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Robin McKenna
University of Liverpool
  1. Absolutism, Relativism and Metaepistemology.J. Adam Carter & Robin McKenna - 2019 - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    This paper is about two topics: metaepistemological absolutism and the epistemic principles governing perceptual warrant. Our aim is to highlight – by taking the debate between dogmatists and conservativists about perceptual warrant as a case study – a surprising and hitherto unnoticed problem with metaepistemological absolutism, at least as it has been influentially defended by Paul Boghossian (2006a) as the principal metaepistemological contrast point to relativism. What we find is that the metaepistemological commitments at play on both sides of this (...)
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  2. Skepticism Motivated: On the Skeptical Import of Motivated Reasoning.J. Adam Carter & Robin McKenna - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    Empirical work on motivated reasoning suggests that our judgments are influenced to a surprising extent by our wants, desires and preferences (Kahan 2016; Lord, Ross, and Lepper 1979; Molden and Higgins 2012; Taber and Lodge 2006). How should we evaluate the epistemic status of beliefs formed through motivated reasoning? For example, are such beliefs epistemically justified? Are they candidates for knowledge? In liberal democracies, these questions are increasingly controversial as well as politically timely (Beebe et al. 2018; Lynch forthcoming, 2018; (...)
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  3.  52
    Assertion, Action, and Context.Robin McKenna & Michael Hannon - forthcoming - Synthese:1-13.
    A common objection to both contextualism and relativism about knowledge ascriptions is that they threaten knowledge norms of assertion and action. Consequently, if there is good reason to accept knowledge norms of assertion or action, there is good reason to reject both contextualism and relativism. In this paper we argue that neither contextualism nor relativism threaten knowledge norms of assertion or action.
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  4. Normative Scorekeeping.Robin McKenna - 2014 - Synthese 191 (3):607-625.
    Epistemic contextualists think that the truth-conditions of ‘knowledge’ ascriptions depend in part on the context in which they are uttered. But what features of context play a role in determining truth-conditions? The idea that the making salient of error possibilities is a central part of the story has often been attributed to contextualists, and a number of contextualists seem to endorse it (see Cohen (Philos Perspect, 13:57–89, 1999) and Hawthorne, (Knowledge and lotteries, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004)). In this paper (...)
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  5. Sosa Versus Kornblith on Grades of Knowledge.J. Adam Carter & Robin McKenna - forthcoming - Synthese.
    In a series of works Ernest Sosa (see Sosa 1991, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017) has defended the view that there are two kinds or ‘grades’ of knowledge, animal and reflective. One of the most persistent critics of Sosa’s attempts to bifurcate knowledge is Hilary Kornblith (see Kornblith 2004, 2009, 2012). Our aim in this paper is to outline and evaluate Kornblith’s criticisms. We will argue that, while they raise a range of difficult (exegetical and substantive) questions about Sosa’s (...)
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  6. The Genealogical Method in Epistemology.Martin Kusch & Robin McKenna - forthcoming - Synthese 197 (3):1057-1076.
    In 1990 Edward Craig published a book called Knowledge and the State of Nature in which he introduced and defended a genealogical approach to epistemology. In recent years Craig’s book has attracted a lot of attention, and his distinctive approach has been put to a wide range of uses including anti-realist metaepistemology, contextualism, relativism, anti-luck virtue epistemology, epistemic injustice, value of knowledge, pragmatism and virtue epistemology. While the number of objections to Craig’s approach has accumulated, there has been no sustained (...)
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  7. Situating Feminist Epistemology.Natalie Alana Ashton & Robin McKenna - 2020 - Episteme 17 (1):28-47.
    Feminist epistemologies hold that differences in the social locations of inquirers make for epistemic differences, for instance, in the sorts of things that inquirers are justified in believing. In this paper we situate this core idea in feminist epistemologies with respect to debates about social constructivism. We address three questions. First, are feminist epistemologies committed to a form of social constructivism about knowledge? Second, to what extent are they incompatible with traditional epistemological thinking? Third, do the answers to these questions (...)
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  8. Persuasion and Epistemic Paternalism.Robin McKenna - forthcoming - In Guy Axtell & Amiel Bernal (eds.), Epistemic Paternalism: Conceptions, Justifications, and Implications. Rowman & Littlefield.
