What is the best account of process reliabilism about epistemic justification, especially epistemic entitlement? I argue that entitlement consists in the normal functioning (proper operation) of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Etiological functions involve consequence explanation: a belief-forming process has forming true beliefs reliably as a function just in case forming-true beliefs reliably partly explains the persistence of the process. This account paves the way for avoiding standard objections to process (...) reliabilism and situations epistemic entitlement within a normative framework of functions and functional norms. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga argues by counterexample that no naturalistic account of functions is possible--God is then the only source for natural functions. This paper replies to Plantinga's examples and arguments. Plantinga misunderstands naturalistic accounts. Plantinga's mistakes flow from his assimilation of functional notions in general to functions from intentional design in particular.
There is a debate in normative ethics about whether or not our moral obligations depend solely on either our evidence concerning, or our beliefs about, the world. Subjectivists maintain that they do and objectivists maintain that they do not. I shall offer some arguments in support of objectivism and respond to the strongest argument for subjectivism. I shall also briefly consider the significance of my discussion to the debate over whether one’s future voluntary actions are relevant to one’s current moral (...) obligations. (shrink)
In this paper I sketch an account of moral blame and blameworthiness. I begin by clarifying what I take blame to be and explaining how blameworthiness is to be analyzed in terms of it. I then consider different accounts of the conditions of blameworthiness and, in the end, settle on one according to which a person is blameworthy for φ-ing just in case, in φ-ing, she violates one of a particular class of moral requirements governing the attitudes we bear, and (...) our mental orientation, toward people and other objects of significant moral worth. These requirements embody the moral stricture that we accord to these others a sufficient level of respect, one that their moral worth demands. This is a familiar theme which has its roots in P. F. Strawson’s pioneering views on moral responsibility. My development of it leads me to the conclusion that acting wrongly is not a condition of blameworthiness: violating a moral requirement to perform, or refrain from performing, an action is neither necessary nor sufficient for being blameworthy. All we are ever blameworthy for, I will argue, are certain aspects of our mental bearing toward others. We can be said to be blameworthy for our actions only derivatively, in the sense that those actions are the natural manifestations of the things for which we are strictly speaking blameworthy. (shrink)
Epistemic defeat is standardly understood in either evidentialist or responsibilist terms. The seminal treatment of defeat is an evidentialist one, due to John Pollock, who famously distinguishes between undercutting and rebutting defeaters. More recently, an orthogonal distinction due to Jennifer Lackey has become widely endorsed, between so-called doxastic (or psychological) and normative defeaters. We think that neither doxastic nor normative defeaters, as Lackey understands them, exist. Both of Lackey’s categories of defeat derive from implausible assumptions about epistemic responsibility. Although Pollock’s (...) evidentialist view is superior, the evidentialism per se can be purged from it, leaving a general structure of defeat that can be incorporated in a reliabilist theory that is neither evidentialist nor responsibilist in any way. (shrink)
A principle that many have found attractive is one that goes by the name “'Ought' Implies 'Can'.” According to this principle, one morally ought to do something only if one can do it. This essay has two goals: to show that the principle is false and to undermine the motivations that have been offered for it. Toward the end, a proposal about moral obligation according to which something like a restricted version of 'Ought' Implies 'Can' is true is floated. Though (...) no full-fledged argument for this proposal is offered, that it fits with a rather natural and intuitive picture of the structure of morality and seems to explain certain salient features of the debate over whether the principle is true, goes some way toward recommending it. (shrink)
This chapter examines how epistemic norms could be social norms, with a reliance on work on the philosophy and social science of social norms from Bicchieri (on the one hand) and Brennan, Eriksson, Goodin and Southwood (on the other hand). We explain how the social ontology of social norms can help explain the rationality of epistemic cooperation, and how one might begin to model epistemic games.
