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)
Explores the place of intellectual virtues and vices in a social world. Chapters are divided into four sections: Foundational Issues; Individual Virtues; Collective Virtues; and Methods and Measurements.
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.
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)
Can only science deliver genuine knowledge about the world and ourselves? Is science our only guide to what exists? Scientism answers both questions with yes. Scientism is increasingly influential in popular scientific literature and intellectual life in general, but philosophers have hitherto largely ignored it. This collection is one of the first to develop and assess scientism as a serious philosophical position. It features twelve new essays by both proponents and critics of scientism. Before scientism can be evaluated, it needs (...) to be clear what it is. Hence, the collection opens with essays that provide an overview of the many different versions of scientism and their mutual interrelations. Next, several card-carrying proponents of scientism make their case, either by developing and arguing directly for their preferred version of scientism or by responding to objections. Then, the floor is given to critics of scientism. It is examined whether scientism is epistemically vicious, whether scientism presents a plausible general epistemological outlook and whether science has limits. The final four essays zoom out and connect scientism to ongoing debates elsewhere in philosophy. What does scientism mean for religious epistemology? What can science tell us about morality and is a scientistic moral epistemology plausible? How is scientism related to physicalism? And is experimental philosophy really a form of scientism tailored to philosophy? (shrink)
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)
ABSTRACT Understanding is a demanding epistemic state. It involves not just knowledge that things are thus and so, but grasping the reasons why and seeing how things hang together. Understanding, then, typically requires inquiry. Many of our inquiries are conducted online nowadays, with the help of search engines, forums, and social media platforms. In this paper, I explore the idea that online inquiry easily leads to what I will call online illusions of understanding. Both the structure of online information presentation (...) (with hyperlinks, shares, retweets, likes, etc.) and the operation of recommender systems and the like make it easy for people using them to form the impression that they are conducting inquiry responsibly, whereas they are in fact fed with irrelevant information, or, even worse, falsehoods, misinformation, disinformation, or outright conspiracy theories. (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)
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)
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)
An influential account or group belief analyzes it as a form of joint commitment by group members. In spite of its popularity, the account faces daunting objections. I consider and reply to two of them. The first, due to Jennifer Lackey, is that the joint commitment account fails as an account of group belief since it cannot distinguish group beliefs from group lies and bullshit. The second is that the joint commitment account fails because it makes group belief voluntary, whereas (...) genuine belief is involuntary. I propose an amendment to the basic joint commitment account which offers a unified reply to both objections. Although my novel account of group belief departs from the basic joint commitment account, it retains its spirit. The account entails that genuine group belief is much rarer than proponents of the joint commitment account have hitherto realized. (shrink)
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: (a) that it is, at least at some level, a matter of ungrounded faith, but also (b) 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)
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)
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)
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)
_ 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)
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.
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)
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.
How ontologically committal is common sense? Is the common-sense philosopher beholden to a florid ontology in which all manner of objects, substances, and processes exist and are as they appear to be to common sense, or can she remain neutral on questions about the existence and nature of many things because common sense is largely non-committal? This chapter explores and tentatively evaluates three different approaches to answering these questions. The first applies standard accounts of ontological commitment to common-sense claims. This (...) leads to the surprising and counter-intuitive result that common sense has metaphysically heavyweight commitments. The second approach emphasizes the superficiality and locality of common-sense claims. On this approach, however, common sense comes out as almost entirely non-committal. The third approach questions the seriousness of ontological commitment as such. If ontological commitment is cheap, it becomes possible both to accept the commitments of common sense at face value and to avoid the counter-intuitive consequences of heavyweight metaphysical commitments. (shrink)
This work provides an overview of attempts to assess the current condition of the concept of creation order within reformational philosophy compared to other perspectives. Focusing on the natural and life sciences, and theology, this first volume of two examines the arguments for and against the beauty, coherence and order shown in the natural world being related to the will or nature of a Creator. It examines the decay of a Deist universe, and the idea of the pre-givenness of norms, (...) laws and structures as challenged by evolutionary theory and social philosophy. It describes the different responses to the collapse of order: that given by Christian philosophy scholars who still argue for the idea of a pre-given world order, and that of other scholars who see this idea of stable creation order and/or natural law as redundant and in need of a thorough rethinking. It studies the particular role that reformational philosophy has played in the discussion. It shows how, ever since its inception, almost a century ago, the concepts of order and law (principle, structure) have been at the heart of this philosophy, and that one way to characterise this tradition is as a philosophy of creation order. Reformational philosophers have maintained the notion of law as 'holding' for reality. This book discusses the questions that have arisen about the nature of such law: is it a religious or philosophical concept; does law just mean 'orderliness'? How does it relate to laws of nature? Have they always existed or do they 'emerge' during the process of evolution? (shrink)
Common sense philosophy holds that widely and deeply held beliefs are justified in the absence of defeaters. While this tradition has always had its philosophical detractors who have defended various forms of skepticism or have sought to develop rival epistemological views, recent advances in several scientific disciplines claim to have debunked the reliability of the faculties that produce our common sense beliefs. At the same time, however, it seems reasonable that we cannot do without common sense beliefs entirely. Arguably, science (...) and the scientific method are built on, and continue to depend on, common sense. This collection of essays debates the tenability of common sense in the face of recent challenges from the empirical sciences. It explores to what extent scientific considerations--rather than philosophical considerations--put pressure on common sense philosophy. The book is structured in a way that promotes dialogue between philosophers and scientists. Noah Lemos, one of the most influential contemporary advocates of the common sense tradition, begins with an overview of the nature and scope of common sense beliefs, and examines philosophical objections to common sense and its relationship to scientific beliefs. Then, the volume features essays by scientists and philosophers of science who discuss various proposed conflicts between commonsensical and scientific beliefs: the reality of space and time, about the nature of human beings, about free will and identity, about rationality, about morality, and about religious belief. Notable philosophers who embrace the common sense tradition respond to these essays to explore the connection between common sense philosophy and contemporary debates in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, physics, and psychology. (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)
Science and Scientism in Popular Science Writing 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)
Conflict framing is key in political communication. Politicians use conflict framing in their online messages (e.g., criticizing other politicians) and journalists in their political coverage (e.g., reporting on political tensions). Conflicts can take a variety of forms and can provoke different reactions. However, the literature still lacks a systematic and theoretically-grounded conceptual framework that accounts for the multi-dimensionality of political conflict frames. Based on literature from political epistemology, political communication, and related fields such as psychology, we present four conceptual dimensions (...) of political conflicts: (1) the style (civil/uncivil); (2) the subject (personal/substantive); (3) whether it is about underlying moral/epistemic principles or not (deep/superficial conflict); and (4) whether it concerns a normative or factual issue. Results of a content analysis of newspaper articles and politicians’ tweets confirm the usage of these conflict dimensions in the Netherlands during a non-election period. Interestingly, most of the conflicts are civil, substantive, and do not highlight deep fundamental clashes. In light of the current societal concerns about the lack of respect in political debates and the deepening of our political divides, these findings can be considered encouraging. (shrink)
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)