The internalism-externalism debate is one of the oldest debates in epistemology. Internalists assert that the justification of our beliefs can only depend on facts internal to us, while externalists insist that justification can depend on additional, for example environmental, factors. Clayton Littlejohn proposes and defends a new strategy for resolving this debate. Focussing on the connections between practical and theoretical reason, he explores the question of whether the priority of the good to the right might be used to defend (...) an epistemological version of consequentialism, and proceeds to formulate a new 'deontological externalist' view. On this view, the justificatory status of a belief depends upon whether it is fit for the purposes of practical reasoning. Only beliefs that meet externalist standards are fit for such a purpose. If we want to understand how a wide range of norms (e.g., moral norms) apply to rational agents regardless of what their evidence or outlook is like, we have to embrace an externalist account of the justification. (shrink)
Could it be right to convict and punish defendants using only statistical evidence? In this paper, I argue that it is not and explain why it would be wrong. This is difficult to do because there is a powerful argument for thinking that we should convict and punish defendants using statistical evidence. It looks as if the relevant cases are cases of decision under risk and it seems we know what we should do in such cases (i.e., maximize expected value). (...) Given some standard assumptions about the values at stake, the case for convicting and punishing using statistical evidence seems solid. In trying to show where this argument goes wrong, I shall argue (against Lockeans, reliabilists, and others) that beliefs supported only by statistical evidence are epistemically defective and (against Enoch, Fisher, and Spectre) that these epistemic considerations should matter to the law. To solve the puzzle about the role of statistical evidence in the law, we need to revise some commonly held assumptions about epistemic value and defend the relevance of epistemology to this practical question. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a puzzle about epistemic rationality. It seems plausible that it should be rational to believe a proposition if you have sufficient evidential support for it. It seems plausible that it rationality requires you to conform to the categorical requirements of rationality. It also seems plausible that our first-order attitudes ought to mesh with our higher-order attitudes. It seems unfortunate that we cannot accept all three claims about rationality. I will present three ways of trying to (...) resolve this tension and argue that the best way to do this is to reject the idea that strong evidential support is the stuff rationality is made of. In the course of doing this, I shall argue that there is a special class of propositions about the requirements of rationality that we cannot make rational mistakes about and explain how this can be. (shrink)
Belief does aim at the truth. When our beliefs do not fit the facts, they cannot do what they are supposed to do, because they cannot provide us with reasons. We cannot plausibly deny that a truth norm is among the norms that govern belief. What we should not say is that the truth norm is the fundamental epistemic norm. In this paper, I shall argue that knowledge is the norm of belief and that the truth norm has a derivative (...) status. Only a knowledge‐first approach to epistemic normativity can explain why epistemic assessment has its inward‐looking focus. (shrink)
There is much to like about the idea that justification should be understood in terms of normality or normic support (Smith 2016, Goodman and Salow 2018). The view does a nice job explaining why we should think that lottery beliefs differ in justificatory status from mundane perceptual or testimonial beliefs. And it seems to do that in a way that is friendly to a broadly internalist approach to justification. In spite of its attractions, we think that the normic support view (...) faces two serious challenges. The first is that it delivers the wrong result in preface cases. These cases suggest that the view is either too sceptical or too externalist. The second is that the view struggles with certain kinds of Moorean absurdities. It turns out that these problems can easily be avoided. If we think of normality as a condition on *knowledge*, we can characterise justification in terms of its connection to knowledge and thereby avoid the difficulties discussed here. The resulting view does an equally good job explaining why we should think that our perceptual and testimonial beliefs are justified when lottery beliefs cannot be. Thus, it seems that little could be lost and much could be gained by revising the proposal and adopting a view on which it is knowledge, not justification, that depends directly upon normality. (shrink)
Epistemic norms play an increasingly important role in current debates in epistemology and beyond. In this volume a team of established and emerging scholars presents new work on the key debates. They consider what epistemic requirements constrain appropriate belief, assertion, and action, and explore the interconnections between these standards.
