An objection to reductionism in the epistemology of testimony that is often repeated but rarely defended in detail is that there is not enough positive evidence to provide the non-testimonial, positive reasons reductionism requires. Thus, on pain of testimonial skepticism, reductionism must be rejected. Call this argument the. I will defend reductionism about testimonialevidence against the NEEO by arguing that we typically have non-testimonial positive reasons in the form of evidence about our (...) testifier's evidence. With a higher-level evidence principle borrowed from recent work on the epistemology of disagreement, I argue that, granting some plausible assumptions about conversational norms, the NEEO is unsound. (shrink)
Approaches relying on fair procedures rather than substantive principles have been proposed for answering dilemmas in medical ethics and health policy. These dilemmas generally involve two questions: the epistemological (factual) question of which benefits an intervention will have, and the ethical (value) question of how to distribute those benefits. This article focuses on the potential of fair procedures to help address epistemological and factual questions in medicine, using the debate over antidepressant efficacy as a test case. In doing so, it (...) employs concepts from social epistemology such as testimonial injustice (bias resulting from the exclusion of evidence) and hermeneutical injustice (bias resulting from a prevailing discussion framework’s conceptual limitations). This article also explores the relevance of scientific consensus to determinations regarding medical evidence. (shrink)
John Hardwig has championed the thesis (NE) that evidence that an expert EXP has evidence for a proposition P, constituted by EXP’s testimony that P, is not evidence for P itself, where evidence for P is generally characterized as anything that counts towards establishing the truth of P. In this paper, I first show that (NE) yields tensions within Hardwig’s overall view of epistemic reliance on experts and makes it imply unpalatable consequences. Then, I use Shogenji-Roche’s (...) theorem of transitivity of incremental confirmation to show that (NE) is false if a natural Bayesian formalization of the above notion of evidence is implemented. I concede that Hardwig could resist my Bayesian objection if he re-interpreted (NE) as a more precise thesis that only applies to community-focused evidence. I argue, however, that this precisification, while diminishing the philosophical relevance of (NE), wouldn’t settle the tensions internal to Hardwig’s views. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for a version of the Total Evidence view according to which the rational response to disagreement depends upon one's total evidence. I argue that perceptual evidence of a certain kind is significantly weightier than many other types of evidence, including testimonial. Furthermore, what is generally called "The Uniqueness Thesis" is actually a conflation of two distinct principles that I dub "Evidential Uniqueness" and "Rationality Uniqueness." The former principle is likely true (...) but the latter almost certainly false. Seeing why the Rationality Uniqueness fails opens the door to seeing how mutual reasonable disagreement is possible even among those who share the same evidence. (shrink)
This paper defends reductionism about testimonial justification of beliefs against two influential arguments. One is the empirical argument to the effect that the reductionist justification of our trust in testimony is either circular since it relies on testimonialevidence or else there is scarce evidence in support of our trust in testimony. The other is the transcendental argument to the effect that trust in testimony is a prerequisite for the very existence of testimonialevidence (...) since without the presumption of people’s truthfulness we cannot interpret their utterances as testimony with propositional contents. This paper contends that the epistemic subject can interpret utterances as testimony with propositional contents without presupposing the credibility of testimony, and that evidence available to the normal epistemic subject can justify her trust in testimony. (shrink)
The standard image of how consensus can be achieved is by pooling evidence and reducing if not eliminating disagreements. But rather than just pooling substantive evidence on a certain question, why not also take into account the formal, testimonialevidence provided by the fact that a majority of the group adopt a particular answer? Shouldn't we be reinforced by the discovery that we are on that majority side, and undermined by the discovery that we are not? (...) Shouldn't this be so, in particular, when Condorcet's jury theorem applies? It turns out not. There are serious problems attending any strategy of majoritarian deference. (shrink)
An influential idea in the epistemology of testimony is that people often acquire justified beliefs through testimony, in contexts too informationally poor for the justification to be evidential. This has been described as the Scarcity of Information Objection (SIO). It is an objection to the reductive thesis that the acceptance of testimony is justified by evidence of general kinds not unique to testimony. SIO hinges on examples intended to show clearly that testimonial justification arises in low-information contexts; I (...) argue that the common examples show no such thing. There is a great deal of information available in testimonial contexts, including in the examples alleged to show otherwise – enough information to render SIO implausible. Purported SIO examples tend to give a wrong impression about the informational richness of testimonial contexts, I argue, due to the lack of detail in which they are presented. (shrink)
The case of very young children is a test case for the plausibility of reductionism about testimonial warrant. Reductionism requires reductive reasons, reductively justified and actively deployed for testimonial justification. Though nascent language-users enjoy warranted testimony based beliefs, they do not meet these three reductionist demands. This paper clearly formulates reductionism and the infant/child objection. Two rejoinders are discussed: an influential conceptual argument from Jennifer Lackey’s paper “Testimony and the Infant/Child Objection” and the growing empirical evidence from (...) developmental psychology on selective trust in children. Neither Lackey’s argument nor the empirical evidence vindicate reductionism. (shrink)
Regarding testimony as evidence fails to predict the sort of epistemic support testimony provides for testimonial belief. As a result, testimony-based belief should not be assimilated into the category of epistemically inferential, evidence-based belief.
