The motivating question of this paper is: ‘How are our beliefs in the theorems of mathematics justified?’ This is distinguished from the question ‘How are our mathematical beliefs reliably true?’ We examine an influential answer, outlined by Russell, championed by Gödel, and developed by those searching for new axioms to settle undecidables, that our mathematical beliefs are justified by ‘intuitions’, as our scientific beliefs are justified by observations. On this view, axioms are analogous to laws of nature. They are postulated (...) to best systematize the data to be explained. We argue that there is a decisive difference between the cases. There is agreement on the data to be systematized in the scientific case that has no analog in the mathematical one. There is virtual consensus over observations, but conspicuous dispute over intuitions. In this respect, mathematics more closely resembles stereotypical philosophy. We conclude by distinguishing two ideas that have long been associated -- realism (the idea that there is an independent reality) and objectivity (the idea that in a disagreement, only one of us can be right). We argue that, while realism is true of mathematics and philosophy, these domains fail to be objective. One upshot of the discussion is that even questions of fundamental physics may fail to be objective in roughly the sense that the question, ‘Is the Parallel Postulate is true?’, understood as one of pure mathematics, fails to be. Another is a kind of pragmatism. Factual questions in mathematics, modality, logic, and evaluative areas go proxy for non-factual practical ones. -/- . (shrink)
What can we know? How should we live? What is there? Philosophers famously diverge in the answers they give to these and other philosophical questions. It is widely presumed that a lack of convergence on these questions suggests that philosophy is not progressing at all, is not progressing fast enough, or is not progressing as fast as other disciplines, such as the natural sciences. Call the view that ideal philosophical progress is marked by at least some degree of convergence on (...) the core philosophical questions the pro-convergence thesis. I will argue that there is reason to reject the pro-convergence thesis in favor of the anti-convergence thesis, the view that significant viewpoint convergence is at odds with the aims of a philosophically ideal community. The argument centers on a thought experiment about two different philosophical communities. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s “Lectures on Religious Belief” (LRB) provide a source for as yet unexplored connections to religious ideas as treated in Robert N. McCauley’s book Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not (2013), and to other CSR scholars who focus attention on how “cognitively speaking it is religion that is natural and science that is largely unnatural.” Tensions are explored in this paper between our “maturationally natural” religious inclinations to adopt religious ideas and the “unnatural” demands sometimes made upon people, (...) either a) by imposition of evidentialist norms over religious utterances, or b) by an agent’s adherence to perceived demands of theological correctness and to a particularly demanding conception of genuine or authentic faith. Wittgenstein uses Bertrand Russell and Father O'Hara to articulate these two tensions, and to offer alternatives which to some degree assuage them. I argue that such tensions are not only illuminating of the more and less helpful models of the relationship between reason and faith, but also open up new research questions which connect contemporary CSR and Wittgensteinian (or more broadly Continental) approaches to philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Many philosophers regard the persistence of philosophical disputes as symptomatic of overly ambitious, ill-founded intellectual projects. There are indeed strong reasons to believe that persistent disputes in philosophy (and more generally in the discourse at large) are pointless. We call this the pessimistic view of the nature of philosophical disputes. In order to respond to the pessimistic view, we articulate the supporting reasons and provide a precise formulation in terms of the idea that the best explanation of persistent disputes entails (...) that they are pointless. We then show how to answer the pessimistic argument. Taking a well-known mathematical controversy as our paradigm example, we argue that some persistent disputes reflect substantive disagreements at the “meta-analytic” level, i.e., disagreements about the best way, among quite different candidates, to understand the topic at issue, and the best associated cluster of analytic truths one should accept concerning it. Moreover, our concrete example shows that such meta-analytic disagreements can in principle be settled and yield a genuine theoretical (as opposed to merely pragmatic) breakthrough. We conclude optimistically that persistent disputes can be an important means of fostering epistemic progress. (shrink)
Assessment relativism, as developed by John MacFarlane, is the view that the truth of our claims involving a variety of English expressions—‘tasty’, ‘knows’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘might’, and ‘ought’—is relative not only to aspects of the context of their production but also to aspects of the context in which they are assessed. Assessment relativism is thus a form of truth relativism which is offered as a new way of understanding perspectival thought and talk. In this article, I present the main theses of (...) assessment relativism, focusing in particular on highlighting the points of commonality and contrast with other forms of truth relativism. I then offer some critical remarks concerning the motivation of assessment relativism in relation to matters of taste. (shrink)
We tend to think that philosophical progress, to the extent that it exists, is a good thing. I agree. Even so, it has some surprising unfortunate consequences for the rationality of philosophical belief.
