Since the publication of Timothy Williamson’s Knowledge and its Limits, knowledge-firstepistemology has become increasingly influential within epistemology. This paper discusses the viability of the knowledge-first program. The paper has two main parts. In the first part, I briefly present knowledge-firstepistemology as well as several big picture reasons for concern about this program. While this considerations are pressing, I concede, however, that they are not conclusive. To determine the viability of knowledge-first (...) class='Hi'>epistemology will require philosophers to carefully evaluate the individual theses endorsed by knowledge-first epistemologists as well as to compare it with alternative packages of views. In the second part of the paper, I contribute to this evaluation by considering a specific thesis endorsed by many knowledge-first epistemologists – the knowledge norm of assertion. According to this norm, roughly speaking, one should assert that p only if one knows that p. I present and motivate this thesis. I then turn to a familiar concern with the norm: In many cases, it is intuitively appropriate for someone who has a strongly justified belief that p, but who doesn't know that p, to assert that p. Proponents of the knowledge norm of assertion typically explain away our judgments about such cases by arguing that the relevant assertion is improper but that the subject has an excuse and is therefore not blameworthy for making the assertion. I argue that that this response does not work. In many of the problem cases, it is not merely that the subject’s assertion is blameless. Rather, the subject positively ought to make the assertion. Appealing to an excuse cannot be used to adequately explain this fact. (Nor can we explain this fact by appealing to some other, quite different, consideration.) Finally, I conclude by briefly considering whether we should replace the knowledge norm of assertion with an alternative norm. I argue that the most plausible view is that there is no norm specifically tied to assertion. (shrink)
This paper examines three reasons to think that Craig's genealogy of the concept of knowledge is incompatible with knowledge-firstepistemology and finds that far from being incompatible with it, the genealogy lends succour to it. This reconciliation turns on two ideas. First, the genealogy is not history, but a dynamic model of needs. Secondly, by recognizing the continuity of Craig's genealogy with Williams's genealogy of truthfulness, we can see that while both genealogies start out from specific needs explaining (...) what drives the development of certain concepts rather than others, they then factor in less specific needs which in reality do not come later at all, and which have also left their mark on these concepts. These genealogies thereby reveal widespread functional dynamics driving what I call the de-instrumentalization of concepts, the recognition of which adds to the plausibility of such instrumentalist approaches to concepts. (shrink)
I begin by criticizing reductionist knowledge-firstepistemology according to which knowledge can be used to reductively analyze other epistemic phenomena. My central concern is that proponents of such an approach commit a similar mistake to the one that they charge their opponents with. This is the mistake of seeking to reductively analyze basic epistemic phenomena in terms of other allegedly more fundamental phenomena. I then turn to non-reductionist brands of knowledge-firstepistemology. Specifically, I consider the knowledge (...) norms of assertion and contrast them with an alternative that I have developed elsewhere (Gerken 2011, 2012a, 2013b, 2014, 2015a, 2015c, MS). On the basis of the critical discussion, I question whether a knowledge-first program that is both plausible and distinctive has been identified. On a more positive note, I sketch the contours of an alternative that I label ‘equilibristic epistemology.’ According to this approach, there isn’t a single epistemic phenomenon or concept that is “first.” Rather, there are a number of basic epistemic phenomena that are not reductively analyzable although they may be co-elucidated in a non-reductive manner. This approach preserves some grains of truth in knowledge-firstepistemology. For example, it preserves the idea that knowledge can be taken to be explanatorily basic and unanalyzable. However, since no single epistemic phenomenon is first, knowledge is not first. (shrink)
This book is about knowledge and its value. The central hypothesis is that humans think and speak of knowing in order to identify reliable informants, which is vital for human survival, cooperation, and flourishing. This simple idea is used to answer an array of complex and consequential philosophical questions.
