In this ‘age of information’, some worry that we get our news from online ‘echo chambers’, news feeds on our social media accounts that contain information from like‐minded sources. Filtering our information in this way seems prima facie problematic from an epistemic perspective. I vindicate this intuition by offering an explanation of what is wrong with online echo chambers that appeals to a particular kind of motivated reasoning, or bias due to one’s interests. This sort of bias affects, not which (...) evidence one is exposed to, but how one makes use of the evidence that one has, on the basis of one’s interests. I argue that consulting an online echo chamber often facilitates and amplifies this bias. I then draw some general conclusions about the potential downside of having ready access to so much information. (shrink)
Most solutions to the skeptical paradox about justified belief assume closure for justification, since the rejection of closure is widely regarded as a non-starter. I argue that the rejection of closure is not a non-starter, and that its problems are no greater than the problems associated with the more standard anti-skeptical strategies. I do this by sketching a simple version of the unpopular strategy and rebutting the three best objections to it. The general upshot for theories of justification is that (...) it is not a constraint on such theories that we must somehow have justification to believe that we are not massively deceived. (shrink)
According to veridicalism, your beliefs about the existence of ordinary objects are typically true, and can constitute knowledge, even if you are in some global sceptical scenario. Even if you are a victim of Descartes’ demon, you can still know that there are tables, for example. Accordingly, even if you don’t know whether you are in some such scenario, you still know that there are tables. This refutes the standard sceptical argument. But does it solve the sceptical problem posed by (...) that argument? I argue that it does not, because we do not know substantively more about the external world according to veridicalism than we do according to the sceptical argument. Rather, veridicalism merely reformulates what little knowledge we have. I then draw some general conclusions about the nature of the sceptical problem, the formulation of the standard argument, and the significance of this for some other, non-veridicalist strategies. (shrink)
Evidential Preemption occurs when a speaker asserts something of the form “Others will tell you Q, but I say P,” where P and Q are incompatible in some salient way. Typically, the aim of this maneuver is to get the audience to accept P despite contrary testimony of others, who might otherwise be trusted on the matter. Phenomena such as echo chambers, conspiracy theories, and other political speech of interest to epistemologists today, all commonly involve evidential preemption, so the question (...) arises: What effect, if any, does evidential preemption have on the audience's epistemic situation? In a widely discussed paper, Begby (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2021, 102, 515) argues that evidential preemption can change the audience's epistemic situation in such a way that future testimony that Q, which would otherwise have been persuasive, can be rationally discounted to a significant degree. If so, evidential preemption is not a mere rhetorical flourish, but rather results in a rationally insulated belief that P. Since evidential preemption is a common feature of echo chambers and conspiracy theories, this would be a disturbing result. We bring good news: it is not so, at least not in the way Begby suggests. If evidential preemptions can change one's epistemic situation in a worrying way, it is a mystery how. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Atheists and agnostics have a vexed relationship. Atheists often regard agnostics as timid, or perhaps as disguised apologists. Agnostics often regard atheists as dogmatic hypocrites: they proclaim something on insufficient evidence, while accusing theists of this. This dynamic is familiar from the academic and popular literature. Here, I consider a more radical conflict between the two, based on Kripkean semantics for empty terms applied to atheism. Sorensen : 373–388) christened the Kripke-inspired formulation of atheism ‘Unicorn Atheism’ and argued from (...) there to the incoherence of agnosticism. But, I argue, the objection fails and instead presents an opportunity to reformulate agnosticism. By appreciating the relevance of Kripkean semantics to the issue, a better understanding of the two positions, and their conflict, emerges. (shrink)
The problem of skepticism is often understood as a paradox: a valid argument with plausible premises whose conclusion is that we lack justification for perceptual beliefs. Typically, this conclusion is deemed unacceptable, so a theory is offered that posits conditions for justification on which some premise is false. The theory defended here is more general, and explains why the paradox arises in the first place. Like Strawson’s (Introduction to logical theory, Wiley, New York, 1952) “ordinary language” approach to induction, the (...) theory posits something built into the very notion of justification: it is loaded with a bias towards the proposition that we are not massively deceived. Beyond the paradox, remaining skeptical problems consist of metaphysical and practical questions: whether we are massively deceived, or why we should use our loaded notion rather than some other. Such challenges have pro- found epistemological significance, but they are not problems that an a priori theory of justification can solve. (shrink)
The scandal to philosophy and human reason, wrote Kant, is that we must take the existence of material objects on mere faith . In contrast, the skeptical paradox that has scandalized recent philosophy is not formulated in terms of faith, but rather in terms of justification, warrant, and entitlement. I argue that most contemporary approaches to the paradox (both dogmatist/liberal and default/conservative) do not address the traditional problem that scandalized Kant, and that the status of having a warrant (or justification) (...) that is derived from entitlement is irrelevant to whether we take our beliefs on mere faith. For, one can have the sort of warrant that most contemporary anti-skeptics posit while still taking one’s belief on mere faith. An alternative approach to the traditional problem is sketched, one that still makes use of contemporary insights about “entitlement.”. (shrink)
A well known skeptical paradox rests on the claim that we lack warrant to believe that we are not brains in a vat. The argument for that claim is the apparent impossibility of any evidence or argument that we are not BIVs. Many contemporary philosophers resist this argument by insisting that we have a sort of warrant for believing that we are not BIVs that does not require having any evidence or argument. I call this view ‘New Rationalism’. I argue (...) that New Rationalists are committed to there being some evidence or argument for believing that we are not BIVs anyway. Therefore, New Rationalism, since its appeal is that it purportedly avoids the problematic commitment to such evidence or argument, undermines its own appeal. We cannot avoid the difficult work of coming up with evidence or argument by positing some permissive sort of warrant. (shrink)
This article is a response to an important objection that Sherrilyn Roush has made to the standard closure-based argument for skepticism, an argument that has been studied over the past couple of decades. If Roush's objection is on the mark, then this would be a quite significant finding. We argue that her objection fails.
