That truth provides the standard for believing appears to be a platitude, one which dovetails with the idea that in some sense belief aims only at the truth. In recent years, however, an increasing number of prominent philosophers have suggested that knowledge provides the standard for believing, and so that belief aims only at knowledge. In this paper, I examine the considerations which have been put forward in support of this suggestion, considerations relating to lottery beliefs, Moorean beliefs, (...) the criticism and defence of belief, and the value of knowledge. I argue that those considerations do not give us reason to give up the truth view in favour of the knowledge view and, moreover, that reflection on those considerations gives us some reason to reject the knowledge view. Thus, I conclude, we can continue to the take the apparent platitude at face value. (shrink)
According to factive accounts of the norm of belief and decision-making, you should not believe or base decisions on a falsehood. Even when the evidence misleadingly suggests that a false proposition is true, you should not believe it or base decisions on it. Critics claim that factive accounts are counterintuitive and badly mischaracterize our ordinary practice of evaluating beliefs and decisions. This paper reports four experiments that rigorously test the critic’s accusations and the viability of factive accounts. The results (...) undermine the accusations and provide the best evidence yet of factive norms of belief and decision-making. The results also help discriminate between two leading candidates for a factive norm: truth and knowledge. Knowledge is the superior candidate. (shrink)
Many philosophers have sought to account for doxastic and epistemic norms by supposing that belief ‘aims at truth.’ A central challenge for this approach is to articulate a version of the truth-aim that is at once weak enough to be compatible with the many truth-independent influences on belief formation, and strong enough to explain the relevant norms in the desired way. One phenomenon in particular has seemed to require a relatively strong construal of the truth-aim thesis, (...) namely ‘transparency’ in doxastic deliberation. In this paper, I argue that the debate over transparency has been in the grip of a false presupposition, namely that the phenomenon must be explained in terms of being a feature of deliberation framed by the concept of belief. Giving up this presupposition makes it possible to adopt weaker and more plausible versions of the truth-aim thesis in accounting for doxastic and epistemic norms. (shrink)
Unusability pessimism has recently emerged as an appealing new option for pessimists about aesthetic testimony—those who deny the legitimacy of forming aesthetic beliefs on the basis of testimony. Unusability pessimists argue that we should reject the traditional pessimistic stance that knowledge of aesthetic matters is unavailable via testimony in favour of the view that while such knowledge is available to us, it is unusable. This unusability stems from the fact that accepting such testimony would violate an important non-epistemic norm of (...)belief formation. In this article I present an objection to unusability pessimism and argue that Robert Hopkins, the view's most prominent defender, fails to motivate adequately the claim that there are such non-epistemic beliefnorms. The cases which putatively legitimize usability norms can be explained by appeal to more familiar norm types: epistemic norms of belief formation, and non-epistemic norms which govern action other than belief formation. The intent of this article is not primarily negative, however, and I will also argue that understanding why the unusability position fails helps us to identify a promising new direction for the pessimist's opponents who wish to defend the legitimacy of forming aesthetic beliefs on the basis of testimony. (shrink)
When in the business of offering an account of the epistemic normativity of belief, one is faced with the following dilemma: strongly externalist norms fail to account for the intuition of justification in radical deception scenarios, while milder norms are incapable to explain what is epistemically wrong with false beliefs. This paper has two main aims; we first look at one way out of the dilemma, defended by Timothy Williamson and Clayton Littlejohn, and argue that it fails. (...) Second, we identify what we take to be the problematic assumption that underlies their account and offer an alternative way out. We put forth a knowledge-first friendly normative framework for belief which grants justification to radically deceived subjects while at the same time acknowledging that their false beliefs are not epistemically good beliefs. (shrink)
These replies to commentators on my work focus on the nature of epistemic norms, on the nature of truth and on the nature and value of knowledge. A normative account of belief and knowledge is committed to substantial and objective epistemic norms. But not everyone agrees on their form. I try here to reply to some doubts raised by my critics.
