This is a reply to Howard Sankey’s comment (“Factivity or Grounds? Comment on Mizrahi”) on my paper, “You Can’t Handle the Truth: Knowledge = Epistemic Certainty,” in which I present an argument from the factivity of knowledge for the conclusion that knowledge is epistemic certainty. While Sankey is right that factivity does not entail epistemic certainty, the factivity of knowledge does entail that knowledge is epistemic certainty.
In this paper, I respond to Sterpetti’s attempt to defend Kyle P. Stanford’s Problem of Unconceived Alternatives and his New Induction over the History of Science from my reductio argument outlined in Mizrahi :59–68, 2016a). I discuss what I take to be the ways in which Sterpetti has misconstrued my argument against Stanford’s NIS, in particular, that it is a reductio, not a dilemma, as Sterpetti erroneously thinks. I argue that antirealists who endorse Stanford’s NIS still face an absurd (...) consequence of this argument, namely, that they should not believe their own brand of scientific antirealism. (shrink)
In this paper, I outline a reductio against Stanford’s “New Induction” on the History of Science, which is an inductive argument against scientific realism that is based on what Stanford (2006) calls “the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives” (PUA). From the supposition that Stanford’s New Induction on the History of Science is cogent, and the parallel New Induction on the History of Philosophy (Mizrahi 2014), it follows that scientific antirealism is not worthy of belief. I also show that denying a (...) key premise in the reductio only forces antirealists who endorse Stanford’s New Induction on the History of Science into a dilemma: either antirealism falls under the axe of Stanford’s New Induction on the History of Science or it falls under the axe of the New Induction on the History of Philosophy. (shrink)
Accounts of arguments from expert opinion take it for granted that expert judgments count as (defeasible) evidence for propositions, and so an argument that proceeds from premises about what an expert judges to a conclusion that the expert is probably right is a strong argument. In Mizrahi (2013), I consider a potential justification for this assumption, namely, that expert judgments are significantly more likely to be true than novice judgments, and find it wanting because of empirical evidence suggesting that (...) expert judgments under uncertainty are not significantly more likely to be true than novice judgments or even chance. In this paper, I consider another potential justification for this assumption, namely, that expert judgments are not influenced by the cognitive biases novice judgments are influenced by, and find it wanting, too, because of empirical evidence suggesting that experts are vulnerable to pretty much the same cognitive biases that novices are vulnerable to. If this is correct, then the basic assumption at the core of accounts of arguments from expert opinion, namely, that expert judgments count as (defeasible) evidence for propositions, remains unjustified. (shrink)
In “What’s So Bad about Scientism?” (Mizrahi 2017), I argue that Weak Scientism, the view that “Of all the knowledge we have, scientific knowledge is the best knowledge” (Mizrahi 2017, 354; emphasis in original) is a defensible position. That is to say, Weak Scientism “can be successfully defended against objections” (Mizrahi 2017, 354). In his response to Mizrahi (2017), Christopher Brown (2017) provides more objections against Weak Scientism, and thus another opportunity for me to show that (...) Weak Scientism is a defensible position, which is what I will do in this reply. In fact, I think that I have already addressed Brown’s (2017) objections in Mizrahi (2017), so I will simply highlight these arguments here. (shrink)
In his latest attack, even though he claims to be a practitioner of “close reading” (Wills 2018b, 34), it appears that Wills still has not bothered to read the paper in which I defend the thesis he seeks to attack (Mizrahi 2017a), or any of the papers in my exchange with Brown (Mizrahi 2017b; 2018a), as evidenced by the fact that he does not cite them at all. This explains why Wills completely misunderstands Weak Scientism and the arguments (...) for the quantitative superiority (in terms of research output and research impact) as well as qualitative superiority (in terms of explanatory, predictive, and instrumental success) of scientific knowledge over non-scientific knowledge. (shrink)
In my (2017a), I defend a view I call Weak Scientism, which is the view that knowledge produced by scientific disciplines is better than knowledge produced by non-scientific disciplines. Scientific knowledge can be said to be quantitatively better than non-scientific knowledge insofar as scientific disciplines produce more impactful knowledge–in the form of scholarly publications–than non-scientific disciplines (as measured by research output and research impact). Scientific knowledge can be said to be qualitatively better than non-scientific knowledge insofar as such knowledge is (...) explanatorily, instrumentally, and predictively more successful than non-scientific knowledge. Brown (2017a) raises several objections against my defense of Weak Scientism and I have replied to his objections (Mizrahi 2017b), thereby showing again that Weak Scientism is a defensible view. Since then, Brown (2017b) has reiterated his objections in another reply on SERRC. In this paper, I respond to Brown's objections, thereby showing once more that Weak Scientism is a defensible view. (shrink)
Bernard Wills (2018) joins Christopher Brown (2017, 2018) in criticizing my defense of Weak Scientism (Mizrahi 2017a, 2017b, 2018a). Unfortunately, it seems that Wills did not read my latest defense of Weak Scientism carefully, nor does he cite any of the other papers in my exchange with Brown.
