Justification, or at least ‘justification’, bulks large in recent epistemology. The view that knowledge consists of true-justified-belief has been prominent in this century, and the justification of belief has attracted considerable attention in its own right. But it is usually not at all clear just what an epistemologist means by ‘justified’, just what concept the term is used to express. An enormous amount of energy has gone into the attempt to specify conditions under which beliefs of one or another sort (...) are justified; but relatively little has been done to explain what it is for a belief to be justified, what that is for which conditions are being sought. The most common procedure has been to proceed on the basis of a number of obvious cases of justified belief, without pausing to determine what property it is of which these cases are instances. Now even if there were some single determinate concept that all these theoriests have implicitly in mind, this procedure would be less than wholly satisfactory. For in the absence of an explicit account of the concept being applied, we lack the most fundamental basis for deciding between supposed intuitions and for evaluating proposed conditions of justification. And in any event, as philosophers we do not seek merely to speak the truth, but also to gain an explicit, reflective understanding of the matters with which we deal. We want to know not only when our beliefs are justified, but also what it is to enjoy that status. True, not every fundamental concept can be explicated, but we shall find that much can be done with this one. (shrink)
Internalism restricts justifiers to what is "within" the subject. two main forms of internalism are (1) perspectival internalism (pi), which restricts justifiers to what the subject knows or justifiably believes, and (2) access internalism (ai), which restricts justifiers to what is directly accessible to the subject. the two forms are analyzed and interrelated, and the grounds for each are examined. it is concluded that although pi is both unacceptable and without adequate support, a modest form of ai might be defended.
Sellars is well known for his critique of the “myth of the given” in his “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind”. That text does not make it unambiguous just how he understands the “myth”. Here I take it that whatever else may be involved, his critique is incompatible with the view that there is a nonconceptual mode of “presentation” or “givenness” of particulars that is the heart of sense perception and what is most distinctive of perception as a type of (...) cognition. A critical examination of Sellars’ arguments, particularly those directed at the Theory of Appearing, results in the conclusion that he has failed to eliminate the above view of perception. Moreover, though Sellars is clearly opposed to the view that perceptual experience cannot provide justification for beliefs about perceived objects, I argue that Sellars has failed to shake the intuitive plausibility of that view. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes and interrelates a number of respects in which persons have been thought to be in a specially favorable epistemic position vis-A-Vis their own mental states. The most important distinction is a six-Fold one between infallibility, Omniscience, Indubitability, Incorrigibility, Truth-Sufficiency, And self-Warrant. Each of these varieties can then be sub-Divided as the kind of modality, If any, Involved. It is also argued that discussions of self-Knowledge have been hampered by a failure to recognize these distinctions.
William P. Alston. difference in the scope of the rule reflects the fact that I-rules exist for the sake of making communication possible. Whereas their cousins are enacted and enforced for other reasons. We could distinguish I-rules just by this ...
I oppose the popular view that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience consists in the subject's representing the (putative) perceived object as being so-and-so. The account of perceptual experience I favor instead is a version of the "Theory of Appearing" that takes it to be a matter of the perceived object's appearing to one as so-and-so, where this does not mean that the subject takes or believes it to be so-and-so. This plays no part in my criticisms of Representationalism. I (...) mention it only to be up front as to where I stand. My criticism of the Representationalist position is in sections. (1) There is no sufficient reason for positing a representative function for perceptual experience. It doesn't seem on the face of it to be that, and nothing serves in place of such seeming. (2) Even if it did have such a function, it doesn't have the conceptual resources to represent a state of affairs. (3) Even if it did, it is not suited to represent, e.g., a physical property of color. (4) Finally, even if I am wrong about the first three points, it is still impossible for the phenomenal character of the perceptual experience to consist in it's representing what it does. My central argument for this central claim of the paper is that it is metaphysically, de re possible that one have a certain perceptual experience without it's presenting any state of affairs. And since all identities hold necessarily, this identity claim fails. (shrink)
Immediate knowledge is here construed as true belief that does not owe its status as knowledge to support by other knowledge (or justified belief) of the same subject. The bulk of the paper is devoted to a criticism of attempts to show the impossibility of immediate knowledge. I concentrate on attempts by Wilfrid Sellars and Laurence Bonjour to show that putative immediate knowledge really depends on higher-level knowledge or justified belief about the status of the beliefs involved in the putative (...) immediate knowledge. It is concluded that their arguments are lacking in cogency. (shrink)
