To most of us – believers and non-believers alike – the possibility of a perfect God co-existing with the kinds of evil that we see calls out for explanation. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the belief that God must have justifying reasons for allowing all the evil that we see has been a perennial feature of theistic thought. Recently, however, a growing number of authors have argued that the existence of a perfect God is compatible with the existence of gratuitous (...) evil. Given powerful, millenia-long sensibilities about power and love and justice, it isn’t hard to find that suggestion simply incredible. Nonetheless, in this paper I will argue that the most prominent theistic alternatives to what has seemed incredible to most of us throughout most of history are themselves patently unacceptable for the theist as well. On any of the most widely accepted accounts of how God could have justifying reasons for permitting some evils, God’s existence means that we have justifying reasons for perpetrating and allowing every evil that we see. That's hard to swallow too. If I’m right about all of this, then two competing outcomes seem to present themselves as a possible result. On the one hand, for the theist, the apparently outrageous suggestion that the existence of a perfect God is compatible with gratuitous evil no longer looks like it faces a formidable, hard-to-resist alternative. On the other hand, some like me might think that my arguments go no distance at all towards dispelling the incredibility of the gratuitous evil nouvelle vague. On this line, theism may seem now to be between the rock and the hard place: it seems hard to make sense of the existence of a perfect God whether or not He has justifying reasons for allowing all the evil that we see. (shrink)
Paul Silva has recently argued that doxastic justification does not have a basing requirement. An important part of his argument depends on the assumption that doxastic and moral permissibility have a parallel structure. I here reply to Silva's argument by challenging this assumption. I claim that moral permissibility is an agential notion, while doxastic permissibility is not. I then briefly explore the nature of these notions and briefly consider their implications for praise and blame.
Deontological evidentialism is the claim that we ought to form and maintain our beliefs in accordance with our evidence. In this paper, I criticize two arguments in its defense. I begin by discussing Berit Broogard’s use of the distinction between narrow-scope and wide-scope requirements against W.K. Clifford’s moral defense of. I then use this very distinction against a defense of inspired by Stephen Grimm’s more recent claims about the moral source of epistemic normativity. I use this distinction once again to (...) argue that Hilary Kornblith’s criticism of Richard Feldman’s defense of is incomplete. Finally, I argue that Feldman’s defense is insensitive to the relation between normative requirements and privileged values: values that have normative authority over us. (shrink)
Skeptical theism, broadly construed, is an attempt to leverage our limited cognitive powers, in some specified sense, against “evidential” and “explanatory” arguments from evil. Since there are different versions of these kinds of arguments, there are correspondingly different versions of skeptical theism. In this paper, I briefly explain three versions of these arguments from evil (two from William Rowe and one from Paul Draper) and the three versions of skeptical theism tailor-made to block them (from Stephen Wykstra, Michael Bergmann, and (...) Peter van Inwagen). (shrink)
Skeptical theism, broadly construed, is an attempt to leverage our limited cognitive powers, in some specified sense, against “evidential” and “explanatory” arguments from evil. Since there are different versions of these kinds of arguments, there are correspondingly different versions of skeptical theism. In this paper, I consider four challenges to three central versions of skeptical theism: (a) the problem of generalized skepticism, (b) the problem of moral skepticism, (c) the problem of unqualified modal skepticism, and (d) the challenge from Bayesian (...) epistemology. (shrink)
The distinction between propositional and doxastic justification has been of undisputed theoretical importance in a wide range of contemporary epistemological debates. Yet there are a host of intimately related issues that have rarely been discussed in connection with this distinction. For instance, the distinction not only applies to an individual’s beliefs, but also to group beliefs and to various other attitudes that both groups and individuals can take: credence, commitment, suspension, faith, and hope. Moreover, discussions of propositional and doxastic justification (...) have rarely focused on broader meta-epistemological issues, and yet meta-epistemological positions can have important implications for first-order views about this distinction. This volume addresses these and other issues by bringing together 16 essays that advance the state-of-the-art thinking on propositional and doxastic justification and explore how such thinking shapes and is shaped by a range of issues previously neglected in contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
