Traditional philosophical discussions of knowledge have focused on the epistemic status of full beliefs. In this book, Moss argues that in addition to full beliefs, credences can constitute knowledge. For instance, your .4 credence that it is raining outside can constitute knowledge, in just the same way that your full beliefs can. In addition, you can know that it might be raining, and that if it is raining then it is probably cloudy, where this knowledge is not knowledge of propositions, (...) but of probabilistic contents. -/- The notion of probabilistic content introduced in this book plays a central role not only in epistemology, but in the philosophy of mind and language as well. Just as tradition holds that you believe and assert propositions, you can believe and assert probabilistic contents. Accepting that we can believe, assert, and know probabilistic contents has significant consequences for many philosophical debates, including debates about the relationship between full belief and credence, the semantics of epistemic modals and conditionals, the contents of perceptual experience, peer disagreement, pragmatic encroachment, perceptual dogmatism, and transformative experience. In addition, accepting probabilistic knowledge can help us discredit negative evaluations of female speech, explain why merely statistical evidence is insufficient for legal proof, and identify epistemic norms violated by acts of racial profiling. Hence the central theses of this book not only help us better understand the nature of our own mental states, but also help us better understand the nature of our responsibilities to each other. (shrink)
This paper discusses internal dynamics of the firm that contribute to the failure of knowledge conditions, using the Enron scandal as a case study. Ability of the board to effectively monitor conduct at operational levels includes various dynamics: senior management being isolated from those at operational levels; individuals pursuing subgoals that are contrary to overall corporate goals; information flow along a narrow linear channel that effectively forecloses adverse information from getting to senior management; a corporate culture of intimidation, discouraging open (...) expressions of doubt or skepticism, resulting in reluctance to challenge senior officials, and pushing the limits of ethics and the law.Elements of information blockage in the corporation include: the "law of diminishing control"; deliberate concealment of information by officers; motivation to report to the boss what one perceives the boss wants to hear; theory of "bounded rationality" that explains surprising role of irrationality in decisionmaking – unconscious emotions and motivations. Discussion of behavioralist studies of cognitive dissonance, belief perseverance, confirmatory bias, entity effect, motivated reasoning, group cohesion or "groupthink," and the false consensus effect. Problem of overoptimism – tendency of many people to overrate their own abilities, contributions and talents – and tendency toward puffery and dismissal of risks in formulating disclosures and press releases. (shrink)
This paper identifies the ethical issues involved with women's advertising, and argues that ads can be successful in generating sales without portraying women as things or as mere sex objects, and without perpetuating various weakness stereotypes. A paradigm shift in advertising appears to be at hand. This new model replaces images of women as submissive or constantly in a need of alteration, with a move to reinstate beauty as a natural thing, not an unattainable ideal. This paper also reviews general (...) ethical issues of the advertising industry, including: (1) that advertising equates the pursuit of material gain with human happiness; (2) that advertising pushes its own values, artificial or false as they may be, as to what is "good" for the consumer; (3) that advertising plays on physical appetites and the body; (4) that advertising strives to bypass rational thinking, by desensitizing the viewer and playing on group dynamics. (shrink)
Generic generalizations such as ‘mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus’ or ‘sharks attack bathers’ are often accepted by speakers despite the fact that very few members of the kinds in question have the predicated property. Previous work suggests that such low-prevalence generalizations may be accepted when the properties in question are dangerous, harmful, or appalling. This paper argues that the study of such generic generalizations sheds light on a particular class of prejudiced social beliefs, and points to new ways in (...) which those beliefs might be undermined and combatted. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that when we assign different credences to a proposition, a perfect compromise between our opinions simply ‘splits the difference’ between our credences. I introduce and defend an alternative account, namely that a perfect compromise maximizes the average of the expected epistemic values that we each assign to alternative credences in the disputed proposition. I compare the compromise strategy I introduce with the traditional strategy of compromising by splitting the difference, and I argue that my strategy is (...) a reasonable characterization of epistemic compromise. (shrink)
