This article is concerned with a central but neglected aspect of Weber's theory of authority: the distinction between different motives of obedience. Weber's list of motives of "Fügsamkeit" raises an important problem: it seems to be incoherent. Since Weber was a very systematic author this is rather astonishing. More important: this problem questions the special status of the belief in legitimacy and the important role this belief in supporting and stabilizing authority. In other words, the problem questions the foundations of (...) Weber's sociology of authority. Since Weber himself doesn't say very much about this topic it is necessary to reconstruct the typology of motives of obedience. My reconstruction is supposed to meet Weber's intentions. I argue that the main point of Weber's classification is the differentiation between normative and non-normative motives of obedience. This reconstructed typology is coherent and allows us to explain the special status of the belief in legitimacy. This not only sheds some new light on a central part of Weber's sociology of authority but also opens some systematically important perspectives. A general typology of motives of compliance in asymmetric social relationships can be constructed. This typology has important advantages to other theoretical conceptions and allows for a substantial contribution to the sociology of authority. (shrink)
PeterBaumann develops and defends a distinctive version of epistemic contextualism, the view that the truth conditions or the meaning of knowledge attributions of the form "S knows that p" can vary with the context of the attributor. The first part of the book examines arguments for contextualism and develops Baumann's version. It begins by dealing with the argument from cases and ordinary usage, and then addresses "theoretical" arguments, from reliability and from luck. The second part of (...) the book discusses the problems contextualism faces, to which it must respond, and provides an extension of contextualism beyond epistemology. The third part of the book is focused on some major objections to contextualism and alternative views, namely subject-sensitive invariantism, contrastivism and relativism. (shrink)
In Baumann (American Philosophical Quarterly 42: 71–79, 2005) I argued that reflections on a variation of the Monty Hall problem throws a very general skeptical light on the idea of single-case probabilities. Levy (Synthese, forthcoming, 2007) puts forward some interesting objections which I answer here.
Current epistemological orthodoxy has it that knowledge is incompatible with luck. More precisely: Knowledge is incompatible with epistemic luck . This is often treated as a truism which is not even in need of argumentative support. In this paper, I argue that there is lucky knowledge. In the first part, I use an intuitive and not very developed notion of luck to show that there are cases of knowledge which are “lucky” in that sense. In the second part, I look (...) at philosophical conceptions of luck and come to the conclusion that knowledge can be lucky in those senses, too. I also turns out that a probabilistic notion of luck can help us see in what ways a particular piece of knowledge or belief can be lucky or not lucky. (shrink)
We often think or say that someone was wrong about something but almost right about it or close to the truth. This can mean more than one thing. Here, I propose an analysis of the idea of being epistemically close to the truth. This idea plays an important role in our practice of epistemic evaluation and therefore deserves some detailed attention. I start (section1) with an exposition of the idea of getting things right by looking at the main forms of (...) reliabilism about true belief and belief acquisition. The focus on reliabilism is justified because (almost) everyone is a reliabilist in a basic sense. Section 2 develops a notion of closeness to the truth in two steps. Section 3 mentions some ways in which this notion is useful, one having to do with the Gettier problem. (shrink)
Voluntarism about beliefs is the view that persons can be free to choose their beliefs for non-epistemic (truth-related) reasons (cf. Williams 1973). One problem for belief voluntarism is that it can lead to Moore-paradoxality. The person might believe that -/- a.) there are also good epistemic reasons for her belief, or that b.) there are no epistemic reasons one way or the other, or that c.) there are good epistemic reasons against her belief. -/- If the person is aware of (...) the fact that she chose her belief for non-epistemic reasons, then she would believe one of the following three things (using "evidence" as a term for all kinds of epistemic reasons): -/- a.) I believe that p but not because of the good evidence in favour of it; b.) I believe that p but that has nothing to do with the evidence; c.) I believe that p but the evidence speaks against it. -/- We could add a fourth case in which the person suspends belief on the subject