Continuing rapid developments in the life sciences offer the promise of providing tools to meet global challenges in health, agriculture, the environment, and economic development; some of the benefits are already being realized. However, such advances also bring with them new social, ethical, legal, and security challenges. Governance questions form an increasingly important part of the discussions about these advances--whether the particular issue under debate is the development of ethical principles for human genome editing, how to establish regulatory systems for (...) the safe conduct of field trials of gene drive-modified organisms, or many others. However there are continuing concerns that the knowledge, tools, and techniques resulting from life sciences research could also enable the development of bioweapons or facilitate bioterrorism. Between June 10 and 13, 2018, more than 70 participants from 30 different countries and 5 international organizations took part in an international workshop, The Governance of Dual Use Research in the Life Sciences: Advancing Global Consensus on Research Oversight, in Zagreb, Croatia. Hosted by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the workshop was a collaboration among the InterAcademy Partnership, the Croatian Academy, the Croatian Society for Biosafety and Biosecurity, and the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop."--Publisher's description. (shrink)
José L. Zalabardo puts forward a new interpretation of central ideas in Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus concerning the structure of reality and our representations of it in thought and language. He presents the picture theory of propositional representation as Wittgenstein's solution to the problems that he had found in Bertrand Russell's theories of judgment. Zalabardo then attributes to Wittgenstein the view that facts and propositions are ultimate indivisible units, not the result of combining their constituents. This is Wittgenstein's solution (...) to the problem of the unity of facts and propositions. Finally, Zalabardo shows that Wittgenstein's views on the analysability of everyday propositions as truth functions of elementary propositions arise from his views on the epistemology of logic: this offers a new perspective on the nature of Tractarian analysis. (shrink)
Reliabilist accounts of knowledge are widely seen as having the resources for blocking sceptical arguments, since these arguments appear to rely on assumptions about the nature of knowledge that are rendered illegitimate by reliabilist accounts. The goal of this book is to assess the main arguments against the possibility of knowledge, and its conclusions challenge this consensus. The book articulates and defends a theory of knowledge that belongs firmly in the truth-tracking tradition, and argues that although the theory has the (...) resources for blocking the main standard lines of sceptical reasoning, there is a sceptical argument against which the theory offers no defence, as it doesn’t rely on any assumptions that the theory would render illegitimate. The book ends with the suggestion that the problem might have a metaphysical solution—that although the sceptical argument may make no illegitimate epistemological assumptions, it does rest on a questionable account of the nature of cognition. (shrink)
In Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Saul Kripke rejects some of the most popular accounts of what meaning facts consist in on the grounds that they fail to accommodate the normative character of meaning. I argue that a widespread interpretation of Kripke's argument is incorrect. I contend that the argument does not rest on the contrast between descriptive and normative facts, but on the thought that speakers' uses of linguistic expressions have to be justified. I suggest that the line (...) of reasoning that I attribute to Kripke can be seen as putting pressure on the idea that predicate satisfaction is to be explained in terms of a relation between predicates and properties. (shrink)
To the sceptic's contention that I don't know that I have hands because I don't know that there is an external world, the Moorean replies that I know that there is an external world because I know that I have hands. Crispin Wright has argued that the Moorean move is illegitimate, and has tried to block it by limiting the applicability of the principle of the transmission of knowledge by inference—the principle that recognising the validity of an inference from known (...) premises generates knowledge of the conclusion. I argue that, in the presence of some plausible assumptions, blocking the Moorean move does not require limiting the applicability of the transmission principle. Then I argue against Jim Pryor's contention that the Moorean argument transmits evidential support from its premises to its conclusion. (shrink)
The subject matter of this paper is the view that it is correct, in an absolute sense, to believe a proposition just in case the proposition is true. I take issue with arguments in support of this view put forward by Nishi Shah and David Velleman.
