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Alex Worsnip [37]Alexander Worsnip [1]
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Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  1. The Conflict of Evidence and Coherence.Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (1):3-44.
    For many epistemologists, and for many philosophers more broadly, it is axiomatic that rationality requires you to take the doxastic attitudes that your evidence supports. Yet there is also another current in our talk about rationality. On this usage, rationality is a matter of the right kind of coherence between one's mental attitudes. Surprisingly little work in epistemology is explicitly devoted to answering the question of how these two currents of talk are related. But many implicitly assume that evidence -responsiveness (...)
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  2. Can Pragmatists Be Moderate?Alex Worsnip - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3):531-558.
    In discussions of whether and how pragmatic considerations can make a difference to what one ought to believe, two sets of cases feature. The first set, which dominates the debate about pragmatic reasons for belief, is exemplified by cases of being financially bribed to believe (or withhold from believing) something. The second set, which dominates the debate about pragmatic encroachment on epistemic justification, is exemplified by cases where acting on a belief rashly risks some disastrous outcome if the belief turns (...)
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  3. Is There a Distinctively Political Normativity?Jonathan Leader Maynard & Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Ethics 128 (4):756-787.
    A slew of recent political theorists—many taking their cue from the political writings of Bernard Williams—have recently contended that political normativity is its own kind of normativity, distinct from moral normativity. In this article, we first attempt to clarify what this claim amounts to and then reconstruct and interrogate five major arguments for it. We contend that all these arguments are unconvincing and fail to establish a sense in which political normativity is genuinely separate from morality.
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  4. Which Reasons? Which Rationality?Daniel Fogal & Alex Worsnip - 2021 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8.
    The slogan that rationality is about responding to reasons has a turbulent history: once taken for granted; then widely rejected; now enjoying a resurgence. The slogan is made harder to assess by an ever-increasing plethora of distinctions pertaining to reasons and rationality. Here we are occupied with two such distinctions: that between subjective and objective reasons, and that between structural rationality (a.k.a. coherence) and substantive rationality (a.k.a. reasonableness). Our paper has two main aims. The first is to defend dualism about (...)
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  5. What is (In)coherence?Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13:184-206.
    Recent work on rationality has been increasingly attentive to “coherence requirements”, with heated debates about both the content of such requirements and their normative status (e.g., whether there is necessarily reason to comply with them). Yet there is little to no work on the metanormative status of coherence requirements. Metaphysically: what is it for two or more mental states to be jointly incoherent, such that they are banned by a coherence requirement? In virtue of what are some putative requirements genuine (...)
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  6. Making space for the normativity of coherence.Alex Worsnip - 2022 - Noûs 56 (2):393-415.
    This paper offers a new account of how structural rationality, or coherence, is normative. The central challenge to the normativity of coherence – which I term the problem of “making space” for the normativity of coherence – is this: if considerations of coherence matter normatively, it is not clear how we ought to take account of them in our deliberation. Coherence considerations don’t seem to show up in reasoning about what to believe, intend, desire, hope, fear, and so on; moreover, (...)
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  7.  56
    Compromising with the Uncompromising: Political Disagreement under Asymmetric Compliance.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - Journal of Political Philosophy.
    It is fairly uncontroversial that when you encounter disagreement with some view of yours, you are often epistemically required to become at least somewhat less confident in that view. This includes political disagreements, where your level of confidence might in various ways affect your voting and other political behavior. But suppose that your opponents don’t comply with the epistemic norms governing disagreement – that is, they never reduce their confidence in their views in response to disagreement. If you always reduce (...)
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  8. Belief, Credence, and the Preface Paradox.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3):549-562.
    ABSTRACTMany discussions of the ‘preface paradox’ assume that it is more troubling for deductive closure constraints on rational belief if outright belief is reducible to credence. I show that this is an error: we can generate the problem without assuming such reducibility. All that we need are some very weak normative assumptions about rational relationships between belief and credence. The only view that escapes my way of formulating the problem for the deductive closure constraint is in fact itself a reductive (...)
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  9. ‘Ought’-contextualism beyond the parochial.Alex Worsnip - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):3099-3119.