matter despite the evidence: -/- d.) The evidence supports "p" but I have no view on the matter. -/- All the different versions a-d are somehow Moore-paradoxical. They constitute different ways of mistrusting one's own belief (cf. Wittgenstein 1958, p.190). Given that one cannot, for conceptual reasons, mistrust one's beliefs, it follows that a person cannot be in one of the above predicaments described by a-d. Hence, voluntarism about beliefs is false, at least if we are dealing with cases in which the person is aware of the fact that she chose her belief for non-epistemic reasons. It won't help to focus on cases in which the person is not aware of that fact, either because she has forgotten the genesis of her belief or because the process of belief acquisition was unconscious. -/- Bas van Fraassen's conception of a stance (cf. van Fraassen 2002)-a mix of commitments, values, goals-gives us reason to rethink the possibility of voluntarism. Might we be free to choose our stances for non-epistemic reasons? I argue here that the answer is negative. First, it is not clear at all whether stances can be objects of choice, properly speaking. And: Can we make sense of the idea of a free choice here? Furthermore, I argue that similar problems of Moore-paradoxality would arise for voluntarism about stances. If one does not want to completely devalue the idea of a stance, one should avoid voluntarism. (shrink)
Epistemological contextualism - the claim that the truth-value of knowledge-attributions can vary with the context of the attributor - has recently faced a whole series of objections. The most serious one, however, has not been discussed much so far: the factivity objection. In this paper, I explain what the objection is and present three different versions of the objection. I then show that there is a good way out for the contextualist. However, in order to solve the probleIn the contextualist (...) has to accept a relationalist version of contextualism. (shrink)
Contemporary discussions of epistemological skepticism - the view that we do not and cannot know anything about the world around us - focus very much on a certain kind of skeptical argument involving a skeptical scenario (a situation familiar from Descartes’ First Meditation). According to the argument, knowing some ordinary proposition about the world (one we usually take ourselves to know) requires knowing we are not in some such skeptical scenario SK; however, since we cannot know that we are not (...) in SK we also cannot know any ordinary proposition. One of the most prominent skeptical scenarios is the brain-in-the-vat-scenario: An evil scientist has operated on an unsuspecting subject, removed the subject’s brain and put it in a vat where it is kept functioning and is connected to some computer which feeds the brain the illusion that everything is “normal”. This paper looks at one aspect of this scenario after another – envatment, disembodiment, weird cognitive processes, lack of the right kind of epistemic standing, and systematic deception. The conclusion is that none of these aspects (in isolation or in combination) is of any relevance for a would-be skeptical argument; the brain-in-the-vat-scenario is irrelevant to and useless for skeptical purposes. Given that related scenarios (e.g., involving evil demons) share the defects of the brain-in-the-vat-scenario, the skeptic should not put any hopes on Cartesian topoi. (shrink)
One of the most interesting accounts of knowledge which have been recently proposed is the safety account of knowledge. According to it, one only knows that p if one's true belief that p could not have easily been false: S believes that p ==> p (where "==>" stands for the subjunctive conditional). This paper presents a counter-example and discusses attempts to fix the problem. It turns out that there is a deeper underlying problem which does not allow for a solution (...) that would help the safety theorist. It is not the case that knowledge is safe. (shrink)
Contrastivism about knowledge is the view that one does not just know some proposition. It is more adequate to say that one knows something rather than something else: I know that I am looking at a tree rather than a bush but I do not know that I am looking at a tree rather than a cleverly done tree imitation. Knowledge is a three-place relation between a subject, a proposition and a contrast set of propositions. There are several advantages of (...) a contrastivist view but also certain problems with it. (shrink)
Abstract One of the most popular objections against epistemic contextualism is the so-called ?warranted assertability? objection. The objection is based on the possibility of a ?warranted assertability manoeuvre?, also known as a WAM. I argue here that WAMs are of very limited scope and importance. An important class of cases cannot be dealt with by WAMs. No analogue of WAMs is available for these cases. One should thus not take WAMs too seriously in the debate about epistemic contextualism.