According to the Interpersonal View of Testimony, testimonial justification is non-evidential in nature. I begin by arguing that the IVT has the following problem: If the IVT is true, then young children and people with autism cannot participate in testimonial exchanges; but young children and people with autism can participate in testimonial exchanges; thus, the IVT should be rejected on the grounds that it has over-cognized what it takes to give and receive testimony. Afterwards, I consider what (...) I take to be the two best motivations for the IVT and argue that they both fail. The overarching lesson, then, is that the IVT is unmotivated and false; we should think of testimonial justification as being evidential in nature. (shrink)
Modern health care relies extensively on the use of technologies for assessing and treating patients, so it is important to be certain that health care technologies perform their professed functions in an effective and safe manner. Philosophers of technology have developed methods to assign and evaluate the functions of technological products, the major elements of which are described in the ICE theory. This paper questions whether the standard of evidence advocated by the ICE theory is adequate for ascribing and (...) assessing technologies employed in health care. The paper proposes that the general problem with the standard of evidence embodied in the ICE theory is too permissive for assessing medical technologies, in that it does not take into account the relative benefit and harm of medical technologies in ensuring safe functional performance in patients. The paper illustrates how evidence-based medicine has demonstrated the value of clinical research methods, including observational studies, randomized and non-randomized clinical trials, and formal techniques, such as meta-analysis, to measure therapeutic effectiveness. I argue, therefore, that evidence from clinical research studies should take precedence over the testimonialevidence and other types of non-clinical evidence, in providing justification for health technologies. (shrink)
This paper studies some classic cases of the fallacy of begging the question based on appeals to testimony containing circular reasoning. For example, suppose agents a, b and c vouch for d’s credentials, and agents b, d, and e vouch for a’s credentials. Such a sequence of reasoning is circular because a is offering testimony for d but d is offering testimony for a. The paper formulates and evaluates restrictions on the use of testimonialevidence that might be (...) used to deal with such problematic arguments. One is called the Non-repeater Rule: in an extended sequence of argumentation based on testimony, once a source x has been appealed to at any given point in the sequence, that same source x must never be appealed to again at any next point in the same sequence. (shrink)
This paper considers a special case of belief updating—when an agent learns testimonial data, or in other words, the beliefs of others on some issue. The interest in this case is twofold: (1) the linear averaging method for updating on testimony is somewhat popular in epistemology circles, and it is important to assess its normative acceptability, and (2) this facilitates a more general investigation of what it means/requires for an updating method to have a suitable Bayesian representation (taken here (...) as the normative standard). The paper initially defends linear averaging against Bayesian-compatibility concerns raised by Bradley (Soc Choice Welf 29:609-632, 2007), as well as problems associated with multiple testimony updates. The resolution of these issues, however, requires an extremely nuanced interpretation of the parameters of the linear averaging model—the so-called weights of respect. We go on to propose a role that the parameters of any 'shortcut' updating function should play, by way of minimal interpretation of these parameters. The class of updating functions that is consistent with this role, however, excludes linear averaging, at least in its standard form. (shrink)
There is something puzzling about statistical evidence. One place this manifests is in the law, where courts are reluctant to base affirmative verdicts on evidence that is purely statistical, in spite of the fact that it is perfectly capable of meeting the standards of proof enshrined in legal doctrine. After surveying some proposed explanations for this, I shall outline a new approach – one that makes use of a notion of normalcy that is distinct from the idea of (...) statistical frequency. The puzzle is not, however, merely a legal one. Our unwillingness to base beliefs on statistical evidence is by no means limited to the courtroom, and is at odds with almost every general principle that epistemologists have proposed as to how we ought to manage our beliefs. (shrink)
This paper advocates for a “social turn" in religious epistemology. Part One reviews some familiar skeptical arguments targeting religious belief. All these skeptical arguments say that testimonialevidence cannot give religious belief adequate support or grounding, especially in the context of conflicting evidence. Part Two considers some recent work in social epistemology and the epistemology of testimony. Several issues regarding the nature of testimonialevidence are considered, and an account of testimonialevidence as (...) a means of distribution of information through the system is defended. Part Three uses the results of Part Two to reconsider the skeptical arguments in Part One. (shrink)