I will claim that the distinction Craig French describes between “specific realizations of knowledge” and “means of knowing”, after respective theorisations by Timothy Williamson and Quassim Cassam, can be seen as a faultline between epistemology on the one hand, and the analysis of ordinary language use on the other. The possibility of this disjunction, I believe, raises the question as to whether the latter kind of analysis has anything to contribute to epistemology at all. Cassam’s “explanatory” conception of (...) ways of knowing is shown to be inconsistent as an epistemology, and prone to use of unfair examples even considered as the analysis of ordinary discourse for expressions of knowledge. Nonetheless, in order to argue that this is the case, the “explanatory” conception helps us to consider the better mode of analysis for explanations of knowledge in philosophy. (shrink)
I motivate and develop a novel account of the epistemic assessability of suspension as a development of my knowledge-first, virtue-epistemological research program. First, I extend an argument of Ernest Sosa's for the claim that evidentialism cannot adequately account for the epistemic assessability of suspension. This includes a kind of knowledge-first evidentialism of the sort advocated by Timothy Williamson. I agree with Sosa that the reasons why evidentialism fails motivate a virtue-epistemological approach, but argue that my knowledge-first account (...) is preferable to his view. According to my account, rational belief is belief that manifests proper practical respect for what it takes to know. Beliefs are the only primary bearers of epistemic evaluation since they are the only candidates for knowledge. However, suspension can manifest a derivative kind of practical respect for what it takes to know. Thus, we can explain why the same sort of assessment is applicable to both belief and suspension, and why belief has a privileged claim to these properties. Lastly, I'll look at Sosa's and Williamson's treatments of Pyrrhonian skepticism, which treats a certain kind of suspension as the epistemically superior practice, and argue that my account provides a better anti-skeptical response than either of their approaches. (shrink)
There is a New Idea in epistemology. It goes by the name of ‘knowledge first,’ and it is particularly associated with Timothy Williamson’s book Knowledge and Its Limits. In slogan form, to put knowledge first is to treat knowledge as basic or fundamental, and to explain other states—belief, justification, maybe even content itself—in terms of knowledge, instead of vice versa. The idea has proven enormously interesting, and equally controversial. But deep foundational questions about its actual content remain relatively unexplored. (...) We think that a wide variety of views travel under the banner of ‘knowledge first’ (and that the slogan doesn’t help much with differentiating them). Furthermore, we think it is far from straightforward to draw connections between certain of these views; they are more independent than they are often assumed to be. Our project here is exploratory and clarificatory. We mean to tease apart various ‘knowledge first’ claims, and explore what connections they do or do not have with one another. Our taxonomy is offered in §2, and connections are explored in §3. The result, we hope, will be a clearer understanding of just what the knowledge first theses are. We conclude, in §4, with some brief suggestions as to how we think the various theses might be evaluated. (shrink)
The book develops and synthesises two main ideas: contextualism about knowledge ascriptions and a knowledge-first approach to epistemology. The theme of the book is that these two ideas fit together much better than it's widely thought they do. Not only are they not competitors: they each have something important to offer the other.
I explain why, from the perspective of knowledge-centric anti-luck epistemology, objective act consequentialist theories of ethics imply skepticism about the moral status of our prospective actions and also tend to be self-defeating, undermining the justification of consequentialist theories themselves. For according to knowledge-centric anti-luck epistemology there are modal anti-luck demands on both knowledge and justification, and it turns out that our beliefs about the moral status of our prospective actions are almost never able to satisfy these demands if (...) objective act consequentialism is true. This kind of applied moral skepticism introduces problematic limits on our ability to use objective act consequentialism’s explanatory power as evidence for its truth. This is, in part, a product of higher-order defeat as I explain in the final section. There is, however, a silver lining for objective act consequentialists. For there is at least one type of objective act consequentialism, prior existence consequentialism, that is poised to avoid at least some of the epistemic problems discussed in this paper. (shrink)
I develop a challenge for a widely suggested knowledge-first account of belief that turns, primarily, on unknowable propositions. I consider and reject several responses to my challenge and sketch a new knowledge-first account of belief that avoids it.
