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)
I develop an approach to action and practical deliberation according to which the degree of epistemic warrant required for practical rationality varies with practical context. In some contexts of practical deliberation, very strong warrant is called for. In others, less will do. I set forth a warrant account, (WA), that captures this idea. I develop and defend (WA) by arguing that it is more promising than a competing knowledge account of action due to John Hawthorne and Jason Stanley. I argue (...) that cases of warranted false belief speak in favor of (WA) and against the knowledge account. Moreover, I note some problems with an “excuse maneuver” that proponents of the knowledge account frequently invoke in response to cases of warranted false belief. Finally, I argue that (WA) may provide a strict invariantist account of cases that have been thought to motivate interest-relative or subject-sensitive theories of knowledge and warrant. (shrink)
I present a challenge to epistemological pragmatic encroachment theories from epistemic injustice. The challenge invokes the idea that a knowing subject may be wronged by being regarded as lacking knowledge due to social identity prejudices. However, in an important class of such cases, pragmatic encroachers appear to be committed to the view that the subject does not know. Hence, pragmatic encroachment theories appear to be incapable of accounting for an important type of injustice – namely, discriminatory epistemic injustice. Consequently, pragmatic (...) encroachment theories run the risk of obscuring or even sanctioning epistemically unjust judgments that arise due to problematic social stereotypes or unjust folk epistemological biases. In contrast, the epistemological view that rejects pragmatic encroachment – namely, strict purist invariantism – is capable of straightforwardly diagnosing the cases of discriminatory epistemic injustice as such. While the challenge is not a conclusive one, it calls for a response. Moreover, it illuminates very different conceptions of epistemology’s role in mitigating epistemic injustice. (shrink)
This paper defends strict invariantism against some philosophical and empirical data that have been taken to compromise it. The defence involves a combination of a priori philosophical arguments and empirically informed theorizing. The positive account of the data is an epistemic focal bias account that draws on cognitive psychology. It involves the assumption that, owing to limitations of the involved cognitive resources, intuitive judgments about knowledge ascriptions are generated by processing only a limited part of the available information?the part that (...) is in focus. According to the epistemic focal bias account, the intuitive judgments about knowledge ascriptions that constitute contrast effects amount to false positives, whereas the intuitive judgments that constitute salient alternatives effects amount to false negatives. I conclude by considering how the basic epistemic focal bias account may be developed further by reference to relevant alternatives theory in epistemology, pragmatics in the philosophy of language, and dual process theory in cognitive psychology. (shrink)
We report and discuss the results of a series of experiments that address a contrast effect exhibited by folk judgments about knowledge ascriptions. The contrast effect, which was first reported by Schaffer and Knobe, is an important aspect of our folk epistemology. However, there are competing theoretical accounts of it. We shed light on the various accounts by providing novel empirical data and theoretical considerations. Our key findings are, firstly, that belief ascriptions exhibit a similar contrast effect and, secondly, that (...) the contrast effect is systematically sensitive to the content of what is in contrast. We argue that these data pose significant challenges to contrastivist accounts of the contrast effect. Furthermore, some of the data set provides, in conjunction with some non-empirical epistemological arguments, some limited evidence for what we call a focal bias account of the data. According to the focal bias account, the contrast effects arise at least in part because epistemically relevant facts are not always adequately processed when they are presented in certain ways. (shrink)
Knowledge ascriptions are a central topic of research in both philosophy and science. In this collection of new essays on knowledge ascriptions, world class philosophers offer novel approaches to this long standing topic.
