I argue that knowledge can be seen as a quality standard that governs our sharing and storing of information. This standard satisfies certain functional needs, namely it allows us to share and store trustworthy information more easily. I argue that this makes knowledge a social kind, similar in important ways to other social kinds like money. This provides us with a way of talking about knowledge without limiting ourselves to the concept of knowledge. I also outline three ways in which (...) this view of knowledge can shed light on familiar epistemological problems: it can explain why knowledge is the norm of assertion, it can help us carve out the harm associated with testimonial injustice, and it can provide us with a clear analysis of the dangers associated with spreading misinformation. (shrink)
Keith DeRose and Stewart Cohen object to the fallibilist strand of pragmatic invariantism regarding knowledge ascriptions that it is committed to non-cancelable pragmatic implications. I show that this objection points us to an asymmetry about which aspects of the conveyed content of knowledge ascriptions can be canceled: we can cancel those aspects that ascribe a lesser epistemic standing to the subject but not those that ascribe a better or perfect epistemic standing. This situation supports the infallibilist strand of pragmatic invariantism (...) according to which knowledge semantically requires absolute certainty but this claim is often pragmatically weakened: it turns out that exactly those aspects of the conveyed content are cancelable that this view claims are pragmatic. I also argue that attributor contextualism and relativism do not have an alternative explanation of this phenomenon. (shrink)
Any good theory of knowledge ascriptions should explain and predict our judgments about their felicity. I argue that any such explanation must take into account a distinction between three ways of using knowledge ascriptions: to suggest acceptance of the embedded proposition, to explain or predict a subject's behavior or attitudes, or to understand the relation of knowledge as such. The contextual effects on our judgments about felicity systematically differ between these three types of uses. Using such a distinction is, in (...) principle, open to both contextualist and pragmatic invariantist accounts of knowledge ascriptions. However, there are some implications pertaining to the use of the “method of cases” in the debate about knowledge ascriptions. (shrink)
Moral error theory is comprised of two parts: a denial of the existence of objective values, and a claim about the ways in which we attempt to make reference to such objective values. John Mackie is sometimes presented as endorsing the view that we necessarily presuppose such objective values in our moral language and thought. In a series of recent papers, though, Victor Moberger (2017), Selim Berker (2019), and Michael Ridge (2020) point out that Mackie does not seem to commit (...) himself to this view. They argue that Mackie thinks this reference to objective values can, and perhaps should, be detached from our moral statements and judgments. In this paper, I argue that Moberger, Berker, and Ridge are right to point out that Mackie stops short of claiming a necessary connection between moral language and a commitment to objective values, but that he does not endorse the contrary claim either. Instead, Mackie stays neutral on the question whether it is possible to assert moral statements or make moral judgments without presupposing objective value. This is because he does not need to take a position on this matter. Mackie only engages with the conceptual analysis of moral language and thought to the extent required to achieve his argumentative goals: he wants to reject revisionary analyses of moral language and to refute the idea that we can assume moral truths to be in alignment with ordinary moral language. (shrink)
Early in his career and in critical engagement with ordinary language philosophy, John Mackie developed the roots of a methodology that would be fundamental to his thinking: Mackie argues that we need to clearly separate the conceptual analysis which determines the meaning of an ordinary term and the factual analysis which is concerned with the question what, if anything, our language corresponds to in the world. I discuss how Mackie came to develop this distinction and how central ideas of his (...) philosophy are based on it. Using the examples of Mackie’s moral skepticism and his work on Locke’s theory of perception I show how his methodology opens the door to error theories but can also support more positive claims. Finally, I put Mackie’s methodology in a historical perspective and argue that in cases like the Gettier debate, we can use it to cast light on the vagueness of the underlying methodology in some philosophical debates. (shrink)
Epistemological disjunctivists such as Duncan Pritchard claim that in paradigmatic cases of knowledge the rational support for the known propositions is both factive and reflectively accessible. This position faces some problems, including the basis problem – how can our knowledge be based on such strong reasons that seem to leave no room for non-knowledge and therefore presuppose knowledge? – and the access problem – can disjunctivists avoid the implausible claim that we can achieve knowledge through inference from our introspective awareness (...) of those reasons? I argue that disjunctivists cannot solve both of these problems at the same time by posing the dilemma question whether we can have factive and reflectively accessible reasons without knowledge. While I focus on Pritchard throughout most of the paper, I argue in the last section that other anti-skeptical versions of disjunctivism face the same dilemma. (shrink)
Talking about “being another person”, many different things may be meant. I make use of Wollheim’s distinction between three different modes of imagination and invoke four different kinds of possible content of what may be imagined. In effect, I aim at a hopefully complete overview of the possible imaginative projects of “imagining being another person”. I try to keep an eye on the role of numerical identity in each case.
I discuss three understandings of the idea of “Knowledge First Epistemology”, i.e. Timothy Williamson’s suggestion that we should take knowledge as a starting point, rather than trying to analyze it. Some have taken this to be a suggestion about the role of the concept of knowledge, but Williamson also seems to be concerned with intuition-based metaphysics. As an alternative, I develop the idea that knowledge may be a social kind that can be understood through a functional analysis in the tradition (...) of Edward Craig. (shrink)