The paper takes a closer look at the role of knowledge and evidence in legal theory. In particular, the paper examines a puzzle arising from the evidential standard Preponderance of the Evidence and its application in civil procedure. Legal scholars have argued since at least the 1940s that the rule of the Preponderance of the Evidence gives rise to a puzzle concerning the role of statistical evidence in judicial proceedings, sometimes referred to as the Problem of Bare Statistical Evidence. While (...) this puzzle has led to the development of a multitude of accounts and approaches in the legal literature, I argue here that the problem can be resolved fairly straightforwardly within a knowledge-first framework. (shrink)
According to a tradition reaching back to Plato, questions about the nature of knowledge are to be answered by offering an analysis in terms of truth, belief, justification, and other factors presumed to be in some sense more basic than knowledge itself. In light of the apparent failure of this approach, knowledge first philosophy instead takes knowledge as the starting point in epistemology and related areas of the philosophies of language and mind. Knowledge cannot be analyzed in the traditional (...) sense, but this does not make it mysterious or unimportant. On the contrary, we are freed to use our grasp of what knowledge is to elucidate the nature of belief, justification, evidence, the speech act of assertion, and the demands on action and practical reasoning, and to treat knowledge as a purely mental state in its own right. Knowledge First? offers the first overview and critical evaluation of knowledge first philosophy as a whole. (shrink)
The knowledge-first solution to the New Evil Demon Problem (NEDP) goes hand in hand with a particular conception of the normativity of justification, one according to which a justified belief is one that satisfies some sort of ought or should (Williamson forthcoming). This claim is incompatible with another, well accepted, view that regards the normativity of justification. According to this established view, a justified belief is rather something that is neither obligatory, nor forbidden (see e.g. Alston 1989, 1993, 2006; (...) Ginet 1975). The purpose of this contribution is to settle the debate between these two irreconcilable conceptions of the normativity of justification. The main upshot is that the knowledge-first conception of the normativity of justification, the one on which the knowledge-first solution to the NEDP relies, seems in fact superior. (shrink)
There are two different kinds of enkratic principles for belief: evidential enkratic principles and normative enkratic principles. It’s frequently taken for granted that there’s not an important difference between them. But evidential enkratic principles are undermined by considerations that gain no traction at all against their normative counterparts. The idea that such an asymmetry exists between evidential and normative enkratic principles is surprising all on its own. It is also something that calls out for explanation. Similarly, the considerations that undermine (...) evidential enkratic principles also undermine certain narrow-scope evidential principles. This too generates explanatory questions. I show how a knowledge-first view of rationality can easily address these explanatory questions. Thus we have one more reason to put knowledge first in epistemology. (shrink)
Virtue epistemology argues that knowledge is more valuable than Gettierized belief because knowledge is an achievement, but Gettierized belief is not. The key premise in the achievement argument is that achievement is apt (successful because competent) and Gettierized belief is inapt (successful because lucky). I first argue that the intuition behind the achievement argument is based wrongly on the fact that ‘being successful because lucky’ implicates ‘being not competent enough’. I then offer an argument from moral luck to argue (...) that virtue epistemologists should maintain that knowledge is no more valuable than Gettierized belief. (shrink)
What Is Scientific Knowledge? is a much-needed collection of introductory-level chapters on the epistemology of science. Renowned historians, philosophers, science educators, and cognitive scientists have authored 19 original contributions specifically for this volume. The chapters, accessible for students in both philosophy and the sciences, serve as helpful introductions to the primary debates surrounding scientific knowledge.First-year undergraduates can readily understand the variety of discussions in the volume, and yet advanced students and scholars will encounter chapters rich enough to engage their (...) many interests. The variety and coverage in this volume make it the perfect choice for the primary text in courses on scientific knowledge. It can also be used as a supplemental book in classes in epistemology, philosophy of science, and other related areas. (shrink)
