According to process reliabilism, a belief produced by a reliable belief forming process is justified. I introduce problems for this theory on any account of reliability. Does the performance of a process in some domain of worlds settle its reliability? The theories that answer ‘‘Yes’’ typically fail to state the temporal parameters of this performance. I argue that any theory paired with any plausible parameters has implausible implications. The theories that answer ‘‘No,’’ I argue, thereby lack essential support (...) and exacerbate familiar problems. There are new reasons to avoid any reliability conditions on justification. (shrink)
Reliabilists hold that a belief is doxastically justified if and only if it is caused by a reliable process. But since such a process is one that tends to produce a high ratio of true to false beliefs, reliabilism is on the face of it applicable to binary beliefs, but not to degrees of confidence or credences. For while beliefs admit of truth or falsity, the same cannot be said of credences in general. A natural question now arises: Can (...) class='Hi'>reliability theories of justified belief be extended or modified to account for justified credence? In this paper, I address this question. I begin by showing that, as it stands, reliabilism cannot account for justified credence. I then consider three ways in which the reliabilist may try to do so by extending or modifying her theory, but I argue that such attempts face certain problems. After that, I turn to a version of reliabilism that incorporates evidentialist elements and argue that it allows us to avoid the problems that the other theories face. If I am right, this gives reliabilists a reason, aside from those given recently by Comesaña and Goldman, to move towards such a kind of hybrid theory. (shrink)
A measure of coherence is said to be reliability conducive if and only if a higher degree of coherence (as measured) results in a higher likelihood that the witnesses are reliable. Recently, it has been proved that several coherence measures proposed in the literature are reliability conducive in a restricted scenario (Olsson and Schubert 2007, Synthese 157:297–308). My aim is to investigate which coherence measures turn out to be reliability conducive in the more general scenario where it (...) is any finite number of witnesses that give equivalent reports. It is shown that only the so-called Shogenji measure is reliability conducive in this scenario. I take that to be an argument for the Shogenji measure being a fruitful explication of coherence. (shrink)
Striving for a probabilistic explication of coherence, scholars proposed a distinction between agreement and striking agreement. In this paper I argue that only the former should be considered a genuine concept of coherence. In a second step the relation between coherence and reliability is assessed. I show that it is possible to concur with common intuitions regarding the impact of coherence on reliability in various types of witness scenarios by means of an agreement measure of coherence. Highlighting the (...) need to separate the impact of coherence and specificity on reliability it is finally shown that a recently proposed vindication of the Shogenji measure qua measure of coherence vanishes. (shrink)
A measure of coherence is said to be reliability conducive if and only if a higher degree of coherence (asmeasured) of a set of testimonies implies a higher probability that the witnesses are reliable. Recently, it has been proved that the Shogenji measure of coherence is reliability conducive in restricted scenarios (e.g., Olsson and Schubert, Synthese, 157:297–308, 2007). In this article, I investigate whether the Shogenji measure, or any other coherence measure, is reliability conducive in general. An (...) impossibility theorem is proved to the effect that this is not the case. I conclude that coherence is not reliability conducive. (shrink)
We often evaluate belief-forming processes, agents, or entire belief states for reliability. This is normally done with the assumption that beliefs are all-or-nothing. How does such evaluation go when we’re considering beliefs that come in degrees? I consider a natural answer to this question that focuses on the degree of truth-possession had by a set of beliefs. I argue that this natural proposal is inadequate, but for an interesting reason. When we are dealing with all-or-nothing belief, high reliability (...) leads to high levels of truth-possession. However, when it comes to degrees of belief, reliability and truth-possession part ways. The natural answer thus fails to be a good way to evaluate degrees of belief for reliability. I propose and develop an alternative method based on the notion of calibration, suggested by Frank Ramsey, which does not have this problem and consider why we should care about such assessments of reliability even if they are not tied directly to truth-possession. (shrink)