    Many of us hold false beliefs about matters that are relevant to public policy such as climate change and the safety of vaccines. What can be done to rectify this situation? This question can be read in two ways. According to the descriptive reading, it concerns which methods will be effective in persuading people that their beliefs are false. According to the normative reading, it concerns which methods we are permitted to use in the service of persuading people. Some effective (...)
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  9. The Genealogy of Relativism and Absolutism.Martin Kusch & Robin McKenna - 2018 - In Christos Kyriacou & Robin McKenna (eds.), Metaepistemology: Realism and Anti-Realism. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 217-239.
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  10. Irrelevant Cultural Influences on Belief.Robin McKenna - 2019 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 36 (5):755-768.
    Recent work in psychology on ‘cultural cognition’ suggests that our cultural background drives our attitudes towards a range of politically contentious issues in science such as global warming. This work is part of a more general attempt to investigate the ways in which our wants, wishes and desires impact on our assessments of information, events and theories. Put crudely, the idea is that we conform our assessments of the evidence for and against scientific theories with clear political relevance to our (...)
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  11. Epistemic Contextualism Defended.Robin McKenna - 2015 - Synthese 192 (2):363-383.
    Epistemic contextualists think that the extension of the expression ‘knows’ depends on and varies with the context of utterance. In the last 15 years or so this view has faced intense criticism. This paper focuses on two sorts of objections. The first are what I call the ‘linguistic objections’, which purport to show that the best available linguistic evidence suggests that ‘knows’ is not context-sensitive. The second is what I call the ‘disagreement problem’, which concerns the behaviour of ‘knows’ in (...)
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  12. Revisionary Epistemology.Davide Fassio & Robin McKenna - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):755-779.
    What is knowledge? What should knowledge be like? Call an epistemological project that sets out to answer the first question ‘descriptive’ and a project that sets out to answer the second question ‘normative’. If the answers to these two questions don’t coincide—if what knowledge should be like differs from what knowledge is like—there is room for a third project we call ‘revisionary’. A revisionary project starts by arguing that what knowledge should be differs from what knowledge is. It then proposes (...)
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  13. The Disappearance of Ignorance.Robin McKenna - forthcoming - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism:1-17.
    Keith DeRose’s new book The Appearance of Ignorance (TAI) is a welcome companion volume to his 2009 book The Case for Contextualism (TCC). Where TCC focused on contextualism as a view in the philosophy of language, TAI focuses on how contextualism contributes to our understanding of (and solution to) some perennial epistemological problems, with the skeptical problem being the main focus of six of the seven chapters. DeRose’s view is that a solution to the skeptical problem must do two things. (...)
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  14. Epistemic Contextualism: A Normative Approach.Robin McKenna - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (1):101-123.
    In his Knowledge and Practical Interests Jason Stanley argues that the view he defends, which he calls interest-relative invariantism, is better supported by certain cases than epistemic contextualism. In this article I argue that a version of epistemic contextualism that emphasizes the role played by the ascriber's practical interests in determining the truth-conditions of her ‘knowledge’ ascriptions – a view that I call interests contextualism – is better supported by Stanley's cases than interest-relative invariantism or other versions of epistemic contextualism. (...)
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  15. Pragmatic Encroachment and Feminist Epistemology.Robin McKenna - forthcoming - In Natalie Alana Ashton, Martin Kusch, Robin McKenna & Katharina Sodoma (eds.), Social Epistemology and Epistemic Relativism. Routledge.
    Pragmatic encroachers argue that whether you know that p depends on a combination of pragmatic and epistemic factors. Most defenses of pragmatic encroachment focus on a particular pragmatic factor: how much is at stake for an individual. This raises a question: are there reasons for thinking that knowledge depends on other pragmatic factors that parallel the reasons for thinking that knowledge depends on the stakes? In this paper I argue that there are parallel reasons for thinking that knowledge depends on (...)
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  16. ‘Knowledge’ Ascriptions, Social Roles and Semantics.Robin McKenna - 2013 - Episteme 10 (4):335-350.