Amongst those who answered Molyneux’s question in the negative or at least not in the positive, George Berkeley is of particular interest because he argued for a very radical position. Most of his contribution to the discussion can be found in his Essay towards a New Theory of Vision. I will give an exposition of his view (2) and then move on to a critical discussion of this kind of view, - what one could call the “Berkeleian view” (3). I (...) think that the problems of what has become a standard negative answer to the question (mainly brought forward by empiricists) become very clear in Berkeley’s case and one can also learn a lot from this. (shrink)
This paper argues against common views that at least in many cases Robert Nozick is not forced to deny common closure principles. More importantly, Nozick does not – despite first (and second) appearances and despite his own words – deny closure. On the contrary, he is defending a more sophisticated and complex principle of closure. This principle does remarkably well though it is not without problems. It is surprising how rarely Nozick’s principle of closure has been discussed. He should be (...) seen not so much as a denier of closure than as someone who’s proposing an alternative, more complex principle of closure. (shrink)
Is knowledge necessary or sufficient or both necessary and sufficient for acceptable practical reasoning and rational action? Several authors (e.g., Williamson, Hawthorne, and Stanley) have recently argued that the answer to these questions is positive. In this paper I present several objections against this view (both in its basic form as well in more developed forms). I also offer a sketch of an alternative view: What matters for the acceptability of practical reasoning in at least many cases (and in all (...) the cases discussed by the defenders of a strong link between knowledge and practical reasoning) is not so much knowledge but expected utility. (shrink)
One of the most important views in the recent discussion of epistemological scepticism is Neo-Mooreanism. It turns a well-known kind of sceptical argument (the dreaming argument and its different versions) on its head by starting with ordinary knowledge claims and concluding that we know that we are not in a sceptical scenario. This paper argues that George Edward Moore was not a Moorean in this sense. Moore replied to other forms of scepticism than those mostly discussed nowadays. His own anti-sceptical (...) position turns out to be very subtle and complex; furthermore it changed over time. This paper follows Moore's views of what the sceptical problem is and how one should respond to it through a series of crucial papers with the main focus being on Moore's 'Proof of an External World'. An appendix deals with the much neglected relation between epistemological scepticism and moral scepticism in Moore. (shrink)
One of the most recent trends in epistemology is contrastivism. It can be characterized as the thesis that knowledge is a ternary relation between a subject, a proposition known and a contrast proposition. According to contrastivism, knowledge attributions have the form “S knows that p, rather than q”. In this paper I raise several problems for contrastivism: it lacks plausibility for many cases of knowledge, is too relaxed concerning the third relatum, and overlooks a further relativity of the knowledge relation.
There is a sceptical puzzle according to which knowledge appears to license an unacceptable kind of dogmatism. Here is a version of the corresponding sceptical argument: (1) If a subject S knows a proposition p, then it is OK for S to ignore all evidence against p as misleading; (2) It is never OK for any subject to ignore any evidence against their beliefs as misleading; (3) Hence, nobody knows anything.I distinguish between different versions of the puzzle (mainly a ‘permissibility’ (...) version and a ‘closure’ version) and offer a solution for one version (the permissibility version) of the problem. No matter how much a subject knows, knowledge never gives one a license to ignore evidence against a proposition. Premise (1) of the argument is false and the puzzle can thus be resolved. (shrink)
The well known Monty Hall-problem has a clear solution if one deals with a long enough series of individual games. However, the situation is different if one switches to probabilities in a single case. This paper presents an argument for Monty Hall situations with two players (not just one, as is usual). It leads to a quite general conclusion: One cannot apply probabilistic considerations (for or against any of the strategies) to isolated single cases. If one does that, one cannot (...) but violate a very plausible non-arbitrariness condition and is led into a Moore-paradoxical incoherence. Even though arguments for switching are correct as applied to series of games, they don’t say anything useful about what rationality demands in a single case. (shrink)
Hájek has recently presented the following paradox. You are certain that a cable guy will visit you tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. but you have no further information about when. And you agree to a bet on whether he will come in the morning interval (8, 12] or in the afternoon interval (12, 4). At first, you have no reason to prefer one possibility rather than the other. But you soon realise that there will definitely be a future (...) time at which you will (rationally) assign higher probability to an afternoon arrival than a morning one, due to time elapsing. You are also sure there may not be a future time at which you will (rationally) assign a higher probability to a morning arrival than an afternoon one. It would therefore appear that you ought to bet on an afternoon arrival. The paradox is based on the apparent incompatibility of the principle of expected utility and principles of diachronic rationality which are prima facie plausible. Hájek concludes that the latter are false, but doesn't provide a clear diagnosis as to why. We endeavour to further our understanding of the paradox by providing such a diagnosis. (shrink)
