Expert testimony figures in recent debates over how best to understand the norm of assertion and the domain-specific epistemic expectations placed on testifiers. Cases of experts asserting with only isolated second-hand knowledge (Lackey 2011, 2013) have been used to shed light on whether knowledge is sufficient for epistemically permissible assertion. I argue that relying on such cases of expert testimony introduces several problems concerning how we understand expert knowledge, and the sharing of such knowledge through testimony. Refinements are needed to (...) clarify exactly what principles are being tested by such cases; but once refined, such cases raise more questions than they answer. (shrink)
In his unpublished freewill manuscripts, Ralph Cudworth seeks to complete the project that he begins in The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678) by arguing for an account of human liberty that avoids the opposing poles of necessitarianism and indifferency. I argue that Cudworth’s account rests upon a crucial distinction between the will and the power of freewill. Whereas we necessarily will the greater apparent good, freewill is a more fundamental power by which we endeavour to discern the greater (...) good before willing to pursue it. Cudworth thus opposes necessitarianism by arguing for a libertarian account of freewill while nonetheless rejecting the indifferentist claim that we can will contrary to the greater apparent good. (shrink)
Linda Zagzebski's "Epistemic Authority" (Oxford University Press, 2012) brings together issues in social epistemology with topics in moral and political philosophy as well as philosophy of religion. In this paper I criticize her discussion of self-trust and rationality, which sets up the main argument of the book; I consider how her view of authority relates to some issues of epistemic authority in testimony; and I raise some concerns about her treatment of religious epistemology and religious authority in particular.
Ralph Cudworth’s goal in his manuscript writings on freewill is to argue that our actions are in our own power in a robust sense that entails the ability to do otherwise. Cudworth’s unorthodox views about the nature of desire threaten to undermine this project, however. Cudworth maintains that only desire is able to distinguish good and evil and, consequently, that desire alone motivates our actions. Therefore, since Cudworth holds that desire itself is not in our own power, he appears committed (...) to the conclusion that our actions are not in our own power either. Cudworth’s solution, I argue, is to emphasize our inward responses to desire, which Cudworth does take to be in our own power. I focus in particular on attention: by directing attention differently in response to desire, Cudworth holds that we are able actively to influence the way in which desire motivates our actions. Our actions are in our own power, therefore, only because such inward responses to desire are in our own power. (shrink)
Accidents involving large trucks result in significant economic and social costs. As technological solutions have improved, behavioral factors contributing to accidents have risen in importance. The purpose of this research is to investigate how norms, consequences, and personal attitudes influence safety-related ethical judgments and behavioral intentions. The Hunt–Vitell’s theory of ethical decision-making is adapted to test how these factors influence truck drivers’ decisions containing ethical content. Professional truck drivers evaluated decisions presented in two scenarios that included the situation, the decision, (...) and the results. The research found that drivers rely heavily on evaluations of safety norms when forming ethical judgments and behavioral intentions. Further, drivers’ attitudes toward compliance and the effectiveness of safety regulations also influenced decision-making to an extent. Overall, evidence of a refutation of the assumption that a tradeoff exists between operational productivity and safety was discovered. Drivers in this study intended to behave in a certain manner irrespective of time or money pressures. The perceived ethical component of the decision outweighed regulatory and economic consequences under a range of parameters. (shrink)
I argue for a new interpretation of Locke’s account of akrasia. On this interpretation, akrasia occurs on Locke’s account because certain cognitive biases endemic to the human mind dispose us to privilege present over future happiness. As a result, we end up irrationally pursuing present pleasure and the removal of present pain even as we simultaneously judge that doing so runs contrary to our own greater good. In this sense, I argue that Locke seeks to _diagnose_ akrasia by identifying its (...) underlying psychological causes. (shrink)
Surprisingly little has been written about hedged assertion. Linguists often focus on semantic or syntactic theorizing about, for example, grammatical evidentials or epistemic modals, but pay far less attention to what hedging does at the level of action. By contrast, philosophers have focused extensively on normative issues regarding what epistemic position is required for proper assertion, yet they have almost exclusively considered unqualified declaratives. This essay considers the linguistic and normative issues side-by-side. We aim to bring some order and clarity (...) to thinking about hedging, so as to illuminate aspects of interest to both linguists and philosophers. In particular, we consider three broad questions. 1) The structural question: when one hedges, what is the speaker’s commitment weakened from? 2) The functional question: what is the best way to understand how a hedge weakens? And 3) the taxonomic question: are hedged assertions genuine assertions, another speech act, or what? (shrink)
The Knowledge Norm or Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA) has received added support recently from data on prompting assertion (Turri 2010) and from a refinement suggesting that assertions ought to express knowledge (Turri 2011). This paper adds another argument from parenthetical positioning, and then argues that KAA’s unified explanation of some of the earliest data (from Moorean conjunctions) adduced in its favor recommends KAA over its rivals.