This chapter defines and defends time-slice epistemology, according to which there are no essentially diachronic norms of rationality. The chapter begins by distinguishing two notions of time-slice epistemology, and ends by defending time-slice theories of action under indeterminacy, i.e. theories about how you should act when the outcome of your decision depends on some indeterminate claim. In a recent chapter, J. Robert G. Williams defends a theory of action under indeterminacy which is subject to several objections. An alternative theory is (...) proposed in its place. The resulting discussion highlights a more general moral about action under indeterminacy, namely that time-slice theories are supported by strong analogies with ethical theories. In particular, our understanding of agents torn between interpretations of a decision situation should be guided by our theories of agents torn between incommensurable values. (shrink)
This paper defends an account of full belief, including an account of its relationship to credence. Along the way, I address several familiar and difficult questions about belief. Does fully believing a proposition require having maximal confidence in it? Are rational beliefs closed under entailment, or does the preface paradox show that rational agents can believe inconsistent propositions? Does whether you believe a proposition depend partly on your practical interests? My account of belief resolves the tension between conflicting answers to (...) these questions that have been defended in the literature. In addition, my account complements fruitful probabilistic theories of assertion and knowledge. (shrink)
Since Mill's seminal work On Liberty, philosophers and political theorists have accepted that we should respect the decisions of individual agents when those decisions affect no one other than themselves. Indeed, to respect autonomy is often understood to be the chief way to bear witness to the intrinsic value of persons. In this book, Sarah Conly rejects the idea of autonomy as inviolable. Drawing on sources from behavioural economics and social psychology, she argues that we are so often irrational (...) in making our decisions that our autonomous choices often undercut the achievement of our own goals. Thus in many cases it would advance our goals more effectively if government were to prevent us from acting in accordance with our decisions. Her argument challenges widely held views of moral agency, democratic values and the public/private distinction, and will interest readers in ethics, political philosophy, political theory and philosophy of law. (shrink)
We have been teaching gender issues and feminist theory for many years, and we know that there is certainly a diversity of views among women, and men, about what counts as feminist or as good for women. Some may see a competent woman running for V.P as inevitably a step forward for women's equality. But consider this.
In this incisive study Sarah Broadie gives an argued account of the main topics of Aristotle's ethics: eudaimonia, virtue, voluntary agency, practical reason, akrasia, pleasure, and the ethical status of theoria. She explores the sense of "eudaimonia," probes Aristotle's division of the soul and its virtues, and traces the ambiguities in "voluntary." Fresh light is shed on his comparison of practical wisdom with other kinds of knowledge, and a realistic account is developed of Aristototelian deliberation. The concept of pleasure (...) as value-judgment is expounded, and the problem of akrasia is argued to be less of a problem to Aristotle than to his modern interpreters. Showing that the theoretic ideal of Nicomachean Ethics X is in step with the earlier emphasis on practice, as well as with the doctrine of the Eudemian Ethics, this work makes a major contribution towards the understanding of Aristotle's ethics. (shrink)
This paper develops a precise understanding of the thesis of moral encroachment, which states that the epistemic status of an opinion can depend on its moral features. In addition, I raise objections to existing accounts of moral encroachment. For instance, many accounts fail to give sufficient attention to moral encroachment on credences. Also, many accounts focus on moral features that fail to support standard analogies between pragmatic and moral encroachment. Throughout the paper, I discuss racial profiling as a case study, (...) arguing that moral encroachment can help us identify one respect in which racial profiling is epistemically problematic. (shrink)