It is no part of my purpose in this paper to advocate Minimal Foundationalism. In fact I believe there to be strong objections to any form of foundationalism, and I feel that some kind of coherence or contextualist theory will provide a more adequate general orientation in epistemology. Will and Lehrer are to be commended for providing, in their different ways, important insights into some possible ways of developing a nonfoundationalist epistemology. Nevertheless if foundationalism is to be successfully disposed of (...) it must be attacked in its most defensible, not in its most vulnerable, form. Although Will and Lehrer reveal weaknesses in historically important forms of foundationalism, it has been my aim in this paper to show that their arguments leave untouched the more modest and less vulnerable form I have called ‘Minimal Foundationalism’, a form approximated to by the most prominent contemporary versions of the position. It is to be hoped that those who are interested in clearing the decks for an epistemology without foundations will turn their critical weapons against such modest and careful foundationalists as Chisholm, Danto, and Quinton. (shrink)
First there is some preliminary clearing of the deck. I argue against Verificationism, and against Wittgensteinians. Then I turn to the main topics and the reference of “God.” Descriptive and direct reference are contrasted; it is held that both figure in religious discourse. The other main topic is the interpretation of the predicates of statements about God. It is inevitable that the basic theological predicates from which all others are derived are borrowed from elsewhere, primarily talk about human persons. So (...) the crucial question is how their senses in theological use are related to their senses in “secular” discourse. After rejecting the univocity position and the claim that they are all used metaphorically in application to God, reasons are explored for rejecting even partial univocity. The remaining alternative is an analogy between theological and anthropomorphic senses, an analogy that cannot be completely spelled out. For if we could, that would amount to partial univocity. (shrink)
Can beliefs to the effect that god is manifesting himself in a certain way to the believer ("m-beliefs") be justified by its seeming to the believer that he experiences god doing that? the issue is discussed in the context of several concepts of justification. on a "normative" concept of justification the answer will depend on what one's intellectual obligations are vis-a-vis practices of belief formation. on a rigorous view of such obligations one is justified in forming a m-belief on the (...) basis of experience only if one has adequate reasons for taking that practice to be reliable. on a more permissive view of such obligations, one is justified only if one lacks adequate reasons for taking the practice to be unreliable. it is suggested that neither this practice nor, e.g., the practice of forming perceptual beliefs on the basis of sense perception passes the stronger test, but that they both pass the weaker test. (shrink)
This book is the culmination of almost forty years of writing and thinking about speech acts and the use theory of meaning. Chapter 1 sets out and defends a version of the Austin-Searle trichotomy of a sentential act, i.e., uttering a sentence or surrogate, an illocutionary act, i.e., uttering a sentence with a certain "content" as reported by indirect speech, and a perlocutionary act, i.e., producing an effect on an audience by an utterance. Chapter 2 poses the question: what condition (...) C will turn an SA into an IA: F? Perhaps adding a perlocutionary intention to the effect that "U asserts that p only if U utters p with the intention of getting H to believe that p" will meet condition C. Alston argues, contra Schiffer, that it will not. Chapter 3 objects to Searle's analysis of sincere and non-defective promising, on the one hand, because there are too many ways a promise can be defective and, on the other hand, because some of Searle's conditions are not necessary for promising simpliciter. Alston proposes. (shrink)
This landmark collection of essays by six renowned philosophers explores the implications of the contentious realism/antirealism debate for epistemology. The essays examine issues such as whether epistemology needs to be realist, the bearing of a realist conception of truth on epistemology, and realism and antirealism in terms of a pragmatist conception of epistemic justification. Richard Rorty's essay provides a critical commentary on the other five.
P. T. Geach, notoriously, holds the Relative Identity Thesis, according to which a meaningful judgment of identity is always, implicitly or explicitly, relative to some general term. ‘The same’ is a fragmentary expression, and has no significance unless we say or mean ‘the same X’, where ‘X’ represents a general term (what Frege calls a Begriffswort or Begriffsausdruck). (P. T. Geach, Mental Acts (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957), p. 69. I maintain that it makes no sense to judge whether (...) things are ‘the same’, or remain ‘the same’, unless we add or understand some general term - ‘the same F’. (P. T. Geach, Reference and Generality, third Edition (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 63f. I am arguing for the thesis that identity is relative. When one says ‘x is identical with y’, this, I hold, is an incomplete expression; it is short for ‘x is the same A as y’, where ‘A’ represents some count noun understood from the context of utterance - or else, it is just a vague expression of a half-formed thought. (P. T. Geach, ‘Identity,’ Review of Metaphysics 21 (1967-8), p. 3.) One of the ways Geach seeks to support this is by tying it to the well nigh universally admired Fregean thesis about cardinality. (shrink)