Conceptual engineers endeavor to improve our concepts. But their endeavors face serious practical difficulties. One such difficulty – rational conceptual conflict - concerns the degree to which agents are incentivized to impede the efforts of conceptual engineers, especially in many of the contexts within which conceptual engineering is viewed as a worthwhile pursuit. Under such conditions, the already difficult task of conceptual engineering becomes even more difficult. Consequently, if they want to increase their chances of success, conceptual engineers should pay (...) closer attention to – and devise strategies to mitigate – rational conceptual conflict. After outlining the phenomenon at greater length and mapping its connections to other similar practical problems (Section 1), I explore the dynamics of such conflict by way of several detailed case studies (Section 2). In particular, I focus on cases driven by material, social, and moral incentives. I then consider some important methodological implications of rational conceptual conflict (Section 3). Among other things, I argue that conceptual engineers should focus more heavily on cultivating settings that modify the payoffs and penalties associated with conceptual conflict. By such indirect means, they can incentivize conceptual cooperation rather than conflict, thus making it easier to achieve success in conceptual engineering. Section 4 concludes. (shrink)
Conceptual engineering is the method (or methods) via which we can assess and improve our concepts. Can conceptual engineering be usefully employed within analytic theology? Given that analytic theology and analytic philosophy effectively share the same philosophical toolkit then if conceptual engineering works well in philosophy then it ought to work well in analytic theology too. This will be our working hypothesis. To make good on this hypothesis, we first address two challenges. The first challenge makes conceptual engineering look to (...) be too inclusive; the second challenge makes it look to be too revolutionary (for analytic theology). To address these challenges, we propose a refined characterisation of conceptual engineering. We then turn to consider a number of case studies where analytic theology and conceptual engineering may fruitfully cooperate. These are: theological disagreements, inter-faith dialogue, meaning change, celibacy, AI, the name of God, and conceptual genealogy. (shrink)
Epistemologists who have studied disagreement have started to devote attention to the notion of epistemic standing. One feature of epistemic standing they have not drawn attention to is a distinction between what I call “broad” and “narrow” epistemic standing. Someone who is, say, your broad epistemic peer with respect to some topic is someone who is generally as familiar with and good at handling the evidence as you are. But someone who is your narrow epistemic peer with respect to that (...) topic is someone who is familiar with the evidence and as good at handling it as you are on that particular occasion. Thus, it’s possible for you to be my broad peer while also being my narrow inferior or superior. Attending to this distinction elicits different intuitions about some of the well-known cases in the epistemology of disagreement. Focusing on broad epistemic standing, which epistemologists have done, tends to yield conciliationist responses. But focusing on narrow epistemic standing, which epistemologists have not done, yields steadfast responses. The reason for this difference has to do with how we figure out someone’s broad or narrow epistemic standing: to determine her broad epistemic standing, you need to look at her epistemic traits and her familiarity with the evidence rather than to examine the evidence she gives. But to determine her narrow epistemic standing, you have to focus on her disclosed evidence rather than her epistemic traits or familiarity with the evidence. (shrink)
This paper continues my development of philosophy of religion as multi-disciplinary comparative research. An earlier paper, “Wittgenstein and Contemporary Belief-Credence Dualism” compared Wittgensteinian reflections on religious discourse and praxis with B-C dualism as articulated by its leading proponents. While some strong commonalities were elaborated that might help to bridge Continental and Analytic approaches in philosophy of religion, Wittgenstein was found to be a corrective to B-C dualism especially as regards how the psychology and philosophy of epistemic luck/risk applies to doxastic (...) faith ventures. This paper aims to further elaborate a basis for improved dialogue between philosophers, theologians, and scholars in special sciences which study religion. I call this basis the Triangulated model the ABC’s of religious epistemics in order to contrast it with the B-C dualist proposal. (shrink)
What attitude should philosophers take toward their favorite philosophical theories? I argue that the answer is belief and middling to low credence. I begin by discussing why disagreement has motivated the view that we cannot rationally believe our philosophical theories. Then, I show why considerations from disagreement actually better support my view. I provide two additional arguments for my view: the first concerns roles for belief and credence and the second explains why believing one’s philosophical theories is superior to accepting (...) them. I close by addressing objections, including implications my view has for the Lockean thesis, the view that there is a normative connection between belief and high credence. (shrink)
