The Uniqueness thesis says that any body of evidence E uniquely determines which doxastic attitude is rationally permissible regarding some proposition P. Permissivists deny Uniqueness. They are charged with arbitrarily favouring one doxastic attitude out of the set of attitudes they regard as rationally permissible. Simpson claims that an appeal to differences in cognitive abilities can remove the arbitrariness. I argue that it can't. Impermissivists face a challenge of their own: The problem of fine distinctions. I suggest that meeting this (...) challenge requires impermissivists to loosen up at higher levels – when comparing belief-forming systems that differ in the fineness of their doxastic outputs. This more relaxed take on Uniqueness is a kind of ‘intraspecies impermissivism’. (shrink)
Mark Nelson argues that we have no positive epistemic duties. His case rests on the evidential inexhaustibility of sensory and propositional evidence—what he calls their ‘infinite justificational fecundity’. It is argued here that Nelson’s reflections on the richness of sensory and propositional evidence do make it doubtful that we ever have an epistemic duty to add any particular beliefs to our belief set, but that they fail to establish that we have no positive epistemic duties whatsoever. A theory of epistemic (...) obligation based on Kant’s idea of an imperfect duty is outlined. It is suggested that such a theory is consistent with the inexhaustibility of sensory and propositional evidence. Finally, one feature of our epistemic practice suggestive of the existence of imperfect epistemic duties is identified and promoted. (shrink)
Chase Wrenn argues that there are no epistemic duties. When it appears that we have an epistemic duty to believe, disbelieve or suspend judgement about some proposition P, we are really under a moral obligation to adopt the attitude towards P that our evidence favours. The argument appeals to theoretical parsimony: our conceptual scheme will be simpler without epistemic duties and we should therefore drop them. I argue that Wrenn’s strategy is flawed. There may well be things that we ought (...) to do on epistemic grounds alone. (shrink)
Many deontologists explain the epistemic value of justification in terms of its instrumental role in promoting truth – the original source of value in the epistemic domain. The swamping problem for truth monism appears to make this position indefensible, at least for those monists who maintain the superiority of knowledge to merely true belief. I propose a new solution to the swamping problem that allows monists to maintain the greater epistemic value of knowledge over merely true belief. My trick is (...) to deny the swamping premise itself. (shrink)
Epistemic obligations are constraints on belief stemming from epistemic considerations alone. Booth is one of the many philosophers who deny that there are epistemic obligations. Any obligation pertaining to belief is an all things considered obligation, according to him—a strictly generic, rather than specifically epistemic, requirement. Though Booth’s argument is valid, I will try to show that it is unsound. There are two central premises: S is justified in believing that P iff S is blameless in believing that P; S (...) is blameless in believing that P iff S has not violated an all things considered duty in believing that P. Both premises are false. My argument against depends on my own theory of epistemic obligations. My argument against does not. This paper is part of a larger project—defending epistemic requirements in general against a series of objections and advancing a particular theory that solves various problems. (shrink)
The paper defends the thesis that our epistemic duty is the duty to proportion our beliefs to the evidence we possess. An inclusive view of evidence possessed is put forward on the grounds that it makes sense of our intuitions about when it is right to say that a person ought to believe some proposition P. A second thesis is that we have no epistemic duty to adopt any particular doxastic attitudes. The apparent tension between the two theses is resolved (...) by applying the concept of duty to belief indirectly. (shrink)
Two currents of thought dominated Western philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: Continental Rationalism and British Empiricism. Despite the gradual dissemination of British ideas on the Continent in the first decades of the eighteenth century, these fundamentally disparate philosophical outlooks seemed to be wholly irreconcilable. However, the publication of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in 1781 presented an entirely new method of philosophical reasoning that promised to combine the virtues of Rationalism with the scientific rigour of Empiricism. This (...) book offers the first extended analysis of Kant's method of proof in philosophy. The author constructs a model based on Kant's own statements about his procedure and then examines his famous proofs in light of it. Great emphasis is placed on historical accuracy and the debunking of popular myths about Kant's aims and doctrines. The result is a compelling new picture of Kant that will challenge current assumptions. (shrink)
Our intuitions about what a person epistemically ought or ought not believe are sometimes quite clear. Keith DeRose and Richard Feldman have devised examples about which our intuitions are likely to conflict. DeRose argues that the conflict of intuitions arises from ambiguity in the epistemic ought. I argue that it results from incompleteness. The success of the argument depends on rejecting the narrow conception of evidential support according to which a person’s evidence supports some proposition P only if the person (...) apprehends the connection between her evidence and P. I argue that this view is mistaken. (shrink)
This article is an extended analysis of the most recent scholarly work on Locke's account of sensitive knowledge. Lex Newman's "dual cognitive relations" model of sensitive knowledge is examined in detail. The author argues that the dual cognitive relations model needs to be revised on both philosophical and historical grounds. While no attempt is made to defend Locke's position, the aim is to show that it is at least consistent, contrary to the received view. The final section provides textual support (...) for the interpretation. (shrink)
The author argues against Christine Korsgaard's influential interpretation of Kant's contradiction in conception test of the categorical imperative. Korsgaard's rejection of the ‘teleological' interpretation is shown to be based on a misunderstanding of the role that teleology plays for Kant in ruling out immoral maxims, and her defence of the ‘practical' interpretation is shown to be less faithful to the text than the competing ‘logical' interpretation. The works of Barbara Herman and Allen Wood are also discussed and evaluated.