Why is it that we cannot legitimately make certain aesthetic assertions – for instance that ‘Guernica is harrowing’ or that ‘The Rite of Spring is strangely beautiful’ – on the basis of testimony alone? In this paper I consider a species of argument intended to demonstrate that the best explanation for the impermissibility of such assertions is that a particular view of the norms of aesthetic belief – pessimism concerning aesthetic testimony – is correct. I begin by outlining (...) the strongest instance of such ‘arguments from assertion’ and demonstrating that it presents a powerful motivation for embracing pessimism; the view that it is illegitimate to form aesthetic beliefs on the basis of testimony alone. I then go on to argue that, appearances notwithstanding, the pessimist’s opponents – optimists concerning aesthetic testimony – are able to provide an explanation for the impermissibility of these assertions which is at least as good as, and in some respects better than, that offered by their pessimist. The explanation I propose draws on some important work on signalling in aesthetics, by Denis Dutton and others, to argue that the problem with such assertions is closely parallel to the problem Dutton claims is generated by forgeries. Those making such assertions misrepresent a piece of aesthetic labour as their own, when, in fact, it is the work of another. I also explore the wider implications of this view for debates in aesthetic epistemology and beyond. (shrink)
Some philosophers have been attracted to the idea that the norm of belief is truth that is, a belief that p is correct i p is true. But this idea is problematic in view of some very common• place re ections on what one should believe about paradoxical sentences like the Truthteller. Interestingly, these re ections don't seem to trouble the rival knowledge norm for belief, and this may provide indirect support for that alternative norm.
For many epistemologists and normativity theorists, epistemic norms necessarily entail normative reasons. Why or in virtue of what do epistemic norms have this necessary normative authority? According to what I call epistemic constitutivism, it is ultimately because belief constitutively aims at truth. In this paper, I examine various versions of the aim of belief thesis and argue that none of them can plausibly ground the normative authority of epistemic norms. I conclude that epistemic constitutivism is (...) not a promising strategy for grounding epistemic normativity. (shrink)
Recently it has been increasingly popular to argue that knowledge is the norm of belief. I present an argument against this view. The argument trades on the epistemic situation of the subject in the bad case. Notably, unlike with other superficially similar arguments against knowledge norms, knowledge normers preferred strategy of appealing to the distinction between permissibility and excusability cannot help them to rebut this argument.
Evidence and Agency is concerned with the question of how, as agents, we should take evidence into account when thinking about our future actions. Sometimes we promise and resolve to do things that we have evidence is difficult for us to do. Should we believe that we will follow through, or believe that there is a good chance that we won't? If you believe the former, you seem to be irrational since you believe against the evidence. Yet if you believe (...) the latter, you seem to be insincere since you can't sincerely say that you will follow through. Hence, it seems, your promise or resolution must be improper. To meet this challenge, Berislav Maru%si'c considers and rejects a number of responses, before defending instead a solution inspired by the Kantian tradition and by Sartre in particular: as agents, we have a distinct view of what we will do. If something is up to us, we can decide what to do, rather than predict what we will do. But the reasons in light of which a decision is rational are not the same as the reasons in light of which a prediction is rational. That is why, provided it is important to us to do something we can rationally believe that we will do it, even if our belief goes against the evidence. (shrink)
Berislav Maru%si'c explores how we should take evidence into account when thinking about future actions, such as resolving to do something we know will be difficult. Should we believe we will follow through, or not? He argues that if it is important to us, we can rationally believe we will do it, even if our belief contradicts the evidence.
Berislav Marusic explores how we should take evidence into account when thinking about future actions, such as resolving to do something we know will be difficult. Should we believe we will follow through, or not? He argues that if it is important to us, we can rationally believe we will do it, even if our belief contradicts the evidence.
