A defense of parrying responses to the generality problem

Philosophical Studies 174 (8):1935-1957 (2017)
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The generality problem is commonly seen as one of the most pressing issues for process reliabilism. The generality problem starts with the following question: of all the process types exemplified by a given process token, which type is the relevant one for measuring reliability? Defenders of the generality problem claim that process reliabilists have a burden to produce an informative account of process type relevance. As they argue, without such a successful account, the reasonability of process reliabilism is significantly undermined. One way for the reliabilist to respond is to attempt to construct such a theory of type relevance. But another way of responding is to argue that, if finding an account of type relevance is a burden for the reliabilist, then it is also a burden for everyone else. Thus, the generality problem doesn’t present some unique reason to reject process reliabilism. I call this latter strategy a parrying response. In this essay, I examine the contemporary parrying responses of Michael Bishop and Juan Comesaña, which have both faced recent criticism. I respond to these critics, and argue that parrying responses are far stronger than defenders of the generality problem have appreciated.



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Jeffrey Tolly
University of Notre Dame

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