Knowledge norms of action are sometimes said to be motivated by the fact that they align with natural assessments of action in ordinary language. Competent and rational speakers normally use ‘knowledge’ and its cognates when they assess action. In contrast, competing accounts in terms of evidence, warrant or reliability do not straightforwardly align with ordinary language assessments of action. In response to this line of reasoning, I argue that a warrant account of action may explain the prominence of ‘knowledge’ in (...) epistemic assessments better than the knowledge account. If this explanation is successful, it undermines a central rationale for the ‘knowledge first’ program in epistemology. Moreover, the explanation provides an insight into the social functions of knowledge ascriptions as well as a methodological lesson about the relationship between folk epistemology and epistemological theorizing. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider how a general epistemic norm of action that I have proposed in earlier work should be specified in order to govern certain types of acts: assertive speech acts. More specifically, I argue that the epistemic norm of assertion is structurally similar to the epistemic norm of action. First, I argue that the notion of warrant operative in the epistemic norm of a central type of assertion is an internalist one that I call ‘discursive justification.’ This (...) type of warrant is internalist insofar as it requires that the agent is capable of articulating reasons for her belief. The idea, roughly, is that when one asserts that p, one is supposed to be in a position to give reasons for believing that p. Bonjour’s reliable clairvoyant Norman, for example, is not in an epistemic position to make assertions regarding the president’s whereabouts—even if Norman knows the president’s whereabouts. In conclusion, I briefly consider whether a type of skeptical argument—often labeled Agrippa’s Trilemma—is motivated, at least in part, by the fact that responses to it violate the relevant epistemic norm of assertion. (shrink)
I develop an epistemic focal bias account of certain patterns of judgments about knowledge ascriptions by integrating it with a general dual process framework of human cognition. According to the focal bias account, judgments about knowledge ascriptions are generally reliable but systematically fallible because the cognitive processes that generate them are affected by what is in focus. I begin by considering some puzzling patters of judgments about knowledge ascriptions and sketch how a basic focal bias account seeks to account for (...) them. In doing so, I argue that the basic focal bias account should be integrated in a more general framework of human cognition. Consequently, I present some central aspects of a prominent general dual process theory of human cognition and discuss how focal bias may figure at various levels of processing. On the basis of this discussion, I attempt to categorize the relevant judgments about knowledge ascriptions. Given this categorization, I argue that the basic epistemic focal bias account of certain contrast effects and salient alternatives effects can be plausibly integrated with the dual process framework. Likewise, I try to explain the absence of strong intuitions in cases of far-fetched salient alternatives. As a manner of conclusion, I consider some methodological issues concerning the relationship between cognitive psychology, experimental data and epistemological theorizing. -/- . (shrink)
The purpose of the present chapter is to survey the work on epistemic norms of action, practical deliberation and assertion and to consider how these norms are interrelated. On a more constructive note, we will argue that if there are important similarities between the epistemic norms of action and assertion, it has important ramifications for the debates over speech acts and harm. Thus, we hope that the chapter will indicate how thinking about assertions as a speech act can benefit from (...) a broader action theoretic setting. We will proceed as follows. In Section 2, we provide a survey of epistemic norms of action and practical deliberation. In Section 3, we turn to the epistemic norms of assertion. In Section 4, we consider arguments for and against commonality of the epistemic norms of actions, practical deliberation and assertion. In Section 5, we discuss some of the ramifications of the debates over epistemic norms of assertion such as whether they may be extended to other linguistic phenomena such as Gricean implicature. In Section 6, we consider the consequences of the debate about the epistemic norms of action and practical deliberation for debates about speech and harm. (shrink)
Several studies have found a robust effect of truth on epistemic evaluation of belief, decision, action and assertion. Thus, truth has a significant effect on normative participant evaluations. Some theorists take this truth effect to motivate factive epistemic norms of belief, action, assertion etc. In contrast, I argue that the truth effect is best understood as an epistemic instance of the familiar and ubiquitous phenomenon of outcome bias. I support this diagnosis from three interrelating perspectives: (1) by epistemological theorizing, (2) (...) by considerations from cognitive psychology and (3) by methodological reflections on the relationship between folk epistemology and epistemological theorizing. (shrink)
Is the nature of testimonial warrant epistemically internalist or externalist? I will argue that the question should be answered ‘yes!’ The disjunction is not exclusive. Rather, a testimonial belief may possess epistemically internalist warrant—justification—as well as epistemically externalist warrant—entitlement. I use the label ‘pluralism’ to denote the view that there are both internalist and externalist species of genuinely epistemic warrant and argue for pluralism in the epistemology of testimony.
