Tracking theories of knowledge are widely known to have the consequence that knowledge is not closed. Recent arguments by Vogel and Hawthorne claim both that there are no legitimate examples of knowledge without closure and that the costs of theories that deny closure are too great. This paper considers the tracking theories of Dretske and Nozick and the arguments by Vogel and Hawthorne. We reject the arguments of Vogel and Hawthorne and evaluate the costs of closure denial for tracking theories (...) of knowledge. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Drawing inspiration from Fred Dretske, L. S. Carrier, John A. Barker, and Robert Nozick, we develop a tracking analysis of knowing according to which a true belief constitutes knowledge if and only if it is based on reasons that are sensitive to the fact that makes it true, that is, reasons that wouldn’t obtain if the belief weren’t true. We show that our sensitivity analysis handles numerous Gettier-type cases and lottery problems, blocks pathways leading to skepticism, and validates the (...) epistemic closure thesis that correct inferences from known premises yield knowledge of the conclusions. We discuss the plausible views of Ted Warfield and Branden Fitelson regarding cases of knowledge acquired via inference from false premises, and we show how our sensitivity analysis can account for such cases. We present arguments designed to discredit putative counterexamples to sensitivity analyses recently proffered by Tristan Haze, John Williams and Neil Sinhababu, which involve true statements made by untrustworthy informants and strange clocks that sometimes display the correct time while running backwards. Finally, we show that in virtue of employing the paradox-free subjunctive conditionals codified by Relevance Logic theorists instead of the paradox-laden subjunctive conditionals codified by Robert Stalnaker and David Lewis. (shrink)
In a recent very interesting and important challenge to tracking theories of knowledge, Williams & Sinhababu claim to have devised a counter-example to tracking theories of knowledge of a sort that escapes the defense of those theories by Adams & Clarke. In this paper we will explain why this is not true. Tracking theories are not undermined by the example of the backward clock, as interesting as the case is.
Begging the question — roughly, positing in the premises what is to be proved in the conclusion — is a perplexing fallacy.1 Are not question-begging arguments valid? Yes, we may find ourselves saying, but they are fallacious despite their validity, owing to their inability to establish the truth of a conclusion which is not already known. But are not question-begging arguments sometimes effective in bringing an audience to an awareness of the truth of the conclusion? How can a dialectical maneuver (...) which is capable of effecting epistemic progress be a fallacy, an illegitimate maneuver? In such cases of success, we can reply, the audience was simply in need of some logical coaching — a question-begging argument is of its very nature ill-suited for producing new knowledge in someone who is being fully rational. But then are not all valid arguments question-begging, since the conclusions are at least implicitly contained in the premises in such a way that a fully rational individual can never augment his knowledge through such arguments? No, we may answer, only those valid arguments in which the proposition constituting the conclusion appears, whether distinguised or not, as a distinct premise are question-begging; if several premises go together to imply a conclusion, the argument does not beg the question, But why is it legitimate to posit premises which more-or-less implicitly contain the conclusion, while it is illegitimate to posit premises which more-or-less explicitly contain the conclusion? Because, we are tempted to say, a question-begging argument is one in which what is to be proved in the conclusion is posited in the premises, and this positing must be more-or-less explicit in order for a fallacy to be committed! (shrink)
Closure is the epistemological thesis that if S knows that P and knows that P implies Q, then if S infers that Q, S knows that Q. Fred Dretske acknowledges that closure is plausible but contends that it should be rejected because it conflicts with the plausible thesis: Conclusive reasons (CR): S knows that P only if S believes P on the basis of conclusive reasons, i.e., reasons S wouldn‘t have if it weren‘t the case that P. Dretske develops an (...) analysis of knowing that centers on CR, and argues that the requirement undermines skepticism by implying the falsity of closure. We develop a Dretske-style analysis of knowing that incorporates CR, and we argue that this analysis not only accords with closure, but also implies it. In addition, we argue that the analysis accounts for the prima facie plausibility of closure-invoking skeptical arguments, and nonetheless implies that they are fallacious. If our arguments turn out to be sound, the acceptability of Dretske‘s analysis of knowing will be significantly enhanced by the fact that, despite implying closure, it undermines closure-based skepticism. (shrink)
The article presents information on the capabilities of Dretske-style analysis of knowing (DAK) and of several competing analyses with respect to accounting for the apparent facts. It informs that the DAK can ground plausible verdicts about knowledge and ignorance in cases involving lotteries. It further informs that the knowledge-efficacy donor imply the implausible thesis.