This thesis centers on two trends in epistemology: the dissatisfaction with the reductive analysis of knowledge, the project of explicating knowledge in terms of necessary and jointly sufficient conditions, and the popularity of virtue-theoretic epistemologies. The goal of this thesis is to endorse non-reductive virtue epistemology. Given that prominent renditions of virtue epistemology assume the reductive model, however, such a move is not straightforward—work needs to be done to elucidate what is wrong with the reductive model, in (...) general, and why reductive accounts of virtue epistemology, specifically, are lacking. The first part of this thesis involves diagnosing what is wrong with the reductive model and defending that diagnosis against objections. The problem with the reductive project is the Gettier Problem. In Chapter 1, I lend credence to Linda Zagzebski’s grim 1994 diagnosis of Gettier problems by examining the nature of luck, the key component of Gettier problems. In Chapter 2, I vindicate this diagnosis against a range of critiques from the contemporary literature. The second part involves applying this diagnosis to prominent versions of virtue epistemology. In Chapter 3, we consider the virtue epistemology of Alvin Plantinga. In Chapter 4, we consider the virtue epistemology of Ernest Sosa. Both are seminal and iconic; nevertheless, I argue that, in accord with our diagnosis, neither is able to viably surmount the Gettier Problem. Having diagnosed what is wrong with the reductive project and applied this diagnosis to prominent versions of virtue epistemology, the final part of this thesis explores the possibility of non-reductive virtue epistemology. In Chapter 5, I argue that there are three strategies that can be used to develop non-reductive virtue epistemologies, strategies that are compatible with seminal non-reductive accounts of knowledge and preserve our favorite virtue-theoretic concepts. (shrink)
Recent knowledge first epistemology features a number of different accounts of justified belief, including a knowledge first reductionism according to which to believe justifiably is to know Sutton, Littlejohn, Williamson, a knowledge first version of accessibilism Millar and a knowledge first version of mentalism Bird. This paper offers a knowledge first version of virtue epistemology and argues that it is preferable to its knowledge first epistemological rivals: only knowledge first virtue epistemology manages to steer clear of a (...) number of problems that its competition encounters. (shrink)
Ernest Sosa's A Virtue Epistemology, Vol. I is arguably the single-most important monograph to be published in analytic epistemology in the last ten years. Sosa, the first in the field to employ the notion of intellectual virtue – in his ground-breaking ‘The Raft and the Pyramid’– is the leading proponent of reliabilist versions of virtue epistemology. In A Virtue Epistemology, he deftly defends an externalist account of animal knowledge as apt belief, argues for a distinction between (...) animal and reflective knowledge, contends that rational intuition is an intellectual virtue ; and offers responses to dream scepticism, the problem of the criterion and the value problem. Nearly all of these arguments are new, albeit consistent with Sosa's earlier work; that is, consistent with two notable exceptions. First, c ontra Sosa's ‘Replies’ in Ernest Sosa and His Critics, A Virtue Epistemology explicitly contends that safety is not required for animal knowledge. Second, unlike Sosa's Knowledge in Perspective, which arguably construes the intellectual virtues as merely instrumentally valuable, A Virtue Epistemology explicitly contends that the intellectual virtues are instrumentally and constitutively valuable. Best read in conjunction with the above monographs and Epistemic Justification, A Virtue Epistemology is mandatory reading for epistemologists and graduate students in the field. It will rightly set the standard for debates in analytic epistemology for years to come.I will summarize and raise objections to two key conclusions that are unique to A Virtue Epistemology: the ‘kaleidoscope-perceiver’ has animal knowledge but lacks reflective knowledge; unlike the k-perceiver, the ordinary perceiver has reflective knowledge. My objections …. (shrink)
On Folk Epistemology explores how we ascribe knowledge to ourselves and others. Empirical evidence suggests that we do so early and often in thought as well as in talk. Since knowledge ascriptions are central to how we navigate social life, it is important to understand our basis for making them. -/- A central claim of the book is that factors that have nothing to do with knowledge may lead to systematic mistakes in everyday ascriptions of knowledge. These mistakes are (...) explained by an empirically informed account of how ordinary knowledge ascriptions are the product of cognitive heuristics that are associated with biases. In developing this account, Mikkel Gerken presents work in cognitive psychology and pragmatics, while also contributing to epistemology. For example, Gerken develops positive epistemic norms of action and assertion and moreover, critically assesses contextualism, knowledge-first methodology, pragmatic encroachment theories and more. Many of these approaches are argued to overestimate the epistemological significance of folk epistemology. In contrast, this volume develops an equilibristic methodology according to which intuitive judgments about knowledge cannot straightforwardly play a role as data for epistemological theorizing. Rather, critical epistemological theorizing is required to interpret empirical findings. Consequently, On Folk Epistemology helps to lay the foundation for an emerging sub-field that intersects philosophy and the cognitive sciences: The empirical study of folk epistemology. (shrink)