The typical epistemology course begins with a discussion of the distinction between justification and knowledge and ends without any discussion of the distinction between justification and excuse. This is unfortunate. If we had a better understanding of the justification-excuse distinction, we would have a better understanding of the intuitions that shape the internalism-externalism debate. My aims in this paper are these. First, I will explain how the kinds of excuses that should interest epistemologists exculpate. Second, I will explain why the (...) intuitions that underwrite the new evil demon argument don't provide support for the internalist claim that justification is just in the head. The positive response that Cohen's example elicits is an indication that the subject should be excused if she violates an epistemic norm, not an indication that no norm has been violated. For just about any conceivable norm we can think of we can imagine situations in which someone violates that norm because they're moved by evidence that misleadingly suggests that they'd conform to it. When that happens, we'll respond positively in just the way we do when we consider Cohen's deceived subjects. When that happens, we cannot say that the subjects' responses were justified because we've stipulated that the subjects' responses contravene the relevant norms. Regardless of whether you think of norms along internalist or externalist lines, you should see that the intuitions that underwrite the new evil demon objection tell us nothing at all about whether a subject conforms to a norm. They tell us nothing about justification. (shrink)
The central thesis of robust virtue epistemology (RVE) is that the difference between knowledge and mere true belief is that knowledge involves success that is attributable to a subject's abilities. An influential objection to this approach is that RVE delivers the wrong verdicts in cases of environmental luck. Critics of RVE argue that the view needs to be supplemented with modal anti-luck condition. This particular criticism rests on a number of mistakes about the nature of ability that I shall try (...) to rectify here. (shrink)
This paper looks at whether it is possible to unify the requirements of rationality with the demands of normative reasons. It might seem impossible to do because one depends upon the agent’s perspective and the other upon features of the situation. Enter Reasons Perspectivism. Reasons perspectivists think they can show that rationality does consist in responding correctly to reasons by placing epistemic constraints on these reasons. They think that if normative reasons are subject to the right epistemic constraints, rational requirements (...) will correspond to the demands generated by normative reasons. While this proposal is prima facie plausible, it cannot ultimately unify reasons and rationality. There is no epistemic constraint that can do what reasons perspectivists would need it to do. Some constraints are too strict. The rest are too slack. This points to a general problem with the reasons-first program. Once we recognize that the agent’s epistemic position helps determine what she should do, we have to reject the idea that the features of the agent’s situation can help determine what we should do. Either rationality crowds out reasons and their demands or the reasons will make unreasonable demands. (shrink)
A defense of the idea that knowledge is first in the sense that there is nothing prior to knowledge that puts reasons or evidence in your possession. Includes a critical discussion of the idea that perception or perceptual experience might provide reasons and a defense of a knowledge-first approach to justified belief.
This is a critical discussion of the accuracy-first approach to epistemic norms. If you think of accuracy (gradational or categorical) as the fundamental epistemic good and think of epistemic goods as things that call for promotion, you might think that we should use broadly consequentialist reasoning to determine which norms govern partial and full belief. After presenting consequentialist arguments for probabilism and the normative Lockean view, I shall argue that the consequentialist framework isn't nearly as promising as it might first (...) appear. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend externalist accounts of justified belief from Cohen's new evil demon objection. While I think that Cohen might be right that the person is justified in believing what she does, I argue that this is because we can defend the person from criticism and that defending a person is a very different thing from defending a person's attitudes or actions. To defend a person's attitudes or actions, we need to show that they met standards or did (...) not violate norms. Intuitions about whether we can defend a person from criticism are a poor guide when it comes to determining whether norms were violated or standards were met. It turns out that even radical forms of externalism about justification are compatible with the intuitions that Cohen's example elicits. Properly understood, those intuitions show that the believer should be excused from criticism (and excused for failing to believe with adequate justification). (shrink)
Cases of reasonable, mistaken belief figure prominently in discussions of the knowledge norm of assertion and practical reason as putative counterexamples to these norms. These cases are supposed to show that the knowledge norm is too demanding and that some weaker norm ought to put in its place. These cases don't show what they're intended to. When you assert something false or treat some falsehood as if it's a reason for action, you might deserve an excuse. You often don't deserve (...) even that. (shrink)
We have written an introduction to epistemology that is accessible, engaging, and up to date. (We hope.) -/- Introduction Chapter 1: The Regress Problem Chapter 2: Perception Chapter 3: The Apriori Chapter 4: Inference Chapter 5: On Knowing the Truth Chapter 6: Memory Chapter 7: Testimony Chapter 8: Kinds of Knowledge Chapter 9: Internalism vs. Externalism Chapter 10: The Ethics of Belief Chapter 11: Skepticism .