Der protestantische Theologe Karl Girgensohn ist 1903 mit seinem frühen Werk über das Wesen der Religion an die Öffentlichkeit getreten, welches einen starken religionsphilosophischen Standpunkt zum Ausdruck bringt. Kernüberlegung ist hierbei eine kognitive Theorie des Religiösen, in der die Gottesidee zentral ist. Unter Berücksichtigung der Biographie Girgensohns geht der vorliegende Beitrag auf diese frühe Studie zum Wesen der Religion ein und skizziert den Übergang des Autors von einem philosophischen zu einem experimentell-introspektiven Ansatz der Religiositätsforschung, welcher dann zum Fundament für die (...) Dorpater religionspsychologische Schule wurde. Basierend auf Girgensohns frühem Werk werden abschließend Implikationen für die heutige empirische Theologie vorgeschlagen.The Protestant theologian Karl Girgensohn came to the public in 1903 with his early work on the nature of religion, which expresses a strong religious-philosophical standpoint. The core consideration here is a cognitive theory of the religious, in which the idea of God is central. Taking into account Girgensohn’s biography, the present contribution addresses this early study on the nature of religion and outlines the author’s transition from a philosophical to an experimental-introspective approach to religious research, which then became the foundation for the Dorpat School of the psychology of religion. Based on Girgensohn’s early work, implications for contemporary empirical theology are finally proposed. (shrink)
This paper motivates and develops a novel semantics for several epistemic expressions, including possibility modals and indicative conditionals. The semantics I defend constitutes an alternative to standard truth conditional theories, as it assigns sets of probability spaces as sentential semantic values. I argue that what my theory lacks in conservatism is made up for by its strength. In particular, my semantics accounts for the distinctive behavior of nested epistemic modals, indicative conditionals embedded under probability operators, and instances of constructive dilemma (...) containing epistemic vocabulary. (shrink)
Ducks lay eggs' is a true sentence, and `ducks are female' is a false one. Similarly, `mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus' is obviously true, whereas `mosquitoes don't carry the West Nile virus' is patently false. This is so despite the egg-laying ducks' being a subset of the female ones and despite the number of mosquitoes that don't carry the virus being ninety-nine times the number that do. Puzzling facts such as these have made generic sentences defy adequate semantic treatment. (...) However complex the truth conditions of generics appear to be, though, young children grasp generics more quickly and readily than seemingly simpler quantifiers such as `all' and `some'. I present an account of generics that not only illuminates the strange truth conditions of generics, but also explains how young children find them so comparatively easy to acquire. I then argue that generics give voice to our most cognitively primitive generalizations and that this hypothesis accounts for a variety of facts ranging from acquisition patterns to cross-linguistic data concerning the phonological articulation of operators. I go on to develop an account of the nature of these cognitively fundamental generalizations and argue that this account explains the strange truth-conditional behavior of generics. (shrink)
One of the main themes that has emerged from behavioral decision research during the past three decades is the view that people's preferences are often constructed in the process of elicitation. This idea is derived from studies demonstrating that normatively equivalent methods of elicitation (e.g., choice and pricing) give rise to systematically different responses. These preference reversals violate the principle of procedure invariance that is fundamental to all theories of rational choice. If different elicitation procedures produce different orderings of options, (...) how can preferences be defined and in what sense do they exist? This book shows not only the historical roots of preference construction but also the blossoming of the concept within psychology, law, marketing, philosophy, environmental policy, and economics. Decision making is now understood to be a highly contingent form of information processing, sensitive to task complexity, time pressure, response mode, framing, reference points, and other contextual factors. (shrink)
This paper argues that just as full beliefs can constitute knowledge, so can properties of your credence distribution. The resulting notion of probabilistic knowledge helps us give a natural account of knowledge ascriptions embedding language of subjective uncertainty, and a simple diagnosis of probabilistic analogs of Gettier cases. Just like propositional knowledge, probabilistic knowledge is factive, safe, and sensitive. And it helps us build knowledge-based norms of action without accepting implausible semantic assumptions or endorsing the claim that knowledge is interest-relative.