Assessment in ethics education faces a challenge. From the perspectives of teachers, students, and third-party evaluators like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and the National Institutes of Health, assessment of student performance is essential. Because of the complexity of ethical case analysis, however, it is difficult to formulate assessment criteria, and to recognize when students fulfill them. Improvement in students’ moral reasoning skills can serve as the focus of assessment. In previous work, Rosa Lynn Pinkus and Claire Gloeckner (...) developed a novel instrument for assessing moral reasoning skills in bioengineering ethics. In this paper, we compare that approach to existing assessment techniques, and evaluate its validity and reliability. We find that it is sensitive to knowledge gain and that independent coders agree on how to apply it. (shrink)
Rumors, for better or worse, are an important element of public discourse. The present paper focuses on rumors as an epistemic phenomenon rather than as a social or political problem. In particular, it investigates the relation between the mode of transmission and the reliability, if any, of rumors as a source of knowledge. It does so by comparing rumor with two forms of epistemic dependence that have recently received attention in the philosophical literature: our dependence on the testimony of (...) others, and our dependence on what has been called the ‘coverage-reliability’ of our social environment (Goldberg 2010). According to the latter, an environment is ‘coverage-reliable’ if, across a wide range of beliefs and given certain conditions, it supports the following conditional: If ~p were true I would have heard about it by now. However, in information-deprived social environments with little coverage-reliability, rumors may transmit information that could not otherwise be had. This suggests that a trade-off exists between levels of trust in the coverage-reliability of official sources and (warranted) trust in rumor as a source of information. (shrink)
This article investigates whether investors consider the reliability of companies’ sustainability information when determining the companies’ market value. Specifically, we examine market reactions (in terms of abnormal returns) to events that increase the reliability of companies’ sustainability information but do not provide markets with additional sustainability information. Controlling for competing effects, we regard companies’ additions to an internationally important sustainability index as such events and consider possible determinants for market reactions. Our results suggest that first, investors take into (...) account the reliability of sustainability information when determining the market value of a company and second, the benefits of increased reliability of sustainability information vary cross-sectionally. More specifically, companies that carry higher risks for investors (e.g., higher systematic investment risk, higher financial leverage, and higher levels of opportunistic management behavior) react more strongly to an increase in the reliability of sustainability information. Finally, we show that the benefits of an increase in the reliability of sustainability information are higher in times of economic uncertainty (e.g., during economic downturns and generally high stock price volatilities). (shrink)
Aims : The Modified Reasons for Smoking Scale (MRSS) is a widely accepted scale that measures psychological functions of smoking. The scale has been translated in Dutch and has been validated, in order to be used in clinical smoking cessation practice in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. This study examined the factorial structure, reliability and validity of the scale in a sample of smokers, who are characterized by a high level of dependence and an explicit motivation to stop smoking. (...) Method : The participants were 383 smokers, who volunteered at the stop-smoking clinic of a Belgian university hospital, and completed the translated scale. They were administered the translated MRSS, the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND). Through a clinical interview, smoking behaviour and smoking history was assessed (daily smoking consumption, years smoking, number of quit attempts, weeks stopped, alcohol and coffee consumption, CO level). Exploratory factor analysis was performed. Internal consistency was studied in order to examine the reliability. The concurrent validity was assessed by means of manova, anova and correlation analysis. Results : Factor analysis identified four factors, named stimulation, pleasure of smoking, social smoking and automatism of smoking. Cronbach's alpha ranged from 0.65 (automatism) to 0.72 (stimulation). manova indicated the influence of the variables age, sex, daily consumption and the FTND (the latter two variables showed a dose-dependent association with each subscale). Regression analysis revealed a relationship with dependence indicators, namely: the daily consumption, the number and duration of previous quit attempts, FTND, CO level and daily coffee intake. Conclusions : The Dutch translation of the MRSS identified four factors and revealed acceptable validity and reliability. The adapted version of the translated scale as a component of the psychological assessment procedure in a smoking cessation treatment in Dutch-speaking areas should be implemented. (shrink)