Here I advance a unified account of the structure of the epistemic normativity of assertion, action, and belief. According to my Teleological Account, all of these are epistemically successful just in case they fulfill the primary aim of knowledgeability, an aim which in turn generates a host of secondary epistemic norms. The central features of the Teleological Account are these: it is compact in its reliance on a single central explanatory posit, knowledge-centered in its insistence that knowledge sets (...) the fundamental epistemic norm, and yet fiercely pluralistic in its acknowledgment of the legitimacy and value of a rich range of epistemic norms distinct from knowledge. Largely in virtue of this pluralist character, I argue, the Teleological Account is far superior to extant knowledge-centered accounts. (shrink)
The “ ethics of belief” refers to a cluster of questions at the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of mind, psychology, and ethics. The central question in the debate is whether there are norms of some sort governing our habits of belief formation, belief maintenance, and belief relinquishment. Is it ever or always morally wrong to hold a belief on insufficient evidence? Is it ever or always morally right to believe on the basis of sufficient (...) evidence, or to withhold belief in the perceived absence of it? Is it ever or always obligatory to seek out all available epistemic evidence for a belief? Are there some ways of obtaining evidence that are themselves immoral or imprudent? -/-. (shrink)
This paper discusses an intriguing, though rather overlooked case of normative disagreement in the history of philosophy of mathematics: Weyl's criticism of Dedekind’s famous principle that "In science, what is provable ought not to be believed without proof." This criticism, as I see it, challenges not only a logicist norm of belief in mathematics, but also a realist view about whether there is a fact of the matter as to what norms of belief are correct.
This book is about the norms of the speech act of assertion. This is a topic of lively contemporary debate primarily carried out in epistemology and philosophy of language. Suppose that you ask me what time an upcoming meeting starts, and I say, “4 p.m.” I’ve just asserted that the meeting starts at 4 p.m. Whenever we make claims like this, we’re asserting. The central question here is whether we need to know what we say, and, relatedly, whether what (...) we assert must be true. If the meeting is really at 3:30 p.m., you’ll be late, and probably rather upset that I told you the wrong time. In some sense, it seems like I’m on the hook for having said something false. This sense that I’ve done something wrong suggests that there are certain standards of evaluating assertions: a way of distinguishing between good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate. We call these standards norms. And so the debate about what, if any, norms govern the linguistic practice of assertion is known as the norms of assertion debate. When one’s assertion satisfies the norm, we say that the assertion is warranted. -/- Various philosophers have typically focused their views of the norms of assertion on articulating the level of epistemic support required for properly asserting. Some argue, for example, that one must know what one asserts. Others argue that one merely needs to justifiably believe what one asserts–an epistemic standing weaker than knowledge. The purpose of this book is to defend what I propose as the central norm governing our practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm. Here’s what it looks like: -/- One may assert that p only if: One has supportive reasons for p, The relevant conventional and pragmatic elements of the context are present, and One asserts that p at least in part because the assertion that p satisfies and. -/- In rough outline, the standards for warrantedly asserting shift with changes in context, although knowledge is never required for warrantedly asserting. In fact, in some special contexts, speakers may warrantedly lie. This latter feature particularly sets apart my view from others in the debate. This also means that truth, knowledge, and even belief aren’t necessary conditions for warrantedly asserting. (shrink)
Pragmatists have argued that doxastic or epistemic norms do not apply to beliefs, but to changes of beliefs; thus not to the holding or not-holding, but to the acquisition or removal of beliefs. Doxastic voluntarism generally claims that humans acquire beliefs in a deliberate and controlled way. This paper introduces Negative Doxastic Voluntarism according to which there is a fundamental asymmetry in belief change: humans tend to acquire beliefs more or less automatically and unreflectively, but they tend to (...) withdraw beliefs in a controlled and deliberate way. I first present a variety of philosophical, empirical and logical arguments for Negative Doxastic Voluntarism. Then I raise two objections against it. First, the apparent asymmetry may result from a confusion of belief with other doxastic attitudes like assumption, supposition, hypothesis or opinion. Second, the apparent asymmetry seems to vanish if we focus on doxastic states rather than just beliefs. Some rejoinders and their consequences for the vague concept of belief are sketched. (shrink)