I develop an expressivist account of verbal disagreements as practical disagreements over how to use words rather than factual disagreements over what words actually mean. This account enjoys several advantages over others in the literature: it can be implemented in a neo-Stalnakerian possible worlds framework; it accounts for cases where speakers are undecided on how exactly to interpret an expression; it avoids appeals to fraught notions like subject matter, charitable interpretation, and joint-carving; and it naturally extends to an analysis of (...) metalinguistic negotiations. (shrink)
[For a planned Festschrift on William Lycan, edited by Mitch Green and Jan Michel.] Lycan (2022) sums up his (2019) _On Evidence in Philosophy_ as a “dolorous” book. This is primarily because the book claims that the field is infected with non-rational socio-psychological forces (fashion, bias, etc.) and that there is a persistent lack of consensus on philosophical questions. In this paper, I primarily rebut Lycan's second reason for dolorousness. For one, if we attend carefully to his text, his metaphilosophical (...) despair seems to die a death of 1000 qualifications. For another, several of the most important qualifications to such pessimism have been omitted. In attending to these, we shall see that philosophy has much to be proud of. I also offer an explanation for why many optimistic signs for philosophical progress tend to escape our notice. (shrink)
This paper defends the view that discovering that our universe is fine-tuned should make us more confident that other universes exist. My defense exploits a distinction between ideal and non-ideal evidential support. I use that distinction in concert with a simple model to disarm the most influential objection—the this-universe objection—to the view that fine-tuning supports the existence of other universes. However, the simple model fails to capture some important features of our epistemic situation with respect to fine-tuning. To capture these (...) features, I introduce a more sophisticated model. I then use the more sophisticated model to show that, even once those complicating factors are taken into account, fine-tuning should boost our confidence in the existence of other universes. (shrink)
There is much to admire in John Pittard’s recent book on the epistemology of disagreement. But here we develop one concern about the role that rational insight plays in his project. Pittard develops and defends a view on which a party to peer disagreement can show substantial partiality to his own view, so long as he enjoys even moderate rational insight into the truth of his view or the cogency of his reasoning for his view. Pittard argues that this may (...) happen in ordinary cases of religious disagreement—cases in which it’s a live skeptical possibility that one is misdescribing his insight, or not having insight at all—and therefore one need not be strongly conciliatory even in the face of peer disagreement. Yet Pittard agrees that one should be strongly conciliatory in cases of disagreement involving, e.g., visual perception and dim rational insight, since the sort of fallible, corrigible evidence involved in such cases may be counterbalanced by symmetrical evidence on the part of one’s disagreeing peer. We worry that there’s an inconsistency here. If it’s unreasonable to show partiality to one’s visual experience (or dim rational insight) in cases like “Horse Race” and “Restaurant Check,” it’s likewise unreasonable to show partiality in religious disagreements to one’s moderate rational insight, fallible and corrigible as it is. (shrink)
What are the philosophical views of professional philosophers, and how do these views change over time? The 2020 PhilPapers Survey surveyed around 2000 philosophers on 100 philosophical questions. The results provide a snapshot of the state of some central debates in philosophy, reveal correlations and demographic effects involving philosophers' views, and reveal some changes in philosophers' views over the last decade.
Ayn Rand and Immanuel Kant had profound disagreements, not just about the possible scope of knowledge, but (more importantly) about the possible scope of philosophy, especially metaphysics. This paper explores those disagreements, steel-manning both sides. My conclusion is that 1) both thinkers have worthwhile points to make, yet 2) Rand is guilty of poor scholarship while 3) Kant is guilty of appeal to ignorance. Despite the fallacious nature of (3), I stress that ignorance is not by itself something that philosophers (...) committed to objectivity should panic about. (shrink)
In the early Analytic Philosophy, the concept of a pseudosentence was used as a polemical device. To try and formalize a sentence without success was a means to ›debunk‹ it as a pseudosentence. The classical example is Heidegger’s dictum of the nothing which noths. But, according to Carnap, not only did Carnap not understand what Heidegger said, but also Heidegger himself must have misunderstood his own utterances! Does Carnap's diagnosis remain intact if one admits the possibility of a misunderstanding and (...) misconstrual on Carnap’s side, too? Should not Carnap's concept of formalization be substituted by that of logico-hermeneutical reconstruction in order to obviate any such infelicities? In everyday communication, we very rarely ever feel the need to undertake a significant effort to understand each other. This attitude is at odds with Friedrich Schleiermacher’s view that misunderstandings are ubiquitous and that one has to actively invest into the establishment of correct understandings. Therefore, one should ask: Are there good reasons to reject the view that we misunderstand ourselves all the time? Or: Is there any worth in the view that misunderstandings are prevalent? The answers developed in this paper are generalized so that they apply to philosophical contexts and a maxim of escalating formalization is formulated. The debate about peer disagreement is adduced as an illustration of philosophical practices that evade the maxim and thus stagnate cognitively. (shrink)