My overarching purpose is to illustrate the philosophical fruitfulness of expanding epistemology not only laterally across the social space of other epistemic subjects, but at the same time vertically in the temporal dimension. I set about this by first presenting central strands of Michael Williams' diagnostic engagement with scepticism, in which he crucially employs a Default and Challenge model of justification. I then develop three key aspects of Edward Craig's ‘practical explication' of the concept of knowledge so that they (...) may be seen to resonate positively with Williams's epistemological picture: the admixture of internalist and externalist features; the proto-contextualism; and, finally, the distinctively genealogical antisceptical impetus. In this way I aim to support and augment the socialized anti-sceptical case mounted by Williams, and so to show that expanding epistemology in the temporal dimension can be a productive move in central debates in epistemology. (shrink)
My overarching purpose is to illustrate the philosophical fruitfulness of expanding epistemology not only laterally across the social space of other epistemic subjects, but at the same time vertically in the temporal dimension. I set about this by first presenting central strands of Michael Williams' diagnostic engagement with scepticism, in which he crucially employs a Default and Challenge model of justification. I then develop three key aspects of Edward Craig's ‘practical explication' of the concept of knowledge so that they (...) may be seen to resonate positively with Williams's epistemological picture: the admixture of internalist and externalist features; the proto-contextualism; and, finally, the distinctively genealogical antisceptical impetus. In this way I aim to support and augment the socialized anti-sceptical case mounted by Williams, and so to show that expanding epistemology in the temporal dimension can be a productive move in central debates in epistemology. Philosophical Papers Vol. 37 (1) 2008: pp. 27-50. (shrink)
The Orthodox View (OV) of the relation between epistemic justification and knowledge has it that justification is conceptually prior to knowledge—and so, can be used to provide a noncircular account of knowledge. OV has come under threat from the increasingly popular “Knowledge First” movement (KFM) in epistemology. I assess several anti-OV arguments due to three of KFM’s most prominent members: Timothy Williamson, Jonathan Sutton, and Alexander Bird. I argue that OV emerges from these attacks unscathed.
Most current work in epistemology deals with the evaluation and justification of information already acquired. In this book, Jaakko Hintikka instead discusses the more important problem of how knowledge is acquired in the first place. His model of information-seeking is the old Socratic method of questioning, which has been generalized and brought up-to-date through the logical theory of questions and answers that he has developed. Hintikka also argues that philosophers' quest for a definition of knowledge is ill-conceived and that (...) the entire notion of knowledge should be replaced by the concept of information. He offers an analysis of the different meanings of the concept of information and of their interrelations. The result is a new and illuminating approach to the field of epistemology. (shrink)
Davidson and Burge have claimed that the conditions under which self-knowledge is possessed are such that externalism poses no obstacle to their being met by ordinary speakers and thinkers. On their accounts. no such person could fail to possess self-knowledge. But we do from time to time attribute to each other such failures; so we should prefer to their accounts an account that preserves first person authority while allowing us to make sense of what appear to be true attributions of (...) such failures.While the core idea behind Davidson’s and Burge’s accounts appears inadequate to this task, I argue that it can be deployed in such a way as to deliver the desired result. What makes this possible is that two attitude-types can differ as follows: the self-knowledge required for an utterance to be a Φing that p is different from the self-knowledge required for it to be a Ψing that p. (shrink)
I extend my direct virtue epistemology to explain how a knowledge-first framework can account for two kinds of positive epistemic standing, one tracked by externalists, who claim that the virtuous duplicate lacks justification, the other tracked by internalists, who claim that the virtuous duplicate has justification, and moreover that such justification is not enjoyed by the vicious duplicate. It also explains what these kinds of epistemic standing have to do with each other. I argue that all justified beliefs (...) are good candidates for knowledge, and are such because they are exercises of competences to know. However, there are two importantly different senses in which a belief may be a good candidate for knowledge, one corresponding to an externalist kind of justification and the other corresponding to an internalist one. I show how the account solves the new evil demon problem in a more satisfactory way than existing accounts. We end up with a view of knowledge, justification, and rationality that is plausible, motivated, and theoretically unified. (shrink)