The availability of the defence of belief in consent under section 265(4) is a question of law, subject to review on appeal. The statutory provision is based on the common law rule that applies to all defences. Consideration of the defence when it is unavailable in law and failure to consider it when it is available are both incorrect. A judge is most likely to avoid error when ruling on availability of the defence if the ruling: (1) is grounded (...) on sound analysis of the substantive basis for the defence and its relationship to the principles of criminal responsibility; and (2) uses precise legal criteria to govern practical application of section 265(4) to the evidence in specific cases. The guidelines proposed in Part I are based on analyses of the substantive defence and culpable awareness and were developed to ensure that appropriate criteria are properly used when section 265(4) is applied. When a trial judge rules that the defence is available in law, the trier of fact must determine whether the defence is available on the facts as found, based on the evidence in the case. The model jury instructions proposed in Part II are designed to ensure that deliberations by the trier of fact are also guided and shaped by appropriate legal criteria. At both stages, the objective is to ground the deliberation process on fact, not fiction, and to regulate the exculpatory effect of the defence by using legal norms to exclude excuses based on extra-legal considerations such as sexual/racial fantasy, stereotype and myth, or community attitudes and custom. (shrink)
Subjects appear to take only evidential considerations to provide reason or justification for believing. That is to say that subjects do not take practical considerations—the kind of considerations which might speak in favour of or justify an action or decision—to speak in favour of or justify believing. This is puzzling; after all, practical considerations often seem far more important than matters of truth and falsity. In this paper, I suggest that one cannot explain this, as many have tried, merely by (...) appeal to the idea that belief aims only at the truth. I appeal instead to the idea that the aim of belief is to provide only practical reasons which might form the basis on which to act and to make decisions, an aim which is in turn dictated by the aim of action. This, I argue, explains why subjects take only evidential considerations to favour of or justify believing. Surprisingly, then, it turns out that it is practical reason itself which demands that there be no practical reasons for belief. (shrink)
It is often said, metaphorically, that belief "aims" at the truth. This paper proposes a normative interpretation of this metaphor. First, the notion of "epistemic norms" is clarified, and reasons are given for the view that epistemic norms articulate essential features of the beliefs that are subject to them. Then it is argued that all epistemic norms--including those that specify when beliefs count as rational, and when they count as knowledge--are explained by a fundamental norm of (...) correct belief, which requires that, if one considers a proposition at all, one should believe it if and only if it is true. (shrink)
This paper considers an argument from Rosenberg (Thinking about Knowing, 2002) that truth is not and cannot be the aim of belief. Here, I reconstruct what I take to be the most well worked out version of this idea tracing back to Rorty and Davidson. In response, I also distinguish two things the truth-aim could be: a goal regulating our executable epistemic conduct and an end which determines the types of evaluation, susceptibility to which is partially constitutive of what (...) a belief is. (shrink)
There are currently two robust traditions in philosophy dealing with doxastic attitudes: the tradition that is concerned primarily with all-or-nothing belief, and the tradition that is concerned primarily with degree of belief or credence. This paper concerns the relationship between belief and credence for a rational agent, and is directed at those who may have hoped that the notion of belief can either be reduced to credence or eliminated altogether when characterizing the norms governing ideally (...) rational agents. It presents a puzzle which lends support to two theses. First, that there is no formal reduction of a rational agent’s beliefs to her credences, because belief and credence are each responsive to different features of a body of evidence. Second, that if our traditional understanding of our practices of holding each other responsible is correct, then belief has a distinctive role to play, even for ideally rational agents, that cannot be played by credence. The question of which avenues remain for the credence-only theorist is considered. (shrink)
In his influential discussion of the aim of belief, David Owens argues that any talk of such an ‘aim’ is at best metaphorical. In order for the ‘aim’ of belief to be a genuine aim, it must be weighable with other aims in deliberation, but Owens claims that this is impossible. In previous work, I have pointed out that if we look at a broader range of deliberative contexts involving belief, it becomes clear that the putative aim (...) of belief is capable of being weighed against other aims. Recently, however, Ema Sullivan-Bissett and Paul Noordhof have objected to this response on the grounds that it employs an undefended conception of the aim of belief not shared by Owens, and that it equivocates between importantly different contexts of doxastic deliberation. In this note, I argue that both of these objections fail. (shrink)
This chapter discusses norms of assertion. I defend the view that the sole constitutive norm of assertion is that you should not assert what you do not believe. I also discuss the views of some--e.g. Grice, Williamson--who have defended the stronger view that the sole constitutive norm of assertion is that you should not assert what you do not know.
