing but did not control for their influence, we (...)
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  16. Gettierized Knobe Effects.James R. Beebe & Joseph Shea - 2013 - Episteme 10 (3):219-240.
    We report experimental results showing that participants are more likely to attribute knowledge in familiar Gettier cases when the would-be knowers are performing actions that are negative in some way (e.g. harmful, blameworthy, norm-violating) than when they are performing positive or neutral actions. Our experiments bring together important elements from the Gettier case literature in epistemology and the Knobe effect literature in experimental philosophy and reveal new insights into folk patterns of knowledge attribution.
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  17. Weakness of Will, Reasonability, and Compulsion.James R. Beebe - 2013 - Synthese 190 (18):4077-4093.
    Experimental philosophers have recently begun to investigate the folk conception of weakness of will (e.g., Mele in Philos Stud 150:391–404, 2010; May and Holton in Philos Stud 157:341–360, 2012; Beebe forthcoming; Sousa and Mauro forthcoming). Their work has focused primarily on the ways in which akrasia (i.e., acting contrary to one’s better judgment), unreasonable violations of resolutions, and variations in the moral valence of actions modulate folk attributions of weakness of will. A key finding that has emerged from this research (...)
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  18. Is Justification Necessary for Knowledge?David Sackris & James R. Beebe - 2014 - In James R. Beebe (ed.), Advances in Experimental Epistemology. Bloomsbury. pp. 175-192.
    Justification has long been considered a necessary condition for knowledge, and theories that deny the necessity of justification have been dismissed as nonstarters. In this chapter, we challenge this long-standing view by showing that many of the arguments offered in support of it fall short and by providing empirical evidence that individuals are often willing to attribute knowledge when epistemic justification is lacking.
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  19. A Priori Skepticism.James R. Beebe - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (3):583-602.
    In this article I investigate a neglected form of radical skepticism that questions whether any of our logical, mathematical and other seemingly self-evident beliefs count as knowledge. ‘A priori skepticism,’ as I will call it, challenges our ability to know any of the following sorts of propositions: (1.1) The sum of two and three is five. (1.2) Whatever is square is rectangular. (1.3) Whatever is red is colored. (1.4) No surface can be uniformly red and uniformly blue at the same (...)
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  20. Divergent Perspectives on Expert Disagreement: Preliminary Evidence From Climate Science, Climate Policy, Astrophysics, and Public Opinion.James R. Beebe, Maria Baghramian, Luke Drury & Finnur Dellsén - 2019 - Environmental Communication 13:35-50.
    We report the results of an exploratory study that examines the judgments of climate scientists, climate policy experts, astrophysicists, and non-experts (N = 3367) about the factors that contribute to the creation and persistence of disagreement within climate science and astrophysics and about how one should respond to expert disagreement. We found that, as compared to non-experts, climate experts believe that within climate science (i) there is less disagreement about climate change, (ii) methodological factors play less of a role in (...)
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  21.  45
    Brower and Saenz on Divine Truthmaker Simplicity.James R. Beebe - 2018 - Faith and Philosophy 35 (4):473-484.
    Jeffrey Brower has recently articulated a way to make sense of the doctrine of divine simplicity using resources from contemporary truthmaker theory. Noël Saenz has advanced two objections to Brower’s account, arguing that it violates constraints on adequate metaphysical explanations at various points. I argue that Saenz’s objections fail to show that Brower’s account is explanatorily inadequate.
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  22.  65
    Does Skepticism Presuppose Explanationism?James R. Beebe - 2017 - In Kevin McCain & Ted Poston (eds.), Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation. Oxford University Press. pp. 173-187.
    A common response to radical skeptical challenges to our knowledge of the external world has been that there are explanatory reasons (e.g., simplicity, coherence, explanatory power, conservatism) for favoring commonsense explanations of our sensory experiences over skeptical explanations. Despite the degree of visibility this class of response has enjoyed, it has often been viewed with skepticism [sic] by the epistemological community because of concerns about the epistemic merits of explanatory reasoning. I argue that skeptical challenges that employ skeptical hypotheses presuppose (...)
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  23. Evaluative Effects on Knowledge Attributions.James R. Beebe - 2016 - In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell. pp. 359-367.
    Experimental philosophers have investigated various ways in which non‐epistemic evaluations can affect knowledge attributions. For example, several teams of researchers (Beebe and Buckwalter 2010; Beebe and Jensen 2012; Schaffer and Knobe 2012; Beebe and Shea 2013; Buckwalter 2014b; Turri 2014) report that the goodness or badness of an agent’s action can affect whether the agent is taken to have certain kinds of knowledge. These findings raise important questions about how patterns of folk knowledge attributions should influence philosophical theorizing about knowledge.
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  24. Logical Problem of Evil.James R. Beebe - 2003 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a serious challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were all-knowing, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world. If God were all-powerful, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering. Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it. And yet (...)
     
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  25. Reliabilism and Deflationism.James R. Beebe - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):495 – 510.
    In this article I examine several issues concerning reliabilism and deflationism. I critique Alvin Goldman's account of the key differences between correspondence and deflationary theories and his claim that reliabilism can be combined only with those truth theories that maintain a commitment to truthmakers. I then consider how reliability could be analysed from a deflationary perspective and show that deflationism is compatible with reliabilism. I close with a discussion of whether a deflationary theory of knowledge is possible.
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  26.  36
    Interpretation and Epistemic Evaluation in Goldman’s Descriptive Epistemology.James R. Beebe - 2001 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 31 (2):163-186.
    One branch of Alvin Goldman's proposed "scientific epistemology" is devoted to the scientific study of how folk epistemic evaluators acquire and deploy the concepts of knowledge and justified belief. The author argues that such a "descriptive epistemology," as Goldman calls it, requires a more sophisticated theory of interpretation than is provided by the simulation theory Goldman adopts. The author also argues that any adequate account of folk epistemic concepts must reconstruct the intersubjective conceptual roles those concepts play in discursive practices. (...)