What is the relationship between the epistemic norms of assertion and the epistemic norms of action/practical reasoning? Brown argues that the standards for practical reasoning and assertion are distinct (Brown 2012). In contrast, Montminy argues that practical reasoning and assertion must be governed by the same norm (Montminy 2012). Likewise, McKinnon has articulated an argument for a unified account from cases of isolated second-hand knowledge (McKinnon 2012). To clarify the issue, I articulate a distinction between Equivalence Commonality and Structural Commonality. (...) I then argue against the former by counterexamples that doubly dissociate the standards for assertion and action. Furthermore, I argue that such a double dissociation compromises knowledge accounts of both assertion and action/practical reasoning. To provide a more accurate diagnosis, I consider speech act theory and argue that principled differences between the norms of action and assertion compromise Equivalence Commonality. In contrast, a qualified version of Structural Commonality may be preserved. (shrink)
I will argue that cases of massive deception, such as New Evil Demon cases, as well as one-off cases of local deception present challenges to views according to which epistemic reasons, epistemic warrant, epistemic rationality or epistemic norms are factive. In doing so, I will argue is that proponents of a factive turn in epistemology should observe important distinctions between what are often simply referred to as ‘bad cases.’ Recognizing epistemologically significant differences between deception cases raises serious challenges for those (...) who deny a central role for non-factive aspects of epistemology. (shrink)
I discuss Lawlor’s Austinian account of knowledge ascriptions and argue that it is a brand of pragmatic encroachment. I then criticize the motivation for pragmatic encroachment theories that derives from assumptions about the functional role of knowledge ascriptions. I argue that this criticism also apply to contextualist followers of Craig. Finally, I suggest that the central lesson from reflection on the communicative functions of knowledge ascriptions is that they, upon reflection, motivate traditional invariantism.
Epistemic Reasoning and the Mental integrates the epistemology of reasoning and philosophy of mind. The book contains introductions to basic concepts in the epistemology of inference and to important aspects of the philosophy of mind. By examining the fundamental competencies involved in reasoning, Gerken argues that reasoning's epistemic force depends on the external environment in ways that are both surprising and epistemologically important. -/- For example, Gerken argues that purportedly deductive reasoning that exhibits the fallacy of equivocation may nevertheless transmit (...) epistemic warrant from its premise-beliefs to its conclusion-belief. This view is contrary to orthodoxy according to which such reasoning must be valid. But Gerken shows how this novel and unorthodox view is integrated in a psychologically plausible account of our reasoning competencies and a general epistemological framework. -/- What emerges is an approach to the philosophy of reasoning that is informed and constrained by both epistemology and philosophy of mind. -/- . (shrink)
Scientific expert testimony is crucial to public deliberation, but it is associated with many pitfalls. This article identifies one—namely, expert trespassing testimony—which may be characterized, crudely, as the phenomenon of experts testifying outside their domain of expertise. My agenda is to provide a more precise characterization of this phenomenon and consider its ramifications for the role of science in society. I argue that expert trespassing testimony is both epistemically problematic and morally problematic. Specifically, I will argue that scientific experts are (...) subject to a particular obligation. Roughly, this is the obligation to qualify their assertions when speaking outside their domain of scientific expertise in certain contexts. Thus, I argue that scientists who possess expert knowledge are confronted with hard questions about when and how to testify and, therefore, that being a scientific expert comes with great responsibility. Consequently, I provide a concrete “expert guideline” according to which scientific experts, in certain contexts, face an obligation to qualify their assertions when speaking outside their domain of expertise. Furthermore, I consider a number of the conditions in which the guideline is waived or overridden. On this basis, I consider the broader aspects of the roles of scientific experts in a society with a high division of cognitive labor that calls for trust in scientific expert testimony. (shrink)
I begin by criticizing reductionist knowledge-first epistemology 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-first epistemology. 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-first epistemology. 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)