In the recent literature on confirmation there are two leading approaches to the provision of a probabilistic measure of the degree to which a hypothesis is confirmed by evidence. The first is to construe the degree to which evidence E confirms hypothesis H as a function that is directly proportional to p and inversely proportional to p . I shall refer to this as the probability approach. The second approach construes the notion as a function that is directly proportional to (...) the true-positive rate – the probability of the evidence if the hypothesis is true, p – and inversely proportional to the false-positive rate – the probability of the evidence if the hypothesis is false, p . These reverse conditional probabilities – of the evidence on the truth or falsehood of the hypothesis – are sometimes known as likelihoods. I shall refer to the approach to confirmation that uses them as the likelihood approach.For each of these approaches, there are two obvious options as to how to define the confirmation function. The first is to define it as the difference between the magnitude that is treated as increasing confirmation or p ) and the magnitude that is treated as decreasing confirmation or p ). The second is to define confirmation as the quotient of these two magnitudes.This yields four different measures of confirmation, represented in the following table: Differences RatiosProbabilities PD = p – p1 PR = Graphic2Likelihoods LD = p – p3 LR = Graphic4All these measures agree on whether or not E provides some support for H. Intuitively, we want to say that E provides some support for H just in case learning that E is true would make us assign a higher probability to H, i.e. when p(H …. (shrink)
I provide a construal of the epistemic regress problem and I take issue with the contention that a foundationalist solution is incompatible with an internalist account of warrant. I sketch a foundationalist solution to the regress problem that respects a plausible version of internalism. I end with the suggestion that the strategy that I have presented is not available only to the traditional versions of foundationalism that ascribe foundational status to experiential beliefs. It can also be used to generate a (...) version of internalist foundationalism based on reliabilist principles. (shrink)
The paper deals with a version of the principle that a belief source can be a knowledge source only if the subject knows that it is reliable. I argue that the principle can be saved from the main objections that motivate its widespread rejection: the claim that it leads to skepticism, the claim that it forces us to accept counterintuitive knowledge ascriptions and the claim that it is incompatible with reliabilist accounts of knowledge. I argue that naturalist epistemologists should reject (...) these claims. I introduce my treatment of the principle by considering the analogous situation posed by the closure principle. (shrink)
The paper argues against Sosa’s claim that sensitivity cannot be differentially supported over safety as the right requirement for knowledge. Its main contention is that, although all sensitive beliefs that should be counted as knowledge are also safe, some insensitive true beliefs that shouldn’t be counted as knowledge are nevertheless safe.
Many interpreters of the Tractatus accept that the book endorses an argument for simples based on the reflection that, since complexes exist only contingently, if names referred to complexes the propositions in which they figure would lack sense if their referents went out of existence. More specifically, most interpreters read 2.0211-2.0212 as putting forward this argument. My main goal in this paper is to attack this reading and to put forward an alternative. I argue that there is no good reason (...) for thinking that the Tractatus advances this argument. I argue that 2.0211-2, in particular, should not be read in this way, and put forward an alternative reading of the passage. (shrink)
I discuss the account of logical consequence advanced in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. I argue that the role that elementary propositions are meant to play in this account can be used to explain two remarkable features that Wittgenstein ascribes to them: that they are logically independent from one another and that their components refer to simple objects. I end with a proposal as to how to understand Wittgenstein's claim that all propositions can be analysed as truth functions of elementary propositions.