    The idea that the concept ‘knowledge’ has a distinctive function or social role is increasingly influential within contemporary epistemology. Perhaps the best-known account of the function of ‘knowledge’ is that developed in Edward Craig’s Knowledge and the state of nature (1990, OUP), on which (roughly) ‘knowledge’ has the function of identifying good informants. Craig’s account of the function of ‘knowledge’ has been appealed to in support of a variety of views, and in this paper I’m concerned with the claim that (...)
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  17. Shifting Targets and Disagreements.Robin McKenna - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):725-742.
    Many have rejected contextualism about ?knows? because the view runs into trouble with intra- and inter-contextual disagreement reports. My aim in this paper is to show that this is a mistake. First, I outline four desiderata for a contextualist solution to the problem. Second, I argue that two extant solutions to the problem fail to satisfy the desiderata. Third, I develop an alternative solution which satisfies the four desiderata. The basic idea, put roughly, is that ?knowledge? ascriptions serve the function (...)
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  18. Pluralism About Knowledge.Robin McKenna - 2017 - In Annalisa Coliva & Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding Pedersen (eds.), Epistemic Pluralism. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 171-198.
    In this paper I consider the prospects for pluralism about knowledge, that is, the view that there is a plurality of knowledge relations. After a brief overview of some views that entail a sort of pluralism about knowledge, I focus on a particular kind of knowledge pluralism I call standards pluralism. Put roughly, standards pluralism is the view that one never knows anything simpliciter. Rather, one knows by this-or-that epistemic standard. Because there is a plurality of epistemic standards, there is (...)
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  19. No Epistemic Trouble for Engineering ‘Woman’.Robin McKenna - 2018 - Logos and Episteme 9 (3):335-342.
    In a recent article in this journal, Mona Simion argues that Sally Haslanger’s “engineering” approach to gender concepts such as ‘woman’ faces an epistemic objection. The primary function of all concepts—gender concepts included—is to represent the world, but Haslanger’s engineering account of ‘woman’ fails to adequately represent the world because, by her own admission, it doesn’t include all women in the extension of the concept ‘woman.’ I argue that this objection fails because the primary function of gender concepts—and social kind (...)
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  20. Conversational Kinematics.Robin McKenna - 2017 - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism. Routledge. pp. 321-331.
  21.  49
    Epistemic Contextualism: A Normative Approach.Robin McKenna - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Edinburgh
    I develop and argue for a version of epistemic contextualism - the view that the truth-values of ‘knowledge’ ascriptions depend upon and vary with the context in which they are uttered - that emphasises the roles played by both the practical interests of those in the context and the epistemic practices of the community of which they are part in determining the truth-values of their ‘knowledge’ ascriptions. My favoured way of putting it is that the truth of a ‘knowledge’ ascription (...)
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  22.  62
    Relativism and Externalism.J. Adam Carter & Robin McKenna - forthcoming - In Martin Kusch (ed.), Routledge Handbook to Relativism. London, U.K.: Routledge.
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  23. Interests Contextualism.Robin McKenna - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (4):741-750.
    In this paper I develop a version of contextualism that I call interests contextualism. Interests contextualism is the view that the truth-conditions of knowledge ascribing and denying sentences are partly determined by the ascriber’s interests and purposes. It therefore stands in opposition to the usual view on which the truth-conditions are partly determined by the ascriber’s conversational context. I give an argument against one particular implementation of the usual view, differentiate interests contextualism from other prominent versions of contextualism and argue (...)
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  24. Contextualism in Epistemology.Robin McKenna - 2015 - Analysis 75 (3):489-503.
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  25. Epistemic Contextualism, Epistemic Relativism and Disagreement.Robin McKenna - 2012 - Philosophical Writings.
    In the recent philosophy of language literature there is a debate over whether contextualist accounts of the semantics of various terms can accommodate intuitions of disagreement in certain cases involving those terms. Relativists such as John MacFarlane have claimed that this motivates adopting a form of relativist semantics for these terms because the relativist can account for the same data as contextualists but doesn’t face this problem of disagreement (MacFarlane 2005, 2007 and 2009). In this paper I focus on the (...)
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  26.  33
    Extended Epistemology.Robin McKenna - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):790-799.