The paper draws on philosophy of science to help resolve a tension between two central journalistic ideals: That of resenting diverse viewpoints and that of presenting the most reliable testimony. While both of these ideals are valuable, they may be in tension. This is particularly so when it comes to scientific testimony and science reporting. Thus, we face a hard question:The Question of BalanceHow should Balanced Reporting and Reliable Reporting be balanced in science reporting?The present paper contributes substantive proposals in (...) a manner that integrates philosophy of science with the recent empirical literature on science communication. Specifically, I articulate and evaluate strategies for balancing Balanced Reporting and Reliable Reporting. First, I provide a diagnosis of the conflict between them that is informed by philosophy of science. On this basis, I provide restrictions of both Balanced Reporting and Reliable Reporting. The restrictions are unified because they are inspired by similar reflections about the epistemic basis of science reporting—namely scientific justification. Moreover, I note some empirical work that supports the restrictions as well as some empirical work that indicates some limitations of them. Thus, the paper exemplifies how an empirically informed philosophy of science may bear on a question of societal concern. (shrink)
What is the epistemic position that a scientist must be in vis-à-vis a proposition, p, to be in a good enough epistemic position to assert that p to a fellow scientist within the scientific process? My aim is to provide an answer to this question and, more generally, to connect the epistemological debates about the epistemic norms of assertion to the debates about the nature of the scientific process. The question is important because science is a collaborative enterprise based on (...) a division of labor. It has even been suggested that such collaboration is a part of the scientific method. However, scientific collaboration depends upon communication between scientists—that is, intra-scientific testimony. After distinguishing some different kinds of intra-scientific testimony, I provide a specific proposal for an epistemic norm of assertion that generally governs such testimony. I argue that the proposal aligns with the requirements of three scientific virtues—replicability, revisability, and accountability. The discussion of replicability considers a prominent debate in the social and cognitive sciences. In conclusion, I consider some of the wider questions raised by characterizing scientific collaboration, division of labor, and more generally, scientific method via intra-scientific testimony. (shrink)
In this paper, I challenge a widely presupposed principle in the epistemology of inference. The principle, (Validity Requirement), is this: S’s (purportedly deductive) reasoning, R, from warranted premise-beliefs provides (conditional) warrant for S’s belief in its conclusion only if R is valid. I argue against (Validity Requirement) from two prominent assumptions in the philosophy of mind: that the cognitive competencies that constitute reasoning are fallible, and that the attitudes operative in reasoning are anti-individualistically individuated. Indeed, my discussion will amount to (...) a defence of anti-individualism against a novel ‘slow-switch’ argument against it. This argument contra anti-individualism has it that given anti-individualism and certain auxiliary assumptions, A, a switched reasoner may, in certain slow-switch circumstances, C, reason invalidly by equivocating concepts. More specifically: -/- (Valid 0): Peter is in circumstances C, and auxiliary assumptions, A, hold.(Valid 1): If Peter is in circumstances C, and auxiliary assumptions A hold, then (if the attitudes operative in Peter’s reasoning R are anti-individualistically individuated, then R is not valid). (Valid 2): Peter’s reasoning, R, generates warrant for the conclusion-belief. (Valid 3): Peter’s reasoning, R, generates warrant for the conclusion-belief only if the reasoning, R, is valid. (Valid 4): So, the attitudes operative in Peter’s reasoning R are not anti-individualistically individuated. -/- The argument involves weaker premises than those of familiar slow-switch arguments against anti-individualism. In particular, it requires only that the reasoning be de facto valid. This assumption is much weaker than the requirement that the validity of the reasoning be ‘transparent’ to the reasoner. Indeed, (Valid 3) is simply an instance of (Validity Requirement). However, I argue that anti-individualism and (Valid 0)–(Valid 2) should be upheld at the expense of (Valid 3). In consequence, (Validity Requirement) stands in need of restriction. Thus, I argue for a surprising result in the epistemology of inference from widely accepted assumptions in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Pragmatic encroachment theories of knowledge may be characterized as views according to which practical factors may partly determine the truth-value of ascriptions that S knows that p – even though these factors do not partly determine S’s belief that p or p itself. The pros and cons of variations of pragmatic encroachment are widely discussed in epistemology. But despite a long pragmatist tradition in the philosophy of science, few efforts have been devoted to relate this particular view to issues in (...) philosophy of science. Consequently, a central aim of the present paper is to consider how the contemporary debates over pragmatic encroachment connect to philosophy of science. More specifically, I will set forth some arguments against the idea of pragmatic encroachment on scientific knowledge. Moreover, I will argue that it is not plausible to respond to these arguments by embedding pragmatic encroachment in the anti-realist framework of constructive empiricism. So, I conclude that there are good reasons to reject pragmatic encroachment theories of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Much debate has surrounded "switching" scenarios in which a subject's reasoning is said