In this paper, we present the results of two surveys that investigate subjects’ judgments about what can be known or justifiably believed about lottery outcomes on the basis of statistical evidence, testimonialevidence, and “mixed” evidence, while considering possible anchoring and priming effects. We discuss these results in light of seven distinct hypotheses that capture various claims made by philosophers about lay people’s lottery judgments. We conclude by summarizing the main findings, pointing to future research, and (...) comparing our findings to recent studies by Turri and Friedman. (shrink)
Recent authors have drawn attention to a new kind of defeating evidence commonly referred to as higher-order evidence. Such evidence works by inducing doubts that one’s doxastic state is the result of a flawed process – for instance, a process brought about by a reason-distorting drug. I argue that accommodating defeat by higher-order evidence requires a two-tiered theory of justification, and that the phenomenon gives rise to a puzzle. The puzzle is that at least in some (...) situations involving higher-order defeaters the correct epistemic rules issue conflicting recommendations. For instance, a subject ought to believe p, but she ought also to suspend judgment in p. I discuss three responses. The first resists the puzzle by arguing that there is only one correct epistemic rule, an Über-rule. The second accepts that there are genuine epistemic dilemmas. The third appeals to a hierarchy or ordering of correct epistemic rules. I spell out problems for all of these responses. I conclude that the right lesson to draw from the puzzle is that a state can be epistemically rational or justified even if one has what looks to be strong evidence to think that it is not. As such, the considerations put forth constitute a non question-begging argument for a kind of externalism. (shrink)
Sometimes we get evidence of our own epistemic malfunction. This can come from finding out we’re fatigued, or have been drugged, or that other competent and well-informed thinkers disagree with our beliefs. This sort of evidence seems to seems to behave differently from ordinary evidence about the world. In particular, getting such evidence can put agents in a position where the most rational response involves violating some epistemic ideal.
In this paper, we argue for a particular informative and unified analysis of normative reasons. According to this analysis, a fact F is a reason to act in a certain way just in case it is evidence that one ought to act in that way. Similarly, F is a reason to believe a certain proposition just in case it is evidence for the truth of this proposition. Putting the relatively uncontroversial claim about reasons for belief to one side, (...) we present several arguments in favor of our analysis of reasons for action. We then turn to consider a series of objections to the analysis. We conclude that there are good reasons to accept the analysis and that the objections do not succeed. (shrink)
I examine Hume’s proposal about rationally considering testimonialevidence for miracles. He proposes that we compare the probability of the miracle (independently of the testimony) with the probability that the testimony is false, rejecting whichever has the lower probability. However, this superficially plausible proposal is massively ignored in our treatment of testimonialevidence in nonreligious contexts. I argue that it should be ignored, because in many cases, including the resurrection of Jesus, neither we nor Hume have (...) any experience which is at all relevant to assigning a prior probability to the alleged event. (shrink)
The most important thesis of "Of Miracles" has no special connection with miracles: I mean the perfectly general thesis that testimonialevidence should be evaluated by the method of balancing likelihoods, which is a relatively informal version of the calculus of changes (or of probabilities). C. S. Peirce argues that the method is radically unsuited to the assessment of historical testimony. In this paper, I do essentially two things: (1) set out both an informal and a formal account (...) of Hume’s method; and (2) collect, systematize, and discuss Peirce’s somewhat scattered animadversions upon Hume’s use of this method. As part of (2), I explore some lines of thought that Peirce suggests but does not develop. (shrink)
Contemporary commentators on Hume’s essay, "Of Miracles" have increasingly tended to argue that Hume never intended to suggest that testimonialevidence must always be insufficient to justify belief in a miracle. This is in marked contrast to earlier commentators who interpreted Hume as intending to demonstrate that testimonialevidence is incapable in principle of ever establishing rational belief in a miracle. In this article I argue that this traditional interpretation is the correct one.