The fourteen papers in this collection offer a variety of original contributions to the epistemology of modality. In seeking to explain our knowledge of possibility and necessity, they raise some novel questions, develop some unfamiliar theoretical perspectives, and make some intriguing proposals. In the Introduction (penultimate draft available for download), I give some general background about the contemporary literature in the area, by sketching a timeline of the main tendencies of the past twenty-five years or so, up to the (...) present debates. Next, I focus on four features that largely characterize the latest literature, and the papers in the present collection in particular: (i) an endorsement of the importance of essentialism; (ii) a shift to a “metaphysics-first” approach to modal epistemology; (iii) a focus on metaphysical modality as opposed to other kinds of modality; and (iv) a preference for non-uniform modal epistemology. Then I turn to present the individual papers in the volume, which are organized based on their topic around the following four chapters: (A) Skepticism & Deflationism; (B) Essentialism; (C) Non-Essentialist Accounts; (D) Applications. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS: Francesco Berto; Stephen Biggs & Jessica Wilson; Justin Clark-Doane; Philip Goff; Bob Hale; Frank Jackson; Mark Jago; Boris Kment; Antonella Mallozzi; Graham Priest; Gabriel Rabin; Amie Thomasson; Anand Vaidya & Michael Wallner; Jennifer Wang. The volume is dedicated to the memory of Bob Hale. (shrink)
The notion of cognitive act is of importance for an epistemology that is apt for constructive type theory, and for epistemology in general. Instead of taking knowledge attributions as the primary use of the verb 'to know' that needs to be given an account of, and understanding a first-person knowledge claim as a special case of knowledge attribution, the account of knowledge that is given here understands first-person knowledge claims as the primary use of the verb 'to know'. (...) This means that a cognitive act is an act that counts as cognitive from a first-person point of view. The method of linguistic phenomenology is used to explain or elucidate our epistemic notions. One of the advantages of the theory is that an answer can be given to some of the problems in modern epistemology, such as the Gettier problem. (shrink)
The traditional conception of knowledge is justified, true belief. If one looks at a modern textbook on epistemology, the great bulk of questions with which it deals are to do with personal knowledge, as embodied in beliefs and the proper experiences that someone ought to have had in order to have the right (or justification) to know. I intend to argue that due to the explosive growth of knowledge whose domain is “outside the head”, this conception has outlived its (...) relevance. -/- On the other hand, Karl Popper’s (1934) Falsificationism, with its emphasis on the objective character of knowledge, is not only a sounder, but also a more appropriate theory of knowledge for understanding the nature and growth of civilization. Later, Popper (1945) generalized this approach to obtain critical rationalism, in which all claims to knowledge, whether scientific or otherwise, are understood as objective solutions to objective problems and can be evaluated by other non-observational - types of criticism. I will first argue that Popper’s methodology is quite suited to the view that knowledge is an objective autonomous product and then adduce his theory of world 3, an ontology that neatly wraps up various considerations. World 3 is the domain of abstract products of the human mind that now have a life of their own, outside of human heads: theories, arguments, problems, plans, etc. I then adduce some other arguments for the autonomous quality of knowledge. (shrink)
In his new book, Knowledge: The Philosophical Quest in History, Steve Fuller returns to core themes of his program of social epistemology that he first outlined in his 1988 book, Social Epistemology. He develops a new, unorthodox theology and philosophy building upon his testimony in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District in defense of intelligent design, leading to a call for maximal human experimentation. Beginning from the theological premise rooted in the Abrahamic religious tradition that we are created (...) in the image of God, Fuller argues that the spark of the divine within us distinguishes us from animals. I argue that Fuller’s recent work takes us away from key insights of his original work. In contrast, I advocate for a program of social epistemology rooted in evolutionary science rather than intelligent design, emphasize a precautionary and ecological approach rather than a proactionary approach that favors risky human experimentation, and attend to our material and sociological embeddedness rather than a transhumanist repudiation of the body. (shrink)
Abstract: Pluralistic ignorance is a nasty informational phenomenon widely studied in social psychology and theoretical economics. It revolves around conditions under which it is "legitimate" for everyone to remain ignorant. In formal epistemology there is enough machinery to model and resolve situations in which pluralistic ignorance may arise. Here is a simple first stab at recovering from pluralistic ignorance by means of knowledge transmissibility.