to exhibit the fallacy of equivocation ( Burge 1988 ; Boghossian 1992, 1994 ). Peter Ludlow has argued that such scenarios are "epistemically prevalent" and, therefore, epistemically relevant alternatives ( Ludlow 1995a ). Since a distinctive feature of the cases in question is that the subject blamelessly engages in conceptual equivocation, we may label them 'equivocational switching cases'. Ludlow's influential argument occurs in a discussion about compatibilism with (...) regards to anti-individualism (or content externalism) and self-knowledge. However, the issue has wide-reaching consequences for many areas of epistemology. Arguably, the claim that equivocational switching cases are epistemically relevant may bear on the epistemology of inference, testimony, memory, group rationality and belief revision. Ludlow's argument proceeds from a now well-known "down to Earth" switching-case of a subject, Biff, who travels between the US and the UK. I argue that Ludlow's case-based argument fails to support the general claim that conceptual equivocational switching cases are prevalent and epistemically relevant. Thus, the discussion addresses the basis of some poorly understood issues regarding the epistemological consequences of anti-individualism. Simultaneously, the discussion is broadened from the narrow focus on self-knowledge. Finally, the critical discussion serves as the basis for some general reflections on epistemic relevance and the epistemic risks associated with conceptual equivocation. Specifically, I suggest that philosophy is an area where the risk of conceptual equivocation is extraordinarily high. (shrink)
It is often presupposed that an anti-individualist about representational mental states must choose between two accounts of no-reference cases. One option is said to be an ‘illusion of thought’ version according to which the subject in a no-reference case fails to think a first-order thought but rather has the illusion of having one. The other is a ‘descriptive’ version according to which one thinks an empty thought via a description. While this presupposition is not uncommon, it rarely surfaces in an (...) explicit manner. Often, it is visible only when a theorist argues directly from the falsity of one of the two views to the truth of the other. However, Jessica Brown’s recent work on anti-individualism clearly illustrates the presupposition. In contention with Brown’s and others presupposition, arguments for two conclusions about the nature of anti-individualism are set forth. First, the choice between the illusion and descriptive version of anti-individualism is a dilemma. Each version of anti-individualism is prone to problems. Second, the choice is a false dilemma. There is another, less problematic, anti-individualistic account of reference failure. (shrink)
In this entry, we provide an overview of some of the methodological debates surrounding contextualism and consider whether they are, in effect, based on an underlying methodological dispute. We consider three modes of motivation of epistemic contextualism including i) the method of cases, ii) the appeal to linguistic analogies and iii) the appeal to conceptual analogies and functional roles. We also consider the methodological debates about contextualism arising from experimental philosophy. We conclude that i) there is no distinctive methodological doctrine (...) or set of methodological doctrines that is centrally invoked by all epistemic contextualists and ii) the substantive dispute about the truth of contextualism very frequently, although not invariably, reflects an underlying methodological dispute. (shrink)
I pursue an answer to the psychological question “what is it for S to presuppose that p?” I will not attempt a general answer. Rather, I will explore a particular kind of presuppositions that are constituted by the mental act of reasoning: Inferential presuppositions. Indeed, I will consider a specific kind of inferential presuppositions—one that is constituted by a specific reasoning competence: The univocality competence. Roughly, this is the competence that reliably governs the univocal thought-components’ operation as univocal in a (...) line of reasoning. I will argue that the exercise of this reasoning competence constitutes certain inferential presuppositions. More specifically, I outline a conception of an inferential presupposition as a non-attitudinal but genuinely psychological and rationally committing relation that holds between a reasoner and a proposition. Thus, inferential presuppositions may be distinguished from tacit or standing attitudes that function as premise-beliefs in reasoning. Likewise inferential presuppositions may be distinguished from other kinds of presuppositions. In conclusion, I note some features of inferential presuppositions that bear on the epistemology of inference. (shrink)
Recent developments in technologically enabled social cognition call for a rethinking of many aspects of human cognition. According to the hypothesis of extended cognition, we must revise our psychological categories by eliminating allegedly superficial distinctions between internal cognition and external processes. As an alternative to this proposal, I outline a hypothesis of outsourced cognition which seeks to respect distinctions that are operative in both folk psychology and the social and cognitive sciences. According to this hypothesis, the cognitive states and processes (...) of the individual are substantially and explanatorily distinct from the relevant external states and processes. In consequence, the individual remains a cognitive unit that is both central and indispensable in the explanations of cognitive science. As a case study, I consider the epistemology of testimony. I will argue that important epistemological categories may be preserved by adopting the hypothesis of outsourced cognition over the hypothesis of extended cognition. Moreover, I will argue that the outsourced cognition hypothesis deepens the problems that beset an extended epistemology of testimony. (shrink)
