Epistemic Contextualism is the view that “knows that” is semantically context-sensitive and that properly accommodating this fact into our philosophical theory promises to solve various puzzles concerning knowledge. Yet Epistemic Contextualism faces a big—some would say fatal—problem: The Semantic Error Problem. In its prominent form, this runs thus: speakers just don’t seem to recognise that “knows that” is context-sensitive; so, if “knows that” really is context-sensitive then such speakers are systematically in error about what is said by, or how to (...) evaluate, ordinary uses of “S knows that p”; but since it's wildly implausible that ordinary speakers should exhibit such systematic error, the expression “knows that” isn't context-sensitive. We are interested in whether, and in what ways, there is such semantic error; if there is such error, how it arises and is made manifest; and, again, if there is such error to what extent it is a problem for Epistemic Contextualism. The upshot is that some forms of The Semantic Error Problem turn out to be largely unproblematic. Those that remain troublesome have analogue error problems for various competitor conceptions of knowledge. So, if error is any sort of problem, then there is a problem for every extant competitor view. (shrink)
Let Entitlement Epistemology be the theory of knowledge which says that entitlement—a special kind of unearned warrant to accept or believe—can help us successfully address a range of sceptical arguments. Prominent versions of this theory urge that epistemology should not be concerned with knowledge (and similar externalist states) but rather with justification, warrant, and entitlement (at least insofar as these are conceived of as internalist states). Knowledge does not come first, half-way, or even last in epistemological theorising—rather, it ought to (...) come nowhere. The goal in what follows is two-fold: Firstly, to assess whether this extreme internalist version of Entitlement Epistemology is at all sustainable. (We shall find that it is not.) Secondly, to articulate a version of Entitlement Epistemology which arguably does much better. On the view to be explored, knowledge does not drop out of the epistemological picture: if we allow that there can be warrant for nothing, then there can be knowledge for nothing too. (shrink)
Is truth objective or relative? What exists independently of our minds? The essays in this book debate these two questions, which are among the oldest of philosophical issues and have vexed almost every major philosopher, from Plato, to Kant, to Wittgenstein. Fifteen eminent contributors bring fresh perspectives, renewed energy, and original answers to debates of great interest both within philosophy and in the culture at large.
Eighteen leading philosophers offer critical assessments of Timothy Williamson's ground-breaking work on knowledge and its impact on philosophy today. They discuss epistemological issues concerning evidence, defeasibility, scepticism, testimony, assertion, and perception, and debate Williamson's central claim that knowledge is a mental state.
The main goal in this paper is to outline and defend a form of Relativism, under which truth is absolute but assertibility is not. I dub such a view Norm-Relativism in contrast to the more familiar forms of Truth-Relativism. The key feature of this view is that just what norm of assertion, belief, and action is in play in some context is itself relative to a perspective. In slogan form: there is no fixed, single norm for assertion, belief, and action. (...) Upshot: 'knows' is neither context-sensitive nor perspectival. (shrink)
Vagueness is given a philosophically neutral definition in terms of an epistemic notion of tolerance. Such a notion is intended to capture the thesis that vague terms draw no known boundary across their range of signification and contrasts sharply with the semantic notion of tolerance given by Wright (1975, 1976). This allows us to distinguish vagueness from superficially similar but distinct phenomena such as semantic incompleteness. Two proofs are given which show that vagueness qua epistemic tolerance and vagueness qua borderline (...) cases (when properly construed to exclude terms which are stipulated to give rise to borderline cases) are in fact conceptually equivalent dimensions of vagueness, contrary to what might initially be expected. It is also argued that the common confusion of tolerance and epistemic tolerance has skewed the vagueness debate in favour of indeterminist over epistemic conceptions of vagueness. Clearing up that confusion provides an indirect argument in favour of epistemicism. Finally, given the equation of vagueness with epistemic tolerance, it is shown that there must be radical higher-order vagueness, contrary to what many authors have argued. (shrink)