ABSTRACTDoes knowledge entail belief? This paper argues that the answer depends on how one interprets ‘belief’. There are two different notions of belief: belief as such and belief for knowledge. They often differ in their degrees of conviction such that one but not both might be present in a particular case. The core of the paper is dedicated to a defense of this overlooked distinction. The beginning of the paper presents the distinction. It then presents two cases which are supposed (...) to back up the claim that there is an important distinction here; I also offer some explanations concerning the structure of these cases. Finally, I add further considerations in support of the core thesis, and discuss objections. The distinction is important as such but also has interesting implications concerning the much discussed ‘entailment thesis’ according to which knowledge entails belief. It is argued here that even if knowledge entails belief-for-knowledge, it does not entail belief-as-such. This constitutes an interesting middle position and compromise in the philosophical debate about the entailment thesis. One further implication of this paper is that the discussion about the entailment thesis needs to take degrees of conviction seriously. Still another implication is that epistemic contextualists can deal very well with the relevant phenomena. (shrink)
We often describe lives (or parts of lives) as meaningful or as not meaningful. It is also common to characterize them as more or less meaningful. Some lives, we tend to think, are more meaningful than others. But how then can one compare lives with respect to how much meaning they contain? Can one? This paper argues that (i) only a notion of rough equality can be used when comparing different lives with respect to their meaning, and that (ii) the (...) relation of being more meaningful is not transitive. It follows that all attempts to rank different lives in terms of meaning can at best lead to partially indeterminate and incomplete rankings. One should also give up on the idea of “maximizing” meaning. I will use Thaddeus Metz’s important recent book “Meaning in Life. An Analytic Study” as a foil for my discussion. (shrink)
Can I be wrong about my own beliefs? More precisely: Can I falsely believe that I believe that p? I argue that the answer is negative. This runs against what many philosophers and psychologists have traditionally thought and still think. I use a rather new kind of argument, – one that is based on considerations about Moore's paradox. It shows that if one believes that one believes that p then one believes that p – even though one can believe that (...) p without believing that one believes that p. (shrink)
One of the great attractions of Thomas Reid's account of knowledge is that he attempted to avoid the alternative between skepticism and dogmatism. This attempt, however, faces serious problems. It is argued here that there is a pragmatist way out of the problems, and that there are even hints to this solution in Reid's writings.
One rationale policy-makers sometimes give for declining to fund a service or intervention is on the grounds that it would be ‘unaffordable’, which is to say, that the total cost of providing the service or intervention for all eligible recipients would exceed the budget limit. But does the mere fact that a service or intervention is unaffordable present a reason not to fund it? Thus far, the philosophical literature has remained largely silent on this issue. However, in this article, we (...) consider this kind of thinking in depth. Albeit with certain important caveats, we argue that the use of affordability criteria in matters of public financing commits what Parfit might have called a ‘mistake in moral mathematics’. First, it fails to abide by what we term a principle of ‘non-perfectionism’ in moral action: the mere fact that it is practically impossible for you to do all the good that you have reason to do does not present a reason not to do whatever good you can do. And second, when used as a means of arbitrating between which services to fund, affordability criteria can lead to a kind of ‘numerical discrimination’. Various attendant issues around fairness and lotteries are also discussed. (shrink)
Big decisions in a person’s life often affect the preferences and standards of a good life which that person’s future self will develop after implementing her decision. This paper argues that in such cases the person might lack any reasons to choose one way rather than the other. Neither preference-based views nor happiness-based views of justified choice offer sufficient help here. The available options are not comparable in the relevant sense and there is no rational choice to make. Thus, ironically, (...) in many of a person’s most important decisions the idea of that person’s good seems to have no application. (shrink)
There is a very plausible principle of the transitivity of justifying reasons. It says that if "p" is better justified than "q" (all things considered) and "q" better than "r", then "p" is better justified than "r" (all things considered). There is a corresponding principle of rational theory choice. Call one theory "a better theory than" another theory if all criteria of theory choice considered (explanatory power, simplicity, empirical adequacy, etc.), the first theory meets the criteria better than the second (...) theory. The corresponding transitivity principle says that if theory A is a better theory than theory B and if theory B is a better theory than theory C, then A is a better theory than theory C. I argue against this principle. It turns out that whenever there are 2 or more relevant and independent criteria of theory evaluation, and whenever at least of one the criteria is "non-linear" in a certain sense, there may be violations of transitivity which do not violate any standards of rationality (of theory choice). This shows, again, that theory choice cannot be seen as merely the application of given rules of rational theory choice. (shrink)
This is a reply to Chris Tweed's recent attempt to solve the problem of "nearly convergent knowledge" and thus defend a binary account of knowledge against a contrastivist alternative. Ingenuous as his proposal is, it still does not solve the problem.