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  27. Andrew Newman, The Correspondence Theory of Truth: An Essay on the Metaphysics of Predication Reviewed By. [REVIEW]James R. Beebe - 2003 - Philosophy in Review 23 (3):195-197.
     
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  28. A Priori Skepticism and the KK Thesis.James R. Beebe - 2015 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 5 (4):315-326.
    _ Source: _Page Count 12 In a previous article, I argued against the widespread reluctance of philosophers to treat skeptical challenges to our a priori knowledge of necessary truths with the same seriousness as skeptical challenges to our a posteriori knowledge of contingent truths. Hamid Vahid has recently offered several reasons for thinking the unequal treatment of these two kinds of skepticism is justified, one of which is a priori skepticism’s seeming dependence upon the widely scorned kk thesis. In the (...)
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  29.  74
    Attributive Uses of Prosentences.James R. Beebe - 2003 - Ratio 16 (1):1–15.
    Defenders of the prosentential theory of truth claim that the English language contains prosentences which function analogously to their better known cousins – pronouns. Statements such as ‘That is true’ or ‘It is true’, they claim, inherit their content from antecedent statements, just as pronouns inherit their reference from antecedent singular terms. Prosentential theorists claim that the content of these prosentences is exhausted by the content of their antecedents. They then use the notion of the inheritance of content from an (...)
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  30. Bonjour’s Arguments Against Skepticism About the A Priori.James R. Beebe - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 137 (2):243-267.
    I reconstruct and critique two arguments Laurence BonJour has recently offered against skepticism about the a priori. While the arguments may provide anti-skeptical, internalist foundationalists with reason to accept the a priori, I show that neither argument provides sufficient reason for believing the more general conclusion that there is no rational alternative to accepting the a priori.
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  31.  79
    Deflationism and the Value of Truth.James R. Beebe - 2003 - Journal of Philosophical Research 28:391-402.
    Stephen Stich (1990) has argued that our commitment to truth is parochial, arbitrary, and idiosyncratic. Truth, according to Stich, can be analyzed in terms of reference and predicate satisfaction. If our intuitions about reference can change, this means that our concept of truth can change. If there can be many distinct concepts of truth, our seemingly unreflective commitment to the one we have inherited seems unmotivated. I argue that deflationism about truth possesses sufficient resources to turn back Stich’s skeptical challenge. (...)
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  32. Epistemic Closure in Folk Epistemology.James R. Beebe & Jake Monaghan - 2018 - In Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume Two. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 38-70.
    We report the results of four empirical studies designed to investigate the extent to which an epistemic closure principle for knowledge is reflected in folk epistemology. Previous work by Turri (2015a) suggested that our shared epistemic practices may only include a source-relative closure principle—one that applies to perceptual beliefs but not to inferential beliefs. We argue that the results of our studies provide reason for thinking that individuals are making a performance error when their knowledge attributions and denials conflict with (...)
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  33.  2
    Kevin McCain and Ted Poston (Eds.), The Mystery of Skepticism: New Explorations.James R. Beebe - 2019 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 11 (1):66-70.
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  34.  8
    On Folk Epistemology by Mikkel Gerken. [REVIEW]James R. Beebe - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  35.  11
    The Epistemology of Religious Experience. By Keith E. Yandell. [REVIEW]James R. Beebe - 1997 - Modern Schoolman 74 (2):163-165.
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  36.  21
    The Mystery of Skepticism: New Explorations, Edited by Kevin McCain and Ted Poston. [REVIEW]James R. Beebe - forthcoming - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism:1-5.
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  37. The Memorability of Supernatural Concepts: Effects of Minimal Counterintuitiveness, Moral Valence, and Existential Anxiety on Recall.James R. Beebe & Leigh Duffy - forthcoming - International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.
    Within the cognitive science of religion, some scholars hypothesize (1) that minimally counterintuitive (MCI) concepts enjoy a transmission advantage over both intuitive and highly counterintuitive concepts, (2) that religions concern counterintuitive agents, objects, or events, and (3) that the transmission advantage of MCI concepts makes them more likely to be found in the world’s religions than other kinds of concepts. We hypothesized that the memorability of many MCI supernatural concepts was due in large part to other characteristics they possess, such (...)
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  38.  11
    The Paradox of Irrationality and the Normativity of Weakness of Will Attributions.James R. Beebe - 2019 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 18 (4):603-609.
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  39.  80
    Prosentential Theory of Truth.James R. Beebe - 2004 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Prosentential theorists claim that sentences such as “That’s true” are prosentences that function analogously to their better known cousins–pronouns. For example, just as we might use the pronoun ‘he’ in place of ‘James’ to transform “James went to the supermarket” into “He went to the supermarket,” so we might use the prosentenceforming operator ‘is true’ to transform “Snow is white” into “‘Snow is white’ is true.” According to the prosentential theory of truth, whenever a referring expression (for example, a definite (...)
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  40.  3
    Where the Conflict Really Lies by Alvin Plantinga. [REVIEW]James R. Beebe - 2012 - Prosblogion.
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  41.  84
    Confused Terms in Ordinary Language.Greg Frost-Arnold & James R. Beebe - 2020 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 29 (2):197-219.
    Confused terms appear to signify more than one entity. Carnap maintained that any putative name that is associated with more than one object in a relevant universe of discourse fails to be a genuine name. Although many philosophers have agreed with Carnap, they have not always agreed among themselves about the truth-values of atomic sentences containing such terms. Some hold that such atomic sentences are always false, and others claim they are always truth-valueless. Field maintained that confused terms can still (...)
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