There is widespread suspicion that there is a principled conflict between epistemic internalism and content externalism (or anti-individualism). Despite the prominence of this suspicion, it has rarely been substantiated by explicit arguments. However, Duncan Pritchard and Jesper Kallestrup have recently provided a prima facie argument concluding that internalism about knowledge and externalism about content are incompatible. I criticize the incompatibilist argument and conclude that the purported incompatibility is, at best, prima facie. This is, in part, because several steps in the (...) argument are faulty and, in part, because there are promising responses available to the compatibilists. (shrink)
Much debate has surrounded “switching” scenarios in which a subject's reasoning is said to exhibit the fallacy of equivocation. Peter Ludlow has argued that such scenarios are “epistemically prevalent” and, therefore, epistemically relevant alternatives. Since a distinctive feature of the cases in question is that the subject blamelessly engages in conceptual equivocation, we may label them ‘equivocational switching cases’.Ludlow's influential argument occurs in a discussion about compatibilism with regards to anti‐individualism and self‐knowledge. However, the issue has wide‐reaching consequences for many (...) areas of epistemology. Arguably, the claim that equivocational switching cases are epistemically relevant may bear on the epistemology of inference, testimony, memory, group rationality and belief revision.Ludlow's argument proceeds from a now well‐known “down to Earth” switching‐case of a subject, Biff, who travels between the US and the UK. I argue that Ludlow's case‐based argument fails to support the general claim that conceptual equivocational switching cases are prevalent and epistemically relevant. Thus, the discussion addresses the basis of some poorly understood issues regarding the epistemological consequences of anti‐individualism. Simultaneously, the discussion is broadened from the narrow focus on self‐knowledge. Finally, the critical discussion serves as the basis for some general reflections on epistemic relevance and the epistemic risks associated with conceptual equivocation. Specifically, I suggest that philosophy is an area where the risk of conceptual equivocation is extraordinarily high. (shrink)
William Lycan has articulated “a simple argument” for higher-order representation (HOR) theories of a variety of consciousness sometimes labeled ‘awareness consciousness’ (Lycan, Analysis 61.1, January 3–4, 2001). The purpose of this article is to critically assess the influential argument-strategy of the simple argument. I argue that, as stated, the simple argument fails since it is invalid. Moreover, I argue that an obvious “quick fix” would beg the question against competing same-order representation (SOR) theories of awareness consciousness. I then provide a (...) reconstruction of the argument and argue that although the reconstructed argument deserves consideration, it is also too simple as stated. In particular, it raises several controversial questions about the nature of mental representation. These questions must be addressed before a verdict as to the cogency of the HOR argument-strategy can be reached. But since the questions are controversial, a cogent argument for HOR theories of awareness consciousness is unlikely to be simple. (shrink)
The paper articulates a puzzle that consists in the prima facie incompatibility between three widely accepted theses. The first thesis is, roughly, that there are intrinsically selfrepresentational thoughts. The second thesis is, roughly, that there is a particular causal constraint on mental representation. The third thesis is, roughly, that nothing causes itself. In this paper, the theses are articulated in a less rough manner with the occurrence of the puzzle as a result. Finally, a number of solution strategies are considered, (...) and a preliminary diagnosis is provided. (shrink)
Tyler Burge is an American philosopher whose body of work spans several areas of theoretical philosophy in the analytic tradition. While Burge has made important contributions to the philosophy of language and logic, he is most renowned for his work in philosophy of mind and epistemology. In particular, he is known for articulating and developing a view he labels ‘anti-individualism.’ In his later work, Burge connects his views with state-of-the-art scientific theory. Despite this emphasis on empirical considerations, Burge stands in (...) an important relationship to the rationalist tradition in philosophy. This entry surveys Burge’s work and seeks to situate it in the larger philosophical landscape. (shrink)
This critical study of Anthony Brueckner’s essay collection on skepticism emphasizes interconnections between the various essays. In particular, it considers Brueckner’s discussion of transcendental anti-skeptical arguments from the theses of anti-individualism and privileged self-knowledge. Finally, some overarching methodological lessons are drawn.
