Can only science deliver genuine knowledge about the world and ourselves? Is science our only guide to what exists? Scientism answers both questions with yes. Scientism is increasingly influential in popular scientific literature and intellectual life in general, but philosophers have hitherto largely ignored it. This collection is one of the first to develop and assess scientism as a serious philosophical position. It features twelve new essays by both proponents and critics of scientism. Before scientism can be evaluated, it needs (...) to be clear what it is. Hence, the collection opens with essays that provide an overview of the many different versions of scientism and their mutual interrelations. Next, several card-carrying proponents of scientism make their case, either by developing and arguing directly for their preferred version of scientism or by responding to objections. Then, the floor is given to critics of scientism. It is examined whether scientism is epistemically vicious, whether scientism presents a plausible general epistemological outlook and whether science has limits. The final four essays zoom out and connect scientism to ongoing debates elsewhere in philosophy. What does scientism mean for religious epistemology? What can science tell us about morality and is a scientistic moral epistemology plausible? How is scientism related to physicalism? And is experimental philosophy really a form of scientism tailored to philosophy? (shrink)
Ever since at least Aristotle, it has been widely recognized that a theory of responsibility must allow for the fact that in certain conditions agents are excused for not doing what they ought to do —and accordingly that they cannot be held responsible for what they did not, or did, do. In such conditions they are not appropriate candidates for one of what Strawson has called the "reactive attitudes" such as resentment, contempt, gratitude, and affection. Let us call such conditions (...) excusing conditions. The main aim of this paper is to show that the very same conditions that can excuse agents for not doing what they ought to do , also can excuse them for having false beliefs. As an afterthought it is suggested that this is a reason for thinking that humans can sometimes be held responsible for what they believe. (shrink)
This paper argues that next to the now widely recognized ‘externalist’ elements, Reid’s thought about belief with positive epistemic status contains a number of so-far unrecognized ‘internalist’ features. This claim is substantiated by (1) identifying a number of conditions that Reid holds beliefs of various sorts must satisfy if they are to have positive epistemic status, and by (2) arguing that, for Reid, many of these conditions are internal conditions. The conclusion is that the externalist and internalist elements in Reid (...) form a coherent whole and that his position can, with some qualification, be classified as the conjunction of weak externalism and weak internalism. (shrink)
Widely acknowledged as the principal architect of Scottish common sense philosophy, Thomas Reid is increasingly recognized today as one of the finest philosophers of the eighteenth century. Combining a sophisticated response to the skeptical and idealist views of his day, Reid's thought stands as an important alternative to Humean skepticism, Kantian idealism and Cartesian rationalism. This volume is the first comprehensive overview of Reid's output and covers not only his philosophy in detail, but also his scientific work and his extensive (...) historical influence. (shrink)
We present a Reformed view on the relation between Christianity and non-Christian religions. We then explore what this view entails for the question whether Christians and non-Christian religious believers refer to, believe in, and worship the same God. We first analyze the concepts of worship, belief-in, and reference, as well as their interrelations. We then argue that adherents of the Abrahamic religions plausibly refer to the same God, whereas adherents of non-Abrahamic religions do not refer to this God. Nonetheless, it (...) would be wrong to say that adherents of all Abrahamic religions believe in and worship the same God. (shrink)
Contrastivism is the claim that the knowledge relation is ternary, it relates three relata: a subject, a proposition, and a class of contrastive propositions. The present paper is a discussion of Jonathan Schaffer’s arguments in favour of contrastivism. The case is made that these are unconvincing: the traditional binary account of knowledge can handle the phenomena that ternarity is claimed to handle in a superior way.