There are many ordinary propositions we think we know. Almost every ordinary proposition entails some "lottery proposition" which we think we do not know but to which we assign a high probability of being true (for instance: “I will never be a multi-millionaire” entails “I will not win this lottery”). How is this possible - given that some closure principle is true? This problem, also known as “the Lottery puzzle”, has recently provoked a lot of discussion. In this paper I (...) discuss one of the most promising answers to the problem: Stewart Cohen’s contextualist solution which is based on ideas about the salience of chances of error. After presenting some objections to it I sketch an alternative solution which is still contextualist in spirit. (shrink)
This paper discusses two versions of reliabilism: modal and probabilistic reliabilism. Modal reliabilism faces the problem of the missing closeness metric for possible worlds while probalistic reliabilism faces the problem of the relevant reference class. Despite the severity of these problems, reliabilism is still very plausible (also for independent reasons). I propose to stick with reliabilism, propose a contextualist (or, alternatively, harmlessly relativist) solution to the above problems and suggest that probabilistic reliabilism has the advantage over modal reliabilism.
The possibility of knowledge attributions across contexts (where attributor and subject find themselves in different epistemic contexts) can create serious problems for certain views of knowledge. Amongst such views is subject—sensitive invariantism—the view that knowledge is determined not only by epistemic factors (belief, truth, evidence, etc.) but also by non—epistemic factors (practical interests, etc.). I argue that subject—sensitive invariantism either runs into a contradiction or has to make very implausible assumptions. The problem has been very much neglected but is so (...) serious that one should look for alternative accounts of knowledge. (shrink)
In his recent book Moral Skepticisms Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues in great detail for contrastivism with respect to justified moral belief and moral knowledge. I raise three questions concerning this view. First, how would Sinnott-Armstrong account for constraints on admissible contrast classes? Secondly, how would he deal with notorious problems concerning relevant reference classes? Finally, how can he account for basic features of moral agency? It turns out that the last problem is the most serious one for his account.
This paper discusses and criticizes Joseph Nye’s account of soft power. First, we set the stage and make some general remarks about the notion of social power. In the main part of this paper we offer a detailed critical discussion of Nye’s conception of soft power. We conclude that it is too unclear and confused to be of much analytical use. However, despite this failure, Nye is aiming at explaining an important but also neglected form of social power: the power (...) to influence the will and not just the behavior of other agents. In the last part of this paper we briefly discuss Steven Lukes’ alternative view of a “third dimension” of power and end with a sketch of a more promising way to account for this neglected form of power. (shrink)
Philip Kitcher recently argued for a reconstruction in philosophy. According to him, the contemporary mainstream of philosophy has deteriorated into something that is of relevance only to a few specialists who communicate with each other in a language nobody else understands. Kitcher proposes to reconstruct philosophy along two axes: a knowledge axis and a value axis. The present article discusses Kitcher's diagnosis as well as his proposal of a therapy. It argues that there are problems with both, and it ends (...) with an alternative view of what some core problems of the profession currently are. (shrink)
Practical conflicts pervade human life. Agents have many different desires, goals, and commitments, all of which can come into conflict with each other. How can practical reasoning help to resolve these practical conflicts? In this collection of essays a distinguished roster of philosophers analyse the diverse forms of practical conflict. Their aim is to establish an understanding of the sources of these conflicts, to investigate the challenge they pose to an adequate conception of practical reasoning, and to assess the degree (...) to which that challenge can be met. These essays will serve as a major resource for students of philosophy but will also interest students and professionals in related fields of the social sciences such as psychology, political science, sociology and economics. (shrink)
Over the decades, the claim that everything is revisable (defended by Quine and others) has played an important role in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. Some time ago, Katz (1988) argued that this claim is paradoxical. This paper does not discuss this objection but rather argues that the claim of universal revisability allows for two different readings but in each case leads to a contradiction and is false.
