WINO Epistemology and the Shifting-Sands Problem

The Monist 95 (2):308-328 (2012)
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Abstract

By making plausible the Diversity Thesis (different people have systematically different and incompatible packages of epistemic intuitions), experimental epistemology raises the specter of the shifting-sands problem: the evidence base for epistemology contains systematic inconsistencies. In response to this problem, some philosophers deny the Diversity Thesis, while others flirt with denying the Evidence Thesis (in normal circumstances, the epistemic intuition that p is prima facie evidence that p is true). We propose to accept both theses. The trick to living with the shifting-sands problem is to expand epistemology’s evidential base so as to include scientific evidence. This evidence can provide principled grounds on which to decide between incompatible intuitions. The idea of resolving inconsistencies in an evidential base by adding more independent lines of evidence is commonplace in science. And in philosophy, it is simplyWide Reflective Equilibrium.We contend that the idea that epistemology would depend crucially on scientific evidence seems radical because many traditional epistemologists practice reflective equilibrium that is WINO, Wide In Name Only. We suggest five different lines of scientific evidence that can be, and have been, used in support of non-WINO epistemological theories.

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Author Profiles

Chris Zarpentine
Florida State University
Heather Perez
Broward College
Michael Bishop
Florida State University

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