Deontological internalism is the family of views where justification is a positive deontological appraisal of someone's epistemic agency: S is justified, that is, when S is blameless, praiseworthy, or responsible in believing that p. Brian Weatherson discusses very briefly how a plausible principle of ampliative transmission reveals a worry for versions of deontological internalism formulated in terms of epistemic blame. Weatherson denies, however, that similar principles reveal similar worries for other versions. I disagree. In this article, I argue that plausible (...) principles of ampliative transmission reveal a worry for deontological internalism in general. (shrink)
Deontological evidentialism is the claim that S ought to form or maintain S’s beliefs in accordance with S’s evidence. A promising argument for this view turns on the premise that consideration c is a normative reason for S to form or maintain a belief that p only if c is evidence that p is true. In this paper, I discuss the surprising relation between a recently influential argument for this key premise and the principle that ought implies can. I argue (...) that anyone who antecedently accepts or rejects this principle already has a reason to resist either this argument’s premises or its role in support of deontological evidentialism. (shrink)
W.K. Clifford’s famous 1876 essay The Ethics of Belief contains one of the most memorable lines in the history of philosophy: "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." The challenge to religious belief stemming from this moralized version of evidentialism is still widely discussed today.
What I call the Doxastic Puzzle, is the impression that while each of these claims seems true, at least one of them must be false: (a) Claims of the form ‘S ought to have doxastic attitude D towards p at t’ are sometimes true at t, (b) If Φ-ing at t is not within S’s effective control at t, then it is false, at t, that ‘S ought to Φ at t’, (c) For all S, p, and t, having doxastic (...) attitude D towards p at t is not within S’s effective control at t. All three natural replies to the puzzle have been pursued. Some have claimed that doxastic attitudes like believing that p are, in fact, within our effective control, or sufficiently so. Others have claimed that doxastic ought-claims, strictly speaking, are always false. And some have denied that effective control is required for the adequacy of doxastic ought-claims in general. I here pursue and examine a different strategy. In the first part of this paper, I argue that these claims are not only each true but actually not in tension with each other in the first place. Instead of attempting to dispel the puzzle, this solution proposes to evade it instead: to solve it by properly understanding, and by thereby accepting without contradiction, all of its constitutive claims. In the second part of the paper, I argue that the evasive strategy forces us to re-think our understanding of the place of normative reasons in epistemology. More exactly, it seems to come at the cost of one central way of thinking about our reasons for having doxastic attitudes, one where such reasons are good-standing exemplars of normative reasons in general. The evasive strategy, that is, threatens to lead us very quickly to a deflationary picture of epistemic normativity: it rescues normative talk, but sacrifices normative substance. I conclude by explaining why I think this is more consequential than some have made it out to be, and by suggesting that these consequences are welcome nonetheless. (shrink)
This paper defends a novel account of how to determine the intrinsic value of possible worlds. Section 1 argues that a highly intuitive and widely accepted account leads to undesirable consequences. Section 2 takes the first of two steps towards a novel account by clarifying and defending a view about value-contribution that is based on some of W. D. Ross’ claims about the value of pleasure. Section 3 takes the second step by clarifying and defending a view about value-suppression that (...) is based on Ross’ claims about the interplay between prima-facie duties. Section 4 states and defends the account that I call Rossian Totalism. According to this account, the atoms of intrinsic value within a world only sometimes contribute their intrinsic value to the value of that world. (shrink)