In recent years, several philosophers have argued that their discipline makes no progress (or not enough in comparison to the “hard sciences”). A key argument for this pessimistic position appeals to the purported fact that philosophers widely and systematically disagree on most major philosophical issues. In this paper, we take a step back from the debate about progress in philosophy specifically and consider the general question: How (if at all) would disagreement within a discipline undermine that discipline’s progress? We reject (...) two arguments from disagreement to a lack of progress, and spell out two accounts of progress on which progress is compatible with disagreements that persist or increase over time. However, we also argue that disagreement can undermine our ability to tell which developments are progressive (and to what degree). So, while disagreement can indeed be a threat to progress, the precise nature of the threat has not been appreciated. (shrink)
This paper offers an explanation for why some parts of philosophy have made no progress. Philosophy has made no progress because it cannot make progress. And it cannot because of the nature of the phenomena philosophy is tasked with explaining—all of it involves consciousness. Here, it will not be argued directly that consciousness is intractable. Rather, it will be shown that a specific version of the problem of consciousness is unsolvable. This version is the Problem of the Subjective and Objective. (...) Then it is argued that the unsolvability of this latter problem is why there are other unsolvable philosophy problems. (shrink)
Some philosophers search for the mark of the cognitive: a set of individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions identifying all instances of cognition. They claim that the mark of the cognitive is needed to steer the development of cognitive science on the right path. Here, I argue that, at least at present, it cannot be provided. First (§2), I identify some of the factors motivating the search for a mark of the cognitive, each yielding a desideratum the mark is supposed (...) to satisfy (§2.1). I then (§2.2) highlight a number of tensions in the literature on the mark of the cognitive, suggesting they’re best resolved by distinguishing two distinct programs. The first program (§3) is that of identifying a mark of the cognitive capturing our everyday notion of cognition. I argue that such a program is bound to fail for a number of reasons: it is not clear whether such an everyday notion exists; and even if it existed, it would not be able to spell out individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for cognition; and even if it were able to spell them out, these conditions won’t satisfy the desiderata a mark of the cognitive should satisfy. The second program is that of identifying a mark of the cognitive spelling out a genuine scientific kind. But the current state of fragmentation of cognitive science, and the fact that it is splintered in a myriad of different research traditions, prevent us from identifying such a kind. And we have no reason to think that these various research traditions will converge, allowing us to identify a single mark. Or so, at least, I will argue in (§4). I then conclude the paper (§5) deflecting an intuitive objection, and exploring some of the consequences of the thesis I have defended. (shrink)
Modest pessimism about philosophical progress is the view that while philosophy may sometimes make some progress, philosophy has made, and can be expected to make, only very little progress (where the extent of philosophical progress is typically judged against progress in the hard sciences). The paper argues against recent attempts to defend this view on the basis of the pervasiveness of disagreement within philosophy. The argument from disagreement for modest pessimism assumes a teleological conception of progress, according to which the (...) attainment of true answers to the big philosophical questions, or knowledge of them, is the primary goal of philosophy. The paper argues that this assumption involves a misconception of the goal of philosophy: if philosophy has a primary goal, its goal is the understanding of philosophical problems rather than knowledge of answers to philosophical questions. Moreover, it is argued that if the primary goal of philosophy is such understanding, then widespread disagreement within philosophy does not indicate that philosophy makes little progress. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that, in order to account for the apparently substantive nature of definitional disputes, a commitment to what we call ‘Socratic essentialism’ is needed. We defend Socratic essentialism against a prominent neo-Carnapian challenge according to which apparently substantive definitional disputes always in some way trace back to disagreements over how expressions belonging to a particular language or concepts belonging to a certain conceptual scheme are properly used. Socratic essentialism, we argue, is not threatened by the possibility (...) that some apparently substantive definitional disputes may turn out to be verbal or conceptual, since this pluralist strategy, in our view, requires a commitment to more, rather than fewer, essences. What is more, a deflationary, metaphysically ‘light-weight’ construal of the essence-ascriptions in question leads to a peculiar conception of the pursuit of metaphysicians as behaving like deceptive (or self-deceived) grammarians pretending to be scientists. Moreover, this deflationary attitude, we argue, spreads beyond metaphysics and philosophy more broadly to apparently substantive definitional disputes in the sciences as well as other in other disciplines, such as art criticism. (shrink)