Some philosophers oppose recent arguments for the Knowledge Norm of Assertion by claiming that assertion, being an act much like any other, will be subject to norms governing acts generally, such as those articulated by Grice for the purpose of successful, cooperative endeavours. But in fact, Grice is a traitor to their cause; or rather, they are his dissenters, not his disciples. Drawing on Grice's unpublished papers, I show that he thought of asserting as a special linguistic act in need (...) of its own norm, and he tied his maxim of Quality to knowledge. I also develop a simple Gricean-inspired argument showing that the Quality maxim is not dependent on the Cooperative Principle. If it is not thus dependent, then the Cooperative Principle cannot be the explanation of, or source of normativity for, the Quality maxim. Thus, leveraging the insights informing the maxim of Quality actually provides the resources for a distinctive positive case that knowledge is the constitutive norm of assertion. (shrink)
John N. Williams (1994) and Matthew Weiner (2005) invoke predictions in order to undermine the normative relevance of knowledge for assertions; in particular, Weiner argues, predictions are important counterexamples to the Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA). I argue here that they are not true counterexamples at all, a point that can be agreed upon even by those who reject KAA.
Recent epistemology has focused almost exclusively on propositional knowledge. This paper considers an underexplored area of epistemology, namely knowledge of persons: if propositional knowledge is a state of mind, consisting in a subject's attitude to a (true) proposition, the account developed here thinks of interpersonal knowledge as a state of minds, involving a subject's attitude to another (existing) subject. This kind of knowledge is distinct from propositional knowledge, but it exhibits a gradability characteristic of context-sensitivity, and admits of shifty thresholds. (...) It is supported by a wide range of unexplored linguistic data and intuitive cases; and it promises to illuminate debates within epistemology, philosophy of religion, and ethics. (shrink)
This chapter covers contemporary work on disagreement, detailing both the conceptual and normative issues in play in the debates in mainstream analytic epistemology, and how these relate to religious diversity and disagreement. §1 examines several sorts of disagreement, and considers several epistemological issues: in particular, what range of attitudes a body of evidence can support, how to understand higher-order evidence, and who counts as an epistemic “peer”. §2 considers how these questions surface when considering disagreements over religion, including debates over (...) the nature of evidence and truth in religion, epistemic humility, concerns about irrelevant influences and about divine hiddenness, and arguments over exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism. Finally, §3 summarizes the contributors’ essays in this volume. (shrink)
Encyclopedia entry covering the growing literature on the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (and its rivals), the Knowledge Norm of Action (and pragmatic encroachment), the Knowledge Norm of Belief, and the Knowledge Norm of Disagreement.
What is the relationship between lying, belief, and knowledge? Prominent accounts of lying define it in terms of belief, namely telling someone something one believes to be false, often with the intent to deceive. This paper develops a novel account of lying by deriving evaluative dimensions of responsibility from the knowledge norm of assertion. Lies are best understood as special cases of vicious assertion; lying is the anti-paradigm of proper assertion. This enables an account of lying in terms of knowledge: (...) roughly, lying is telling someone something you know ain't so. (shrink)
The problem of evil is the most prominent argument against the existence of God. Skeptical theists contend that it is not a good argument. Their reasons for this contention vary widely, involving such notions as CORNEA, epistemic appearances, 'gratuitous' evils, 'levering' evidence, and the representativeness of goods. We aim to dispel some confusions about these notions, in particular by clarifying their roles within a probabilistic epistemology. In addition, we develop new responses to the problem of evil from both the phenomenal (...) conception of evidence and the knowledge-first view of evidence. (shrink)
The knowledge account of assertion - roughly: one should not assert what one does not know - can explain a variety of Moorean conjunctions, a fact often cited as evidence in its favor. David Sosa ("Dubious Assertions," Phil Studies, 2009) has objected that the account does not generalize satisfactorily, since it cannot explain the infelicity of certain iterated conjunctions without appealing to the controversial "KK" principle. This essay responds by showing how the knowledge account can handle such conjunctions without use (...) of the KK principle. (shrink)
I distinguish two ways of explaining our capacity for ‘transparent’ knowledge of our own present beliefs, perceptions, and intentions: an inferential and a reflective approach. Alex Byrne (2011) has defended an inferential approach, but I argue that this approach faces a basic difficulty, and that a reflective approach avoids the difficulty. I conclude with a brief sketch and defence of a reflective approach to our transparent self-knowledge, and I show how this approach is connected with the thesis that we must (...) distinguish between a kind of self-knowledge that is of oneself as agent and another kind that is of oneself as patient. (shrink)