This paper argues for the general proper functionalist view that epistemic warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Such a process is reliable in normal conditions when functioning normally. This paper applies this view to so-called testimony-based beliefs. It argues that when a hearer forms a comprehension-based belief that P (a belief based on taking another to have asserted that P) through the exercise of a (...) reliable competence to comprehend and filter assertive speech acts, then the hearer's belief is prima facie warranted. The paper discusses the psychology of comprehension, the function of assertion, and the evolution of filtering mechanisms, especially coherence checking. (shrink)
Tyler Burge first introduced his distinction between epistemic entitlement and epistemic justification in ‘Content Preservation’ in 1993. He has since deployed the distinction in over twenty papers, changing his formulation around 2009. His distinction and its basis, however, is not well understood in the literature. This chapter distinguishes two uses of ‘entitlement’ in Burge, and then focuses on his distinction between justification and entitlement, two forms of warrant, where warrants consists in the exercise of a reliable belief-forming competence. Since he (...) draws the distinction in terms of reasons, this chapter brings his account of reasons altogether in one place. The chapter introduces a decision-procedure for classifying warrants as justifications or entitlements. The distinction between justification and entitlement is not the same as the inferential vs. non-inferential distinction. The chapter distinguishes inference from processing, thinking, reasoning, and critically reasoning. Burge’s new formulation of the distinction was driven by the recognition of non-accessible modular reasons. Three kinds of access are distinguished. (shrink)
I hold that epistemic warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Evolution by natural selection is the central source of etiological functions. This leads many to think that on my view warrant requires a history of natural selection. What then about learning? What then about Swampman? Though functions require history, natural selection is not the only source. Self-repair and trial-and-error learning are both sources. Warrant requires (...) history, but not necessarily that much. (shrink)
How should we undertand the role of norms—especially epistemic norms—governing assertive speech acts? Mitchell Green (2009) has argued that these norms play the role of handicaps in the technical sense from the animal signals literature. As handicaps, they then play a large role in explaining the reliability—and so the stability (the continued prevalence)—of assertive speech acts. But though norms of assertion conceived of as social norms do indeed play this stabilizing role, these norms are best understood as deterrents and not (...) as handicaps. This paper explains the stability problem for the maintenance of animal signals, and so human communication, for we are animals too, after all; the mechanics of the handicap principle; the role of deterrents and punishments as an alternative mechanism; and the role of social norms governing assertion for the case of human communication. (shrink)
We review the "Entitlement" projects of Tyler Burge and Crispin Wright in light of recent work from and surrounding both philosophers. Our review dispels three misunderstandings. First, Burge and Wright are not involved in a common “entitlement” project. Second, though for both Wright and Burge entitlement is the new notion, “entitlement” is not some altogether third topic not clearly connected to the nature of knowledge or the encounter with skepticism. Third, entitlement vs. justification does not align with the externalism vs. (...) internalism distinction. (shrink)
What is the biological function of perception? I hold perception, especially visual perception in humans, has the biological function of accurately representing the environment. Tyler Burge argues this cannot be so in Origins of Objectivity (Oxford, 2010), for accuracy is a semantical relationship and not, as such, a practical matter. Burge also provides a supporting example. I rebut the argument and the example. Accuracy is sometimes also a practical matter if accuracy partly explains how perception contributes to survival and reproduction.
Many hold that perception is a source of epistemically basic (direct) belief: for justification, perceptual beliefs do not need positive inferential support from other justified beliefs, especially from beliefs about one’s current sensory episodes. Perceptual beliefs can, however, be defeated or undermined by other things one believes, and so to be justified in the end there must be no undefeated undermining grounds. Similarly for memory and introspection.1..
