Davidson's account of weakness of will dependsupon a parallel that he draws between practicaland theoretical reasoning. I argue that theparallel generates a misleading picture oftheoretical reasoning. Once the misleadingpicture is corrected, I conclude that theattempt to model akratic belief on Davidson'saccount of akratic action cannot work. Thearguments that deny the possibility of akraticbelief also undermine, more generally, variousattempts to assimilate theoretical to practicalreasoning.
Conductive Arguments are held to be defeasible, non-conclusive, and neither inductive nor deductive (Blair and Johnson in Conductive argument: An overlooked type of defeasible reasoning. College, London, 2011). Of the different kinds of Conductive Arguments, I am concerned only with those for which it is claimed that countervailing considerations detract from the support for the conclusion, complimentary to the positive reasons increasing that support. Here’s an example from Wellman (Challenge and response: justification in ethics. Southern Illinois University Press, Chicago, 1971): (...) Although your lawn needs cutting, you ought to take your son to the movies because the picture is ideal for children and will be gone by tomorrow. (1971: 57) I argue that Conductive Arguments are not possible—the “ought” conclusion only holds if countervailing considerations are nullified. (shrink)
This interdisciplinary work is a collection of major essays on reasoning: deductive, inductive, abductive, belief revision, defeasible, cross cultural, conversational, and argumentative. They are each oriented toward contemporary empirical studies. The book focuses on foundational issues, including paradoxes, fallacies, and debates about the nature of rationality, the traditional modes of reasoning, as well as counterfactual and causal reasoning. It also includes chapters on the interface between reasoning and other forms of thought. In general, this last set of essays represents growth (...) points in reasoning research, drawing connections to pragmatics, cross-cultural studies, emotion and evolution. (shrink)
The knowledge norm of assertion is mainly in competition with a high probability or rational credibility norm. The argument for the knowledge norm that I offer turns on cases in which a hearer responds to a speaker's assertion by asserting another sentence that would lower the probability of the speaker's assertion, were its probability less than one. In cases like this, though with qualifications, is the hearer's contribution a challenge to the speaker's assertion or complementary to it? My answer is (...) the latter, and that only the knowledge norm yields that answer.The cases that I rely on follow from an elementary probability relation, though one that is inconsistent with the still influential relevance criterion for confirmation and evidence . Assume, for illustrative purposes, that p is in your belief corpus, as a consequence of your believing ∨ ∨ . 1 You learn that ∼ & ∼ , which would lessen the probability of p, were its probability less than one, 2 since it eliminates two rows of the truth-table in which p holds. What conclusion do you reach about p?Rather than withdrawing p, you acquire the belief that p & ∼ s & ∼ r, even though Formula where pr would be the subjective or epistemic probability of p on a probabilistic view of the knowledge norm before learning ∼ & ∼ . Instead of withdrawal …. (shrink)
A critique of conversational epistemic contextualism focusing initially on why pragmatic encroachment for knowledge is to be avoided. The data for pragmatic encroachment by way of greater costs of error and the complementary means to raise standards of introducing counter-possibilities are argued to be accountable for by prudence, fallibility and pragmatics. This theme is sharpened by a contrast in recommendations: holding a number of factors constant, when allegedly higher standards for knowing hold, invariantists still recommend assertion (action), while contextualists do (...) not. Given the knowledge norm of assertion, if one recommendation is preferable to the other, the result favors the preferred recommendation's account of knowledge. In the final section, I offer a unification of these criticisms centering on the contextualist use of 'epistemic position'. Their use imposes on threshold notions of justification, warrant, or knowledge tests that are suitable only to unlimited comparative or scalar notions like confidence or certainty and places them at one with an important strand of sceptical reasoning. (shrink)
Fair lotteries offer familiar ways to pose a number of epistemological problems, prominently those of closure and of scepticism. Although these problems apply to many epistemological positions, in this paper I develop a variant of a lottery case to raise a difficulty with the reliabilist's fundamental claim that justification or knowledge is to be analyzed as a high truth-ratio (of the relevant belief-forming processes). In developing the difficulty broader issues are joined including fallibility and the relation of reliability to understanding.