Dos clases de desacuerdo han resultado de gran interés para la epistemología social durante las últimas décadas: los desacuerdos profundos, que tienen lugar cuando la disputa entre las partes es sistemática y particularmente difícil de resolver, y los desacuerdos entre pares epistémicos, ocasionados por el enfrentamiento entre agentes que tienen la misma evidencia y virtudes cognitivas respecto del tema en discusión. El propósito de este artículo es trabajar en la intersección de ellos, evaluando las consecuencias de que un desacuerdo entre (...) pares sea profundo. En particular, argumento que, cuando un desacuerdo llega a niveles de profundidad muy altos, es imposible que las partes se reconozcan entre sí como pares, dado que no pueden asumir que son igualmente racionales. (shrink)
En este trabajo, nos proponemos redefinir las posturas que toman parte en el debate entre realismo y antirrealismo científicos, dejando de concebirlas únicamente como doctrinas o teorías que describen cómo es el mundo. En cambio, acorde al camino iniciado por van Fraassen en The empirical stance, optamos por definirlas como stances: políticas, estrategias o perspectivas a partir de las cuales construimos creencias fácticas. Así, en primera instancia nos dedicamos a entender qué es una stance y cómo caracterizar esta noción. En (...) segundo lugar, exploramos metodologías y enfoques para tratar el realismo y el antirrealismo como stances, y, en esta clave, definirlos adecuadamente. Por último, examinamos el impacto de esta propuesta en la explicación de los acuerdos y desacuerdos en el debate, evaluando los grados de afinidad o distancia en las perspectivas en juego. (shrink)
Mizrahi (2017a) advances an argument in support of Weak Scientism, which is the view that scientific knowledge is the best (but not the only) knowledge we have, according to which Weak Scientism follows from the premises that scientific knowledge is quantitatively and qualitatively better than non-scientific knowledge. In this paper, I develop a different argument for Weak Scientism. This latter argument for Weak Scientism proceeds from the premise that academic disciplines that make progress are superior to academic disciplines that do (...) not make progress. In other words, other things being equal, it is generally better for an academic discipline to make progress than to make little or no progress, given that an academic discipline that is making little or no progress is an academic discipline that is failing to achieve its epistemic goals. Now, if there is no question among academic philosophers that science makes progress, and significantly so, but there is an open question among academic philosophers as to whether academic philosophy makes progress (and if so, how much), then academic philosophers would have to agree that science is superior to academic philosophy in terms of making progress. I develop this argument in this paper and provide empirical evidence suggesting that the premises would be acceptable to academic philosophers. (shrink)
Abstract:Within various contexts, such as politics and parenting, Confucianism has been criticized on the basis that it endorses 'unquestioning obedience' to authority. In recent years, several philosophers have argued against this view by appealing to textual evidence from Classical Confucian philosophers. This article examines Wang Yangming's views on this subject, arguing that Wang teaches that criticism of those who stand in a socially superior role relation is not only permitted, but encouraged. From this, the implications that Wang's analysis has for (...) contemporary discussions of disagreement between epistemic superiors and inferiors and epistemic peerhood are considered. It will be argued that Wang's position is much closer to the total evidence view than the preemptive view. Relatedly, it is suggested that Wang provides a novel proposal about how to recognize or disregard epistemic 'superiors', especially in the context of moral knowledge. (shrink)
The paper proposes a simple method for constructing ontological theories—an ‘ontology generator’. It shows that such a generator manages to produce major existing ontological theories, e.g., Realism, Nominalism, Trope theory, Bundle theory, Perdurantism, Endurantism, Possibilism, Actualism and more. It thus turns out, surprisingly, that all these seemingly unrelated different ontological theories that were designed by thinkers hundreds of years apart, can all be generated using the same simple mechanism. Moreover, this same generator manages to produce entirely novel ontological theories, that (...) fare no worse than existing ones in meeting the same common metaphysical challenges. (shrink)
Plakias has recently argued that there is nothing wrong with publishing defences of philosophical claims which we don't believe and also nothing wrong with concealing our lack of belief, because an author's lack of belief is irrelevant to the merit of a published work. Fleisher has refined this account by limiting the permissibility of publishing without belief to what he calls ‘advocacy role cases’. I argue that such lack of belief is irrelevant only if it is the result of an (...) inexplicable incredulity or the result of a metaphilosophical or epistemic stance that is unrelated to the specific claim. However, in many real-life cases, including Fleisher's advocacy role cases, our doubts regarding the claims we defend arise from reasons that have something to do with the insufficiency of the philosophical evidence supporting the claim, and publishing an unconditional defence of a claim without revealing our doubts is impermissible as it involves withholding philosophically relevant reasons. Plakias has also argued that discouraging philosophers from publishing claims they don't believe would be unfair to junior philosophers with unsettled views. I propose that we should change our academic practices that pressure philosophers to publish articles that pretend to be defences of settled views. (shrink)