The equal weight view says that if you discover that you disagree with a peer, you should decrease your confidence that you are in the right. Since peer disagreement seems to be quite prevalent, the equal weight view seems to tell us that we cannot reasonably believe many of the interesting things we believe because we can always count on a peer to contest the interesting things that we believe. While the equal weight view seems to have skeptical implications, few (...) epistemologists worry about these implications because the equal weight view is quickly falling out of favor. In this paper, I present an analogical argument for the view and defend it from critics who think that we can justifiably retain confidence in the face of peer disagreement. (shrink)
What relation is there between knowledge and action? According to Hawthorne and Stanley, where your choice is p-dependent, it is appropriate to treat the proposition that p as a reason for acting iff you know that p (RKP). In this paper, I shall argue that it is permissible to treat something as a reason for action even if it isn't known to be true and address Hawthorne and Stanley's arguments for RKP.
A familiar complaint about conciliatory approaches to disagreement is that they are self-defeating or incoherent because they ‘call for their own rejection’. This complaint seems to be influential but it isn’t clear whether conciliatory views call for their own rejection or what, if anything, this tells us about the coherence of such views. We shall look at two ways of developing this self-defeat objection and we shall see that conciliatory views emerge unscathed. A simple version of the self-defeat objection leaves (...) conciliatory views untouched. A subtle version of the objection contains a subtle but overlooked flaw. If the conciliatory view is right, it might be right to be dogmatically conciliatory (i.e., to continue to be conciliatory however objectionable this might seem to ourselves and to others). (shrink)
If evidence is propositional, is one’s evidence limited to true propositions or might false propositions constitute evidence? In this paper, I consider three recent attempts to show that there can be ‘false evidence,’ and argue that each of these attempts fails. The evidence for the thesis that evidence consists of truths is much stronger than the evidence offered in support of the theoretical assumptions that people have relied on to argue against this thesis. While I shall not defend the view (...) that evidence is propositional, I shall defend the view that any propositional evidence must be true. (shrink)
According to the phenomenal conservatives, beliefs are justified by non-doxastic states we might speak of as ‘appearances’ or ‘seemings’. Those who defend the view say that there is something self-defeating about believing that phenomenal conservatism is mistaken. They also claim that the view captures an important internalist insight about justification. I shall argue that phenomenal conservatism is indefensible. The considerations that seem to support the view commit the phenomenal conservatives to condoning morally abhorrent behavior. They can deny that their view (...) forces them to condone morally abhorrent behavior, but then they undercut the defenses of their own view. (shrink)
This paper takes a critical look at the idea that knowledge involves reflective access to reasons that provide rational support. After distinguishing between different kinds of awareness, I argue that the kind of awareness involved in awareness of reasons is awareness of something general rather than awareness of something that instances some generality. Such awareness involves the exercise of conceptual capacities and just is knowledge. Since such awareness is knowledge, this kind of awareness cannot play any interesting role in a (...) story about how knowledge is acquired. After arguing that reflective access to reasons is not a precondition on acquiring knowledge, I look at one motivation for introducing this kind of access requirement. I argue that the argument for the access requirement rests on a mistaken assumption about the relationship between reasons and responsibility. While the target of this critical discussion is a version of epistemological disjunctivism, the criticism applies mutatis mutandis to many traditional internalist views in epistemology. (shrink)
According to Williamson, your evidence consists of all and only what you know (E = K). According to his critics, it doesn’t. While E = K calls for revision, the revisions it calls for are minor. E = K gets this much right. Only true propositions can constitute evidence and anything you know non-inferentially is part of your evidence. In this paper, I defend these two theses about evidence and its possession from Williamson’s critics who think we should break more (...) radically from E = K. (shrink)
If I were to say, “Agnes does not know that it is raining, but it is,” this seems like a perfectly coherent way of describing Agnes’s epistemic position. If I were to add, “And I don’t know if it is, either,” this seems quite strange. In this chapter, we shall look at some statements that seem, in some sense, contradictory, even though it seems that these statements can express propositions that are contingently true or false. Moore thought it was paradoxical (...) that statements that can express true propositions or contingently false propositions should nevertheless seem absurd like this. If we can account for the absurdity, we shall solve Moore’s Paradox. In this chapter, we shall look at Moore’s proposals and more recent discussions of Moorean absurd thought and speech. (shrink)
We shall evaluate two strategies for motivating the view that knowledge is the norm of belief. The first draws on observations concerning belief's aim and the parallels between belief and assertion. The second appeals to observations concerning Moore's Paradox. Neither of these strategies gives us good reason to accept the knowledge account. The considerations offered in support of this account motivate only the weaker account on which truth is the fundamental norm of belief.