Common-sense philosophy is important because it maintains that we can know many things about the world, about ourselves, about morality, and even about things of a metaphysical nature. The tenets of common-sense philosophy, while in some sense obvious and unsurprising, give rise to powerful arguments that can shed light on fundamental philosophical issues, including the perennial problem of scepticism and the emerging challenge of scientism. This Companion offers an exploration of common-sense philosophy in its many forms, tracing its development as (...) a concept and considering the roles it has been assigned to play throughout the history of philosophy. Containing fifteen newly commissioned chapters from leading experts in the history of philosophy, epistemology, the philosophy of science, moral philosophy and metaphysics, the volume will be an essential guide for students and scholars hoping to gain a greater understanding of the value and enduring appeal of common-sense philosophy. (shrink)
The idea that we can properly be held responsible for what we believe underlies large stretches of our social and institutional life; without that idea in place, social and institutional life would be unthinkable, and more importantly, it would stumble and fall. At the same time, philosophers have argued that this idea is strange, puzzling, beyond belief, false, meaningless or at any rate defective. The first section develops the alleged problem. The burden of this paper, however, is not to discuss (...) the merits of this idea but rather to measure the damage in case the idea turns out to be defective indeed. This is done by substantiating the claim that this idea indeed underlies large and important stretches of our social and institutional life. Section 2 substantiates that claim by presenting the results of a web search on the use of what I call "deontological epistemic expressions", i.e. expressions in which deontological and epistemological notions (both broadly construed) are combined; examples are "obligation to believe", "not permitted to forget", "right to know". The ubiquitous use of these expressions, I argue, is linguistic evidence for the claim that the contested idea indeed pervades our social life. Linguistic evidence, however, can be frail and misleading. From the fact that we say that the shade is moving we cannot conclude that shades really exist; likewise it may not be permitted to conclude from the ubiquitous use of deontological epistemic expressions that there really are doxastic obligations (and hence doxastic responsibilities). The third section, therefore, moves beyond the linguistic evidence and discusses two social institutions, viz. education and law as we find them in modern Western societies, and argues that they cannot be made sense of unless the contested idea is in place. Educational and legal systems of course vary greatly throughout the Western world. Such differences as exist, however, are irrelevant for the claim I will be making in this paper. The final section states the conclusion. (shrink)
In this paper, we explore different possible explanations for research misconduct (especially falsification and fabrication), and investigate whether they are compatible. We suggest that to explain research misconduct, we should pay attention to three factors: (1) the beliefs and desires of the misconductor, (2) contextual affordances, (3) and unconscious biases or influences. We draw on the three different narratives (individual, institutional, system of science) of research misconduct as proposed by Sovacool to review six different explanations. Four theories start from the (...) individual: Rational Choice theory, Bad Apple theory, General Strain Theory and Prospect Theory. Organizational Justice Theory focuses on institutional factors, while New Public Management targets the system of science. For each theory, we illustrate the kinds of facts that must be known in order for explanations based on them to have minimal plausibility. We suggest that none can constitute a full explanation. Finally, we explore how the different possible explanations interrelate. We find that they are compatible, with the exception of explanations based on Rational Choice Theory and Prospect Theory respectively, which are incompatible with one another. For illustrative purposes we examine the case of Diederik Stapel. (shrink)
Various tests have been proposed as helps to identify intrinsic properties. This paper compares three prominent tests and shows that they fail to pass adequate verdicts on a set of three properties. The paper examines whether improved versions of the tests can reduce or remove these negative outcomes. We reach the sceptical conclusion that whereas some of the tests must be discarded as inadequate because they don’t yield definite results, the remaining tests depend for their application on the details of (...) fundamental particle physics so much so that they cannot be relied upon. (shrink)
Degree‐sentences, i.e. sentences that seem to refer to things that allow of degrees, are widely used both inside and outside of philosophy, even though the metaphysics of degrees is much of an untrodden field. This paper aims to fill this lacuna by addressing the following four questions: [A] Is there some one thing, such that it is degree sensitive? [B] Are there things x, y, and z that stand in a certain relation to each other, viz. the relation that x (...) has more y than z? [C] In those cases in which degree sentences do not refer to phenomena that are degree sensitive, what is responsible for their prima facie seeming to do so? [D] If there are degree sensitive things, to which ontological categories do they belong? We answer each of these questions by arguing that there are, metaphysically speaking, different phenomena that degree sentences refer to: some refer to determinates that emanate from a certain determinable, others to tokens that are instantiations of a certain type, and yet others to what we call ‘complex, resultant properties that are constituted by stereotypical properties’. Finally, we show the relevance of our answers by applying them to the notions of freedom and belief. (shrink)
It has recently been argued that the following Rule should be part of any characterization of science: Claims concerning specific disputed facts should be endorsed only if they are sufficiently supported by the application of validated methods of research or discovery, and moreover that acceptance of this Rule should lead one to reject religious belief. This paper argues, first, that the Rule, as stated, should not be accepted as it suffers from a number of problems. And second, that even if (...) the Rule were to be acceptable, it should not lead one to reject religious belief. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to state the nature of the humanities, contrasting them with the natural sciences. I argue that, compared with the natural sciences, the humanities have their own objects, their own aims, and their own methods.