In the Introduction section, 6th point under the paragraph “Given the parallels between Stanford’s PUA and the PUO, and those between Stanford’s NIS and the NIP, I have sketched the following reductio against Stanford’s NIS (Mizrahi 2016a, pp. 63–64):….. should read as -/- (6) Scientific antirealism is a philosophical theory.
It is a common view among philosophers of science that theoretical virtues (also known as epistemic or cognitive values), such as simplicity and consistency, play an important role in scientific practice. In this paper, I set out to study the role that theoretical virtues play in scientific practice empirically. I apply the methods of data science, such as text mining and corpus analysis, to study large corpora of scientific texts in order to uncover patterns of usage. These patterns of usage, (...) in turn, might shed some light on the role that theoretical virtues play in scientific practice. Overall, the results of this empirical study suggest that scientists invoke theoretical virtues explicitly, albeit rather infrequently, when they talk about models (less than 30%), theories (less than 20%), and hypotheses (less than 15%) in their published works. To the extent that they are mentioned in scientific publications, the results of this study suggest that accuracy, consistency, and simplicity are the theoretical virtues that scientists invoke more frequently than the other theoretical virtues tested in this study. Interestingly, however, depending on whether they talk about hypotheses, theories, or models, scientists may invoke one of those theoretical virtues more than the others. (shrink)
In their attempt to defend philosophy from accusations of uselessness made by prominent scientists, such as Stephen Hawking, some philosophers respond with the charge of ‘scientism.’ This charge makes endorsing a scientistic stance, a mistake by definition. For this reason, it begs the question against these critics of philosophy, or anyone who is inclined to endorse a scientistic stance, and turns the scientism debate into a verbal dispute. In this paper, I propose a different definition of scientism, and thus a (...) new way of looking at the scientism debate. Those philosophers who seek to defend philosophy against accusations of uselessness would do philosophy a much better service, I submit, if they were to engage with the definition of scientism put forth in this paper, rather than simply make it analytic that scientism is a mistake. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider the pessimistic induction construed as a deductive argument (specifically, reductio ad absurdum) and as an inductive argument (specifically, inductive generalization). I argue that both formulations of the pessimistic induction are fallacious. I also consider another possible interpretation of the pessimistic induction, namely, as pointing to counterexamples to the scientific realist’s thesis that success is a reliable mark of (approximate) truth. I argue that this interpretation of the pessimistic induction fails, too. If this is correct, then (...) the pessimistic induction is an utter failure that should be abandoned by scientific anti-realists. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that there is a kind of evil, namely, the unequal distribution of natural endowments, or natural inequality, which presents theists with a new evidential problem of evil. The problem of natural inequality is a new evidential problem of evil not only because, to the best of my knowledge, it has not yet been discussed in the literature, but also because available theodicies, such the free will defense and the soul-making defense, are not adequate responses in (...) the face of this particular evil, or so I argue. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose that the debate in epistemology concerning the nature and value of understanding can shed light on the role of scientific idealizations in producing scientific understanding. In philosophy of science, the received view seems to be that understanding is a species of knowledge. On this view, understanding is factive just as knowledge is, i.e., if S knows that p, then p is true. Epistemologists, however, distinguish between different kinds of understanding. Among epistemologists, there are those who (...) think that a certain kind of understanding—objectual understanding—is not factive, and those who think that objectual understanding is quasi-factive. Those who think that understanding is not factive argue that scientific idealizations constitute cognitive success, which we then consider as instances of understanding, and yet they are not true. This paper is an attempt to draw lessons from this debate as they pertain to the role of idealizations in producing scientific understanding. I argue that scientific understanding is quasi-factive. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that, as far as Gettier cases are concerned, appearances are deceiving. That is, Gettier cases merely appear to be cases of epistemic failure (i.e., failing to know that p) but are in fact cases of semantic failure (i.e., failing to refer to x). Gettier cases are cases of reference failure because the candidates for knowledge in these cases contain ambiguous designators. If this is correct, then we may simply be mistaking semantic facts for epistemic facts (...) when we consider Gettier cases. This, in turn, is a good reason not to assign much, if any, evidential weight to Gettier intuitions (i.e., that S doesn’t know that p in a Gettier case). (shrink)