Los desacuerdos acerca de la ontología científica han sido frecuentemente reconstruidos como el resultado de una disputa entre stances epistémicas rivales. En el presente trabajo, (i) caracterizamos algunos de estos desacuerdos como desacuerdos profundos. Además, (ii) mostramos que los desacuerdos profundos sobre ontología científica pueden surgir no solo de la adopción de diferentes stances epistémicas, sino entre posiciones que se encuadran dentro de una misma stance. El desarrollo de ese punto nos permite, a su vez, establecer una distinción entre tipos (...) de desacuerdos profundos y explorar la posibilidad de que existan diferencias de grado entre ellos. (shrink)
The belief norm of academic publishing states that researchers should believe certain claims they publish. The purpose of this paper is to defend the belief norm of academic publishing. In its defense, the advantages and disadvantages of the belief norm are evaluated for academic research and for the publication system. It is concluded that while the norm does not come without costs, academic research systemically benefits from the belief norm and that it should be counted among those that sustain the (...) practice of academic publishing. (shrink)
Recent philosophical discussions construe disagreement as epistemically unsettling. On learning that a peer disagrees, it is said, you should suspend judgment, lower your credence, or dismiss your peer’s conviction as somehow flawed, even if you can neither identify the flaw nor explain why you think she is the party in error. Philosophers do none of these things. A distinctive feature of philosophy as currently practiced is that, although we marshal the strongest arguments we can devise, we do not expect others (...) to agree. Nor are we dismayed then they do not. Through a survey of familiar professional practices, I argue that philosophy rightly revels in responsible disagreement. This discloses important and perhaps surprising facets of the epistemology of philosophy. (shrink)
Recent years have seen several studies of metaphysical disputes as disagreement phenomena employing the resources from the research on disagreement in social epistemology. This paper undertakes an analogous study of the metametaphysical disagreement over the substantiveness of metaphysical disputes between inflationists and deflationists. The paper first considers and questions the skeptical argument that the mere existence of the disagreement mandates the suspension of judgement about the substantiveness of metaphysical disputes. Rather, the paper argues that steadfastness in the face of this (...) disagreement is rational, at least for inflationists. Since inflationists are often metaphysicians who were called to this disagreement due to its apparent threat to their first order debates in metaphysics, they can therefore return to these debates in good faith. In contrast, deflationists have no such alternative occupation and the verdict of steadfastness will not alter their engagement in the inflationist/deflationist disagreement: they will continue their attempt to resolve the disagreement to their advantage. Thus, though the verdict of steadfastness is epistemically symmetric between inflationism and deflationism, it induces an asymmetry in the motivation to pursue the inflationist/deflationist disagreement which places the burden of advancing the dialectic of this disagreement with the deflationists while metaphysicians can continue their work as before. (shrink)
En este artículo introductorio al número especial “Desacuerdos Profundos: Precisiones y Exploraciones”, se presentan los artículos que comprenden este número brindando contexto a sus distintas temáticas, las cuales van desde la naturaleza de los desacuerdos profundos y su resolución, hasta sus conexiones con debates filosóficos y fenómenos sociales.
This book explores the nature and significance of Pyrrhonism, the most prominent and influential form of skepticism in Western philosophy. Not only did Pyrrhonism play an important part in the philosophical scene of the Hellenistic and Imperial age, but it also had a tremendous impact on Renaissance and modern philosophy and continues to be a topic of lively discussion among both scholars of ancient philosophy and epistemologists. The focus and inspiration of the book is the brand of Pyrrhonism expounded in (...) the extant works of Sextus Empiricus. Its aim is twofold: to offer a critical interpretation of some of the central aspects of Sextus’s skeptical outlook and to examine certain debates in contemporary philosophy from a neo-Pyrrhonian perspective. The first part explores the aim of skeptical inquiry, the defining features of Pyrrhonian argumentation, the epistemic challenge posed by the Modes of Agrippa, and the Pyrrhonist’s stance on the requirements of rationality. The second part focuses on present-day discussions of the epistemic significance of disagreement, the limits of self-knowledge, and the nature of rationality. The book will appeal to researchers and graduate students interested in skepticism. (shrink)
Nous examinons l’idée selon laquelle il existerait une sous-discipline en phi-losophie des sciences, la philosophie dans les sciences, dont les chercheurs utili-seraient des outils philosophiques pour avancer des solutions à des problèmes scientifiques. Nous proposons plutôt l’idée que ces outils sont des outils épisté-miques, cognitifs ou intellectuels standards, à l’œuvre dans toute activité ration-nelle, et, par conséquent, ces chercheurs se consacrent à la recherche scienti-fique ou métascientifique.