I argue that, if belief is subject to a norm of truth, then that norm is evaluative rather than prescriptive in character. No prescriptive norm of truth is both plausible as a norm that we are subject to, and also capable of explaining what the truth norm of belief is supposed to explain. Candidate prescriptive norms also have implausible consequences for the normative status of withholding belief. An evaluative norm fares better in all of these respects. (...) I propose an evaluative account according to which the goodness of true belief is, in Geach's sense, attributive rather than predicative. (shrink)
The knowledge and attendant justification norms of belief and assertion serve to regulate our doxastic attitudes towards, and practices of asserting, various propositions. I argue that conforming to these norms under conditions of religious ignorance promotes responsible acts of assertion, epistemic humility, and non–dogmatic doxastic attitudes towards the content of one’s own faith. Such conformity also facilitates the formation of the religious personality in a healthy direction in other ways. I explore these ideas in relation to the (...) Christian faith tradition, but my reflections generalize. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox is the fact that assertions or beliefs such asBangkok is the capital of Thailand but I do not believe that Bangkok is the capital of Thailand or Bangkok is the capital of Thailand but I believe that Bangkok is not the capital of Thailand are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. The current orthodoxy is that an explanation of the absurdity should first start with belief, on the assumption that once the absurdity in belief has been explained then (...) this will translate into an explanation of the absurdity in assertion. This assumption gives explanatory priority to belief over assertion. I show that the translation involved is much trickier than might at first appear. It is simplistic to think that Moorean absurdity in assertion is always a subsidiary product of the absurdity in belief, even when the absurdity is conceived as irrationality. Instead we should aim for explanations of Moorean absurdity in assertion and in belief that are independent even if related, while bearing in mind that some forms of irrationality may be forms of absurdity even if not conversely. (shrink)
In this paper we explore the relationship between norms of belief revision that may be adopted by members of a community and the resulting dynamic properties of the distribution of beliefs across that community. We show that at a qualitative level many aspects of social belief change can be obtained from a very simple model, which we call ‘threshold influence’. In particular, we focus on the question of what makes the beliefs of a community stable under various (...) dynamical situations. We also consider refinements and alternatives to the ‘threshold’ model, the most significant of which is to consider changes to plausibility judgements rather than mere beliefs. We show first that some such change is mandated by difficult problems with belief-based dynamics related to the need to decide on an order in which different beliefs are considered. Secondly, we show that the resulting plausibility-based account results in a deterministic dynamical system that is non-deterministic at the level of beliefs. (shrink)
In this paper I look at three challenges to the very possibility of an ethics of belief and then show how they can be met. The first challenge, from Thomas Kelly, says that epistemic rationality is not a form of instrumental rationality. If this claim is true, then it will be difficult to develop an ethics of belief that does not run afoul of naturalism. The second challenge is the Non-Voluntarism Argument, which holds that because we cannot believe (...) at will and because ought implies can, there can be no ethics of belief. The third challenge comes from Richard Feldman, who claims that there is no such thing as ought all-things-considered. He says, for example, that moral oughts can be weighed against other moral oughts and that epistemic oughts can be compared to each other, but that there is no way to weigh moral oughts against epistemic oughts. If this is true, then norms about what one ought to believe are not nearly as important as one might have hoped or as philosophers have traditionally thought. In answering these three challenges, I try to show how and why the project of developing epistemic norms might be a promising avenue of research, despite claims to the contrary. (shrink)
It is a piece of philosophical commonsense that belief and knowledge are states. Some epistemologists reject this claim in hope of answering certain difficult questions about the normative evaluation of belief. I shall argue, however, that this move offends not only against philosophical commonsense but also against ordinary common sense, at least as far as this is manifested in the semantic content of the words we use to talk about belief and knowledge. I think it is relatively (...) easily to show with some linguistic tests that ordinary belief and knowledge attributions should be classified aspectually as state descriptions. Hence, the move some epistemologists to deny that belief and knowledge are states threatens to simply change the topic rather than open up answers to difficult questions in epistemology. I do not know fully how to answer the relevant questions about the normative evaluation of belief, but I pursue this critical point here in service of a positive proposal about the general framework in which they should be answered. In brief, the general framework is one which recognizes an important place for what I call state-norms, beside the action-norms which are more familiar from normative theory. And it locates the epistemic norms that apply to beliefs and are relevant for knowledge on the state-norm side of this divide. This turns out to be not only consistent with but indeed to underwrites the philosophical and ordinary commonsense that belief and knowledge are states. (shrink)