In True Enough, Catherine Elgin (2017) argues against veritism, which is the view that truth is the paramount epistemic objective. Elgin’s argument against veritism proceeds from considering the role that models, idealizations, and thought experiments play in science to the conclusion that veritism is unacceptable. In this commentary, I argue that Elgin’s argument fails as an argument against veritism. I sketch a refutation by logical analogy of Elgin’s argument. Just as one can aim at gold medals and still find approximations (...) to gold, such as silver and bronze medals, to be acceptable and honest achievements in competitive sports, one can aim at full truths as the paramount epistemic objective and still find approximations to truth, such as models and idealizations, to be acceptable and honest achievements in scientific inquiry. (shrink)
In this paper, I sketch an argument for the view that we cannot know (or have good reasons to believe) that God exists. Some call this view “strong agnosticism” but I prefer the term “skeptheism” in order to clearly distinguish between two distinct epistemic attitudes with respect to the existence of God, namely, agnosticism and skepticism. For the skeptheist, we cannot know (or have good reasons to believe) that God exists, since there can be neither conceptual (a priori) nor empirical (...) (a posteriori) evidence for the existence of God. (shrink)
There is an ongoing methodological debate in philosophy of science concerning the use of case studies as evidence for and/or against theories about science. In this paper, I aim to make a contribution to this debate by taking an empirical approach. I present the results of a systematic survey of the PhilSci-Archive, which suggest that a sizeable proportion of papers in philosophy of science contain appeals to case studies, as indicated by the occurrence of the indicator words “case study” and/or (...) “case studies.” These results are confirmed by data mined from the JSTOR database on research articles published in leading journals in the field: Philosophy of Science, the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (BJPS), and the Journal for General Philosophy of Science (JGPS), as well as the Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA). The data also show upward trends in appeals to case studies in articles published in Philosophy of Science, the BJPS, and the JGPS. The empirical work I have done for this paper provides philosophers of science who are wary of the use of case studies as evidence for and/or against theories about science with a way to do philosophy of science that is informed by data rather than case studies. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the ultimate argument for Scientific Realism, also known as the No-Miracles Argument (NMA), ultimately fails as an abductive defence of Epistemic Scientific Realism (ESR), where (ESR) is the thesis that successful theories of mature sciences are approximately true. The NMA is supposed to be an Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) that purports to explain the success of science. However, the explanation offered as the best explanation for success, namely (ESR), fails to yield independently (...) testable predictions that alternative explanations for success do not yield. If this is correct, then there seems to be no good reason to prefer (ESR) over alternative explanations for success. (shrink)
Experimental philosophers have challenged friends of the expertise defense to show that the intuitive judgments of professional philosophers are different from the intuitive judgments of nonphilosophers, and the intuitive judgments of professional philosophers are better than the intuitive judgments of nonphilosophers, in ways that are relevant to the truth or falsity of such judgments. Friends of the expertise defense have responded by arguing that the burden of proof lies with experimental philosophers. This article sketches three arguments which show that both (...) and are probably false. If its arguments are cogent, then shifting the burden of proof is a futile move, since philosophical training makes no difference so far as making intuitive judgments in response to hypothetical cases is concerned. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that arguments from the history of science against scientific realism, like the arguments advanced by P. Kyle Stanford and Peter Vickers, are fallacious. The so-called Old Induction, like Vickers's, and New Induction, like Stanford's, are both guilty of confirmation bias—specifically, of cherry-picking evidence that allegedly challenges scientific realism while ignoring evidence to the contrary. I also show that the historical episodes that Stanford adduces in support of his New Induction are indeterminate between a pessimistic and (...) an optimistic interpretation. For these reasons, these arguments are fallacious, and thus do not pose a serious challenge to scientific realism. (shrink)