Traditional definitions of lying require that a speaker believe that what she asserts is false. Sam Fox Krauss seeks to jettison the traditional belief requirement in favour of a necessary condition given in a credence-accuracy framework, on which the liar expects to impose the risk of increased inaccuracy on the hearer. He argues that this necessary condition importantly captures nearby cases as lies which the traditional view neglects. I argue, however, that Krauss's own account suffers from an identical drawback of (...) being unable to explain nearby cases; and even worse, that account fails to distinguish cases of telling lies from cases of telling the truth. (shrink)
I argue for a new interpretation of Locke’s account of akrasia. On this interpretation, akrasia occurs on Locke’s account because certain cognitive biases endemic to the human mind dispose us to privilege present over future happiness. As a result, we end up irrationally pursuing present pleasure and the removal of present pain even as we simultaneously judge that doing so runs contrary to our own greater good. In this sense, I argue that Locke seeks to diagnose akrasia by identifying its (...) underlying psychological causes. (shrink)
What individuates the speech act of prediction? The standard view is that prediction is individuated by the fact that it is the unique speech act that requires future-directed content. We argue against this view and two successor views. We then lay out several other potential strategies for individuating prediction, including the sort of view we favor. We suggest that prediction is individuated normatively and has a special connection to the epistemic standards of expectation. In the process, we advocate some constraints (...) that we think a good theory of prediction should respect. (shrink)
Hope, in its propositional construction "I hope that p," is compatible with a stated chance for the speaker that not-p. On fallibilist construals of knowledge, knowledge is compatible with a chance of being wrong, such that one can know that p even though there is an epistemic chance for one that not-p. But self-ascriptions of propositional hope that p seem to be incompatible, in some sense, with self-ascriptions of knowing whether p. Data from conjoining hope self-ascription with outright assertions, with (...) first- and third-person knowledge ascriptions, and with factive predicates suggest a problem: when combined with a plausible principle on the rationality of hope, they suggest that fallibilism is false. By contrast, the infallibilist about knowledge can straightforwardly explain why knowledge would be incompatible with hope, and can offer a simple and unified explanation of all the linguistic data introduced here. This suggests that fallibilists bear an explanatory burden which has been hitherto overlooked. (shrink)
Recent epistemology offers an account of what it is to know other persons. Such views hold promise for illuminating several issues in philosophy of religion, and for advancing a distinctive approach to religious epistemology. This paper develops an account of interpersonal knowledge, and clarifies its relation to propositional and qualitative knowledge. I then turn to our knowledge of God and God's knowledge of us, and compare my account of interpersonal knowledge with important work by Eleonore Stump on "Franciscan" knowledge. I (...) examine how interpersonal knowledge may figure in liturgical practice, in diffusing the problem of divine hiddenness, and in motivating a novel understanding of divine love. I also explore the possibility of epistemic injustice arising from dismissal or neglect of our religious testimony to one another, or of divine testimony to humanity, focusing specifically on the import of interpersonal knowledge. (shrink)
Autonomy operates as a key term in debates about the rights of families to choose distinct approaches to education. Yet, what autonomy means is often complicated by the actual circumstances and contexts of schools, families, and children. In this essay, Terri S. Wilson and Matthew A. Ryg focus on the challenges involved in translating an ideal of educational autonomy into the “nonideal” contexts and circumstances that surround families' choices. Drawing on the methodological insights of Elizabeth Anderson and John Dewey, (...) they sketch out a nonideal approach for exploring autonomy. Wilson and Ryg particularly focus on Dewey's notion of an ideal, his treatment of autonomy as a concept, and his view of the self. Such a nonideal approach draws attention toward the specific circumstances, habits, and environments that make autonomy possible. Wilson and Ryg illustrate the salience of this nonideal approach by exploring one example of an empirically engaged study of autonomy. (shrink)
Epistemologists focus primarily on cases of knowledge, belief, or credence where the evidence which one possesses, or on which one is relying, plays a fundamental role in the epistemic or normative status of one's doxastic state. Recent work in epistemology goes beyond the evidence one possesses to consider the relevance for such statuses of evidence which one does not possess, particularly when there is a sense in which one should have had some evidence. I focus here on Sanford Goldberg's approach (...) ("Should Have Known," Synthese, forthcoming; and "On the Epistemic Significance of Evidence You Should Have Had," Episteme 2016, this issue); but the discussion will interest anyone working on epistemic defeat. (shrink)