Conceptual Engineering alleges that philosophical problems are best treated via revising or replacing our concepts (or words). The goal here is not to defend Conceptual Engineering but rather show that it can (and should) invoke Neutralism—the broad view that philosophical progress can take place when (and sometimes only when) a thoroughly neutral, non-specific theory, treatment, or methodology is adopted. A neutralist treatment of one form of skepticism is used as a case study and is compared with various non-neutral rivals. Along (...) the way, a new taxonomy for paradox is proposed. (shrink)
In §2-4, I survey three extant ways of making sense of indeterminate truth and find each of them wanting. All the later sections of the paper are concerned with showing that the most promising way of making sense of indeterminate truth is via either a theory of truthmaker gaps or via a theory of truthmaking gaps. The first intimations of a truthmaker–truthmaking gap theory of indeterminacy are to be found in Quine (1981). In §5, we see how Quine proposes to (...) solve Unger’s problem of the many via positing the possibility of groundless truth. In §6, I elaborate the truthmaker gap model of indeterminacy first sketched by Sorensen (2001, ch.11) and use it to give a reductive analysis of indeterminate truth. In §7, I briefly assess what kind of formal framework can best express the possibility of truthmaker gaps. In §8, I contrast what I dub ‘the ordinary conception of worldly indeterminacy’ with Williamson’s conception of worldly indeterminacy. In §9, I show how one can distinguish linguistic from worldly indeterminacy on a truthmaker gap conception. In §10, I briefly sketch the relationship between truthmaker gaps and ignorance. In §11, I assess whether a truthmaker gap conception of vagueness is really just a form of epistemicism. In §12, I propose that truthmaker gaps can yield a plausible model of (semantic) presupposition failure. In §13, in response to the worry that a truthmaker gap conception of indeterminacy is both parochial and controversial—since it commits us to an implausibly strong theory of truthmaking—I set forth a truthmaking gap conception of indeterminacy. In §14, I answer the worry that groundless truths, of whatever species, are just unacceptably queer. A key part of this answer is that a truthmaker–truthmaking gap model of indeterminacy turns out to be considerably less queer than any model of indeterminacy which gives up on Tarski’s T-schema for truth (and cognate schemas). (shrink)
To get to grips with what Shapiro does and can say about higher-order vagueness, it is ﬁrst necessary to thoroughly review and evaluate his conception of (ﬁrst-order) vagueness, a conception which is both rich and suggestive but, as it turns out, not so easy to stabilise. In Sections I–IV, his basic position on vagueness (see Shapiro ) is outlined and assessed. As we go along, I offer some suggestions for improvement. In Sections V–VI, I review two key paradoxes of higher-order (...) vagueness, while in Section VII, I explore a possible line of response to such paradoxes given by Keefe . In Section VIII, I assess whether which Shapiro might adapt Keefe’s response to combat both paradoxes. (shrink)
In this paper I show that a variety of Cartesian Conceptions of the mental are unworkable. In particular, I offer a much weaker conception of limited discrimination than the one advanced by Williamson (2000) and show that this weaker conception, together with some plausible background assumptions, is not only able to undermine the claim that our core mental states are luminous (roughly: if one is in such a state then one is in a position to know that one is) but (...) also the claim that introspection is infallible with respect to our core mental states (where a belief that C obtains is infallible just in case if one believes that C obtains then C obtains). The upshot is a broader and much more powerful case against the Cartesian conception of the mental than has been advanced hitherto. (shrink)
In Replacing Truth, Scharp takes the concept of truth to be fundamentally incoherent. As such, Scharp reckons it to be unsuited for systematic philosophical theorising and in need of replacement – at least for regions of thought and talk which permit liar sentences and their ilk to be formulated. This replacement methodology is radical because it not only recommends that the concept of truth be replaced, but that the word ‘true’ be replaced too. Only Tarski has attempted anything like it (...) before. I dub such a view Conceptual Marxism. In assessing this view, my goals are fourfold: to summarise the many components of Scharp’s theory of truth; to highlight what I take to be some of the excess baggage carried by the view; to assess whether, and to what extent, the extreme methodology on offer is at all called for; finally, to briefly propose a less radical replacement strategy for resolving the liar paradox. (shrink)