In this paper I discuss Øyvind Dahl’s argument for the conclusion that Malagasy people conceive of the future as coming from behind them and not as being before them as most worldviews do. I argue that we have good reason not to attribute this view to Malagasy people. First, it would mark an inefficient and anomalous way of keeping track of the past and future. Second, the linguistic and testimonialevidence presented by Dahl doesn’t support the conclusion. Even (...) though this specific argument fails, Dahl has many enlightening things to say about Malagasy time conceptions, such as the various time-conceptions that figure more predominantly in their worldview as opposed to the general modern Western worldview. Dahl is right that successful communication for Westerners in Madagascar requires understanding that the Malagasy worldview is structured more by an event-related conception of time than the general modern Western worldview. I also show in this paper that the three time conceptions Dahl outlines are relevant to living a good life. (shrink)
Taylor, R. A tribute.--Epistemology: Cornman, J. W. Chisholm on sensing and perceiving. Ross, J. F. Testimonialevidence. Lehrer, K. Reason and consistency. Keim, R. Epistemic values and epistemic viewpoints. Hanen, M. Confirmation, explanation, and acceptance. Canfield, J. V. "I know that I am in pain" is senseless. Steel, T. J. Knowledge and the self-presenting.--Metaphysics: Cartwright, R. Scattered objects. Duggan, T. J. Hume on causation. Arnaud, R. B. Brentanist relations. Johnson, M. L., Jr. Events as recurrables.--Ethics: Stevenson, J. T. (...) On doxastic responsibility. Feldman, F. World utilitarianism. Lamb, J. W. Some definitions for the theory of rules. Donnelly, J. Suicide: some epistemological considerations. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the miraculous largely in the context of Western philosophy of religion and therefore largely in the context of a concern with Christianity. The main elements of the discussion are: A definition of the miraculous, basically a modified version of David Hume’s notion of a divinely caused violation of a law of nature; a brief discussion of the main functions which religious thought seems to assign to miracles. I divide these roles into two categories. One involves some epistemic (...) effect, such as providing someone with a basis or justification for belief. The other involves some other, non-epistemic, effect, such as providing physical healing,spiritual salvation, etc. A further discussion of epistemic concerns, mostly about the role of miracles as evidence for some belief, and the converse role of evidenceas justifying a belief in miracles; a further discussion of testimonialevidence in particular, and of how such evidence properly bears on judgments of probability. (shrink)
Contemporary commentators on Hume's essay, ‘Of miracles’ have increasingly tended to argue that Hume never intended to suggest that testimonialevidence must always be insufficient to justify belief in a miracle. This is in marked contrast to earlier commentators who interpreted Hume as intending to demonstrate that testimonialevidence is incapable in principle of ever establishing rational belief in a miracle. In this article I argue that this traditional interpretation is the correct one.
The first is that a miracle, understood as an event produced by a transcendent agent overriding the usual course of nature, involves a violation of the laws of nature. Larmer argues that events are explained by reference to both relevant laws and units of mass/energy in the sequences to be explained. He contends that a miracle need not be conceived as involving a violation of natural law, but rather as the creation or annihilation of mass/energy by a transcendent agent. In (...) reply to the objection that this account would violate the first law of thermo-dynamics, he distinguishes two forms of the principle -- one metaphysical, one scientific -- and aruges that a miracle would not violate the principle considered as a scientific law. The second assumption is that miracle testimony cannot serve as evidence for theism. Larmer demonstrates that the logical ties connecting the concept of miracle to theism need not imply that one must be a theist to evaluate miracle testimony properly. All that is required is that one is prepared to entertain theism as a hypothesis. Attacking these assumptions allows Larmer to show that Humean balance-of-probabilities arguments, based on a presumed conflict between evidence which establishes belief in the laws of nature and evidence in favour of miracles, miss the point if miracles need not be defined as violations of the laws of nature. He argues that, in the absence of a general argument demonstrating that the testimonialevidence in favour of miracles conflicts with the evidence for the laws of nature, it is up to the atheist to demonstrate, on a case-by-case basis, why the testimonialevidence is to be rejected. His conclusion is that, contrary to what is usually thought, the burden of proof lies not upon the shoulders of the theist, but upon the shoulders of the atheist. (shrink)
Here I criticise Audi's account of self-evidece. I deny that understanding of a proposition can justify belief in it and offfer an account of intuition that can take the place of understanding in an account of self-evidence.