Some twenty years ago, Bogen and Woodward challenged one of the fundamental assumptions of the received view, namely the theory-observation dichotomy and argued for the introduction of the further category of scientific phenomena. The latter, Bogen and Woodward stressed, are usually unobservable and inferred from what is indeed observable, namely scientific data. Crucially, Bogen and Woodward claimed that theories predict and explain phenomena, but not data. But then, of course, the thesis of theory-ladenness, which has it that our observations are (...) influenced by the theories we hold, cannot apply. On the basis of two case studies, I want to show that this consequence of Bogen and Woodward’s account is rather unrealistic. More importantly, I also object against Bogen and Woodward’s view that the reliability of data, which constitutes the precondition for data-to-phenomena inferences, can be secured without the theory one seeks to test. The case studies I revisit have figured heavily in the publications of Bogen and Woodward and others: the discovery of weak neutral currents and the discovery of the zebra pattern of magnetic anomalies. I show that, in the latter case, data can be ignored if they appear to be irrelevant from a particular theoretical perspective (TLI) and that, in the former case, the tested theory can be critical for the assessment of the reliability of the data (TLA). I argue that both TLI and TLA are much stronger senses of theory-ladenness than the classical thesis and that neither TLI nor TLA can be accommodated within Bogen and Woodward’s account. (shrink)
The documented low levels of reliability of the peer review process present a serious challenge to editors who must often base their publication decisions on conflicting referee recommendations. The purpose of this article is to discuss this process and examine ways to produce a more reliable and useful peer review system.
The formal representation of the strength of witness testimony has been historically tied to a formula — proposed by Condorcet — that uses a factor representing the reliability of an individual witness. This approach encourages a false dilemma between hyper-scepticism about testimony, especially to extraordinary events such as miracles, and an overly sanguine estimate of reliability based on insufficiently detailed evidence. Because Condorcet’s formula does not have the resources for representing numerous epistemically relevant details in the unique situation (...) in which testimony is given, many late 19th century thinkers like Venn turned away from the probabilistic analysis of testimony altogether. But a more nuanced approach using Bayes factors provides a better, more flexible, formalism for representing the evidential force of testimony. (shrink)
With respect to the confirmation of mathematical propositions, proof possesses an epistemological authority unmatched by other means of confirmation. This paper is an investigation into why this is the case. I make use of an analysis drawn from an early reliability perspective on knowledge to help make sense of mathematical proofs singular epistemological status.
In this article, I shall examine some of the issues and questions involved in the technology of autonomous robots, a technology that has developed greatly and is advancing rapidly. I shall do so with reference to a particularly critical field: autonomous military robotic systems. In recent times, various issues concerning the ethical implications of these systems have been the object of increasing attention from roboticists, philosophers and legal experts. The purpose of this paper is not to deal with these issues, (...) but to show how the autonomy of those robotic systems, by which I mean the full automation of their decision processes, raises difficulties and also paradoxes that are not easy to solve. This is especially so when considering the autonomy of those robotic systems in their decision processes alongside their reliability. Finally, I would like to show how difficult it is to respond to these difficulties and paradoxes by calling into play a strong formulation of the precautionary principle. (shrink)
Conceivability is an important source of our beliefs about what is possible; inconceivability is an important source of our beliefs about what is impossible. What are the connections between the reliability of these sources? If one is reliable, does it follow that the other is also reliable? The central contention of this paper is that suitably qualified the reliability of inconceivability implies the reliability of conceivability, but the reliability of conceivability fails to imply the reliability (...) of inconceivability. (shrink)
We consider the procedure for small-sample estimation of reliability parameters. The main shortcomings of the classical methods and the Bayesian approach are analyzed. Models that find robust Bayesian estimates are proposed. The sensitivity of the Bayesian estimates to the choice of the prior distribution functions is investigated using models that find upper and lower bounds. The proposed models reduce to optimization problems in the space of distribution functions.
Scanlon’s Being Realistic about Reasons (BRR) is a beautiful book – sleek, sophisticated, and programmatic. One of its key aims is to demystify knowledge of normative and mathematical truths. In this article, I develop an epistemological problem that Scanlon fails to explicitly address. I argue that his “metaphysical pluralism” can be understood as a response to that problem. However, it resolves the problem only if it undercuts the objectivity of normative and mathematical inquiry.