John Gibbons presents an original account of epistemic normativity. Belief seems to come with a built-in set of standards or norms. One task is to say where these standards come from. But the more basic task is to say what those standards are. In some sense, beliefs are supposed to be true. Perhaps they’re supposed to constitute knowledge. And in some sense, they really ought to be reasonable. Which, if any of these is the fundamental norm of (...) class='Hi'>belief? The book argues against the teleological or instrumentalist conception of rationality that sees being reasonable as a means to our more objective aims, either knowledge or truth. And it tries to explain both the norms of knowledge and of truth in terms of the fundamental norm, the one that tells you to be reasonable. The importance of being reasonable is not explained in terms of what it will get you, or what you think it will get you, or what it would get you if only things were different. The requirement to be reasonable comes from the very idea of what a genuine requirement is. That’s where the built-in standards governing belief come from, and that’s what they are. (shrink)
Kant identifies knowledge [Wissen], belief [Glaube], and opinion [Meinung] as our three primary modes of “holding-to-be-true” [Fürwahrhalten]. He also identifies opinion as making up the greatest part of our cognition. After a preliminary sketch of Kant’s system of propositional attitudes, this paper will explore what he says about the norms governing opinion and empirical hypotheses. The final section will turn to what, in the Critique of Pure Reason and elsewhere, Kant refers to as “General Applied Logic”. It concerns (...) the “contingent conditions of the subject, which can hinder or promote” good inquiry; and, though rarely mentioned in the secondary literature, it offers Kant’s methodological alternative to the traditional epistemological goal of finding “a sufficient and at the same time general criterion of truth”. (shrink)
According to the normativist, it is built into the nature of belief itself that beliefs are subject to a certain set of norms. I argue here that only a normativist account can explain certain non-normative facts about what it takes to have the capacity for belief. But this way of defending normativism places an explanatory burden on any normativist account that an account on which a truth norm is explanatorily fundamental simply cannot discharge. I develop an alternative (...) account that can achieve explanatory adequacy where this sort of truth privileging account falls short. (shrink)
Epistemology is widely seen as a normative discipline like ethics. Just like moral facts, epistemic facts – i.e. facts about our beliefs’ epistemic justification, rationality, reasonableness, correctness, warrant, and the like – are standardly viewed as normative facts. Yet, whereas many philosophers have rejected the existence of moral facts, few have raised similar doubts about the existence of epistemic facts. In recent years however, several metaethicists and epistemologists have rejected this Janus-faced or dual stance towards the existence of moral and (...) epistemic facts. As recent developments in metaethics and normativity theory have made clear, objections to the existence of moral facts really are metanormative objections that target the existence of normative facts more generally. But since epistemic facts are no less normative than moral facts, the argument goes, the existence of the former is equally threatened by metaethical objections. In this thesis, I argue that this rejection of the dual stance fails because epistemic facts are not normative facts. Although they imply norms, they do not imply genuine normativity since the epistemic norms of belief that they imply lack necessary normative authority or force. Unlike moral norms and just like e.g. norms of etiquette and the law, there is not automatically a normative reason to conform to epistemic norms. Therefore, even if metaethical objections target all normative facts, it does not follow that they also target epistemic facts. I offer a two-part abductive argument in favour of that conclusion. First, I argue that epistemic facts lack five commonly cited features of normative facts (but not of merely norm-implying facts). Then, I argue that this is best explained by the thesis that epistemic facts are merely norm-implying and not genuinely normative. I end by exploring the potential consequences of this conclusion for epistemology and metaethics. (shrink)