Logic Works is a critical and extensive introduction to logic. It asks questions about why systems of logic are as they are, how they relate to ordinary language and ordinary reasoning, and what alternatives there might be to classical logical doctrines. It considers how logical analysis can be applied to carefully represent the reasoning employed in academic and scientific work, better understand that reasoning, and identify its hidden premises. Aiming to be as much a reference work and handbook for further, (...) independent study as a course text, it covers more material than is typically covered in an introductory course. -/- Topics include: translation, proofs, and trees for sentential and predicate logic with identity, definite descriptions, and functional terms; normal forms; proofs and trees for the principal normal modal systems; an introduction to second order and quantified modal logic; formal syntax and semantics; mathematical induction; metatheory for many of these systems; semantics and trees for free logic, intuitionistic logic, and three-valued and paraconsistent logics. -/- A companion website contains a detailed student solutions manual with a running commentary on all starred exercises and a set of editable slides for instructors to customize their courses. (shrink)
Berkeley's Principles: Expanded and Explained includes the entire classical text of the Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge in bold font, a running commentary blended seamlessly into the text in regular font and analytic summaries of each section. The commentary is like a professor on hand to guide the reader through every line of the daunting prose and every move in the intricate argumentation. The unique design helps students learn how to read and engage with one of modern philosophy's (...) most important and exciting classics. (shrink)
It seems plausible that there can be “no win” moral situations in which no matter what one does one fails some moral obligation. Is there an epistemic analog to moral dilemmas? Are there epistemically dilemmatic situations—situations in which we are doomed to violate an epistemic requirement? If there are, when exactly do they arise and what can we learn from them? A team of top epistemologists address these and closely related questions from a variety of new, sometimes unexpected, angles. Anyone (...) interested in epistemic dilemmas, the nature of justification and evidential support, higher-order requirements, or suspension of judgment will find a range of useful arguments and fresh ideas in this cutting-edge anthology. (shrink)
The paper is an attempt to explain what a transcendental argument is for Kant. The interpretation is based on a reading of the 'Discipline of Pure Reason', Sections 1 and 4 of the first Critique. The author first identifies several statements that Kant makes about the method of proof he followed in the 'Analytic of Principles' which seem to be inconsistent. He then tries to remove the apparent inconsistencies by focusing on the idea of instantiation and drawing a distinction between (...) the intension and the extension of a concept. Finally, the results are applied to the second 'Analogy of Experience' for the purposes of illustration. The paper should be seen as an attempt to provide an historical answer to a question that has been treated thematically in much of the recent literature. (shrink)
The paper identifies a possible precedent for Kant’s Refutation of Idealism in the work of Johann Nicolaus Tetens. An attempt is made to reconstruct the reasoning that led Tetens to reject idealism as a false starting point, and some parallels are drawn between Tetens’s psychologistic approach to the problem andKant’s transcendental methodology.