A new solution to the liar paradox is developed using the insight that it is illegitimate to even suppose (let alone assert) that a liar sentence has a truth-status (true or not) on the grounds that supposing this sentence to be true/not-true essentially defeats the telos of supposition in a readily identifiable way. On that basis, the paradox is blocked by restricting the Rule of Assumptions in Gentzen-style presentations of the sequent-calculus. The lesson of the liar is that not all (...) assumptions are for free. One merit of this proposal is that it is free from the revenge problem. (shrink)
Minimalism concerning truth is the view that that all there is to be said concerning truth is exhausted by a set of basic platitudes. In the first part of this thesis, I apply this methodology to the concept of knowledge. In so doing, I develop a model of inexact knowledge grounded in what I call minimal margin for error principles. From these basic principles, I derive the controversial result that epistemological internalism and internalism with respect to self-knowledge are untenable doctrines. (...) In the second part of this thesis, I develop a minimal theory of vagueness in which a rigorous but neutral definition of vagueness is shown to be possible. Three dimensions of vagueness are distinguished and a proof is given showing how two of these dimensions are equivalent facets of the same phenomenon. From the axioms of this minimal theory one can also show that there must be higher-order vagueness, contrary to what some have argued. In the final part of this thesis, I return to issues concerning the credentials of truth-minimalism. Is truth-minimalism compatible with the possibility of truth-value gaps? Is it right to say that truth-minimalism is crippled by the liar paradox? With respect to the former question, I develop a novel three-valued logical system which is both proof-theoretically and truth-theoretic ally well-motivated and compatible with at least one form of minimalism. With respect to the second question, a new solution to the liar paradox is developed based on the claim that while the liar sentence is meaningful, it is improper to even suppose that this sentence has a truth-status. On that basis, one can block the paradox by restricting the Rule of Assumptions in Gentzen-style presentations of the sentential sequent calculus. The first lesson of the liar paradox is that not all assumptions are for free. The second lesson of the liar is that, contrary to what has been alleged by many, minimalism concerning truth is far better placed than its rival theories to solve the paradox. (shrink)
Central to any form of Deflationism concerning truth (hereafter ‘DT’) is the claim that truth has no substantial theoretical role to play. For this reason, DT faces the following immediate challenge: if truth can play no substantial theoretical role then how can we model various prevalent kinds of indeterminacy—such as the indeterminacy exhibited by vague predicates, future contingents, liar sentences, truth-teller sentences, incomplete stipulations, cases of presupposition failure, and such-like? It is too hasty to assume that these phenomena are all (...) to be modelled via some epistemic conception of indeterminacy whereby indeterminacy is just some special species of ignorance which arises because of our limited powers of discrimination. Some non-epistemic model is called for—at least for certain species of indeterminacy. On what is perhaps the most enduring and popular non-epistemic model, indeterminacy gives rise to truth-value gaps. But is DT compatible with the possibility of truth-value gaps? Compatibilism says Yes; Incompatibilism says No. The broad goal of this paper is to defend a form of Incompatibilism. If DT is to make sense of various kinds of indeterminacy then truth-value gaps cannot be invoked to do so. The particular goals of this paper are: (i) To set forth a new form of Compatibilism which can address an argument against truth-value gaps given by Williamson (1994, pp. 187-192). (ii) To offer a new argument against truth-value gaps using principles entailed by DT, thereby undermining Compatibilism. (shrink)
This chapter introduces the two main philosophical questions that are raised by the prospect of extinct species being brought back from the dead—namely, the ‘Authenticity Question’ and the ‘Ethical Question’. It distinguishes different types of de-extinction, and different methods by which de-extinction can be accomplished. Finally, it examines the aims of wildlife conservation with a view to whether they are compatible with de-extinction, or not.
This chapter surveys and critically evaluates all the main arguments both for and against de-extinction. It presents a qualified defence of the claim that conservationists should embrace de-extinction. It ends with a list of do’s and don’ts for conservationist de-extinction projects.