This paper is a beginning—an initial attempt to think of the function and character of epistemic norms as a kind of social norm. We draw on social scientific thinking about social norms and the social games to which they respond. Assume that people individually follow epistemic norms for the sake of acquiring a stock of true beliefs. When they live in groups and share information with each other, they will in turn produce a shared store of true beliefs, an epistemic (...) public good. True beliefs, produced individually or in groups, constitute an epistemic good—one commonly stockpiled and distributed within a community. Epistemic norms can then be understood as a kind of socially developed and transmitted normative sensibility having to do with the production of this individual and public good. Epistemic norms should serve to regulate this practice—coordinating the practice of individuals so as to afford the benefits of life in an interdependent epistemic community—and to manage the risks of being epistemically dependent on others within such a community. Here, we provide some attempts to characterize the central aspects of "the epistemic game"—the epistemic choice situation confronted by communities of epistemic agents. (shrink)
Moran's book is sure to be widely read. It does more to bring to light the moral psychology characteristic of tellings understood as assurances than any other work I know. His book raises challenges for other views, introduces interesting and evocative distinctions, and puts together in one place Moran's sustained reflections on the way we provide others a distinctive kind of reason for belief though normatively binding ourselves though the exchange of words. I agree that assurances and acceptances in Moran's (...) sense play a part in a total understanding of the epistemology of testimony. But I do not agree they cover the whole terrain. There is much more to the metaphysics and epistemology of testimony still to explore. (shrink)
Jennifer Lackey ('Testimonial Knowledge and Transmission' The Philosophical Quarterly 1999) and Peter Graham ('Conveying Information, Synthese 2000, 'Transferring Knowledge' Nous 2000) offered counterexamples to show that a hearer can acquire knowledge that P from a speaker who asserts that P, but the speaker does not know that P. These examples suggest testimony can generate knowledge. The showpiece of Lackey's examples is the Schoolteacher case. This paper shows that Lackey's case does not undermine the orthodox view that testimony cannot generate knowledge. (...) This paper explains why Lackey's arguments to the contrary are ineffective for they misunderstand the intuitive rationale for the view that testimony cannot generate knowledge. This paper then elaborates on a version of the case from Graham's paper 'Conveying Information' (the Fossil case) that effectively shows that testimony can generate knowledge. This paper then provides a deeper informative explanation for how it is that testimony transfers knowledge, and why there should be cases where testimony generates knowledge. (shrink)
Does epistemic justification aim at truth? The vast majority of epistemologists instinctively answer 'Yes'; it's the textbook response. Joseph Cruz and John Pollock surprisingly say no. In 'The Chimerical Appeal of Epistemic Externalism' they argue that justification bears no interesting connection to truth; justification does not even aim at truth. 'Truth is not a very interesting part of our best understanding' of justification (C&P 2004, 137); it has no 'connection to the truth.' A 'truth-aimed ... epistemology is not entitled to (...) carry the day' (C&P 2004, 138, emphasis added).Pollock and Cruz's argument for this surprising conclusion is of general interest for it is 'out of step with a very common view on the .. (shrink)
In 'Perceptual Entitlement' (PPR 2003), Tyler Burge argues that on his teleological reliabilist account of perceptual warrant, warrant will persist in non-normal conditions, even radical skeptical scenarios like demon worlds. This paper explains why Burge's explanation falls short. But if we distinguish two grades of warrant, we can explain, in proper functionalist, teleological reliabilist terms, why warrant should persist in demon worlds. A normally functioning belief-forming process confers warrant in all worlds, provided it is reliable in normal conditions when functioning (...) normally. The first grade requires normal functioning. The second grade also requires being situated in normal conditions. (shrink)
This paper states three counterexamples to the claim that testimony cannot generate knowledge, that a hearer can only acquire testimonial knowledge from a speaker who knows: a twins case, the fossil case, and an inversion case. The paper provides an explanation for why testimony can generate knowledge. Testimonial knowledge involves the flow of information from a speaker to a hearer through the linguistic channel.