In a volume devoted to philosophy, religion and the spiritual life, I would like to focus the later part of my essay on a comparison of two Christian spiritual writings of the fourteenth century, the anonymous Cloud of Unknowing in the West, and the Triads of Gregory Palamas in the Byzantine East. Their examples, for reasons which I shall explain, seem to me rich with implications for some of our current philosophical and theological aporias on the nature of the self. (...) Let me explain my thesis in skeletal form at the outset, for it is a complex one, and has several facets. (shrink)
Confabulation is a symptom central to many psychiatric diagnoses and can be severely debilitating to those who exhibit the symptom. Theorists, scientists, and clinicians have an understandable interest in the nature of confabulation—pursuing ways to define, identify, treat, and perhaps even prevent this memory disorder. Appeals to confabulation as a clinical symptom rely on an account of memory’s function from which cases like the above can be contrasted. Accounting for confabulation is thus an important desideratum for any candidate theory of (...) memory. Many contemporary memory theorists now endorse Constructivism, where memory is understood as a capacity for constructing plausible representations of past events. Constructivism’s aim is to account for and normalize the prevalence of memory errors in everyday life. Errors are plausible constructions that, on a particular occasion have led to error. They are not, however, evidence of malfunction in the memory system. While Constructivism offers an uplifting repackaging of the memory errors to which we are all susceptible, it has troubling implications for appeals to confabulation in psychiatric diagnosis. By accommodating memory errors within our understanding of memory’s function, Constructivism runs the risk of being unable to explain how confabulation errors are evidence of malfunction. After reviewing the literature on confabulation and Constructivism, respectively, I identify the tension between them and explore how different versions of Constructivism may respond. The paper concludes with a proposal for distinguishing between kinds of false memory—specifically, between misremembering and confabulation—that may provide a route to their reconciliation. (shrink)
The Archival and Constructive views of memory offer contrasting characterizations of remembering and its relation to memory errors. I evaluate the descriptive adequacy of each by offering a close analysis of one of the most prominent experimental techniques by which memory errors are elicited—the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm. Explaining the DRM effect requires appreciating it as a distinct form of memory error, which I refer to as misremembering. Misremembering is a memory error that relies on successful retention of the targeted event. It (...) differs from both successful remembering and from confabulation errors, where the representation produced is wholly inaccurate. As I show, neither the Archival nor the Constructive View can account for the DRM effect because they are insensitive to misremembering’s unique explanatory demands. Fortunately, the explanatory limitations of the Archival and Constructive Views are complementary. This suggests a way.. (shrink)
The Ethics of Need: Agency, Dignity, and Obligation argues for the philosophical importance of the notion of need and for an ethical framework through which we can determine which needs have moral significance. In the volume, Sarah Clark Miller synthesizes insights from Kantian and feminist care ethics to establish that our mutual and inevitable interdependence gives rise to a duty to care for the needs of others. Further, she argues that we are obligated not merely to meet others’ needs (...) but to do so in a manner that expresses "dignifying care," a concept that captures how human interactions can grant or deny equal moral standing and inclusion in a moral community. She illuminates these theoretical developments by examining two cases where urgent needs require a caring and dignifying response: the needs of the elderly and the needs of global strangers. Those working in the areas of feminist theory, women’s studies, aging studies, bioethics, and global studies should find this volume of interest. (shrink)
How fragile is our knowledge of morality, compared to other kinds of knowledge? Does knowledge of the difference between right and wrong fundamentally differ from knowledge of other kinds? Sarah McGrath offers new answers to these questions as she explores the possibilities, sources and characteristic vulnerabilities of moral knowledge.