This book is about the philosophy of de-extinction. -/- CHAPTER 1 introduces the two main philosophical questions that are raised by the prospect of extinct species being brought back from the dead—namely, the ‘Authenticity Question’ and the ‘Ethical Question’. It distinguishes the many different types and methods of de-extinction. Finally, it examines the aims of wildlife conservation with a view to whether they are compatible with de-extinction, or not. -/- CHAPTER 2 examines three prime candidates for de-extinction—namely, the aurochs, the (...) woolly mammoth, and the passenger pigeon. It is about what these animals were like, why people want to resurrect them, and the methods by which their resurrections could be accomplished. -/- CHAPTER 3 is about the authenticity of de-extinct animals. Critics of de-extinction have offered many reasons for thinking that the products of de-extinction will be inauthentic. The bulk of the chapter is taken up with surveying their arguments. We attempt to show that none are convincing, and end the chapter by offering and defending two arguments in favour of the view that authentic de-extinctions are possible. -/- CHAPTER 4 surveys and critically evaluates all the main arguments both for and against de-extinction. It presents a qualified defence of the claim that conservationists should embrace de-extinction. It ends with a list of do’s and don’ts for conservationist de-extinction projects. (shrink)
Is the resurrection of an extinct species genuinely possible, or not? Will organisms produced by de-extinction technology be authentic new members of the species that died out, or just convincing fakes? We seek to answer these questions in this chapter. Critics of de-extinction have offered many reasons for thinking that the products of de-extinction will be inauthentic. The bulk of the chapter is taken up with surveying their arguments. We attempt to show that none are convincing. We end the chapter (...) by offering and defending two arguments in favour of the view that authentic de-extinctions are possible. (shrink)
This chapter examines three prime candidates for de-extinction—namely, the aurochs, the woolly mammoth, and the passenger pigeon. It will be about what these animals were like, why people want to resurrect them, and the methods by which their resurrections could be accomplished.
Touching your mother's foot is incest because all the rest is a matter of degree (or so said Diogenes). That's just one expression of the puzzle of vagueness. Here's another: the passage of one second cannot mark the transition from being a pupa to being a butterfly--if something is a pupa at one time then in all close instants it remains a pupa; alas, it follows from this, via trivial logic, that there are no butterflies. Or again: it's vague where (...) the Highlands of Scotland begin and end, so, a small step in the direction of London cannot mark the boundary between the Lowlands and the Highlands. But then it follows, via trivial logic, that one is unable to leave the Highlands (even when in London). What's driving these paradoxical arguments seems to be the very vagueness of the terms involved: such terms as 'incest', 'butterfly', 'pupa', 'The Highlands' are all vague and such vagueness seems to make them tolerant to marginal change. The puzzles of vagueness are not only deep (in that they admit of no uncontroversial and entirely satisfactory solution), they are also broad, for vague language is everywhere. In this course, you will be introduced to the various puzzles of vagueness and whether and how we might best address them. We will tackle such as questions as: Does the possibility of vagueness entail that there simply cannot be a logic of natural language? Does it entail that language is governed by inconsistent rules? Or does vagueness require some special or deviant logic? Is vagueness a special species of ignorance? Is the world, in some sense, vague? Is there an uncontroversial definition of vagueness or can we only isolate the phenomenon from within some substantive and controversial conception? What is higher-order vagueness and why is it considered to be such a puzzling phenomenon? Must the truth about vagueness be so strange? In what exact way are vague expressions tolerant? (shrink)
Consider the following sentences: The neighbouring sentence is not true. The neighbouring sentence is not true. Call these the no-no sentences. Symmetry considerations dictate that the no-no sentences must both possess the same truth-value. Suppose they are both true. Given Tarski’s truth-schema—if a sentence S says that p then S is true iff p—and given what they say, they are both not true. Contradiction! Conclude: they are not both true. Suppose they are both false. Given Tarski’s falsity-schema—if a sentence S (...) says that p then S is false iff not-p—and given what they say, they are both true, and so not false. Contradiction! Conclude: they are not both false. Thus, despite their symmetry, the no-no sentences must differ in truth-value. Such is the no-no paradox. Sorensen (2001, 2005a, 2005b) has argued that: (1) The no-no paradox is not a version of the liar but rather a cousin of the truth-teller paradox. (2) Even so, the no-no paradox is more paradoxical than the truth-teller. (3) The no-no and truth-teller sentences have groundless truthvalues—they are bivalent but give rise to “truthmaker gaps”. (4) It is metaphysically impossible to know these truth-values. (5) A truthmaker gap response to the no-no paradox provides reason to accept a version of epistemicism. In this paper it is shown that a truthmaker gap solution to the no-no and truth-teller paradoxes runs afoul of the dunno-dunno paradox, the strengthened no-no paradox, and the strengthened truth-teller paradox. In consequence, the no-no paradox is best seen as a form of the liar paradox. As such, it cannot provide a case for epistemicism. (shrink)