In this paper I argue, first, that the most influential (and perhaps only acceptable) account of the epistemology of self-knowledge, developed and defended at great length in Wright (1989b) and (1989c) (among other places), leaves unanswered a question about the psychology of self-knowledge; second, that without an answer to this question about the psychology of self-knowledge, the epistemic account cannot be considered acceptable; and third, that neither Wright's own answer, nor an interpretation-based answer (based on a proposal from Jacobsen (...) (1997)), will suffice as an acceptable answer to the psychological question. My general ambition is thus to establish that more work is needed if we are to have a full account of self-knowledge in both its epistemological and psychological aspects. I conclude by suggesting how my thesis bears on those who aim to provide an empirical account of the cognition involved in self-knowledge. (shrink)
The first book to provide an in-depth examination of Steve Fuller's politically oriented social epistemology, Legitimizing Scientific Knowledge compares Fuller's social epistemology with other interest-oriented and truth-oriented social epistemologies. The result is a carefully argued, in-depth analysis of the work of a groundbreaking philosopher of science.
: Whereas research on Moses Mendelssohn’s Morning Hours has largely focused on the proofs for the existence of God and the elaboration of a purified pantheism in the Second Part of the text, scholars have paid far less attention to the First Part where Mendelssohn details his mature epistemology and conceptions of truth. In an attempt to contribute to remedying this situation, the present article critically examines his account, in the First Part, of different types of truth, different types (...) of knowledge, and the case against idealism. The examination stresses potential but overlooked strengths of his account, questions of ambiguity if not inconsistency in his concepts of existence and substance, and the potential import of these questions for the role he assigns to common sense. (shrink)
A Review of S. Napiers, book Virtue Epistemology. While concerned with the nature of knowledge, Napier also wants to claim that a key implication of responsibilist VE is “a shift away from analyzing epistemic concepts (knowledge, etc.) in terms of other epistemic concepts (e.g. justification) to analyzing epistemic concepts with reference to kinds of human activity…much of analytic epistemology centers on epistemic concepts, whereas the responsibilist focuses on epistemic activity” (144).Of the main points he claims responsibilism provides us (...) with—(i) rentention of the idea that a person who knows is personally justified in the sense of is rational, justified, or intellectually good, (ii) a sound account of the value of knowledge, and (iii) a Gettier-proof theory of knowledge —I pose some questions about the first and third. (shrink)
In this dissertation I discuss the epistemology of ethical intuitionism, in particular the claim that mature moral agents possess self-evident moral knowledge. Traditional intuitionists such as W.D. Ross have claimed that by reflection, we can acquire knowledge of our basic moral duties such as the duty of veracity or benevolence. Recent defenders of intuitionism such as Robert Audi have further developed this theory and argued that adequate understanding can be sufficient for moral knowledge. I criticize this view and argue (...) that such accounts fail to make a convincing case for a foundationalist moral epistemology. Instead, I propose to separate the question of how we acquire moral knowledge from an account that justifies moral beliefs. In response to the first issue, I draw an analogy between our moral intuitions and chosmkian linguistics; in both areas, I argue, human beings possess a universal, unconscious and (partly) inaccessible system of rules that explains how we come to learn language and to make moral judgments. In regards to the justificatory issue, I address recent evolutionary debunking arguments designed to undermine the claim that our moral judgments track stance-independent truths. I try to show that this conclusion only follows under the assumption of an instrumentalist interpretation of moral reasoning which the intuitionist is not forced to accept. (shrink)
In 1990 Edward Craig published a book called Knowledge and the State of Nature in which he introduced and defended a genealogical approach to epistemology. In recent years Craig’s book has attracted a lot of attention, and his distinctive approach has been put to a wide range of uses including anti-realist metaepistemology, contextualism, relativism, anti-luck virtue epistemology, epistemic injustice, value of knowledge, pragmatism and virtue epistemology. While the number of objections to Craig’s approach has accumulated, there has (...) been no sustained attempt to develop answers to these objections. In this paper we provide answers to seven important objections in the literature. (shrink)
I provide a novel knowledge-first account of justification that avoids the pitfalls of existing accounts while preserving the underlying insight of knowledge-first epistemologies: that knowledge comes first. The view I propose is, roughly, this: justification is grounded in our practical knowledge (know-how) concerning the acquisition of propositional knowledge (knowledge-that). I first refine my thesis in response to immediate objections. In subsequent sections I explain the various ways in which this thesis is theoretically superior to existing knowledge-first accounts (...) of justification. The upshot is a virtue-theoretic, knowledge-first view of justification that is internalist-friendly and able to explain more facts about justification than any other available view. (shrink)