According to the antirealist argument known as the pessimistic induction, the history of science is a graveyard of dead scientific theories and abandoned theoretical posits. Support for this pessimistic picture of the history of science usually comes from a few case histories, such as the demise of the phlogiston theory and the abandonment of caloric as the substance of heat. In this article, I wish to take a new approach to examining the ‘history of science as a graveyard of theories’ (...) picture. Using JSTOR Data for Research and Springer Exemplar, I present new lines of evidence that are at odds with this pessimistic picture of the history of science. When rigorously tested against the historical record of science, I submit, the pessimistic picture of the history of science as a graveyard of dead theories and abandoned posits may turn out to be no more than a philosophers’ myth. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that, other things being equal, simpler arguments are better. In other words, I argue that, other things being equal, it is rational to prefer simpler arguments over less simple ones. I sketch three arguments in support of this claim: an argument from mathematical proofs, an argument from scientific theories, and an argument from the conjunction rule.
In this article, through a critical examination of K. Brad Wray's version of the argument from underconsideration against scientific realism, I articulate a modest version of scientific realism. This modest realist position, which I call ‘relative realism’, preserves the scientific realist's optimism about science's ability to get closer to the truth while, at the same time, taking on board the antirealist's premise that theory evaluation is comparative, and thus that there are no good reasons to think that science's best theories (...) are close to the truth. (shrink)
According to traditional Western theism, God is maximally great (or perfect). More explicitly, God is said to have the following divine attributes: omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence. In this paper, I present three puzzles about this conception of a maximally great (or perfect) being. The first puzzle about omniscience shows that this divine attribute is incoherent. The second puzzle about omnibenevolence and omnipotence shows that these divine attributes are logically incompatible. The third puzzle about perfect rationality and omnipotence shows that these (...) divine attributes are logically incompatible. (shrink)
According to the Ought-Implies-Can principle (OIC), an agent ought to perform a certain action only if the agent can perform that action. Proponents of OIC interpret this supposed implication in several ways. Some argue that the implication in question is a logical one, namely, entailment. Some think that the relation between ‘ought’ and ‘can’ is a relation of presupposition. Still others argue that ‘ought’ conversationally implicates ‘can’. Opponents of OIC offer a variety of counterexamples in an attempt to show that (...) there are cases in which an agent ought to perform a certain action even though she cannot perform that action. Such counterexamples often involve either culpable or nonculpable inability. In cases of culpable inability, the agent renders herself unable to fulfill an obligation. For example, a student is unable to submit a paper on the due date because she procrastinated until it became too late to write a paper by the assigned deadline. In cases of non-culpable inability, the agent somehow becomes unable to fulfill an obligation, through no fault of her own. For example, an agent becomes unable to pay back a loan to a bank because she was robbed on her way to the bank. This paper attempts to offer counterexamples to OIC of a sort different from the one discussed by opponents of OIC so far. If these counterexamples are correct, then they seem to suggest that there are cases in which an agent has an obligation to perform an action even though she may not be able to perform that action, and thus OIC is false. In other words, ‘ought’ does not imply ‘can’. (shrink)
In this paper, I present the results of an experimental study on intuitions about moral obligation (ought) and ability (can). Many philosophers accept as an axiom the principle known as “Ought Implies Can” (OIC). If the truth of OIC is intuitive, such that it is accepted by many philosophers as an axiom, then we would expect people to judge that agents who are unable to perform an action are not morally obligated to perform that action. The results of my experimental (...) study show that participants were more inclined to judge that an agent ought to perform an action than that the agent can perform the action. Overall, participants said that an agent ought to perform an action even when they said that the agent cannot do it. I discuss the implications of these results for the debate over OIC. (shrink)