If knowledge is sensitive to practical stakes, then whether one knows depends in part on the practical costs of being wrong. When considering religious belief, the practical costs of being wrong about theism may differ dramatically between the theist (if there is no God) and the atheist (if there is a God). This paper explores the prospects, on pragmatic encroachment, for knowledge of theism (even if true) and of atheism (even if true), given two types of practical costs: namely, by (...) holding a false belief, or by missing out on a true belief. These considerations set up a more general puzzle of epistemic preference when faced with the choice between two beliefs, only one of which could become knowledge. (shrink)
Recent decades have seen a fertile period of theorizing within mainstream epistemology which has had a dramatic impact on how epistemology is done. Investigations into contextualist and pragmatic dimensions of knowledge suggest radically new ways of meeting skeptical challenges and of understanding the relation between the epistemological and practical environment. New insights from social epistemology and formal epistemology about defeat, testimony, a priority, probability, and the nature of evidence all have a potentially revolutionary effect on how we understand our epistemological (...) place in the world. Religion is the place where such rethinking can potentially have its deepest impact and importance. Yet there has been surprisingly little infiltration of these new ideas into philosophy of religion and the epistemology of religious belief. -/- Knowledge, Belief, and God incorporates these myriad new developments in mainstream epistemology, and extends these developments to questions and arguments in religious epistemology. The investigations proposed in this volume offer substantial new life, breadth, and sophistication to issues in the philosophy of religion and analytic theology. They pose original questions and shed new light on long-standing issues in religious epistemology; and these developments will in turn generate contributions to epistemology itself, since religious belief provides a vital testing ground for recent epistemological ideas. (shrink)
Hope is an attitude with a distinctive epistemological dimension: it is incompatible with knowledge. This chapter examines hope as it relates to knowledge but also to probability and inductive considerations. Such epistemic constraints can make hope either impossible, or, when hope remains possible, they affect how one’s epistemic situation can make hope rational rather than irrational. Such issues are especially relevant to when hopefulness may permissibly figure in practical deliberation over a course of action. So I consider cases of second-order (...) inductive reflection on when one should, or should not, be hopeful for an outcome with which one has a long record of experience: in other words, what is the epistemology behind when one should, if ever, stop hoping for outcomes which have failed one many times in the past? (shrink)
Artificial moral agents raise complex ethical questions both in terms of the potential decisions they may make as well as the inputs that create their cognitive architecture. There are multiple differences between human and artificial cognition which create potential barriers for artificial moral agency, at least as understood anthropocentrically and it is unclear that artificial moral agents should emulate human cognition and decision-making. It is conceptually possible for artificial moral agency to emerge that reflects alternative ethical methodologies without creating ontological (...) challenges or existential crises for human moral agents. (shrink)
In sections 2.21.23-25 of An Essay concerning Human Understanding, John Locke considers and rejects two ways in which we might be “free to will”, which correspond to the Thomistic distinction between freedom of exercise and freedom of specification. In this paper, I examine Locke’s arguments in detail. In the first part, I argue for a non-developmental reading of Locke’s argument against freedom of exercise. Locke’s view throughout all five editions of the Essay is that we do not possess freedom of (...) exercise (at least in most cases). In the second part, I argue that, when Locke asks whether we possess freedom of specification, his question is intentionally ambiguous between two readings, a first-order reading and a higher-order reading. Locke’s view is that, on either reading, we do not possess freedom of specification (at least in any interesting sense). (shrink)
Many epistemologists are enamored with a defeat condition on knowledge. In this paper we present some implementation problems for defeatism, understood along either internalist or externalist lines. We then propose that one who accepts a knowledge norm of belief, according to which one ought to believe only what one knows, can explain away much of the motivation for defeatism. This is an important result, because on the one hand it respects the plausibility of the intuitions about defeat shared by many (...) in epistemology; but on the other hand, it obviates the need to provide a unified account of defeat which plays well with the most plausible views of how knowledge fits with evidential probability. (shrink)