Neutralism is the broad view that philosophical progress can take place when (and sometimes only when) a thoroughly neutral, non-specific theory, treatment, or methodology is adopted. The broad goal here is to articulate a distinct, specific kind of sorites paradox (The Observational Sorites Paradox) and show that it can be effectively treated via Neutralism.
A number of serious problems are raised against Crispin Wright’s quandary conception of vagueness. Two alternative conceptions of the quandary view are proposed instead. The first conception retains Wright’s thesis that, for all one knows, a verdict concerning a borderline case constitutes knowledge. However a further problem is seen to beset this conception. The second conception, in response to this further problem, does not enjoin the thesis that, for all one knows, a verdict concerning a borderline case constitutes knowledge. The (...) result is a much simpler and more plausible version of the quandary view. (shrink)
Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief contains fourteen original essays by philosophers, theologians, and social scientists on challenges to moral and religious belief from disagreement and evolution. Three main questions are addressed: Can one reasonably maintain one's moral and religious beliefs in the face of interpersonal disagreement with intellectual peers? Does disagreement about morality between a religious belief source, such as a sacred text, and a non-religious belief source, such as a society's moral intuitions, make it irrational to continue trusting (...) one or both of those belief sources? Should evolutionary accounts of the origins of our moral beliefs and our religious beliefs undermine our confidence in their veracity? This volume places challenges to moral belief side-by-side with challenges to religious belief, sets evolution-based challenges alongside disagreement-based challenges, and includes philosophical perspectives together with theological and social science perspectives, with the aim of cultivating insights and lines of inquiry that are easily missed within a single discipline or when these topics are treated in isolation. The result is a collection of essays--representing both skeptical and non-skeptical positions about morality and religion--that move these discussions forward in new and illuminating directions. -/- Contributors: Robert Audi, University of Notre Dame; Michael Bergmann, Purdue University; Sarah Brosnan, Georgia State University; William FitzPatrick, University of Rochester; John Hare, Yale University; Timothy P. Jackson, Emory University; Patrick Kain, Purdue University; Jordan Kiper, University of Connecticut; Dustin Locke, Claremont McKenna College; Charles Mathewes, University of Virginia; Mark C. Murphy, Georgetown University; John Pittard, Yale Divinity School; Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Duke University; Richard Sosis, University of Connecticut; Sharon Street, New York University; Joshua Thurow, University of Texas at San Antonio; Ralph Wedgwood, University of Southern California. (shrink)
Contextualism about vagueness (hereafter ‘Contextualism’) is the view that vagueness consists in a particular species of context-sensitivity and that properly accommodating this fact into our semantic theory will yield a plausible solution to the sorites paradox., But Contextualism, as many commentators have noted, faces the following immediate objection: if we hold the context fixed, vagueness still remains, therefore vagueness is not a species of context-sensitivity. Call this ‘the simple objection’. Absent a convincing reply to the simple objection, Contextualism is in (...) very bad shape. Oddly enough, defenders of Contextualism have said very little in reply. Proponents of the objection have tended to assume that this is because no reply is in the offing—the simple objection is taken to be unassailable. In this short paper, we sketch two replies to the simple objection which result in two very different kinds of Contextualism: Epistemicist Contextualism and Radical Contextualism. With these two theories in hand, the simple objection loses its force. (shrink)
Martin Heidegger is, perhaps, the most controversial philosopher of the twentieth-century. Little has been written on him or about his work and its significance for educational thought. This unique collection by a group of international scholars reexamines Heidegger's work and its legacy for educational thought.