Degree-sentences, i.e. sentences that seem to refer to things that allow of degrees, are widely used both inside and outside of philosophy, even though the metaphysics of degrees is much of an untrodden field. This paper aims to fill this lacuna by addressing the following four questions: [A] Is there some one thing, such that it is degree sensitive? [B] Are there things x, y, and z that stand in a certain relation to each other, viz. the relation that x (...) has more y than z? [C] In those cases in which degree sentences do not refer to phenomena that are degree sensitive, what is responsible for their prima facie seeming to do so? [D] If there are degree sensitive things, to which ontological categories do they belong? We answer each of these questions by arguing that there are, metaphysically speaking, different phenomena that degree sentences refer to: some refer to determinates that emanate from a certain determinable, others to tokens that are instantiations of a certain type, and yet others to what we call ‘complex, resultant properties that are constituted by stereotypical properties’. (shrink)
Rob Lovering has recently argued that since theists have been unable, by means of philosophical arguments, to convince 85 percent of professional philosophers that God exists, at least one of their defining beliefs must be either false or meaningless. This paper is a critical examination of his argument. First we present Lovering’s argument and point out its salient features. Next we explain why the argument’s conclusion is entirely acceptable for theists, even if, as we show, there are multiple problems with (...) the premises. (shrink)
Contextualists explain certain intuitions regarding knowledge ascriptions by means of the thesis that 'knowledge' behaves like an indexical. This explanation denies what Peter Unger has called invariantism, i.e., the idea that knowledge ascriptions have truth value independent of the context in which they are issued. This paper aims to provide an invariantist explanation of the contextualist's intuitions, the core of which is that 'knowledge' has many different senses.