I will consider disagreement from a communal perspective. Thus, my focus will not primarily be on disagreement between different groups although this case will figure as well. My main focus is on the epistemic pros and cons of disagreement for a community and on how the social structure of the community bears on these pros and cons. A central lesson will be that disagreement has more epistemic costs at the communal level than is often recognized, and that these epistemic costs (...) often yield epistemic injustice. (shrink)
This is the Introduction to "On Folk Epistemology. How we think and talk about knowledge" -/- In addition to a brief introduction to the main themes of the book, it contains a chapter-by-chapter overview.
Metaepistemology may be partly characterized as the study of the nature, aims, methods and legitimacy of epistemology. Given such a characterization, most epistemological views and theories have an important metaepistemological aspect or, at least, a number of more or less explicit metaepistemological commitments. Metaepistemology is an important area of philosophy because it exemplifies that philosophy must serve as its own meta-discipline by continuously reflecting critically on its own methods and aims. Even though philosophical methodology may be regarded as a branch (...) of epistemology, epistemology itself is as much in need of metaphilosophical examination as other core disciplines of philosophy. Moreover, metaepistemology is important because it bears significantly on first-order epistemological questions. Indeed, many of the most prominent contemporary debates in philosophy have a distinctly metaepistemological aspect. For example, the debates between rationalists and empiricists do not only concern the nature of cognition of specific areas – perception, arithmetic, logic and so forth – but also general metaepistemological questions about whether it is realistic and desirable that epistemology be naturalized. Likewise, the debates between epistemic internalists and externalists include metaepistemological debates about whether the proper focus for epistemology should be the cognizer’s rational perspective or some more objective property of the cognizer’s epistemic position. Similarly, the debates concerning the relationship between folk epistemology and epistemological theorizing include metaepistemological debates about how empirical data concerning folk epistemology should impact epistemology itself. Each of these debates provides an example of how first-order epistemological issues are deeply connected, and sometimes inseparable from, metaepistemological considerations. (shrink)
Modal rationalists uphold a strong constitutive relationship between a priori cognition and modal cognition. Since both a priori cognition and modal cognition have been taken to be characteristic of philosophical insights, I will critically assess an ambitious modal rationalism and an associated ambitious methodological rationalism. I begin by examining Kripkean cases of the necessary a posteriori in order to characterize the ambitious modal rationalism that will be the focus of my criticism. I then argue that there is a principled association (...) between this view in the epistemology of modality and an ambitious methodological rationalist picture of the nature of philosophical insights. On the basis of this discussion, I criticize ambitious modal rationalism and argue that the critique indicates some principled limits of generating philosophical insights by a priori modal cognition. Hence, my central diagnosis is that ambitious methodological rationalists are overly ambitious in the role that they assign a priori modal cognition in philosophical methodology. -/-. (shrink)
I argue for three points: First, evidence of the primacy of knowledge representation is not evidence of primacy of knowledge. Second, knowledge-oriented mindreading research should also focus on misrepresentations and biased representations of knowledge. Third, knowledge-oriented mindreading research must confront the problem of the gold standard that arises when disagreement about knowledge complicates the interpretation of empirical findings.
I consider a number of questions for foundational epistemology that arise from further reflection on salience of alternatives and epistemic position. On this basis, I turn to more applied issues. First, I will consider work in social psychology to motivate the working-hypothesis that social stereotypes will make some alternatives more, and some less, salient. A related working-hypothesis is that social stereotypes may lead to both overestimation and underestimation of a subject’s epistemic position. If these working-hypotheses are true, the outcome may (...) be a distinctive route to epistemic injustice. (shrink)