This article reflects on the relative silence of African farmers within debates around the potential for genetically modified crops to transform agriculture on the continent. It proposes two strategies for amplifying these voices—one focused on research methodologies, the other on outreach—in order to transform the conversation around GM’s potential in Africa into one that revolves around farmer preferences and priorities.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a wide variety of American writers proposed the existence of energies connecting human beings to cosmic processes. From varying points of view—scientific, philosophical, religious, and literary—they suggested that such energies would eventually result in the perfection of individual and collective bodies, assuming that assimilation into larger networks of being meant the expansion of humanity’s powers and potentialities—a belief that continues to inform much posthumanist theory today. _Universes without Us_ explores a lesser-known countertradition in (...) American literature. As Matthew A. Taylor’s incisive readings reveal, the heterodox cosmologies of Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Adams, Charles Chesnutt, and Zora Neale Hurston reject the anthropocentric fantasy that sees the universe as a kind of reservoir of self-realization. For these authors, the world can be made neither “other” nor “mirror.” Instead, humans are enmeshed with “alien” processes that are both constitutive and destructive of “us.” By envisioning universes no longer our own, these cosmologies picture a form of interconnectedness that denies any human ability to master it. _Universes without Us_ demonstrates how the questions, possibilities, and dangers raised by the posthuman appeared nearly two centuries ago. Taylor finds in these works an untimely engagement with posthumanism, particularly in their imagining of universes in which humans are only one category of heterogeneous thing in a vast array of species, objects, and forces. He shows how posthumanist theory can illuminate American literary texts and how those texts might, in turn, prompt a reassessment of posthumanist theory. By understanding the posthuman as a materialist cosmology rather than a technological innovation, Taylor extends the range of thinkers who can be included in contemporary conversations about the posthuman. (shrink)
Training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) is required for many research trainees nationwide, but little is known about its effectiveness. For a preliminary assessment of the effectiveness of a short-term course in RCR, medical students participating in an NIH-funded summer research program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) were surveyed using an instrument developed through focus group discussions. In the summer of 2003, surveys were administered before and after a short-term RCR course, as well as to (...) alumni of the courses given in the summers of 2002 and 2001. Survey responses were analyzed in the areas of knowledge, ethical decision-making skills, attitudes about responsible conduct of research, and frequency of discussions about RCR outside of class. The only statistically significant improvement associated with the course was an increase in knowledge, while there was a non-significant tendency toward improvements in ethical decision-making skills and attitudes about the importance of RCR training. The nominal impact of a short-term training course should not be surprising, but it does raise the possibility that other options for delivering information only, such as an Internet-based tutorial, might be considered as comparable alternatives when longer courses are not possible. (shrink)
Epistemologists have shown increased interest in the epistemic significance of disagreement, and in particular, in whether there is a rational requirement concerning belief revision in the face of peer disagreement. This article examines some of the general issues discussed by epistemologists, and then considers how they may or may not apply to the case of religious disagreement, both within religious traditions and between religious (and non-religious) views.
At three important stages in his philosophy, Paul Ricoeur has argued for a conception of being as both actuality and potentiality. This ontological stance enables Ricoeur to preserve the bond uniting freedom and nature, to account for the power of the poetic word to recreate the world in which we live and move and have our being, and finally to restore the rootedness of the subject in a world that does not care for human care, Ricoeur maintains that before it (...) is essence, being is act, and before it is inert presence, it is the dynamism of effort and desire. (shrink)
Written exclusively in the third-person by a narrator who repeatedly refers to “Henry Adams” as “passive,” “submissive,” and “a helpless victim” in relation to the “forces” in the world that form him, The Education of Henry Adams attenuates both author and subject by valuing environment over eponym. The critical literature on the text has focused primarily on the formal or psychological bases of such practice in order to argue that Adams is behind, and thus exempt from, the book's paradoxical self-effacements. (...) But for Adams the rationale for the impersonal, evacuated form of The Education is more ontological than personal, the necessary consequence of his quietistic belief in a materialist determinism so absolute as to reduce persons and history alike to “sum[s].... of the forces” of “nature.” This belief, one shared by many of his contemporaries and most fully evolved in Adams's “dynamic theory of history,” entails, in the context of The Education, making the distinction between auto-biography and autobiography, between a text generated by an “automaton” and one written by a person. Routed through a discussion of de Man's and Kierkegaard's conceptions of irony, this essay explores the relevance of such a distinction to both the humanism of Adams's age and the posthumanism of our own. (shrink)