According to the Causal Theory of Memory, remembering a particular past event requires a causal connection between that event and its subsequent representation in memory, specifically, a connection sustained by a memory trace. The CTM is the default view of memory in contemporary philosophy, but debates persist over what the involved memory traces must be like. Martin and Deutscher argued that the CTM required memory traces to be structural analogues of past events. Bernecker and Michaelian, contemporary CTM proponents, reject structural (...) analogues in favor of memory traces as distributed patterns of event features. The proposals are understood as distinct accounts of how memory traces represent past events. But there are two distinct questions one could ask about a trace’s representational features. One might ask how memory traces, qua mental representations, have their semantic properties. Or, what makes memory traces, qua mental representations of memories, distinct from other mental representations. Proponents of the CTM, both past and present, have failed to keep these two questions distinct. The result is a serious but unnoticed problem for the CTM in its current form. Distributed memory traces are incompatible with the CTM. Such traces do not provide a way to track the causal history of individual memories, as the CTM requires. If memory traces are distributed patterns of event features, as Bernecker and Michaelian each claim, then the CTM cannot be right. (shrink)
Recently, von Fintel (2001) and Gillies (2007) have argued that certain sequences of counterfactuals, namely reverse Sobel sequences, should motivate us to abandon standard truth conditional theories of counterfactuals for dynamic semantic theories. I argue that we can give a pragmatic account of our judgments about counterfactuals without giving up the standard semantics. In particular, I introduce a pragmatic principle governing assertability, and I use this principle to explain a variety of subtle data concerning reverse Sobel sequences.
A compelling argument for the morality of limitations on procreation in lessening the harmful environmental effects of unchecked populationWe live in a world where a burgeoning global population has started to have a major and destructive environmental impact. The results, including climate change and the struggle for limited resources, appear to be inevitable aspects of a difficult future. Mandatory population control might be a possible last resort to combat this problem, but is also a potentially immoral and undesirable violation of (...) human rights. Since so many view procreation as an essential component of the right to personal happiness and autonomy, the dominant view remains that the government does not have the right to impose these restrictions on its own citizens, for the sake of future people who have yet to exist.Sarah Conly is first to make the contentious argument that not only is it wrong to have more than one child in the face of such concerns, we do not even retain the right to do so. In One Child, Conly argues that autonomy and personal rights are not unlimited, especially if one's body may cause harm to anyone, and that the government has a moral obligation to protect both current and future citizens. Conly gives readers a thought-provoking and accessible exposure to the problem of population growth and develops a credible view of what our moral obligations really are, to generations present and future. (shrink)
Recently many have argued that agents must sometimes have credences that are imprecise, represented by a set of probability measures. But opponents claim that fans of imprecise credences cannot provide a decision theory that protects agents who follow it from foregoing sure money. In particular, agents with imprecise credences appear doomed to act irrationally in diachronic cases, where they are called to make decisions at earlier and later times. I respond to this claim on behalf of imprecise credence fans. Once (...) we appreciate the complexity of our intuitions about rational decision making, we can see that diachronic cases are in fact evidence for the essential claims motivating imprecise credence models. I argue that our decision theory for imprecise agents should mirror our decision theory for agents in moral dilemmas, and I develop permissive norms that explain our intuitions about both sorts of agents. (shrink)
The third edition of this popular book has been updated to take account of the latest developments in policy and social work practice. It includes new sections on radical/emancipatory and postmodern approaches to ethics, analysis of the latest codes of ethics from over 30 different countries, additional case studies of ethical problems and dilemmas, practical exercises, and annotated further reading lists at the end of each chapter.