Anti-reductionists hold that beliefs based upon comprehension (of both force and content) of tellings are non-inferentially justified. For reductionists, on the other hand, comprehension as such is not in itself a warrant for belief: beliefs based on it are justified only if inferentially supported by other beliefs. I discuss Elizabeth Fricker's argument that even if anti-reductionism is right in principle, its significance is undercut by the presence of background inferential support: for mature knowledgeable adults, justification from comprehension as such plays (...) no active role, and is superseded by inferential warrant. I show that her argument begs important questions. Inferential and non-inferential support combine to over-determine the justification of comprehension-based beliefs. (shrink)
Alvin Goldman’s paper “What Is Justified Belief" and his book Epistemology and Cognition pioneered reliabilist theories of epistemic justifiedness. In light of counterexamples to necessity and counterexamples to sufficiency, Goldman has offered a number of refinements and modifications. This paper focuses on those refinements that relativize the justification conferring force of a belief-forming process to its reliably producing a high ratio of true beliefs over falsehoods in special circumstances: reliability in the actual world, in normal worlds, and in nonmanipulated environments. (...) This paper argues that Goldman’s refinements fall short and suggests instead the relativization to reliability in normal circumstances. Normal circumstances are those where the belief-forming process acquired the etiological function of reliably inducing true beliefs. This theory invites the Swampman objection. Two lines of response are pursued. (shrink)
C.A.J. Coady, in his book Testimony: A Philosophical Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), offers conditions on an assertion that p to count as testimony. He claims that the assertion that p must be by a competent speaker directed to an audience in need of evidence and it must be evidence that p. I offer examples to show that Coady’s conditions are too strong. Testimony need not be evidence; the speaker need not be competent; and, the statement need not be relevant (...) or directed to someone in need of evidence. I give alternative conditions. Coady was led into the stronger conditions by investigating testimony as it occurs in legal contexts, where special steps are taken to ensure that testimony provides the jury or the judge with evidence by a competent speaker that is relevant to the disputed question of the guilt or innocence of the defendant. (shrink)
Commonsense holds that testimony transfers knowledge from a speaker to the hearer. If the speaker has knowledge, then the hearer acquires it. Call that sufficiency. And a hearer acquires knowledge only if the speaker has it to transfer. Call that necessity. This article reviews counterexamples--and some replies to those counterexamples--to both claims.
Having an etiological function to F is sufficient to have a competence to F. Having an etiological function to reliably F is sufficient to have a reliable competence, a competence to reliably F. Epistemic warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Epistemic warrant requires reliable competence. Warrant divides into two grades. The first consists in normal functioning, when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as (...) an etiological function, so that it reliably produces true beliefs when in normal conditions, but need not be in normal conditions. The second grade requires the first, and presence in normal conditions, so that the chance of true belief is high. Why is warrant normative? Because when reliably forming true beliefs is a function, both grades meet evaluative norms that follow from that function. The paper ends by comparing Tyler Burge’s answer to this question from "Perceptual Entitlement" and "Entitlement: The Basis of Empirical Warrant". It is argued that Burge’s answer implausibly presupposes that all belief-forming processes—not just those with forming reliably true beliefs as an etiological function—should form reliably true beliefs. (shrink)
Table of Contents -/- 1. Introduction and Overview: Two Entitlement Projects, Peter J. Graham, Nikolaj J.L.L. Pedersen, Zachary Bachman, and Luis Rosa -/- Part I. Engaging Burge's Project -/- 2. Entitlement: The Basis of Empirical Warrant, Tyler Burge 3. Perceptual Entitlement and Scepticism, Anthony Brueckner and Jon Altschul 4. Epistemic Entitlement Its Scope and Limits, Mikkel Gerken 5. Why Should Warrant Persist in Demon Worlds?, Peter J. Graham -/- Part II. Extending the Externalist Project -/- 6. Epistemic Entitlement and Epistemic (...) Competence, Ernest Sosa 7. Extended Entitlement, Adam Carter and Duncan Pritchard 8. Moorean Pragmatics, Social Comparisons and Common Knowledge, Allan Hazlett 9. Internalism and Entitlement to Rules and Methods, Joshua Schecter -/- Part III. Engaging Wright's Project -/- 10. Full Bloodied Entitlement, Martin Smith 11. Pluralist Consequentialist Anti-Scepticism, Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen 12. Against (Neo-Wittensteinian) Entitlements, Annalisa Coliva 13. The Truth Fairy and the Indirect Consequentialist, Daniel Elstein and Carrie S. I. Jenkins 14. Knowledge for Nothing, Patrick Greenough . (shrink)