Abstract: On the standard story about knowledge, knowledge has a normative dimension by virtue of the fact that knowledge involves justification. On the standard story, justification is necessary but insufficient for knowledge. The additional conditions that distinguish knowledge from justified belief are normatively insignificant. In this chapter we will consider whether the concept of knowledge might be irrelevant to normative questions in epistemology. Some proponents of the standard story might think that it is, but we shall see that the (...) concept of knowledge might play three important roles in answering normative questions in epistemology. The concept might be useful in helping us understand evidence and epistemic reasons, the kind of rational support required for justification, and in formulating epistemic norms. (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)
According to Sosa’s virtue epistemological account, an instance of (animal) knowledge is a belief that instantiates the property of being apt. The purpose of this contribution is, first, to show why this claim is, without further clarification, problematic. Briefly, an instance of knowledge cannot be identified to an apt belief because beliefs are states and aptness is a property that only actions —and no states— can exemplify. Second, I present the metaphysical amendment that the tenants of virtue epistemology can (...) adopt in order to avoid this objection. This conducts me to suggest a new, metaphysically sounder version of the virtue epistemological account of knowledge in which knowledge is extrinsically apt belief. (shrink)
Two different versions of epistemological disjunctivism have recently been upheld in the literature: a traditional, Justified True Belief Epistemological Disjunctivism (JTBED) and a Knowledge First Epistemological Disjunctivism (KFED). JTBED holds that factive reasons of the form “S sees that p” provide the rational support in virtue of which one has perceptual knowledge, while KFED holds that factive reasons of the form “S sees that p” just are ways of knowing that p which additionally provide justification for believing that p. We (...) argue that both accounts remain ultimately unsatisfactory. JTBED faces two formidable problems: first, it cannot account for animal knowledge, and, second, it does not offer a satisfactory account of how we access factive reasons. Although KFED can solve these two problems, it has some problems of its own. While intuitively knowledge is logically stronger than justified belief, on KFED it turns out to be weaker: knowledge does not entail justified belief, but justified belief does entail knowledge. Nevertheless, disjunctivists are right on at least a couple of points: we standardly justify our perceptual beliefs by appealing to factive reasons such as seeing that p and so factive reasons ought to play some role in our theory of justification. In addition, KFED’s account of our access to factive reasons also is spot on. Rather than going disjunctivist, these insights can be suitably incorporated into a Knowledge First Virtue Epistemology (KFVE). (shrink)
In Moral Knowledge? New Readings in Moral Epistemology, editors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Mark Timmons bring together eleven specially commissioned essays by distinguished moral philosophers exploring the nature and possibility of moral knowledge. Each essay represents a major position within the exciting field of moral epistemology in which a proponent of the position presents and defends his or her view and locates it vis-a-vis competing views. The authors include established philosophers such as Peter Railton, Robert Audi, Richard Brandt, and (...) Simon Blackburn, as well as newer voices in the field. Topics covered include moral skepticism, moral truth, projectivism, contractarianism, coherentism, feminist views, quasi-realism, and pragmatism. The lively and clear selections do not presuppose specialized knowledge of philosophy, and the philosophical vocabulary used throughout the anthology is uniform, in order to facilitate understanding by those not familiar with the field. The first chapter includes a sustained critical discussion of the major views represented in the following chapters, thereby furnishing beginning students with appropriate background to understand the selections. The volume is further enhanced by an index and an extensive bibliography. An excellent text for undergraduate and graduate courses, Moral Knowledge provides the most up-to-date work on moral knowledge and justification. (shrink)
The claim that knowledge is grounded on a basic, non-inferentially grasped set of principles, which seems to be Aristotle’s view, in contemporary epistemology can be seen as part of a wider foundationalist account. Foundationalists assume that there must be some premise-beliefs at the basis of every felicitous reasoning which cannot be themselves in need of justification and may not be challenged. They provide justification for truths based on these premises, which Aristotle unusually call principles (archái). Can Aristotle be considered (...) a foundationalist? Are his first principles necessary premises to right inferences? We will look at the issue here. (shrink)