El presente volumen recoge seis ensayos publicados originalmente en inglés en revistas especializadas y volúmenes colectivos a lo largo de la última década. Tratan de las consecuencias de desarrollos recientes en el análisis del conocimiento para la evaluación de los argumentos escépticos tradicionales. Los argumentos escépticos pretenden mostrar que es imposible conocer el mundo. Forman parte de la tradición filosófica occidental desde la antigüedad, y han tenido una influencia importantísima en el desarrollo de la filosofía desde entonces hasta nuestros días. (...) Sin embargo, los principales argumentos escépticos parecen descansar sobre premisas acerca de la naturaleza del conocimiento que han sido puestas en tela de juicio en la epistemología actual. Esto se debe sobre todo a los análisis externistas del conocimiento, que conciben la formación de creencias como un fenómeno natural y el conocimiento como una característica objetiva de este fenómeno. Muchos epistemólogos contemporáneos piensan que si el externismo es verdadero los argumentos escépticos carecen de valor. Los trabajos recogidos aquí consideran diversos aspectos de esta situación, estudiando en detalle la interacción entre principios externistas específicos y las líneas argumentativas principales del escepticismo. (shrink)
I discuss the idea that the objects of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus are propertyless bare particulars, an idea defended by Leonard Goddard and Brenda Judge in their monograph, The Metaphysics of the Tractatus. I present the difficulties that Goddard and Judge raise for this construal concerning the idea that Tractarian objects have natures that determine their possibilities of combination, and I assess the solution they propose. I offer an alternative construal of the notion with which these difficulties can be overcome.
I focus on a family of inferences that are intuitively incapable of producing knowledge of their conclusions, although they appear to satisfy sufficient conditions for inferential knowledge postulated by plausible epistemological theories. They include Moorean inferences and inductive-bootstrapping inferences. I provide an account of why these inferences are not capable of producing knowledge. I argue that the reason why these inferences fail to produce knowledge of their conclusions is that inferential knowledge requires that the subject is more likely to believe (...) the premises of the inference if the conclusion is true than if it is false. I end by comparing the treatment of these cases that emerges from the approach that I recommend with the position advocated by Sherrilyn Roush in her recent book, Tracking Truth (2005). (shrink)
I endorse Kripke's (Wittgenstein's) conclusion that the standard of correct application required by the notion of rule-following can only be made sense of in terms of intersubjective agreement. This is not to be taken, as Kripke does, merely as providing assertibility conditions, but rather as a genuine account of what normativity consists in. As Blackburn has pointed out, this result entails that the notion of objective judgment is dependent, in a sense, on the shared inclinations of the members of the (...) community. But since the sceptical paradox admits of no noncommunal solution, it is the inclination-independence of the notion of objective judgment that has to be given up. (shrink)
In this paper I assess the two central ingredients of Laurence BonJour’s position on empirical knowledge that have survived the transition from his earlier coherentist views to his current endorsement of the doctrine of the given: his construal of the problem of the epistemic regress and his rejection of an internalist solution to the problem. The bulk of the paper is devoted to a critical assessment of BonJour’s arguments against externalism. I argue that they fail to put real pressure on (...) externalism, as they rely on a highly questionable conception of epistemic rationality and responsibility. Then, more briefly, I take issue with BonJour’s endorsement of the irrelevance thesis—the claim that even if externalism were true it would not offer a satisfactory solution to the epistemic regress problem. I contend that he is not entitled to subscribe this thesis unless he is prepared to abandon his construal of the problem. (shrink)
I use some ideas of Keith DeRose's to develop an (invariantist!) account of why sceptical reasoning doesn't show that I don't know that I'm not a brain in a vat. I argue that knowledge is subject to the risk-of-error constraint: a true belief won’t have the status of knowledge if there is a substantial risk of the belief being in error that hasn’t been brought under control. When a substantial risk of error is present (i.e. beliefs in propositions that are (...) false in nearby worlds), satisfying the constraint requires bringing the risk under control. This is achieved either by sensitivity, i.e. you wouldn’t have the belief if it were false, or by identifying evidence for the proposition. However, when the risk of error is not substantial (i.e. beliefs in propositions that are not false in nearby worlds), the constraint is satisfied by default. My belief that I am not a brain in a vat is insensitive and I have no evidence for it, but since it is not false in nearby worlds, it satisfies the constraint by default. (shrink)