We argue that uncomputability and classical scepticism are both re ections of inductive underdetermination, so that Church's thesis and Hume's problem ought to receive equal emphasis in a balanced approach to the philosophy of induction. As an illustration of such an approach, we investigate how uncomputable the predictions of a hypothesis can be if the hypothesis is to be reliably investigated by a computable scienti c method.
A theory of what we should believe should include a theory of what we should believe when we are uncertain about what we should believe and/or uncertain about the factors that determine what we should believe. In this paper, I present a novel theory of what we should believe that gives normative externalists a way of responding to a suite of objections having to do with various kinds of error, ignorance, and uncertainty. This theory is inspired by recent work in (...) ethical theory in which non-consequentialists 'consequentialize' their theories and then use the tools of decision-theory to give us an account of what we ought (in some sense) to do when we're uncertain about what we ought (in some primary sense) to do. On my proposal, because what we ought to do is acquire knowledge and avoid ignorance, we ought to believe iff the probability of coming to know is sufficiently high. This view has a number of important virtues. Among them, it gives us a unified story about how defeaters defeat (a theory developed with Julien Dutant), explains puzzling intuitions about the differences between lottery cases, preface cases, and cases of perceptual knowledge, and provides externalists (and internalists!) with a general framework for thinking about subjective normativity. It's also relatively brief. (shrink)
According to ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ (OIC), your obligation can never be to do what you cannot do. In a recent attack on OIC, Graham has argued that intuitions about justified intervention can help us determine whether the agent whose actions we use force to prevent would have acted permissibly or not. These intuitions, he suggests, cause trouble for the idea that you can be obligated to refrain from doing what you can refrain from doing. I offer a defense of OIC (...) and explain how non-consequentialists can accommodate his intuitions about his cases. (shrink)
Between 1787, and the end of his life in 1832, Bentham turned his attention to the development and application of economic ideas and principles within the general structure of his legislative project. For seventeen years this interest was manifested through a number of books and pamphlets, most of which remained in manuscript form, that develop a distinctive approach to economic questions. Although Bentham was influenced by Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, he (...) neither adopted a Smithian vocabulary for addressing questions of economic principle and policy, nor did he accept many of the distinctive features of Smith's economic theory. One consequence of this was that Bentham played almost no part in the development of the emerging science of political economy in the early nineteenth century. The standard histories of economics all emphasize how little he contributed to the mainstream of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century debate by concentrating attention on his utilitarianism and the psychology of hedonism on which it is premised. Others have argued that the calculating nature of his theory of practical reason reduced the whole legislative project to a crude attempt to apply economics to all aspects of social and political life. Put at its simplest this argument amounts to the erroneous claim that Bentham's science of legislation is reducible to the science of political economy. A different but equally dangerous error would be to argue that because Bentham's conception of the science of legislation comprehends all the basic forms of social relationships, there can be no science of political economy as there is no autonomous sphere of activity governed by the principles of economics. This approach is no doubt attractive from an historical point of view given that the major premise of this argument is true, and that many of Bentham's ‘economic’ arguments are couched in terms of his theory of legislation. Yet it fails to account for the undoubted importance of political economy within Bentham's writings, not just on finance, economic policy, colonies and preventive police, but also in other aspects of his utilitarian public policy such as prison reform, pauper management, and even constitutional reform. All of these works reflect a conception of political economy in its broadest terms. However, this conception of political economy differs in many respects from that of Bentham's contemporaries, and for this reason Bentham's distinctive approach to problems of economics and political economy has largely been misunderstood. (shrink)