Radical skepticism about the external implies that no belief about the external is even prima facie justified. A theoretical reply to skepticism has four stages. First, show which theories of epistemic justification support skeptical doubts (show which theories, given other reasonable assumptions, entail skepticism). Second, show which theories undermine skeptical doubts (show which theories, given other reasonable assumptions, do not support the skeptic’s conclusion). Third, show which of the latter theories (which non-skeptical theory) is correct, and in so doing show (...) that all of the rival theories of justification, skeptical and non-skeptical alike, are mistaken. Fourth, explain why skeptical doubts are sometimes (or sometimes merely seem) intuitive, and thereby accommodate skeptical doubts without capitulation. Michael Williams has pioneered the very idea of a theoretical reply. A theoretical diagnosis consists in just the first two stages. An adequate reply, which is correct at each stage, would rebut the skeptic entirely. Williams’ own reply, I argue, is inadequate. I offer in its place an exhaustive and accurate diagnosis of skepticism. I distinguish four kinds of skepticism and five theories of justification. I then show which theories do, and which theories do not, support which kinds of skepticism. (shrink)
Perceptual entitlement and basic beliefs Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9603-3 Authors Peter J. Graham, University of California, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Are we entitled or justified in taking the word of others at face value? An affirmative answer to this question is associated with the views of Thomas Reid. Recently, C. A. J. Coady has defended a Reidian view in his impressive and influential book. Testimony: A Philosophical Study. His central and most Oliginal argument for his positions involves reflection upon the practice of giving and accepting reports, of making assertions and relying on the word of others. His argument purports to (...) show that testimony is, by its very nature, a “reliable form of evidence about the way the world is.” The argument moves from what we do to why we are justified in doing it. Although I am sympathetic with both the Reidian view and Coady’s attempt to connect why we rely on others with why we are entitled to rely on others, I find Coady’s argument ineffective. (shrink)
Reductionism about testimony holds that testimonial warrant or entitlement is just a species of inductive warrant. Anti-Reductionism holds that it is different from inductive but analogous to perceptual or memorial warrant. Perception receives much of its positive epistemic status from being reliably truthconducive in normal conditions. One reason to reject the epistemic analogy is that testimony involves agency – it goes through the will of the speaker – but perception does not. A speaker might always choose to lie or otherwise (...) deliberately mislead. It is argued that the force of this derives (in part) from Libertarianism about agency, and that Libertarianism, if it undermines the Anti-Reductionist explanation of why we are entitled to rely upon testimony, undermines the Reductionist explanation as.. (shrink)
According to the Acceptance Principle, a person is entitled to accept a proposition that is presented as true (asserted) and that is intelligible to him or her, unless there are stronger reasons not to. Burge assumes this Principle and then argues that it has an apriori justification, basis or rationale. This paper expounds Burge's teleological reliability framework and the details of his a priori justification for the Principle. It then raises three significant doubts.
In "Epistemic Norms and the 'Epistemic Game' They Regulate", we advance a general case for the idea that epistemic norms regulating the production of beliefs might usefully be understood as social norms. There, we drew on the influential account of social norms developed by Cristina Bicchieri, and we managed to give a crude recognizable picture of important elements of what are recognizable as central epistemic norms. Here, we consider much needed elaboration, suggesting models that help one think about epistemic communities (...) and, ultimately, the temptations confronted in one's epistemic life. We suggest that once "the epistemic game" is embedded into a wider set of gains and losses, one can understand the epistemic choice situation as a form of mixed-motive game. This allows one to understand epistemic games more straightforwardly using Bicchieri's framework for thinking about social norms. That is, once the choice situation denominated only in terms of classical epistemic gains and losses is embedded in a wider accounting of goods that may compete with the production of true beliefs, one can see how an agent's individual and community epistemic project can be furthered by social norms regulating epistemic practices. We recommend thinking of epistemic norms as analogous to social norms for hygiene. (shrink)
David Lewis has offered a reply to the standard argument for the claim that the truth of determinism is incompatible with anyone’s being able to do otherwise than she in fact does. Helen Beebee has argued that Lewis’s compatibilist strategy is untenable. In this paper I show that one recent attempt to defend Lewis’s view against this argument fails and then go on to offer my own defense of Lewis’s view.