In “Beat the (Backward) Clock,” we argued that John Williams and Neil Sinhababu’s Backward Clock Case fails to be a counterexample to Robert Nozick’s or Fred Dretske’s Theories of Knowledge. Williams’ reply to our paper, “There’s Nothing to Beat a Backward Clock: A Rejoinder to Adams, Barker and Clarke,” is a further attempt to defend their counterexample against a range of objections. In this paper, we argue that, despite the number and length of footnotes, Williams is still wrong.
Although Paul Churchland and Jerry Fodor both subscribe to the so-called theory-theory– the theory that folk psychology (FP) is an empirical theory of behavior – they disagree strongly about FP’s fate. Churchland contends that FP is a fundamentally flawed view analogous to folk biology, and he argues that recent advances in computational neuroscience and connectionist AI point toward development of a scientifically respectable replacement theory that will give rise to a new common-sense psychology. Fodor, however, wagers that FP will be (...) largely preserved and vindicated by scientific investigations of behavior. Recent findings by developmental psychologists, I argue, will push both Churchlandians and Fodorians toward the pessimistic view that FP is a misguided theory that will never be displaced, because it is, so to speak, built into our cognitive systems. I explore the possibility of preserving optimism by rejecting the theory-theory and adopting the simulation theory, a competing view developed by Robert Gordon, Alvin Goldman, and Jane Heal. According to simulationists, common-sense interpretation of behavior is accomplished by means of pretense-like operations that deploy the cognitive system’s own reasoning capabilities in a disengaged manner. Since on this view no theory-like set of principles would be needed, the simulation theory seems to enjoy a simplicity advantage over the theory-theory. Steven Stich and Shawn Nichols, however, contend that as the cognitive system would require special mechanisms for disengaged operation, the simplicity question cannot be resolved until suitable computational models are developed. I describe a set of models I have constructed to meet this need, and I discuss the contribution such models can make to determining FP’s fate. (shrink)
We develop a modified system of standard logic, Augmented Standard Logic (ASL), and we employ ASL in an effort to show that, contrary to prevailing opinion, both Aristotle and Diodorus presented impressive arguments, having valid structures and highly plausible premisses, in their famous fatalism debate. We argue that ASL, which contains standard logic and a full system of modal and temporal logic emanating from a modicum of primitives, should not only enable one to appreciate the sophisticated philosophizing which characterized this (...) ancient debate, but should prove to be quite useful in application to contemporary issues. (shrink)
In a recent article entitled, ‘The Logic of Cause’ Scriven has presented a series of formidable arguments against the possibility of explicating the concept of cause in terms of the concepts of sufficient condition and necessary condition. Some of his main arguments center on the difficulties of capturing the asymmetry of cause and effect and of handling a certain kind of over-determination he calls linked overdetermination. Scriven's contention that there is no way to capture the asymmetry of cause and effect (...) will be countered by constructing a definition of the concept of causal priority in terms of the concepts of sufficient condition and necessary condition. Scriven's contention that the existence of linked overdetermination undermines the necessary condition feature of the definition will be countered by distinguishing two senses of necessary conditionship. My rebuttal of Scriven's arguments, if successful, indicates that the ‘common sense’ view of the cause as a necessary and sufficient condition of its effects may yet prove to be at least roughly accurate. (shrink)