We examine the idea that there is a sub-discipline in philosophy of science, phi-losophy in science, whose researchers use philosophical tools to advance solu-tions to scientific problems. Rather, we propose that these tools are standard epistemic, cognitive, or intellectual tools at work in all rational activity, and therefore these researchers engage in scientific or metascientific research.
In this paper, I argue that appeals to intuition in Analytic Philosophy are not compelling arguments because intuitions are not the sort of thing that has the power to rationally persuade other professional analytic philosophers. This conclusion follows from reasonable premises about the goal of Analytic Philosophy, which is rational persuasion by means of arguments, and the requirement that evidence for and/or against philosophical theses used by professional analytic philosophers be public (or transparent) in order to have the power to (...) rationally persuade other professional analytic philosophers. Since intuitions are not public (or transparent) evidence, it follows that appeals to intuition are not compelling arguments for and/or against philosophical theses because they lack the power to rationally persuade other professional analytic philosophers. (shrink)
In this paper, I provide an account of subjective epistemic obligations. In instances of peer disagreement, one possesses at least two types of obligations: objective epistemic obligations and subjective epistemic obligations. While objective epistemic obligations, such as conciliationism and remaining steadfast, have been much discussed in the literature, subjective epistemic obligations have received little attention. I develop an account of subjective epistemic obligations in the context of worldview disagreements. In recent literature, the notion of worldview disagreement has been receiving increasing (...) attention, and I discuss how understanding worldview disagreements through different classes of beliefs might clarify our understanding of subjective epistemic obligations. I first distinguish between three classes of beliefs, by virtue of their justificatory functions within worldviews: fundamental, crucial and incidental. I then discuss four kinds of worldview disagreements based on this account. Finally, I argue that each disagreement results in different subjective epistemic obligations for each disputant. I conclude by discussing some implications this analysis has for issues such as defeat, peerhood, and epistemic injustice. (shrink)
In philosophy, as in any other theoretical endeavor, it is not rare to find conflicting but equally well grounded positions. Besides defending one of the positions and criticizing the other, philosophers can opt for pursuing other, more sophisticated, approaches aimed at incorporating the insights, intuitions, and arguments from both sides of the debate into a unified theory: Dialetheism, Analetheism, Gradualism, Pluralism and Relativism. The purpose of this article is to present each strategy's basic argumentative structure, relative strengths, and challenges, trying (...) to determine in which situations one is more appropriate than the others. Despite substantial differences between them, all four options have deep structural similarities; and which option is better for which dilemma or paradox will depend ultimately on a combination of epistemological, linguistic, and metaphysical factors. (shrink)
This lecture illustrates some of the theoretical richness that emerges from thinking about self-aware agents. It argues that taking self-awareness into account yields a picture of rational belief that is surprising, in a number of different, but interconnected, ways. The complexities it focuses on emerge most clearly in cases that involve so-called “higher-order evidence.”.
I argue that recognizing a distinct doxastic attitude called endorsement, along with the epistemic norms governing it, solves the self-undermining problem for conciliationism about disagreement. I provide a novel account of how the self-undermining problem works by pointing out the auxiliary assumptions the objection relies on. These assumptions include commitment to certain epistemic principles linking belief in a theory to following prescriptions of that theory. I then argue that we have independent reason to recognize the attitude of endorsement. Endorsement is (...) the attitude of resilient and committed advocacy which is appropriate for researchers to have toward their own theory. Recognizing the importance of endorsement, and of its resiliency, gives us reason to deny the epistemic principles that serve as auxiliary assumptions in the self-undermining objection. This defuses the objection, and provides additional support for the theory of endorsement. (shrink)
Scientists, philosophers, and other researchers commonly assert their theories. This is surprising, as there are good reasons for skepticism about theories in cutting-edge research. I propose a new account of assertion in research contexts that vindicates these assertions. This account appeals to a distinct propositional attitude called endorsement, which is the rational attitude of committed advocacy researchers have to their theories. The account also appeals to a theory of conversational pragmatics known as the Question Under Discussion model, or QUD. Hence, (...) I call the theory the EQUD model. Motivating this account is a recognition that the speech act of assertion has two roles to play in research contexts. The first is the advocacy role, in which researchers assert a theory in order to advocate for it. The second is the evidential role, which is used to add to the common stock of information available to a field of inquiry. The EQUD model provides an account of warranted assertion for both these roles in research contexts. This success provides support for the theory of endorsement. It also provides support for information updating accounts of assertion. (shrink)
Many philosophers are sceptical about the power of philosophy to refute commonsensical claims. They look at the famous attempts and judge them inconclusive. I prove that, even if those famous attempts are failures, there are alternative successful philosophical proofs against commonsensical claims. After presenting the proofs I briefly comment on their significance.