The standard taxonomy of theories of epistemic justification generates four positions from the Foundationalism v. Coherentism and Internalism v. Externalism disputes. I develop a new taxonomy driven by two other distinctions: Fundamentalism v. Non-Fundamentalism and Actual-Result v. Proper-Aim conceptions of epistemic justification. Actual-Result theorists hold that a belief is justified only if, as an actual matter of fact, it is held or formed in a way that makes it more likely than not to be true. Proper-Aim theorists hold that a (...) belief is justified only if it is held or formed in a way that it proper or correct insofar as truth is the aim or norm. Fundamentalists hold that which particular ways of holding or forming beliefs that confer justification is knowable a priori; epistemic principles are a priori necessary truths. Non- Fundamentalists disagree; epistemic principles are empirical contingent truths. The new taxonomy generates four positions: Cartesianism, Reliabilism, Intuitionism, and Pragmatism. The first two are Actual-Result; the second two are Proper-Aim. The first and third are Fundamentalist, the second and fourth are Non-Fundamentalist. The new taxonomy illuminates much of the current debate in the theory of epistemic justification. (shrink)
I argue that Fischer’s attempts to undermine the “Ought” Implies “Can” principle (OIC) fail. I argue both against his construal of the natural motivation for OIC and against his argument for the falsity of OIC. I also consider some attempts to salvage Fischer’s arguments and argue that they can work only if the true moral theory is motive determinative--i.e., it is such that, necessarily, any action performed from a motive which renders one of the blame emotions appropriate is morally impermissible, (...) no matter what other features it has. But, as motive-determinative moral theories are implausible, Fischer’s arguments are not salvageable. (shrink)
The Mind Argument is an argument for the incompatibility of indeterminism and anyone's having a choice about anything that happens. Peter van Inwagen rejects the Mind Argument not because he is able to point out the flaw in it, but because he accepts both that determinism is incompatible with anyone's having a choice about anything that happens and that it is possible for someone to have a choice about something that happens. In this paper I first diagnose and clear up (...) a confusion in recent discussions of the Mind Argument and then go on to show why it is a bad argument. (shrink)
Normative ethical theories owe us an account of how to evaluate decisions under risk and uncertainty. Deontologists seem at a disadvantage here: our best decision theories seem tailor-made for consequentialism. For example, decision theory enjoins us to always perform our best option; deontology is more permissive. In this paper, we discuss and defend the idea that, when some pro-tanto wrongful act is all-things considered permissible, because it is a ‘lesser evil’, it is often merely permissible, by the lights of deontology. (...) We show that this raises new problems for deontological decision theory, and we show that to resolve them, we need to take a more innovative approach to morally evaluating decision-making under risk and uncertainty. (shrink)
Numbers Skeptics deny that when faced with a choice between saving some innocent people from harm and saving a larger number of different, though equally innocent, people from suffering a similar harm you ought to save the larger number. In this article, I aim to put pressure on Numbers Skepticism.
The case of very young children is a test case for the plausibility of reductionism about testimonial warrant. Reductionism requires reductive reasons, reductively justified and actively deployed for testimonial justification. Though nascent language-users enjoy warranted testimony based beliefs, they do not meet these three reductionist demands. This paper clearly formulates reductionism and the infant/child objection. Two rejoinders are discussed: an influential conceptual argument from Jennifer Lackey’s paper “Testimony and the Infant/Child Objection” and the growing empirical evidence from developmental psychology on (...) selective trust in children. Neither Lackey’s argument nor the empirical evidence vindicate reductionism. (shrink)