An evidentialist can be extreme about epistemic requirements in a couple of different ways. At the reductionist end of the spectrum are those who think our epistemic obligations are fully satisfied by the mere having of evidential fit—where having implies nothing about doing. Your beliefs ought to align with your evidence, in other words, but there’s nothing you’re obligated to do in order to get yourself into the epistemically optimal position. At the expansionist end of the spectrum are those who (...) think we ought to do more—epistemically-speaking—than just bring about a state of evidential fit. We ought to get more evidence, for instance, if it’s somehow relevant to our beliefs. Rather leery of extremists, we prefer a moderate account of epistemic obligation. It’s a conjunction of three theses: (1) We never have an epistemic duty to believe any particular proposition; (2) We’re epistemically obligated to reflect on our evidence in order to produce a state of evidential fit; (3) We’re never epistemically obligated to acquire any additional evidence. Our aim is to make these plausible. (shrink)
In this paper we distinguish between epistemic dilemmas, epistemic quasi-dilemmas, and quasi epistemic dilemmas. Our starting point is the commonsense position that S faces a genuine dilemma only when S must take one of two paths and both are bad. It’s the “must” that we think is key. Moral dilemmas arise because there are cases where S must perform A and S must perform B—where ‘must’ implies a moral duty—but S cannot do both. In such a situation, S is doomed (...) to violate a moral obligation. Analogously, S face’s a genuine epistemic dilemma only if she has an epistemic duty to believe that p and at the same time an epistemic duty to not believe that p (either because she has a duty to believe ~p or a duty to suspend judgment). We argue that such cases never arise because there is no epistemic duty to adopt a particular doxastic attitude towards any particular proposition (ever). Hence, there are no epistemic dilemmas. Nevertheless, one might suppose there are situations in which one’s evidence pulls in different directions without determining a uniquely justified doxastic attitude. Such epistemic quasi-dilemmas aren’t full-fledged dilemmas, but they are arguably close enough to pose a genuine problem for the believer. But we argue that there are no genuine epistemic quasi-dilemmas either: They are all resolvable in principle. Fans of dissonance will not be totally disappointed, however, since we argue that there may well be quasi-epistemic dilemmas. These are genuinely unwinnable situations in which one’s moral or pragmatic obligations to do epistemically-relevant things make incompatible demands. (shrink)
There are arguably moral, legal, and prudential constraints on behavior. But are there epistemic constraints on belief? Are there any requirements arising from intellectual considerations alone? This volume includes original essays written by top epistemologists that address this and closely related questions from a variety of new, sometimes unexpected, angles. It features a wide variety of positions, ranging from arguments for and against the existence of purely epistemic requirements, reductions of epistemic requirements to moral or prudential requirements, the biological foundations (...) of epistemic requirements, extensions of the scope of epistemic requirements to include such things as open- mindedness, eradication of implicit bias and interpersonal duties to object, to new applications such as epistemic requirements pertaining to storytelling, testimony, and fundamentalist beliefs. Anyone interested in the nature of responsibility, belief, or epistemic normativity will fi nd a range of useful arguments and fresh ideas in this cutting- edge anthology. (shrink)
Building on the research of Manfred Kuehn, the author argues that, whatever influence the Scottish Common Sense Philosophy of Thomas Reid may have had on the development of Immanuel Kant’s refutation of idealism, it was filtered through the thinking of Kant’s largely forgotten German contemporary, Johann Nicolaus Tetens. While the importance of Tetens for understanding Kant is examined in connection with only one idea, the aim is to demonstrate that Tetens is a figure worthy of serious historical consideration.
Stapleford (2007) identified Johann Nicolaus Tetens as the missing link between Reid’s common sense treatment of external world scepticism and Kant’s transcendental Refutation of Idealism. While that account is arguably correct, it failed to recognize the distinction between being justified in believing P and being justified in believing that my belief in P is justified. This paper corrects the oversight and explains its implications. Tetens emerges as a weak externalist regarding knowledge of external objects, situated roughly halfway between Reid’s moderate (...) externalism and Kant’s strong internalism. (shrink)
The paper is a limited defence of one of P. F. Strawson's least popular declarations about the nature of Kant's transcendental idealism. An attempt is made to relate Strawson's reading to an interpretative controversy that emerged in the years immediately following the publication of the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Johann Christian Gottlob Schaumann, an otherwise unremarkable figure, is considered as an early defender of the thoroughly idealistic interpretation in the distinctive form articulated by Strawson.
The paper is a sustained analysis of some recent work on transcendental arguments with a view to assessing both its relevance to Kant's philosophy and its historical accuracy. Robert Stem's reading of Kant's philosophical aims is examined and criticized narrowly, and Barry Stroud's influential objection to transcendental arguments as a class is shown to be harmless. Kant is presented as a friend rather than a foe of scepticism, and his 'proto-verificationist' criterion of meaning is shown to underpin, rather than undermine, (...) the sceptical position. (shrink)