The philosophy of evidence-based medicine -- What is EBM? -- What is good evidence for a clinical decision? -- Ruling out plausible rival hypotheses and confounding factors : a method -- Resolving the paradox of effectiveness : when do observational studies offer the same degree of evidential support as randomized trials? -- Questioning double blinding as a universal methodological virtue of clinical trials : resolving the Philip's paradox -- Placebo controls : problematic and misleading baseline measures of effectiveness (...) -- Questioning the methodological superiority of "placebo" over "active" controlled trials -- Examining the paradox that traditional roles for mechanistic reasoning and expert -- Judgment have been up-ended by EBM -- A qualified defence of the EBM stance on mechanistic reasoning -- Knowledge that versus knowledge how : situating the EBM position on expert clinical judgment -- Moving EBM forward. (shrink)
I argue that perceptual experience provides us with both phenomenal and factive evidence. To a first approximation, we can understand phenomenal evidence as determined by how our environment sensorily seems to us when we are experiencing. To a first approximation, we can understand factive evidence as necessarily determined by the environment to which we are perceptually related such that the evidence is guaranteed to be an accurate guide to the environment. I argue that the rational source (...) of both phenomenal and factive evidence lies in employing perceptual capacities that we have in virtue of being perceivers. In showing that both kinds of evidence have the same rational source, I provide a unified account of perceptual evidence and its rational source in perceptual experience. (shrink)
Sherrilyn Roush defends a new theory of knowledge and evidence, based on the idea of "tracking" the truth, as the best approach to a wide range of questions about knowledge-related phenomena. The theory explains, for example, why scepticism is frustrating, why knowledge is power, and why better evidence makes you more likely to have knowledge. Tracking Truth provides a unification of the concepts of knowledge and evidence, and argues against traditional epistemological realist and anti-realist positions about scientific (...) theories and for a piecemeal approach based on a criterion of evidence, a position Roush calls "real anti-realism." Epistemologists and philosophers of science will recognize this as a significant original contribution. (shrink)
WE AIM HERE to outline a theory of evidence for use. More specifically we lay foundations for a guide for the use of evidence in predicting policy effectiveness in situ, a more comprehensive guide than current standard offerings, such as the Maryland rules in criminology, the weight of evidence scheme of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), or the US ‘What Works Clearinghouse’. The guide itself is meant to be well-grounded but at the same time (...) to give practicable advice, that is, advice that can be used by policy-makers not expert in the natural and social sciences, assuming they are well-intentioned and have a reasonable but limited amount of time and resources available for searching out evidence and deliberating. (shrink)
Medical scientists employ ‘quality assessment tools’ (QATs) to measure the quality of evidence from clinical studies, especially randomized controlled trials (RCTs). These tools are designed to take into account various methodological details of clinical studies, including randomization, blinding, and other features of studies deemed relevant to minimizing bias and error. There are now dozens available. The various QATs on offer differ widely from each other, and second-order empirical studies show that QATs have low inter-rater reliability and low inter-tool reliability. (...) This is an instance of a more general problem I call the underdetermination of evidential significance. Disagreements about the strength of a particular piece of evidence can be due to different—but in principle equally good—weightings of the fine-grained methodological features which constitute QATs. (shrink)
Should people include beef in their diet? This chapter argues that the answer is “no” by reviewing what is known and not known about the presence in cattle of three psychological traits: pain, desire, and self-consciousness. On the basis of behavioral and neuroanatomical evidence, the chapter argues that cattle are sentient beings who have things they want to do in the proximal future, but they are not self-conscious. The piece rebuts three important objections: that cattle have injury information but (...) not pain; that cattle have goal-directed behavior but not desire; and that the absence of evidence for bovine self-consciousness should not be taken as evidence that cattle lack self-consciousness. In sum, what is known about cattle cognition shifts the moral burden of proof on to the beef eaters. (shrink)
This article discusses the following question: what epistemic relation must audiences bear to the content of assertions in order to gain testimonial knowledge? There is a brief discussion of why this issue is of importance, followed by two counterexamples to the most intuitive answer: that in order for an audience to gain testimonial knowledge that p they must know that the speaker has asserted p. It is then suggested that the argument generalises and can be made to work (...) on different sets of assumptions about the conditions for knowledge, and the conditions under which a proposition is asserted. (shrink)