When the phrase “playing God” is used in debates concerning the use of new technologies, such as cloning or genetic engineering, it is usually interpreted as a warning not to interfere with God’s creation or nature. I think that this interpretation of “playing God” arguments as a call to non-interference with nature is too narrow. In this paper, I propose an alternative interpretation of “playing God” arguments. Taking an argumentation theory approach, I provide an argumentation scheme and accompanying critical questions (...) that capture the moral concerns expressed by “playing God” arguments. If I am right, then “playing God” arguments should be understood, not as a warning to leave God’s creation or nature alone, but rather as an invitation to think carefully about all the ways in which the use of new technologies could go seriously wrong. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the method of cases (namely, the method of using intuitive judgments elicited by intuition pumps as evidence for and/or against philosophical theories) is not a reliable method of generating evidence for and/or against philosophical theories. In other words, the method of cases is unlikely to generate accurate judgments more often than not. This is so because, if perception and intuition are analogous in epistemically relevant respects, then using intuition pumps to elicit intuitive judgments is (...) like using illusions to elicit perceptual judgments. In both cases, judgments are made under bad epistemic circumstances. (shrink)
Alexander Bird argues for an epistemic account of scientific progress, whereas Darrell Rowbottom argues for a semantic account. Both appeal to intuitions about hypothetical cases in support of their accounts. Since the methodological significance of such appeals to intuition is unclear, I think that a new approach might be fruitful at this stage in the debate. So I propose to abandon appeals to intuition and look at scientific practice instead. I discuss two cases that illustrate the way in which scientists (...) make judgments about progress. As far as scientists are concerned, progress is made when scientific discoveries contribute to the increase of scientific knowledge of the following sorts: empirical, theoretical, practical, and methodological. I then propose to articulate an account of progress that does justice to this broad conception of progress employed by scientists. I discuss one way of doing so, namely, by expanding our notion of scientific knowledge to include both know-that and know-how. (shrink)
In this paper, I sketch an answer to the question “Why be an intellectually humble philosopher?” I argue that, as far as philosophical argumentation is concerned, the historical record of Western Philosophy provides a straightforward answer to this question. That is, the historical record of philosophical argumentation, which is a track record that is marked by an abundance of alternative theories and serious problems for those theories, can teach us important lessons about the limits of philosophical argumentation. These lessons, in (...) turn, show why philosophers should argue with humility. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that, if ‘the overrepresentation of Christian theists in analytic philosophy of religion is unhealthy for the field, since they would be too much influenced by prior beliefs when evaluating religious arguments’ (De Cruz and De Smedt (2016), 119), then a first step toward a potential remedy is this: analytic philosophers of religion need to restructure their analytical tasks. For one way to mitigate the effects of confirmation bias, which may be influencing how analytic philosophers of (...) religion evaluate arguments in Analytical Philosophy of Religion (APR), is to consider other points of view. Applied to APR, this means considering religious beliefs, questions, and arguments couched in non-Christian terms. In this paper, I focus on Islam in particular. My aim is to show that Islam is a fertile ground of philosophical questions and arguments for analytic philosophers of religion to engage with. Engaging with questions and arguments couched in non-Christian terms would help make work in APR more diverse and inclusive of religions other than Christianity, which in turn would also be a first step toward attracting non-Christians to APR. (shrink)
In this article, I present a schema for generating counterexamples to the argument form known as Hypothetical Syllogism with indicative conditionals. If my schema for generating counterexamples to HS works as I think it does, then HS is invalid for indicative conditionals.