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  27. Why Assertion and Practical Reasoning Are Possibly Not Governed by the Same Epistemic Norm.Robin McKenna - 2013 - Logos and Episteme 4 (4):457-464.
    This paper focuses on Martin Montminy’s recent attempt to show that assertion and practical reasoning are necessarily governed by the same epistemic norm (“Why assertion and practical reasoning must be governed by the same epistemic norm”, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly [2013]). I show that the attempt fails. I finish by considering the upshot for the recent debate concerning the connection between the epistemic norms of assertion and practical reasoning.
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  28. Assertion, Complexity, and Sincerity.Robin McKenna - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):782-798.
    The target of this paper is the ‘simple’ knowledge account of assertion, according to which assertion is constituted by a single epistemic rule of the form ‘One must: assert p only if one knows p’. My aim is to argue that those who are attracted to a knowledge account of assertion should prefer what I call the ‘complex’ knowledge account, according to which assertion is constituted by a system of rules all of which are, taken together, constitutive of assertion. One (...)
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  29. Clifford and the Common Epistemic Norm.Robin McKenna - 2016 - American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (3):245-258.
    This paper develops a “Cliffordian” argument for a common epistemic norm governing belief, action, and assertion. The idea is that beliefs are the sorts of things that lead to actions and assertions. What each of us believes influences what we act on and assert, and in turn influences what those around us believe, act on, and assert. Belief, action, and assertion should be held to a common epistemic norm because, otherwise, this system will become contaminated. The paper finishes by drawing (...)
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  30. Disagreeing About 'Ought'.Robin McKenna - 2014 - Ethics 124 (3):589-597.
    In their ‘Metaethical contextualism defended’ (Ethics, 2010) Gunnar Björnsson & Stephen Finlay argue that metaethical contextualism - roughly, the view that 'ought' claims are semantically incomplete and require supplementation by certain parameters provided by the context in which they are uttered - can deal with two influential problems. The first concerns the connection between deliberation and advice (the 'practical integration problem'). The second concerns the way in which the expression ‘ought’ behaves in intra- and inter-contextual disagreement reports (the 'semantic assessment (...)
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  31.  12
    Vices of the Mind: From the Intellectual to the Political, by Quassim Cassam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. Xiv + 202 Pp. ISBN:9780198826903 Hb £25. [REVIEW]Robin McKenna - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 27 (4):1084-1087.
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    By Quassim CassamVices of the Mind: From the Intellectual to the Political. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. Xiv + 202 Pp. ISBN 9780198826903 Hb £25. [REVIEW]Robin McKenna - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    European Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  33. The Unity of Linguistic Meaning, by John Collins. Oxford: Oxford. [REVIEW]Allan Hazlett, Robin Mckenna & Joey Pollock - 2012 - Mind 121 (483):483.
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  34.  50
    Reliabilism and Relativism.Robin McKenna - 2015 - In Proceedings of the 38th International Wittgenstein Society Conference.
    Process reliabilism says that a belief is justified iff the belief-forming process that produced it is sufficiently reliable. But any token belief-forming process is an instance of a number of different belief-forming process types. The problem of specifying the relevant type is known as the ‘generality problem’ for process reliabilism. This paper proposes a broadly relativist solution to the generality problem. The thought is that the relevant belief-forming process type is relative to the context. While the basic idea behind the (...)
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  35. Review of Brown and Cappelen, Assertion (Oxford University Press). [REVIEW]Allan Hazlett, Robin McKenna & Joey Pollock - 2012 - Mind 121 (483):784-788.
  36.  27
    Action, Knowledge, and Will By John Hyman. [REVIEW]Robin McKenna - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):667-670.
    _Action, Knowledge, and Will_By HymanJohnOxford University Press, 2015. 255 pp. £35.00.
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    Metaepistemology and Relativism. [REVIEW]Robin McKenna - 2017 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 7 (3):212-216.
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  38. Social Epistemology and Epistemic Relativism.Natalie Alana Ashton, Robin McKenna, Katharina Anna Sodoma & Martin Kusch (eds.) - forthcoming - Routledge.
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  39. Metaepistemology: Realism & Antirealism.Christos Kyriacou & Robin McKenna (eds.) - 2018 - Palgrave Macmillan.
     
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