One not infrequently hears rumors that the robust practice of natural theology reeks of epistemic pride. Paul Moser’s is a paradigm of such contempt. In this paper we defend the robust practice of natural theology from the charge of epistemic pride. In taking an essentially Thomistic approach, we argue that the evidence of natural theology should be understood as a species of God’s general self-revelation. Thus, an honest assessment of that evidence need not be prideful, but can be (...) an act of epistemic humility, receiving what God has offered, answering God’s call. Lastly, we provide criticisms of Moser’s alternative approach, advancing a variety of philosophical and theological problems against his conception of personifying evidence. (shrink)
The problem of evil is the most prominent argument against the existence of God. Skeptical theists contend that it is not a good argument. Their reasons for this contention vary widely, involving such notions as CORNEA, epistemic appearances, 'gratuitous' evils, 'levering' evidence, and the representativeness of goods. We aim to dispel some confusions about these notions, in particular by clarifying their roles within a probabilistic epistemology. In addition, we develop new responses to the problem of evil from both the (...) phenomenal conception of evidence and the knowledge-first view of evidence. (shrink)
Because few would object to evidence-based medicine’s (EBM) principal task of basing medical decisionmaking on the most judicious and up-to-date evidence, the debate over this prolific movement may seem puzzling. Who, one may ask, could be against evidence (Carr-Hill, 2006)? Yet this question belies the sophistication of the evidence-based movement. This chapter presents the evidence-based approach as a socio-medical phenomenon and seeks to explain and negotiate the points of disagreement between supporters and detractors. This is (...) done by casting EBM as more than the simple application of research findings to clinical care and improved health outcomes, but rather an umbrella term that harnesses a specific set of pedagogical objectives (some rather radical) under a name that makes it difficult to argue against. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis that a person is justified in believing a proposition iff the person's evidence on balance supports that proposition. In discussing epistemological issues associated with disagreements among epistemic peers, some philosophers have endorsed principles that seem to run contrary to evidentialism, specifying how one should revise one's beliefs in light of disagreement. In this paper, I examine the connection between evidentialism and these principles. I argue that the puzzles about disagreement provide no reason to abandon evidentialism (...) and that there are no true general principles about justified responses to disagreement other than the general evidentialist principle. I then argue that the puzzles about disagreement are primarily puzzles about the evidential impact of higher - order evidence – evidence about the significance or existence of ordinary, or first- order, evidence. I conclude by arguing that such higher - order evidence can often have a profound effect on the justification of first- order beliefs. (shrink)
Evidence-based medicine (EBM) makes use of explicit procedures for grading evidence for causal claims. Normally, these procedures categorise evidence of correlation produced by statistical trials as better evidence for a causal claim than evidence of mechanisms produced by other methods. We argue, in contrast, that evidence of mechanisms needs to be viewed as complementary to, rather than inferior to, evidence of correlation. In this paper we first set out the case for treating (...) class='Hi'>evidence of mechanisms alongside evidence of correlation in explicit protocols for evaluating evidence. Next we provide case studies which exemplify the ways in which evidence of mechanisms complements evidence of correlation in practice. Finally, we put forward some general considerations as to how the two sorts of evidence can be more closely integrated by EBM. (shrink)
Perceptions guide our actions and provide us with evidence of the world around us. Illusions and hallucinations can mislead us: they may prompt as to act in ways that do not mesh with the world around us and they may lead us to form false beliefs about that world. The capacity view provides an account of evidence that does justice to these two facts. It shows in virtue of what illusions and hallucinations mislead us and prompt us to (...) act. Moreover, it shows in virtue of what we are in a better epistemic position when we perceive than when we hallucination. In this paper, I develop the capacity view, that is, the view that perceptual experience has epistemic force in virtue of the epistemic and metaphysical primacy of the perceptual capacities employed in perception. By grounding the epistemic force of experience in facts about the metaphysical structure of experience, the capacity view is not only an externalist view, but moreover a naturalistic view of the epistemology of perceptual experience. So it is an externalist and naturalistic alternative to reliabilism. I discuss the repercussions of this view for the justification of beliefs and the epistemic transparency of mental states, as well as, familiar problem cases. (shrink)