Many philosophers subscribe to the view that philosophy is a priori and in the business of discovering necessary truths from the armchair. This paper sets out to empirically test this picture. If this were the case, we would expect to see this reflected in philosophical practice. In particular, we would expect philosophers to advance mostly deductive, rather than inductive, arguments. The paper shows that the percentage of philosophy articles advancing deductive arguments is higher than those advancing inductive arguments, which is (...) what we would expect from the vantage point of the armchair philosophy picture. The results also show, however, that the percentages of articles advancing deductive arguments and those advancing inductive arguments are converging over time and that the difference between inductive and deductive ratios is declining over time. This trend suggests that deductive arguments are gradually losing their status as the dominant form of argumentation in philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that appeals to intuition are strong arguments just in case there is an agreement among the relevant philosophers concerning the intuition in question. Otherwise, appeals to intuition are weak arguments.
ABSTRACTThis discussion note aims to contribute to the ongoing debate over the nature of scientific progress. I argue against the semantic view of scientific progress, according to which scientific progress consists in approximation to truth or increasing verisimilitude. If the semantic view of scientific progress were correct, then scientists would make scientific progress simply by arbitrarily adding true disjuncts to their hypotheses or theories. Given that it is not the case that scientists could make scientific progress simply by arbitrarily adding (...) true disjuncts to their hypotheses or theories, it follows that the semantic view of scientific progress is incorrect. (shrink)
This paper aims to contribute to the current debate about the status of the “Ought Implies Can” principle and the growing body of empirical evidence that undermines it. We report the results of an experimental study which show that people judge that agents ought to perform an action even when they also judge that those agents cannot do it and that such “ought” judgments exhibit an actor-observer effect. Because of this actor-observer effect on “ought” judgments and the Duhem-Quine thesis, talk (...) of an “empirical refutation” of OIC is empirically and methodologically unwarranted. What the empirical fact that people attribute moral obligations to unable agents shows is that OIC is not intuitive, not that OIC has been refuted. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’, which is the view that ideal primary positive conceivability entails primary metaphysical possibility, is self-defeating. To this end, we outline two reductio arguments against ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’. The first reductio shows that, from supposing that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is true, it follows that conceivability both is and is not conclusive evidence for possibility. The second reductio shows that, from supposing that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is true, it follows that it is possible (...) that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is necessarily false, and hence that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is false. We then argue that adopting a weaker position according to which conceivability is merely prima facie evidence for possibility provides limited protection from our criticism of conceivability arguments. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that, just as the problem of unconceived alternatives provides a basis for a New Induction on the History of Science to the effect that a realist view of science is unwarranted, the problem of unconceived objections provides a basis for a New Induction on the History of Philosophy to the effect that a realist view of philosophy is unwarranted. I raise this problem not only for skepticism’s sake but also for the sake of making a (...) point about philosophical argumentation, namely, that anticipating objections to one’s claim is not the same as supporting one’s claim. In other words, defending p from objections does not amount to support or evidence for p. This, in turn, presents dialectical and pragma-dialectical approaches to argumentation with the following question: does proper argumentation require that arguers anticipate and respond to unconceived objections? (shrink)
In this paper, I reply to Seidel’s objections against my argument from expert performance to the effect that arguments from expert opinion are weak arguments. I clarify what Seidel takes to be unclear points in my argument and show that it withstands Seidel’s objections.
In this paper, I argue that, contrary to common opinion, a counterexample against a philosophical theory does not amount to conclusive evidence against that theory. Instead, the method of counterexamples allows for the derivation of a disjunction, i.e., ‘either the theory is false or an auxiliary assumption is false’, not a negation of the target theory. This is so because, whenever the method of counterexamples is used in an attempt to refute a philosophical theory, there is a crucial auxiliary assumption (...) that needs to be taken into account. The auxiliary assumption is that making intuitive judgments in response to hypothetical cases about the subject matter in question (e.g., knowledge or proper names) is a good method for finding out truths about that subject matter. Without good reasons to think that this assumption is warranted, the negation of a philosophical theory whose content is alleged to be in conflict with the content of an intuition cannot be justifiably derived using an argument that employs the method of counterexamples. (shrink)
In this paper, we set out to test empirically an idea that many philosophers find intuitive, namely that non-moral ignorance can exculpate. Many philosophers find it intuitive that moral agents are responsible only if they know the particular facts surrounding their action. Our results show that whether moral agents are aware of the facts surrounding their action does have an effect on people’s attributions of blame, regardless of the consequences or side effects of the agent’s actions. In general, it was (...) more likely that a situationally aware agent will be blamed for failing to perform the obligatory action than a situationally unaware agent. We also tested attributions of forgiveness in addition to attributions of blame. In general, it was less likely that a situationally aware agent will be forgiven for failing to perform the obligatory action than a situationally unaware agent. When the agent is situationally unaware, it is more likely that the agent will be forgiven than blamed. We argue that these results provide some empirical support for the hypothesis that there is something intuitive about the idea that non-moral ignorance can exculpate. (shrink)
In this discussion note, I put forth an argument from the factivity of knowledge for the conclusion that knowledge is epistemic certainty. If this argument is sound, then epistemologists who think that knowledge is factive are thereby also committed to the view that knowledge is epistemic certainty.