The so-called “conciliatory” norm in epistemology and meta-ethics requires that an agent, upon encountering peer disagreement with her judgment, lower her confidence about that judgment. But whether agents actually abide by this norm is unclear. Although confidence is excessively researched in the empirical sciences, possible effects of disagreement on confidence have been understudied. Here, we target this lacuna, reporting a study that measured confidence about moral beliefs before and after exposure to moral discourse about a controversial issue. Our findings indicate (...) that participants do not abide by the conciliatory norm. Neither do they conform to a rival “steadfast” norm that demands their confidence to remain the same. Instead, moral discourse seems to boost confidence. Interestingly, we also find a confidence boost for factual beliefs, and a correlation between the extremity of moral views and confidence. One possible explanation of our findings is that when engaging in moral discourse participants become more extreme in their opinions, which leads them to become more confident about them, or vice versa: they become more confident and in turn more extreme. Although our work provides initial evidence for the former mechanism, further research is needed for a better understanding of confidence and moral discourse. (shrink)
Verbal disputes are often seen as closely related to a lack of substantivity. However, a systematic and comprehensive investigation of how verbalness relates to substantivity is still missing. The present paper attempts to close this gap. In addition to offering different conceptions of verbalness, the paper further develops Sider’s (Writing the Book of the World, OUP, Oxford, 2011) notion of substantivity. Ultimately, I argue for a more careful choice of terminology when it comes to assessing a dispute as “(merely) verbal” (...) or “nonsubstantive”. While the paper shows that there is no strict logical relation between mere verbalness and nonsubstantivity construed along the lines set out by Sider, it also demonstrates that further notable notions of (mere) verbalness and substantivity are in fact closely intertwined. (shrink)
In this paper I explore an epistemic asymmetry that sometimes occurs regarding the moral status of alternative actions. I argue that this asymmetry is significant and has ramifications for what it is morally permissible to do. I then show how this asymmetry often obtains regarding three moral issues: vegetarianism, abortion, and charitable giving. In doing so, I rely on the epistemic significance of disagreement and the existence of moral controversy about these issues.
In a recent paper published in this journal, Hughes (2019) has argued that Machery’s (2017) Dogmatism Argument is self-defeating. Machery’s (2019) reply involves giving the Dogmatism Argument an inductive basis, rather than a philosophical basis. That is, he argues that the most plausible contenders in the epistemology of disagreement all support the Dogmatism Argument; and thus, it is likely that the Dogmatism Argument is true, which gives us reason to accept it. However, Machery’s inductive argument defines the leading views in (...) terms of their citation counts. But there is no necessary connection between citation counts and truth; it is a truism that many highly cited papers over the past century have turned out to contain false arguments. This inductive information should lead Machery to revise his argument; what Machery (2019) owes—but has failed to provide—is a positive argument for ruling out another plausible contender that Hughes (2019) raises. Without such an account, Machery’s inductive case for the Dogmatism Argument fails. (shrink)
Suppose an inquiring group wants to let a certain view stand as the group's view. But there’s a problem: the individuals in that group do not initially all agree with one another about what the correct view is. What should the group do, given that it wants to settle on a single answer, in the face of this kind of intragroup disagreement? Should the group members deliberate and exchange evidence and then take a vote? Or, given the well-known ways that (...) evidence exchange can go wrong, e.g., by exacerbating pre-existing biases, compromising the independence of individual judgments, etc., should the group simply take a vote without deliberating at all? While this question has multiple dimensions to it—including ethical and political dimensions—we approach the question through an epistemological lens. In particular, we investigate to what extent it is epistemically advantageous and disadvantageous that groups whose members disagree over some issue use deliberation in comparison to voting as a way to reach collective agreements. Extant approaches in the literature to this ‘deliberation versus voting’ comparison typically assume there is some univocal answer as to which group strategy is best, epistemically. We think this assumption is mistaken. We approach the deliberation versus voting question from a pluralist perspective, in that we hold that a group’s collective endeavor to solve an internal dispute can be aimed at different, albeit not necessarily incompatible, epistemic goals, namely the goals of truth, evidence, understanding, and epistemic justice. Different answers to our guiding question, we show, correspond with different epistemic goals. We conclude by exploring several ways to mitigate the potential epistemic disadvantages of solving intragroup disagreement by means of deliberation in relation to each epistemic goal. (shrink)