Thomas Kroedel argues that we can solve a version of the lottery paradox if we identify justified beliefs with permissible beliefs. Since permissions do not agglomerate, we might grant that someone could justifiably believe any ticket in a large and fair lottery is a loser without being permitted to believe that all the tickets will lose. I shall argue that Kroedel’s solution fails. While permissions do not agglomerate, we would have too many permissions if we characterized justified belief as sufficiently (...) probable belief. If we reject the idea that justified beliefs can be characterized as sufficiently probably beliefs, Kroedel’s solution is otiose because the paradox can be dissolved at the outset. (shrink)
The claim that the answers we give to many of the central questions in genethics will depend crucially upon the particular rationality we adopt in addressing them is central to Matti Häyry’s thorough and admirably fair-minded book, Rationality and the Genetic Challenge. That claim implies, of course, that there exists a plurality of rationalities, or discrete styles of reasoning, that can be deployed when considering concrete moral problems. This, indeed, is Häyry’s position. Although he believes that there are certain features (...) definitive of any type of thinking that can accurately be labeled rational, he maintains that nothing about that set of features compels us to conclude that there is a single rationality. What is more, and significantly for the way in which Häyry’s book develops, there is no Archimedean point from which we are licensed to pronounce one flavor of rational deliberation to be intrinsically superior to any other or to be justified to the exclusion of all others. To this belief that “there are many divergent rationalities, all of which can be simultaneously valid,” we can perhaps give the name “the Doctrine of the Plurality of Rationalities” or, for short, “DPR.”. (shrink)
This is part of an authors meets critics session on Daniel Star's wonderful book, Knowing Better. I discuss a potential problem with Kearns and Star's Reasons as Evidence thesis. The issue has to do with the difficulties we face is we treat normative reasons as evidence and impose no possession conditions on evidence. On such a view, it's hard to see how practical reasoning could be a non-monotonic process. One way out of the difficulty would be to allow for (potent) (...) unpossessed reasons but insist that all evidence is possessed evidence. This option, I argue, isn't open to proponents of the Reasons as Evidence thesis. Instead, it seems that they'll have to say that all normative reasons are identified with pieces of possessed evidence. This requires the proponents of the Reasons as Evidence thesis to impose epistemic constraints on norms that some of us find objectionable. (shrink)
In recent work, Thomas Kroedel has proposed a novel solution to the lottery paradox. As he sees it, we are permitted/justified in believing some lottery propositions, but we are not permitted/justified in believing them all. I criticize this proposal on two fronts. First, I think that if we had the right to add some lottery beliefs to our belief set, we would not have any decisive reason to stop adding more. Suggestions to the contrary run into the wrong kind of (...) reason problem. Reflection on the preface paradox suggests as much. Second, while I agree with Kroedel that permissions do not agglomerate, I do not think that this fact can help us solve the lottery paradox. First, I do not think we have any good reason to think that we’re permitted to believe any lottery propositions. Second, I do not see any good reason to think that epistemic permissions do not agglomerate. (shrink)
There is a kind of objectivism in epistemology that involves the acceptance of objective epistemic norms. It is generally regarded as harmless. There is another kind of objectivism in epistemology that involves the acceptance of an objectivist account of justification, one that takes the justification of a belief to turn on its accuracy. It is generally regarded as hopeless. It is a strange and unfortunate sociological fact that these attitudes are so prevalent. Objectivism about norms and justification stand or fall (...) together. Justification is simply a matter of conforming to norms. In this essay, I shall make the case for objectivism about justification. (shrink)
Abstract: On one formulation, epistemological disjunctivism is the view that our perceptual beliefs constitute knowledge when they are based on reasons that provide them with factive support. Some would argue that it is impossible to understand how perceptual knowledge is possible unless we assume that we have such reasons to support our perceptual beliefs. Some would argue that it is impossible to understand how perceptual experience could furnish us with these reasons unless we assume that the traditional view of experience (...) is mistaken. For reasons explained here, I think that the epistemological argument for metaphysical disjunctivism rests on mistaken assumptions about reasons and their rational role. Neither disjunctivist view is needed to understand how perceptual knowledge is possible. (shrink)
A discussion of epistemic reasons, theoretical rationality, and the relationship between them. Discusses the ontology of reasons and evidence, the relationship between reasons (motivating, normative, possessed, apparent, genuine, etc.) and rationality, the relationship between epistemic reasons and evidence, the relationship between rationality, justification, and knowledge, and many other related topics.