Hermeneutical injustices, according to Miranda Fricker, are injustices that occur “when a gap in collective interpretive resources puts someone at an unfair disadvantage when it comes to making sense of their social experiences” (Fricker 2007, 1). For Fricker, the relevant injustice in these cases is the very lack of knowledge and understanding experienced by the subject. In this way, hermeneutical injustices are instances of epistemic injustices, the kind of injustice that “wrongs someone in their capacity as a subject of knowledge” (...) (Fricker 2007, 5). In this paper, however, I identify different means by which our hermeneutic activities lead to social injustices, of both a practical and epistemic kind, and I identify different ways in which those injustices manifest themselves. Since Fricker’s use of the notion of “hermeneutical injustices” to denote a well-defined kind of injustice is rightfully well-established, I here refer to the more general kinds of injustices I have in mind as “hermeneutic injustices” instead. (shrink)
The claim that ordinary ethical discourse is typically true and that ethical facts are typically knowable seems in tension with the claim that ordinary ethical discourse is about features of reality friendly to a scientific worldview. Cornell Realism attempts to dispel this tension by claiming that ordinary ethical discourse is, in fact, discourse about the same kinds of things that scientific discourse is about: natural properties. We offer two novel arguments in reply. First, we identify a key assumption that we (...) find unlikely to be true. Second, we identify two features of typical natural properties that ethical properties lack. We conclude that Cornell Realism falls short of dispelling the tension between ethical conservativism and ethical naturalism. (shrink)
Um alinhamento responsável à alguma versão do naturalismo filosófico requer a articulação explicita e cuidadosa de um argumento em sua defesa. Em quatro passos, o texto que segue abaixo expande e examina a validade de um argumento que é frequentemente rascunhado em favor do naturalismo. Como veremos, contudo, a versão do naturalismo que esse argumento nos permite é um pouco diferente dos naturalismos filosóficos mais populares.
O ceticismo é por vezes descartado como uma doutrina absurda e merecedora do seu lugar distante na antiguidade. Nada poderia ser menos correto. O ceticismo continua extremamente relevante para o pensamento filosófico e científico de hoje, servindo como um lembrete de que a sabedoria não é barata nem segura. Nesse texto, o meu objetivo principal é reproduzir o raciocínio das discussões clássicas sobre o ceticismo, mas de uma maneira coloquial e contemporânea. Após seguir as linhas de pensamento de Sexto Empírico, (...) René Descartes, e David Hume, eu vou extrair e identificar claramente as teses centrais que marcam as suas ideias. A minha intenção, porém, não é a de sugerir que as suas teses são auto-evidentes, ou incontestáveis, ou até hoje ainda incontestadas. Muito pelo contrário. A minha intenção é produzir um aperitivo ao debate e um convite a discussão. (shrink)
Ever since John Locke, philosophers have discussed the possibility of a normative epistemology: are there epistemic obligations binding the cognitive economy of belief and disbelief? Locke's influential answer was evidentialist: we have an epistemic obligation to believe in accordance with our evidence. In this dissertation, I place the contemporary literature on agency and reasons at the service of some such normative epistemology. I discuss the semantics of obligations, the connection between obligations and reasons to believe, the implausibility of Lockean evidentialism, (...) and some of the alleged connections between agency and justification. (shrink)
Lynne Baker was a trenchant critic of reductionist and physicalist conceptions of the universe, as well as the foremost defender of the constitution view of human persons. Baker was a staunch defender of a kind of practical realism, or what she sometimes called a metaphysics of everyday life. And it was this general “common sense” philosophical outlook that underwrote her non-reductionist, constitution view of reality. Whereas most of her contemporaries were given to metaphysical reductionism and eliminativism, born of a penchant (...) for so-called Quinean desert landscapes, Baker was unapologetic and philosophically deft in her defense of ontological pluralism. This volume honors Baker’s work by bringing together 16 critical essays by some of her students, colleagues, interlocutors, and friends. The essays fall into four areas, each an area to which Baker made unique and influential contributions: Practical Realism about the Mind, The Constitution View of Human Persons, The First Person Perspective, and God, Christianity and Naturalism. (shrink)
Externalism About Knowledge presents new essays from leading epistemologists working in various branches of this tradition: process reliabilism, tracking views, safety views, virtue epistemology, proper functionalism, naturalized epistemology, and knowledge-first epistemology.