We are ignorant knowers. This paper proposes an information theoretic explanation of that fact. The explanation is a conjunction of three claims. First, that even in those dimensions where we are capable of picking up information, there is information that we don’t pick up. Second, that there can be dimensions of information for which we lack the capacity to pick up any information whatsoever. Third, that we don’t know whether the faculties and cognitive capacities we are endowed with process all (...) the information that they pick up. (shrink)
This paper derives, from Richard Moran’s work, three different accounts of doxastic Transparency—roughly, the view that when a rational person wants to know whether she believes that p, she directs her attention to the truth-value of p, not to the mental attitude she has vis-à-vis p. We investigate which of these is the most plausible of the three by discussing a number of examples. We conclude that the most plausible account of Transparency is in tension with the motivation behind Transparency (...) accounts: it is disconnected from the deliberative stance. (shrink)
The humanistic disciplines aim to offer explanations of a wide variety of phenomena. Philosophical theories of explanation have focused mostly on explanations in the natural sciences; a much discussed theory of explanation is the causal theory of explanation. Recently it has come to be recognized that the sciences sometimes offer respectable explanations that are non-causal. This paper broadens the discussion by discussing explanations that are offered in the fields of history, linguistics, literary theory, and archaeology that do not seem to (...) fit the causal theory of explanation. We conducted an exploratory survey in acclaimed humanities textbooks to find explicitly so-called explanations and analyze their nature. The survey suggests that non-causal explanations are an integral part of the humanities and that they are of distinct kinds. This paper describes three kinds that are suggested by our survey: teleological, formal, and normative explanations. We suggest that such humanistic explanations strengthen the case for explanatory pluralism. (shrink)
This article is a discussion of Hume's maxim Nothing we imagine is absolutely impossible. First I explain this maxim and distinguish it from the principle Whatever cannot be imagined (conceived), is impossible. Next I argue that Thomas Reid's criticism of the maxim fails and that the arguments by Tamar Szábo Gendler and John Hawthorne for the claim that "it is uncontroversial that there are cases where we are misled" by the maxim are unconvincing. Finally I state the limited but real (...) value of the maxim: it does help us, in certain cases, reliably to make up our minds. Along the way I show that Reid, his criticism of the maxim notwithstanding, actually employs it, and I furthermore argue that the principle What is inconceivable, is impossible is spurious. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 69 - 90 It is often claimed that, as a result of scientific progress, we now _know_ that the natural world displays no design. Although we have no interest in defending design hypotheses, we will argue that establishing claims to the effect that we know the denials of design hypotheses is more difficult than it seems. We do so by issuing two skeptical challenges to design-deniers. The first challenge draws inspiration from radical skepticism (...) and shows how design claims are at least as compelling as radical skeptical scenarios in undermining knowledge claims, and in fact probably more so. The second challenge takes its cue from skeptical theism and shows how we are typically not in an epistemic position to rule out design. (shrink)
This paper aims to throw light on what predicative expressions like "is a(n) truth," where an adjective is inserted on the line, mean. It aims to do so by unearthing a framework that specifies (i) various items that can be qualified by the adjectives, as well as (ii) various ways in which the adjectives perform their qualifying function. This framework forms the background against which, in the second half of this paper, the meaning of "is a relative truth" and "is (...) an absolute truth" are studied. This paper, then, studies what alethic adjectives mean and how they work. (shrink)
This paper argues, first, that biological evolution can be both random and divinely guided at the same time. Next it discusses the idea that the claim that evolution is unguided is not part of the science of evolution, and defends it against a number of objections.
At the same time new versions of foundationalism were crafted, that were claimed to be immune to the earlier criticisms. This volume contains 12 papers in which various aspects of this dialectic are covered.
This paper argues that Reid's first principle of design can be more widely accepted then one might suppose, due to the fact that it specifies no marks of design. Also it is explicated that the relation of the principle, on the one hand, and properly basic design beliefs on the other, is a relation of presupposition. It is furthermore suggested that Reid's discussion of what can be done in case of disagreement about first principles points to a position that is (...) relevant to the current debates in the Epistemology of Disagreement literature and that merits further elaboration. (shrink)
This chapter narrates in broad strokes the history of theodicy. Starting with an indication how Biblical texts have functioned in theodical thinking, it discusses the key ideas of Irenaeus (soul‐making), St. Augustine (free will), Leibniz (best of all possible worlds), Joseph Butler (imperfect comprehension of God's governance), Hegel (cunning of Reason), C.S. Lewis (God's megaphone), Ewing (principle of organic unities), Plantinga (felix culpa), and Swinburne (greater goods).