Conspiracy theories are often portrayed as unwarranted beliefs, typically supported by suspicious kinds of evidence. Yet contemporary work in Philosophy argues provisional belief in conspiracy theories is at the very least understandable---because conspiracies occur---and that if we take an evidential approach, judging individual conspiracy theories on their particular merits, belief in such theories turns out to be warranted in a range of cases. -/- Drawing on this work, I examine the kinds of evidence typically associated with conspiracy theories, (...) and show how the so-called evidential problems with conspiracy theories are also problems for the kinds of evidence put forward in support of other theories. As such, if there is a problem with the conspiracy theorist's use of evidence, it is one of principle: is the principle which guides the conspiracy theorist's use of evidence somehow in error? I argue that whatever we might think about conspiracy theories generally, there is no prima facie case for a scepticism of conspiracy theories based purely on their use of evidence. (shrink)
What is required for something to be evidence for a hypothesis? In this fascinating, elegantly written work, distinguished philosopher of science Peter Achinstein explores this question, rejecting typical philosophical and statistical theories of evidence. He claims these theories are much too weak to give scientists what they want--a good reason to believe--and, in some cases, they furnish concepts that mistakenly make all evidential claims a priori. Achinstein introduces four concepts of evidence, defines three of them by reference (...) to "potential" evidence, and characterizes the latter using a novel epistemic interpretation of probability. The resulting theory is then applied to philosophical and historical issues. Solutions are provided to the "grue," "ravens," "lottery," and "old-evidence" paradoxes, and to a series of questions. These include whether explanations or predictions furnish more evidential weight, whether individual hypotheses or entire theoretical systems can receive evidential support, what counts as a scientific discovery, and what sort of evidence is required for it. The historical questions include whether Jean Perrin had non-circular evidence for the existence of molecules, what type of evidence J. J. Thomson offered for the existence of the electron, and whether, as is usually supposed, he really discovered the electron. Achinstein proposes answers in terms of the concepts of evidence introduced. As the premier book in the fabulous new series Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Science, this volume is essential for philosophers of science and historians of science, as well as for statisticians, scientists with philosophical interests, and anyone curious about scientific reasoning. (shrink)
Begins by explaining then proving a generalized language dependence result similar to Goodman's "grue" problem. I then use this result to cast doubt on the existence of an objective evidential favoring relation (such as "the evidence confirms one hypothesis over another," "the evidence provides more reason to believe one hypothesis over the other," "the evidence justifies one hypothesis over the other," etc.). Once we understand what language dependence tells us about evidential favoring, our options are an implausibly (...) strong conception of the a priori, a hard externalism on which agents are unable to determine what their evidence favors, or a subjectivist view that makes evidential favoring relative to features of the agent. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to develop and defend a novel answer to a question that has recently generated a considerable amount of controversy. The question concerns the normative significance of peer disagreement. Suppose that you and I have been exposed to the same evidence and arguments that bear on some proposition: there is no relevant consideration which is available to you but not to me, or vice versa. For the sake of concreteness, we might picture.
In this paper, I shall discuss a problem that arises when you try to combine an attractive account of what constitutes evidence with an independently plausible account of the kind of access we have to our evidence. According to E = K, our evidence consists of what we know. According to the principle of armchair access, we can know from the armchair what our evidence is. Combined, these claims entail that we can have armchair knowledge of (...) the external world. Because it seems that the principle of armchair access is supported by widely shared intuitions about epistemic rationality, it seems we ought to embrace an internalist conception of evidence. I shall argue that this response is mistaken. Because externalism about evidence can accommodate the relevant intuitions about epistemic rationality, the principle of armchair access is unmotivated. We also have independent reasons for preferring externalism about evidence to the principle of armchair access. (shrink)
“Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” is a slogan that is popular among scientists and nonscientists alike. This article assesses its truth by using a probabilistic tool, the Law of Likelihood. Qualitative questions (“Is E evidence about H ?”) and quantitative questions (“How much evidence does E provide about H ?”) are both considered. The article discusses the example of fossil intermediates. If finding a fossil that is phenotypically intermediate between two extant species provides (...) class='Hi'>evidence that those species have a common ancestor, does failing to find such a fossil constitute evidence that there was no common ancestor? Or should the failure merely be chalked up to the imperfection of the fossil record? The transitivity of the evidence relation in simple causal chains provides a broader context, which leads to discussion of the fine-tuning argument, the anthropic principle, and observation selection effects. (shrink)