In a recent article, Wilson argues that Cartesian Scepticism leads to a vicious regress that can only be stopped by rejecting Cartesian Scepticism. If she is right, Wilson has solved one of philosophy's enduring problems. However, her regress is irrelevant to Cartesian Scepticism. This is evident once the proposition that we should have doubts, the person who has doubts, and the person who thinks that we should have doubts are carefully distinguished.
Is there something wrong with the way we form beliefs about our surroundings? Most people assume not. But there is a character, the skeptic, who disagrees. What, exactly, is this skeptic claiming, and why should this concern us? We are, after all, just humans doing what humans do: forming beliefs on the basis of our faculties. In what sense could this be wrong, and how could it matter if it is? By considering the way in which the notions of vice (...) and criticism can express these questions, we can clarify them and discern some potential answers. These answers, I will suggest, can explain not only why we shouldn’t worry too much, but also the lasting appeal of skeptical problems. The idea is that we can accept, or grant for the sake of argument, that we fall short of some important standard while insisting that it is entirely unreasonable to criticize people, or ourselves, on that basis. (shrink)
I address a puzzle in Pascal's Pensées. While Pascal emphasized that God is hidden, he also seemed to think that signs of God are everywhere in nature. How does he reconcile these two claims? I offer a novel solution which emphasizes the role of love and what I call “second-personal” significance, and which results in a distinctively Pascalian account of religious experience of nature. By distinguishing implication from various senses of ‘proof’, I explain why, though deeply significant, such experiences cannot (...) play the role of proving God's existence, and how they are compatible with God's hiddenness. Neither theism nor atheism is assumed by this account. (shrink)
In this essay I defend a solution to a skeptical paradox. The paradox I focus on concerns epistemic justification (rather than knowledge), and skeptical scenarios that entail that most of our ordinary beliefs about the external world are false. This familiar skeptical paradox hinges on a “closure” principle. The solution is to restrict closure, despite its first appearing as a fully general principle, so that it can no longer give rise to the paradox. This has some extra advantages. First, it (...) suggests a general strategy that provides solutions to other versions of the paradox, not just those that depend on closure. Second, it clarifies the relation between the paradox and other kinds of skeptical problem. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 246 - 257 The two main components of Coliva’s view are Moderatism and Extended Rationality. According to Moderatism, a belief about specific material objects is perceptually justified iff, absent defeaters, one has the appropriate course of experience and it is assumed that there is an external world. I grant Moderatism and instead focus on Extended Rationality, according to which it is epistemically rational to believe evidentially warranted propositions and to accept those unwarrantable assumptions (...) that make the acquisition of perceptual warrants possible and are therefore constitutive of ordinary evidential warrants. I suggest that, even though Extended Rationality might be true, it cannot do the work that Coliva wants it to do. Although my objections do not show that it is false, they can serve to clarify what sorts of problem a theory of justification or rationality could possibly address. This provides an alternative to Coliva’s view of the skeptical problem and the question, on what does rationality hinge? (shrink)
The problem of skepticism is often understood as a paradox: a valid argument with plausible premises whose conclusion is that we lack justification for perceptual beliefs. Typically, this conclusion is deemed unacceptable, so a theory is offered that posits conditions for justification on which some premise is false. The theory defended here is more general, and explains why the paradox arises in the first place. Like Strawson’s (Introduction to logical theory, Wiley, New York, 1952) “ordinary language” approach to induction, the (...) theory posits something built into the very notion of justification: it is loaded with a bias towards the proposition that we are not massively deceived. Beyond the paradox, remaining skeptical problems consist of metaphysical and practical questions: whether we are massively deceived, or why we should use our loaded notion rather than some other. Such challenges have profound epistemological significance, but they are not problems that an a priori theory of justification can solve. (shrink)