I take issue with Robert Brandom’s claim that on an analysis of knowledge based on objective probabilities it is not possible to provide a stable answer to the question whether a belief has the status of knowledge. I argue that the version of the problem of generality developed by Brandom doesn’t undermine a truth-tracking account of noninferential knowledge that construes truth-tacking in terms of conditional probabilities. I then consider Sherrilyn Roush’s claim that an account of knowledge based on probabilistic tracking (...) faces a version of the problem of generality. I argue that the problems she raises are specific to her account, and do not affect the version of the view that I have advanced. I then consider Brandom’s argument that the cases that motivate reliabilist epistemologies are in principle exceptional. I argue that he has failed to make a cogent case for this claim. I close with the suggestion that the representationalist approach to knowledge that I endorse and Brandom rejects is in principle compatible with the kind of pragmatist approach to belief and truth that both Brandom and I endorse. (shrink)
The paper deals with the interpretation of Wittgenstein's views on the power of occurrent mental states to sort objects or states of affairs as in accord or in conflict with them, as presented in the rule-following passages of the Philosophical Investigations. I shall argue first that the readings advanced by Saul Kripke and John McDowell fail to provide a satisfactory construal of Wittgenstein's treatment of a platonist account of this phenomenon, according to which the sorting power of occurrent mental states (...) is to be explained by reference to the mind's ability to grasp universals. I contend that the argument that Kripke extracts from Wittgenstein's discussion doesn't succeed in undermining the platonist position. Then I argue that McDowell's reading exhibits a more serious shortcoming: the position that he ascribes to Wittgenstein is indistinguishable from the platonist account. Then I put forward a proposal as to how to articulate the relationship between Wittgenstein's views and the platonist position. (shrink)
Information theoretic semantics proposes to construe predicate reference in terms of nomological relations between distal properties and properties of representational mental events. Research on the model has largely concentrated on the problem of choosing the nomological relation in terms of which distal properties are to be singled out. I argue that, in addition to this, an information theoretic account has to provide a specification of which properties of representational mental events will play a role in determining reference, qua bearers of (...) nomological relations. I contend that this task poses a serious additional challenge to the viability of the model. (shrink)
The paper deals with our ability to classify objects as being of a certain kind on the basis of information provided by the senses (empirical classification) and to ascribe empirical predicates to objects on the basis of these classificatory verdicts (empirical predication). I consider, first, the project of construing the episodes in which this ability is exercised as involving universals. I argue that this construal faces epistemological problems concerning our access to the universals that it invokes. I present the empiricist (...) strategy for dealing with these problems by appeal to sensory qualities, and argue that it rests on a mistake. Then I turn to sketching an account of our faculty of empirical classification and predication which doesn't invoke universals. The account takes as its starting point the nominalist construal of sense experience to be found in the work of C. I. Lewis and Nelson Goodman. I argue that this construal has the resources for explaining some of the central features of the practice of empirical predication. There are those who feel that our ability to understand general terms ... would be inexplicable unless there were universals as objects of apprehension. And there are those who fail to detect, in such appeal to a realm of entities over and above the concrete objects in space and time, any explanatory value. W. V. O. Quine, ‘Logic and the Reification of Universals’. (shrink)
David Lewis has argued that we cannot identify the fundamental properties. It is generally accepted that we can resist Lewis's conclusion if we are prepared to accept a structuralist account of fundamental properties, according to which their causal/nomological role is essential to their identity. I argue, to the contrary, that a structuralist construal of fundamental properties does not sustain a successful independent strategy for resisting Lewis's conclusion. The structuralist can vindicate our ability to identify fundamental properties only if she accepts (...) epistemic principles that suffice for blocking Lewis's conclusion even if fundamental properties are not construed along structuralist lines. (shrink)
The paper develops an account of semantic notions which occupies a middle ground between antirealism and traditional forms of realism, using some ideas from the work of John McDowell. The position is based on a contrast between two points of view from which we might attempt to characterize our linguistic practices from the cosmic exile s point of view and from the midst of language as a going concern. The contrast is drawn in terms of whether our characterization of our (...) linguistic practices is taken to result from engagement in the very same practices that we are trying to characterize. The position takes realism to be correct when understood as an account from the internal perspective, but incorrect when taken as an account from the external perspective. However, the intelligibility of the question as to what our practices would look like from the cosmic exile s point of view is presented as problematic. (shrink)