In this paper, I shall discuss a problem that arises when you try to combine an attractive account of what constitutes evidence with an independently plausible account of the kind of access we have to our evidence. According to E = K, our evidence consists of what we know. According to the principle of armchair access, we can know from the armchair what our evidence is. Combined, these claims entail that we can have armchair knowledge of the external world. Because (...) it seems that the principle of armchair access is supported by widely shared intuitions about epistemic rationality, it seems we ought to embrace an internalist conception of evidence. I shall argue that this response is mistaken. Because externalism about evidence can accommodate the relevant intuitions about epistemic rationality, the principle of armchair access is unmotivated. We also have independent reasons for preferring externalism about evidence to the principle of armchair access. (shrink)
On a standard view about reasons, evidence, and justification, there is justification for you to believe all and only what your evidence supports and the reasons that determine whether there is justification to believe are all just pieces of evidence. This view is mistaken about two things. It is mistaken about the rational role of evidence. It is also mistaken about the rational role of reasons. To show this, I present two basis problems for the standard view and argue that (...) it lacks the resources to solve these problems. It is easy to spot these mistakes once we are clear on the ontology of reasons and have a better understanding of the role that belief plays in the theory of possessed evidence. After attacking the standard view, I offer an alternative account of justification. On this view, the justificatory status of a belief is not a function of the reasons/evidence on which it is based (it might not be based on any) but is instead a function of the basis that it can provide. (shrink)
"Littlejohn organizes his introduction around the central metaphor of a spreading kudzu vine, whose roots, trunk, stalks, branches, and leaves grow beneath, in, around, and over the vast and complex terrain of Chinese culture. He does a marvellous job exploring the origins, developments, and transformations of Daoism by guiding readers through canonical texts, across historical contexts, and around expressions of Daoism in fine art, popular symbols, literature, ritual, and other forms of material culture. The result is a masterful and (...) comprehensive introduction to this protean, venerable, and vital tradition that will engage and enlighten novices and experts alike and delight anyone interested in Chinese religion, philosophy, or culture."--Philip J. Ivanhoe, Reader-Professor of Philosophy, City University of Hong Kong . (shrink)
Certain combinations of attitudes are manifestly unreasonable. It is unreasonable to believe that dogs bark, for example, if one concedes that one has no justification to believe this. Why are the irrational combinations irrational? One suggestion is that these are attitudes that a subject cannot have justification to have. If this is right, we can test claims about the structure of propositional justification by relying on our observations about which combinations of attitudes constitute Moorean absurd pairs. In a recent defense (...) of access internalism, Smithies argues that only access internalism can explain why various combinations of attitude are irrational. In this paper, I shall argue that access internalism cannot explain the relevant data. Reflection on Moore's Paradox will not tell us much of anything about propositional justification and cannot support access internalism. (shrink)
My contribution to the author meets critics discussion of Pritchard's _Epistemological Disjunctivism_. In this paper, I examine some of the possible motivations for epistemological disjunctivism and look at some of the costs associated with the view. While Pritchard's view seems to be that our visual beliefs constitute knowledge because they're based on reasons, I argue that the claim that visual beliefs are based on reasons or evidence hasn't been sufficiently motivated. In the end I suggest that we'll get all the (...) benefits with none of the costs of epistemological disjunctivism if we accept E=K. (shrink)
Some recent defenses of the 'ought' implies 'can' (OIC) principle try to derive that principle from uncontroversial claims about reasons for action. Reasons for action, it's said, are reasons only for 'potential' actions, which are actions that an agent can perform. Given that 'ought' implies 'reasons', it seems we have our proof of OIC. In this paper, I argue that this latest strategy for defending OIC fails.
In a recent article Dylan Dodd has argued that anyone who holds that all knowledge is evidence must concede that we know next to nothing about die external world. The argument is intended to show that any infallibilist account of knowledge is committed to scepticism, and that anyone who identifies our evidence with the propositions we know is committed to infallibilism. I shall offer some reasons for thinking Dodd's argument is unsound, and explain where his argument goes wrong.
There has been a considerable amount of debate about the norms of belief, but little discussion to date about what the reasons associated with these norms demand from us. By working out an account of what reasons demand, we can better understand the nature of justification.