Many philosophers believe that when a theory is committed to an apparently unexplainable massive correlation, that fact counts significantly against the theory. Philosophical theories that imply that we have knowledge of non-causal mind-independent facts are especially prone to this objection. Prominent examples of such theories are mathematical Platonism, robust normative realism and modal realism. It is sometimes thought that theists can easily respond to this sort of challenge and that theism therefore has an epistemic advantage over atheism. In this paper, (...) I will argue that, contrary to widespread thought, some versions of theism only push the challenge one step further and thus are in no better position than atheism. (shrink)
Standard characterizations of virtue epistemology divide the field into two camps: virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism. Virtue reliabilists think of intellectual virtues as reliable cognitive faculties or abilities, while virtue responsibilists conceive of them as good intellectual character traits. I argue that responsibilist character virtues sometimes satisfy the conditions of a reliabilist conception of intellectual virtue, and that consequently virtue reliabilists, and reliabilists in general, must pay closer attention to matters of intellectual character. This leads to several new questions and (...) (...) challenges for any reliabilist epistemology. (shrink)
Non-skeptical robust realists about normativity, mathematics, or any other domain of non- causal truths are committed to a correlation between their beliefs and non- causal, mind-independent facts. Hartry Field and others have argued that if realists cannot explain this striking correlation, that is a strong reason to reject their theory. Some consider this argument, known as the Benacerraf–Field argument, as the strongest challenge to robust realism about mathematics, normativity, and even logic. In this article I offer two closely related accounts (...) for the type of explanation needed in order to address Field's challenge. I then argue that both accounts imply that the striking correlation to which robust realists are committed is explainable, thereby discharging Field's challenge. Finally, I respond to some objections and end with a few unresolved worries. (shrink)
The paper addresses the evaluation of climate models and gives an overview of epistemic uncertainties in climate modeling; the uncertainties concern the data situation as well as the causal behavior of the climate system. In order to achieve reasonable results nonetheless, multimodel ensemble studies are employed in which diverse models simulate the future climate under different emission scenarios. The models jointly deliver a robust range of climate prognoses due to a broad plurality of theories, techniques, and methods in climate research; (...) the range reliably indicates the future development of the global climate. Nevertheless, the uncertainties are widely used by skeptics to challenge the IPCC’s prognoses. Such skeptical allegations can well be distinguished from points of fruitful epistemological criticism: in spite of the enduring range of prognoses, the epistemic uncertainties should not play a role in finding agreements on climate change mitigation. (shrink)
A tempting argument for human rationality goes like this: it is more conducive to survival to have true beliefs than false beliefs, so it is more conducive to survival to use reliable belief-forming strategies than unreliable ones. But reliable strategies are rational strategies, so there is a selective advantage to using rational strategies. Since we have evolved, we must use rational strategies. In this paper I argue that some criticisms of this argument offered by Stephen Stich fail because they rely (...) on unsubstantiated interpretations of some results from experimental psychology. I raise two objections to the argument: (i) even if it is advantageous to use rational strategies, it does not follow that we actually use them; and (ii) natural selection need not favor only or even primarily reliable belief-forming strategies. (shrink)
In das paper 1 ccmstder the rehabday condaton in Atm PlanungaS's proper functionabst account of eptstemtc warrant I begm by reviewing m some detail the features of the rehabdity condition as Planunga lias aruculated a From there, 1 consider what is needed to ground or secure the sort of rehability whzch Plantinga has m mind, and argue that what is needed is a significant causai condam which has generally been overlooked Then, after identifying eight verstons of the relevant sort of (...) reltabdity, I exam me each alternative as to whether as requirement, along with PlanungaSs other proposed conditions, would give us a sausfactory account of epis tenuc warrant I conclude that there is bale to no hope of formulatmg a rehabilay condaion that would yield a sattsfactory analysts of the sort Plantinga destres. (shrink)