Ernest Sosa has made and continues to make major contributions to a wide variety of topics in epistemology. In this paper I discuss some of his core ideas about the nature of knowledge and scepticism. I start with a discussion of the safety account of knowledge – a view he has championed and further developed over the years. I continue with some questions concerning the role of the concept of an epistemic virtue for our understanding of knowledge. Safety and virtue (...) hang very closely together for Sosa. All this easily leads to some thoughts on epistemic scepticism and on Sosa's stance on this. (shrink)
Human dignity seems very important to us. At the same time, the concept ‘human dignity’ is extrordinarily elusive. A good way to approach the questions “What is it?” and “Why is it important?” is to raise another question first: In virtue of what do human beings have dignity? Speciesism - the idea that human beings have a particular dignity because they are humans - does not seem very convincing. A better answer says that human beings have dignity because and insofar (...) as they are persons. I discuss several versions of this idea as well as several objections against it. The most promising line of analysis says that human beings cannot survive psychologically without a very basic form of recognition and respect by others. The idea that humans have a very special dignity is the idea that they owe each other this kind of respect. All this also suggests that human dignity is inherently social. Non-social beings do not have dignity - nor do they lack it. It is because we are social animals of a certain kind that we have dignity - not so much because we are rational animals. (shrink)
This article discusses Keith DeRose’s treatment of the lottery problem in Chapter 5 of his recent The Appearance of Ignorance. I agree with a lot of it but also raise some critical points and questions and make some friendly proposals. I discuss different ways to set up the problem, go into the difference between knowing and ending inquiry, propose to distinguish between two different kinds of lotteries, add to the defense of the idea that one can know lottery propositions, give (...) a critical discussion of DeRose’s contextualist solution to the problem, and support his defense against an absurdity objection with additional arguments. (shrink)
In this paper I respond to P.D. Magnus’ critique of an earlier paper of mine on Thomas Reid’s theory of common sense. In the earlier paper (The Scottish Pragmatist? The Dilemma of Common Sense and the Pragmatist Way Out, Reid Studies 2, 1999, 47-57) I argued that Reid faces a dilemma between dogmatism and scepticism but that there are also hints in his work towards a pragmatist way out of the problem. P.D. Magnus, in a response to this paper (Reid’s (...) Dilemma and the Uses of Pragmatism, Journal of Scottish Philosophy 2, 2004, 69-72), criticizes me for misidentifying the kind of pragmatism one can find in Reid. In this paper I defend my interpretation of Reid and spell the relevant kind of pragmatism out in more detail. (shrink)
Suppose someone hears a loud noise and at the same time sees a yellow flash. It seems hard to deny that the person can experience loudness and yellowness together. However, since loudness is experienced by the auditory sense whereas yellowness is experienced by the visual sense it also seems hard to explain how.
Epistemic contrastivism is the view that knowledge is a ternary relation between a person, a proposition and a set of contrast propositions. This view is in tension with widely shared accounts of practical reasoning: be it the claim that knowledge of the premises is necessary for acceptable practical reasoning based on them or sufficient for the acceptability of the use of the premises in practical reasoning, or be it the claim that there is a looser connection between knowledge and practical (...) reasoning. Given plausible assumptions, epistemic contrastivism implies that we should cut all links between knowledge and practical reasoning. However, the denial of any such link requires additional and independent arguments; if such arguments are lacking, then all the worse for epistemic contrastivism. (shrink)