This paper discusses three potential varieties of update: updates to the common ground, structuring updates, and updates that introduce discourse referents. These different types of update are used to model different aspects of natural language phenomena. Not-at-issue information directly updates the common ground. The illocutionary mood of a sentence structures the context. Other updates introduce discourse referents of various types, including propositional discourse referents for at-issue information. Distinguishing these types of update allows a unified treatment of a broad range of (...) phenomena, including the grammatical evidentials found in Cheyenne (Algonquian) as well as English evidential parentheticals, appositives, and mood marking. An update semantics that can formalize all of these varieties of update is given, integrating the different kinds of semantic contributions into a single representation of meaning. (shrink)
This article asks whether being a child is, all things considered, good or bad for children. I defend a predicament view of childhood, which regards childhood as bad overall for children. I argue that four features of childhood make it regrettable: impaired capacity for practical reasoning, lack of an established practical identity, a need to be dominated, and profound and asymmetric vulnerability. I consider recent claims in the literature that childhood is good for children since it allows them to enjoy (...) special goods that aren't available in adulthood, or which are harder to access in adulthood. I raise some difficulties for these claims. Then I argue that whatever version of these views survives my criticism will not establish that childhood is overall good for children. This is because the goods of childhood aren't significant enough to outweigh the bad features associated with being a child. I conclude by suggesting that the badness of childhood for children means that we are likely to owe more to children than to adults. (shrink)
Relaxed realists hold that there are deep differences between moral truths and the truths studied by the empirical sciences, but they deny that these differences raise troubling metaphysical or epistemological questions about moral truths. On this view, although features such as causal inefficacy, perceptual inaccessibility, and failure to figure in the best explanations of our empirical beliefs would raise pressing skeptical concerns were they claimed to characterize some aspect of physical reality, the same is not true when it comes to (...) the moral domain. This chapter raises some doubts about this general picture of morality and some prominent ways of defending it. First, it takes up a comparison that is frequently invoked by relaxed realists, and one on which they often place a great deal of weight: a comparison between irreducibly normative properties and truths on the one hand, and mathematical properties and truths on the other. It argues that this comparison is much less favorable to the relaxed realist’s cause than is often thought. It then offers an extended critique of a particularly vigorous and sustained presentation of relaxed realism: that offered by Ronald Dworkin in Justice for Hedgehogs. (shrink)
Many languages grammatically mark evidentiality, i.e., the source of information. In assertions, evidentials indicate the source of information of the speaker while in questions they indicate the expected source of information of the addressee. This dissertation examines the semantics and pragmatics of evidentiality and illocutionary mood, set within formal theories of meaning and discourse. The empirical focus is the evidential system of Cheyenne (Algonquian: Montana), which is analyzed based on several years of fieldwork by the author.
The more interest philosophers take in memory, the less agreement there is that memory exists—or more precisely, that remembering is a distinct psychological kind or mental state. Concerns about memory’s distinctiveness are triggered by observations of its similarity to imagination. The ensuing debate is cast as one between discontinuism and continuism. The landscape of debate is set such that any extensive engagement with empirical research into episodic memory places one on the side of continuism. Discontinuists concerns are portrayed as almost (...) exclusively conceptual and a priori. As philosophers of memory become increasingly interested in memory science, this pushes continuism into an apparent lead. The aim of this paper is to challenge this characterization of the continuism debate—namely, that a naturalistic approach to the philosophy of mind and memory favors continuism. My response has two components. First, I argue for weakening the alignment between naturalism and continuism. Second, I defend a naturalistically oriented, empirically-informed discontinuism between memory and imagination. I do so by introducing seeming to remember, which I argue is distinct from other mental attitudes—most importantly, from imagining. (shrink)
Plato's Timaeus is one of the most influential and challenging works of ancient philosophy to have come down to us. Sarah Broadie's rich and compelling study proposes new interpretations of major elements of the Timaeus, including the separate Demiurge, the cosmic 'beginning', the 'second mixing', the Receptacle and the Atlantis story. Broadie shows how Plato deploys the mythic themes of the Timaeus to convey fundamental philosophical insights and examines the profoundly differing methods of interpretation which have been brought to (...) bear on the work. Her book is for everyone interested in Ancient Greek philosophy, cosmology and mythology, whether classicists, philosophers, historians of ideas or historians of science. It offers new findings to scholars familiar with the material, but it is also a clear and reliable resource for anyone coming to it for the first time. (shrink)
As a number of high profile companies have found to their cost, corporate reputations can be significantly affected by firms' management of sustainability issue, including those that are outside their direct control, such as the environmental and social impacts of their supply networks. This paper begins by examining the relationship between corporate social responsibility, reputation, and supply network conditions. It then looks at the effectiveness of one tool for managing supply network sustainability issues, ethical sourcing codes of conduct, by examining (...) how the characteristics of three supply networks branded clothes, DIY wood products and branded confectionary affects the implementation ethical sourcing codes of conduct. It ends by setting out conclusions on why implementation of such codes has been so much more successful in some sectors than others and recommendations on effective approaches to managing sustainability issues in supply networks. (shrink)