This paper deals with Dooyeweerd's radical thesis, i.e., his thesis that reason necessarily has a 'religious root' . This thesis was Dooyeweerd's main justification for his own religious philosophy. First I argue that the arguments Dooyeweerd puts forward do not warrant his radical thesis. Secondly, I argue that Dooyeweerd's thesis itself is ambivalent between the theses that religious commitments form the transcendental conditions for philosophical thinking and that religious commitments are constitutive for philosophy and that religious commitments are regulative for (...) philosophy. Each of these interpretations, I argue, is exposed to serious objections and leads to what Vincent Brummer has called 'the dilemma of a Christian philosophy'. I argue that Brummers solution for this dilemma is untenable. Since Dooyeweerd's radical thesis is untenable as it stands, so is his justification of his project of a 'Christian philosophy' ; and since Brummers solution to the dilemma is untenable as well, so is his justification of that project. In the last section of this paper I offer an alternative justification for such a project. The central concept therein is 'properly functioning noetic faculties'. (shrink)
‘Modal aspect’ is a central notion in so-called ‘Calvinistic Philosophy’. To be sure, this is true of only one of its versions, namely Dooyeweerd’s. For Vollenhoven’s systematic philosophy, which of course may also lay claim on the title CP, has no use for it. In his version pride of place is given to the notion of ‘function’. This paper is a meditation on the question what ‘aspects’ and ‘functions’, within the bounds of CP, are supposed to be. Doing so will (...) shed, I hope, at least some light on the question which, if any, of the two is the more intelligible and useful notion. Right at the beginning I should like to make it clear that this paper is narrowly focussed on the indicated questions. My aim is not to discuss any theory about modal aspects, such as Dooyeweerd’s theory that modal aspects are refractions in time of something supra temporal, or his theory that there is an Archimedian Point from which human beings can overlook the various modal aspects. Nor will I discuss any theory about functions. The indicated questions seek to establish what the phenomena are that such theories are about. This paper is also narrowly focussed in that whatever differences may turn out to exist in the course of this meditation between Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd, it will not discuss them in any depth. A serious discussion of these differences will have to take into account the theories that I propose presently not to deal with. Let me now turn to the first question. (shrink)
Common sense philosophy holds that widely and deeply held beliefs are justified in the absence of defeaters. While this tradition has always had its philosophical detractors who have defended various forms of skepticism or have sought to develop rival epistemological views, recent advances in several scientific disciplines claim to have debunked the reliability of the faculties that produce our common sense beliefs. At the same time, however, it seems reasonable that we cannot do without common sense beliefs entirely. Arguably, science (...) and the scientific method are built on, and continue to depend on, common sense. This collection of essays debates the tenability of common sense in the face of recent challenges from the empirical sciences. It explores to what extent scientific considerations--rather than philosophical considerations--put pressure on common sense philosophy. The book is structured in a way that promotes dialogue between philosophers and scientists. Noah Lemos, one of the most influential contemporary advocates of the common sense tradition, begins with an overview of the nature and scope of common sense beliefs, and examines philosophical objections to common sense and its relationship to scientific beliefs. Then, the volume features essays by scientists and philosophers of science who discuss various proposed conflicts between commonsensical and scientific beliefs: the reality of space and time, about the nature of human beings, about free will and identity, about rationality, about morality, and about religious belief. Notable philosophers who embrace the common sense tradition respond to these essays to explore the connection between common sense philosophy and contemporary debates in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, physics, and psychology. (shrink)
This paper argues for the claim that belief is involuntary. Evidence in favour of it comes from various thought experiments. However, other thought experiments might be taken to indicate that belief is not involuntary (thought experiments regarding such policies as the policy to consider only evidence in favour of a claim and to neglect contrary evidence, or the policy to join a group of believers in a claim, or the policy to apply some form of self-suggestion). It is argued that (...) none of these thought experiments should lead one to reject the main claim of this paper. Some evidence from empirical psychology, viz. the evidence in favour of the phenomenon of “motivated reasoning”, may be thought to undermine some of my arguments in favour of the claim that belief is involuntary. It is argued that this is not the case. Some other type of evidence from psychology, viz. the evidence related to the unconscious, by contrast, may be thought to support the claim that belief is involuntary. It is argued that this is only partially so. (shrink)