Belief normativism is roughly the view that judgments about beliefs are normative judgments. Kathrin Glüer and Åsa Wikforss suggest that there are two ways one could defend this view: by appeal to what might be called ‘truth-norms’, or by appeal to what might be called ‘norms of rationality’ or ‘epistemic norms’. According to G&W, whichever way the normativist takes, she ends up being unable to account for the idea that the norms in question would guide (...)belief formation. Plausibly, if belief normativism were true, the relevant norms would have to offer such guidance. I argue that G&W’s case against belief normativism is not successful. In section 1, I defend the idea that truth-norms can guide belief formation indirectly via epistemic norms. In section 2, I outline an account of how the epistemic norms might guide belief. Interestingly, this account may involve a commitment to a certain kind of expressivist view concerning judgments about epistemic norms. (shrink)
I defend the thesis that beliefs are constitutively normative from two kinds of objection. After clarifying what a “blindspot” proposition is and the different types of blindspots there can be, I show that the existence of such propositions does not undermine the thesis that beliefs are essentially governed by a negative truth norm. I argue that the “normative variance” exhibited by this norm is not a defect. I also argue that if we accept a distinction between subjective and objective (...) class='Hi'>norms there need be no worrying tension between doxastic norms of truth and doxastic norms of evidence. I show how a similar approach applies to the attitude of guessing. I then suggest that if we distinguish between practical and theoretical rationality, we will prefer a negative form of norm that does not positively oblige us to form beliefs. I finish by considering an alternative possible subjunctive form of norm that would also avoid problems with blindspots but suggest this has a non-intuitive consequence. (shrink)
Should we tell other people the truth? Should we believe what other people tell us? This paper argues that something like these norms of truth-telling and belief govern our production and receipt of testimony in conversational contexts. It then attempts to articulate these norms and determine their justification. More fully specified these norms prescribe that speakers tell the truth informatively, or be trustworthy, and that audiences presume that speakers do this, or trust. These norms of (...) trust, as norms of conversational cooperation, would then seem to be justified on the basis of the interest that each has in the cooperative outcome. The norms of trust would then be justified as Lewisian conventions. Howver, the joint outcome prescribed by these norms is not a equilibrium point: a speaker always does better to have an audience’s trust and the liberty to tell the truth or not as it suits. In this way, testimony presents a problem of trust. The justification of these norms of trust then starts from the recognition that any society that did not resolve this problem of trust would be stymied as a society. The resolution of this problem then requires securing the motivations characteristic of trusting and being trustworthy, where to have these motivations is to have an ethical outlook defined in terms of internalising these norms of trust. This justification genealogical and it is one of value. (shrink)
According to assurance views of testimonial justification, in virtue of the act of testifying a speaker provides an assurance of the truth of what she asserts to the addressee. This assurance provides a special justificatory force and a distinctive normative status to the addressee. It is thought to explain certain asymmetries between addressees and other unintended hearers (bystanders and eavesdroppers), such as the phenomenon that the addressee has a right to blame the speaker for conveying a falsehood but unintended hearers (...) do not, and the phenomenon that the addressee may deflect challenges to his testimonial belief to the speaker but unintended hearers may not. Here I argue that we can do a better job explaining the normative statuses associated with testimony by reference to epistemic norms of assertion and privacy norms. Following Sanford Goldberg, I argue that epistemic norms of assertion, according to which sincere assertion is appropriate only when the asserter possesses certain epistemic goods, can be ‘put to work’ to explain the normative statuses associated with testimony. When these norms are violated, they give hearers the right to blame the speaker, and they also explain why the speaker takes responsibility for the justification of the statement asserted. Norms of privacy, on the other hand, directly exclude eavesdroppers and bystanders from an informational exchange, implying that they have no standing to do many of the things, such as issue challenges or questions to the speaker, that would be normal for conversational participants. This explains asymmetries of normative status associated with testimony in a way logically independent of speaker assurance. (shrink)
A common argument for evidentialism is that the norms of assertion, specifically those bearing on warrant and assertability, regulate belief. On this assertoric model of belief, a constitutive condition for belief is that the believing subject take her belief to be supported by sufficient evidence. An equally common source of resistance to these arguments is the plausibility of cases in which a speaker, despite the fact that she lacks warrant to assert that p, nevertheless attributes (...) to herself the belief that p. In the following, I will outline a variety of ways a speaker may contrastively attribute a belief to herself. In light of what these contrastive statements communicate, cases of attributing beliefs with little or no warrant to oneself offer no substantive counter-example to the evidentialist argument from assertion. (shrink)