According to the fallibilist, it is possible for us to know things when our evidence doesn't entail that our beliefs are correct. Even if there is some chance that we're mistaken about p, we might still know that p is true. Fallibilists will tell you that an important virtue of their view is that infallibilism leads to skepticism. In this paper, we'll see that fallibilist impurism has considerable skeptical consequences of its own. We've missed this because we've focused our attention (...) on the high-stakes cases that they discuss in trying to motivate their impurism about knowledge. We'll see this once we think about the fallibilist impurist's treatment of low-stakes cases. (shrink)
In trying to distinguish the right kinds of reasons from the wrong, epistemologists often appeal to the connection to truth to explain why practical considerations cannot constitute reasons. The view they typically opt for is one on which only evidence can constitute a reason to believe. Talbot has shown that these approaches don’t exclude the possibility that there are non-evidential reasons for belief that can justify a belief without being evidence for that belief. He thinksthat there are indeed such reasons (...) and that they are theright kind of reasons to justify belief. The existence of such truth promoting non-epistemic reasons is said tofollow from the fact that we have an epistemic end that involves the attainment of true belief. I shall argue thatthere are no such reasons precisely because there is anepistemic end that has normative authority. (shrink)
There has been considerable discussion recently of consequentialist justifications of epistemic norms. In this paper, I shall argue that these justifications are not justifications. The consequentialist needs a value theory, a theory of the epistemic good. The standard theory treats accuracy as the fundamental epistemic good and assumes that it is a good that calls for promotion. Both claims are mistaken. The fundamental epistemic good involves accuracy, but it involves more than just that. The fundamental epistemic good is knowledge, not (...) mere true belief, because the goodness of an epistemic state is connected to that state's ability to give us reasons. If I'm right about the value theory, this has a number of significant implications for the consequentialist project. First, the good-making features that attach to valuable full beliefs are not features of partial belief. The resulting value theory does not give us the values we need to give consequentialist justifications of credal norms. Second, the relevant kind of good does not call for promotion. It is good to know, but the rational standing of a belief is not determined by the belief's location in a ranked set of options. In the paper's final section, I explain why the present view is a kind of teleological non-consequentialism. There is a kind of good that is prior to the right, but as the relevant kind of good does not call for promotion the value theory shows us what is wrong with the consequentialist project. (shrink)
With a book as wide ranging and insightful as Barry's Justice as Impartiality, it is perhaps a little churlish to criticize it for paying insufficient attention to one's own particular interests. That said, in what follows I am going to do just that and claim that in an important sense Barry does not take utilitarianism seriously. Utilitarianism does receive some discussion in Barry's book, and in an important section which I will discuss he even appears to concede that utilitarianism provides (...) a rival though ultimately inadequate theory of justice. Nevertheless, utilitarianism is not considered a rival to ‘justice as impartiality’ in the way that ‘justice as mutual advantage’ and ‘justice as reciprocity’ are. One response, and perhaps the only adequate response, would be to construct a rival utilitarian theory. I cannot provide such a theory in this paper, and I certainly would be very cautious about claiming that I could provide such a theory elsewhere. What I want to suggest is that utilitarianism is a genuine third theory to contrast with ‘justice as mutual advantage’ and ‘justice as impartiality’ – ‘justice as reciprocity’ being merely a hybrid of ‘justice as mutual advantage’, at least as Barry presents it. I also want to argue that it poses a more significant challenge to a contractualist theory such as Barry's than his discussion of utilitarianism reveals. (shrink)
Lewis thought concessive knowledge attributions (e.g., ‘I know that Harry is a zebra, but it might be that he’s just a cleverly disguised mule’) caused serious trouble for fallibilists. As he saw it, CKAs are overt statements of the fallibilist view and they are contradictory. Dougherty and Rysiew have argued that CKAs are pragmatically defective rather than semantically defective. Stanley thinks that their pragmatic response to Lewis fails, but the fallibilist cause is not lost because Lewis was wrong about the (...) commitments of fallibilism. There are problems with Dougherty and Rysiew’s response to Stanley and there are problems with Stanley’s response to Lewis. I’ll offer a defense of fallibilism of my own and show that fallibilists needn’t worry about CKAs. (shrink)