Contextualism concerning vagueness (hereafter ‘CV’) is a popular response to the puzzle of vagueness. The goal in this paper is to uncover in what ways vagueness may be a particular species of context-sensitivity. The most promising form of CV turns out to be a version of socalled ‘Non-Indexical Contextualism’. In §2, we sketch a generic form of CV (hereafter ‘GCV’). In §3, we distinguish between Truth CV and Content CV. A non-indexical form of CV is a form of Truth CV, (...) while an indexical form of CV is a form of Content CV. In §4, we argue that the theory of vagueness given in Fara (2000) is crucially incomplete but is best seen as a non-indexical form of CV. In §5, we set forth four kinds of error-theory to which CV might be committed. It turns out that Non-Indexical CV is committed to a weaker, and more plausible, error-theory than Indexical CV. In §6, we address a challenge posed by Keefe (2007) to the effect that CV entails that any speech report of what has been said by a particular vague utterance, where the context of utterance and the reporting context are relevantly different, will almost always be inaccurate. While this challenge is prima facie effective against Indexical CV it proves to be less effective against Non-Indexical CV. In §7, we look at two tests for context-sensitivity and assess whether they can be employed against CV. These tests, if cogent, reveal that the only workable form of CV is Non-Indexical CV. (shrink)
After a brief account of the problem of higher-order vagueness, and its seeming intractability, I explore what comes of the issue on a linguistic, contextualist account of vagueness. On the view in question, predicates like ‘borderline red’ and ‘determinately red’ are, or at least can be, vague, but they are different in kind from ‘red’. In particular, ‘borderline red’ and ‘determinately red’ are not colours. These predicates have linguistic components, and invoke notions like ‘competent user of the language’. On my (...) view, so-called ‘higher-order vagueness’ is actually ordinary, ﬁrst-order vagueness in different predicates. I explore the possibility that, nevertheless, a pernicious regress ensues. (shrink)
Imagine you had the functions of your smartphone miniaturized to a cellular level and accessible by your neural network. Reflection on this possibility suggests that we should not just concern ourselves with whether our knowledge is extending “out” to our devices; our devices are extending in, and with them, possibly the information that they bring. If so, then the question of whether knowledge is “extended” becomes wrapped up with the question of whether knowing is something we do, or something we (...) can share with, or outsource to, instruments. And that in turn raises the two questions of this paper: First, to what extent does such technology put pressure on the idea that we might have more than one conception of knowledge? And second, what is the value of states that fit these conceptions of knowledge? (shrink)
One of the key roles of the English National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is technology appraisal. This essentially involves evaluating the cost effectiveness of pharmaceutical products and other technologies for use within the National Health Service. Based on a content analysis of key documents which shed light on the nature of appraisals, this paper draws attention to the multiple layers of uncertainty and complexity which are latent within the appraisal process, and the often socially constructed mechanisms for (...) tackling these. Epistemic assumptions, bounded rationality and more explicitly relational forms of managing knowledge are applied to this end. These findings are discussed in the context of the literature highlighting the inherently social process of regulation. A framework is developed which posits the various forms of uncertainty, and responses to these, as potential conduits of regulatory bias—in need of further research. That NICE’s authority is itself regulated by other actors within the regulatory regime, particularly the pharmaceutical industry, exposes it to the threat of regulatory capture. Following Lehoux, it is concluded that a more transparent and reflexive format for technological appraisals is necessary. This would enable a more robust, defensible form of decision-making and moreover enable NICE to preserve its legitimacy in the midst of pressures which threaten this. (shrink)