The dominant approach to environmental policy endorsed by conservative and libertarian policy thinkers, so-called “free market environmentalism”, is grounded in the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources. Despite this normative commitment to property rights, most self-described FME advocates adopt a utilitarian, welfare-maximization approach to climate change policy, arguing that the costs of mitigation measures could outweigh the costs of climate change itself. Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic, human-induced climate change is likely (...) to contribute to environmental changes that violate traditional conceptions of property rights. Viewed globally, the actions of some countries—primarily industrialized nations—are likely to increase environmental harms suffered by other countries—less developed nations that have not made any significant contribution to climate change. It may well be that aggregate human welfare would be maximized in a warmer, wealthier world, or that the gains from climate change will offset environmental losses. Yet such claims, even if demonstrated, would not address the normative concern that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming would infringe upon the rights of people in less-developed nations. As a consequence, this paper calls for a rethinking of FME approaches to climate change policy. (shrink)
When someone presents an argument on a charged topic and it is alleged that the arguer has a strong personal interest and investment in the conclusion, the allegation, directed to the reception or evaluation of the argument, typically gives rise to two seemingly conflicting reactions:I. The allegation is an unwarranted diversion. The prejudices or biases of the arguer are irrelevant to the cogency of the argument. In particular, it is a distraction from the crucial judgment of whether the argument is (...) cogent to press the question of whether the arguer truly holds his conclusion on the grounds that he offers, or whether he believes it on some illicit or suspect basis. (shrink)
Is there a duty to respond to objections in order to present a good argument? Ralph Johnson argues that there is such a duty, which he refers to as the ‘dialectical tier’ of an argument. I deny the (alleged) duty primarily on grounds that it would exert too great a demand on arguers, harming argumentation practices. The valuable aim of responding to objections, which Johnson’s dialectical tier is meant to satisfy, can be achieved in better ways, as argumentation is a (...) social-epistemic activity. (shrink)
My critical comments focus mainly on premises,, and. However, in treating these I will address other of James’s assumptions—particularly, the presupposition of his argument that it is possible to will to believe. Later I will try to accommodate existential aspects of James’s argument that retain value, even if my objections to his argument stand.
This paper argues for the importance of the distinction between internal and external negation over expressions for belief. The common fallacy is to confuse statement like (1) and (2): (1) John believes that the school is not closed on Tuesday; (2) John does not believe that the school is closed on Tuesday. The fallacy has ramifications in teaching, reasoning, and argumentation. Analysis of the fallacy and suggestions for teaching are offered.
Surprise is of great value for learning, especially in cases where deep‐seated preconceptions and assumptions are upset by vivid demonstrations. In this essay, Jonathan Adler explores the ways in which surprise positively affects us and serves as a valuable tool for motivating learning. Adler considers how students’ attention is aroused and focused self‐critically when their subject matter–related expectations are not borne out. These “surprises” point students toward discoveries about gaps or weaknesses or false assumptions within their subject matter understanding; as (...) a result, students become internally motivated to correct their errors and to seek better understanding, rather than merely responding to external mandates imposed by a teacher, institution, or other authority. In this essay Adler argues persuasively that the use of surprise in teaching, both as a pedagogical tool and a topic of study, offers many educational advantages and benefits for learning. (shrink)
Evidentialism implies that, for epistemic purposes, belief should be responsive only to evidence. Focusing on our reactive attitude such as resentment or indignation, I construct an argument that the beliefs or judgments accompanying those attitudes are constrained in advance by circumstances to be full, rather than being open to the whole range of partial beliefs. These judgments or beliefs imply strong claims to justification. But the circumstances in which those attitudes are formed allow only very limited evidence. Nevertheless, we cannot (...) opt out regularly since the formation of such attitudes is so central a feature of a minimally content human social life. (shrink)
Arguments from ignorance should be schematized: It has not been proven false that p. So it is possible that p. So, it is reasonable to believe p. Also, in opposition to standard views they should be distinguished from burden of proof and absence of evidence arguments. Much of the persuasiveness of such arguments can be located in the slippery uses of "possible." Besides equivocations on "possible" the argument is a fallacy for two reasons. First, the possibility implied by the first (...) premise does not yield the serious possibility that is needed for establishing the conclusion. Second, ignorance is never sufficient reason for belief, only adequate evidence. (shrink)