In this paper, I argue that the “Ought Implies Can” (OIC) principle, as it is employed in epistemology, particularly in the literature on epistemic norms, is open to counterexamples. I present a counterexample to OIC and discuss several objections to it. If this counterexample works, then it shows that it is possible that S ought to believe that p, even though S cannot believe that p. If this is correct, then OIC, considered from an epistemic point of view, is false, (...) since it is supposed to hold for any S and any p. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Phenomenal Conservatism (PC) is not superior to alternative theories of basic propositional justification insofar as those theories that reject PC are self-defeating. I show that self-defeat arguments similar to Michael Huemer’s Self-Defeat Argument for PC can be constructed for other theories of basic propositional justification as well. If this is correct, then there is nothing special about PC in that respect. In other words, if self-defeat arguments can be advanced in support of alternatives to (...) PC, then Huemer’s Self-Defeat argument doesn’t uniquely motivate PC. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that arguments from expert opinion, i.e., inferences from “Expert E says that p” to “p,” where the truth value of p is unknown, are weak arguments. A weak argument is an argument in which the premises, even if true, provide weak support—or no support at all—for the conclusion. Such arguments from expert opinion are weak arguments unless the fact that an expert says that p makes p significantly more likely to be true. However, research on (...) expertise shows that expert opinions are only slightly more accurate than chance and much less accurate than decision procedures. If this is correct, then it follows that arguments from expert opinion are weak arguments. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose that, in addition to the multiverse hypothesis, which is commonly taken to be an alternative explanation for fine-tuning, other than the design hypothesis, the simulation hypothesis is another explanation for fine-tuning. I then argue that the simulation hypothesis undercuts the alleged evidential connection between ‘designer’ and ‘supernatural designer of immense power and knowledge’ in much the same way that the multiverse hypothesis undercuts the alleged evidential connection between ‘fine-tuning’ and ‘fine-tuner’ (or ‘designer’). If this is (...) correct, then the fine-tuning argument is a weak argument for the existence of God. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that arguments from skeptical hypotheses for external world skepticism derive their support from a skeptical argument from the distinction between appearance and reality. This skeptical argument from the appearance/reality distinction gives the external world skeptic her conclusion without appealing to skeptical hypotheses and without assuming that knowledge is closed under known entailments. If this is correct, then this skeptical argument from the appearance/reality distinction poses a new skeptical challenge that cannot be resolved by denying skeptical (...) hypotheses or knowledge closure. (shrink)
The “received wisdom” in contemporary analytic philosophy is that intuition talk is a fairly recent phenomenon, dating back to the 1960s. In this paper, we set out to test two interpretations of this “received wisdom.” The first is that intuition talk is just talk, without any methodological significance. The second is that intuition talk is methodologically significant; it shows that analytic philosophers appeal to intuition. We present empirical and contextual evidence, systematically mined from the JSTOR corpus and HathiTrust’s Digital Library, (...) which provide some empirical support for the second rather than the first hypothesis. Our data also suggest that appealing to intuition is a much older philosophical methodology than the “received wisdom” alleges. We then discuss the implications of our findings for the contemporary debate over philosophical methodology. (shrink)