    Despite increasing prominence, ‘ought’-contextualism is regarded with suspicion by most metaethicists. As I’ll argue, however, contextualism is a very weak claim, that every metaethicist can sign up to. The real controversy concerns how contextualism is developed. I then draw an oft-overlooked distinction between “parochial” contextualism—on which the contextually-relevant standards are those that the speaker, or others in her environment, subscribe to—and “aspirational” contextualism—on which the contextually-relevant standards are the objective standards for the relevant domain. However, I argue that neither view (...)
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  10.  35
    Fitting Things Together: Coherence and the Demands of Structural Rationality.Alexander Worsnip - 2021 - New York: Oxford University Press.
    Some combinations of attitudes--of beliefs, credences, intentions, preferences, hopes, fears, and so on--do not fit together right: they are incoherent. A natural idea is that there are requirements of "structural rationality" that forbid us from being in these incoherent states. Yet a number of surprisingly difficult challenges arise for this idea. These challenges have recently led many philosophers to attempt to minimize or eliminate structural rationality, arguing that it is just a "shadow" of "substantive rationality"--that is, correctly responding to one's (...)
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  11. Disagreement about Disagreement? What Disagreement about Disagreement?Alex Worsnip - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
    Disagreement is a hot topic in epistemology. A fast-growing literature centers around a dispute between the ‘steadfast’ view, on which one may maintain one’s beliefs even in the light of disagreement with epistemic peers who have all the same evidence, and the ‘conciliationist’ view, on which such disagreement requires a revision of attitudes. In this paper, however, I argue that there is less separating the main rivals in the debate about peer disagreement than is commonly thought. The extreme versions of (...)
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  12. Metanormative Contextualism and Normative Uncertainty.John Pittard & Alex Worsnip - 2017 - Mind 126 (501):155-193.
    We offer a new argument in favour of metanormative contextualism, the thesis that the semantic value of a normative ‘ought’ claim of the form ‘ S ought to Φ’ depends on the value of one or more parameters whose values vary in a way that is determined by the context of utterance. The debate over this contextualist thesis has centred on cases that involve ‘ought’ claims made in the face of uncertainty regarding certain descriptive facts. Contextualists, relativists, and invariantists all (...)
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  13. The Obligation to Diversify One's Sources: Against Epistemic Partisanship in the Consumption of News Media.Alex Worsnip - 2019 - In Carl Fox & Joe Saunders (eds.), Media Ethics: Free Speech and the Requirements of Democracy. London: Routledge. pp. 240-264.
    In this paper, I defend the view that it is wrong for us to consume only, or overwhelmingly, media that broadly aligns with our own political viewpoints: that is, it is wrong to be politically “partisan” in our decisions about what media to consume. We are obligated to consume media that aligns with political viewpoints other than our own – to “diversify our sources”. This is so even if our own views are, as a matter of fact, substantively correct.
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  14. Moral reasons, epistemic reasons, and rationality.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):341-361.
    It is standard, both in the philosophical literature and in ordinary parlance, to assume that one can fall short of responding to all one’s moral reasons without being irrational. Yet when we turn to epistemic reasons, the situation could not be more different. Most epistemologists take it as axiomatic that for a belief to be rational is for it to be well-supported by epistemic reasons. We find ourselves with a striking asymmetry, then, between the moral and epistemic domains concerning what (...)
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  15. Two Kinds of Stakes.Alex Worsnip - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (3):307-324.
    I distinguish two different kinds of practical stakes associated with propositions. The W-stakes track what is at stake with respect to whether the proposition is true or false. The A-stakes track what is at stake with respect to whether an agent believes the proposition. This poses a dilemma for those who claim that whether a proposition is known can depend on the stakes associated with it. Only the W-stakes reading of this view preserves intuitions about knowledge-attributions, but only the A-stakes (...)
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  16. Possibly false knowledge.Alex Worsnip - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (5):225-246.
    Many epistemologists call themselves ‘fallibilists’. But many philosophers of language hold that the meaning of epistemic usages of ‘possible’ ensures a close knowledge- possibility link : a subject’s utterance of ‘it’s possible that not-p’ is true only if the subject does not know that p. This seems to suggest that whatever the core insight behind fallibilism is, it can’t be that a subject could have knowledge which is, for them, possibly false. I argue that, on the contrary, subjects can have (...)
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  17. Disagreement as Interpersonal Incoherence.Alex Worsnip - 2019 - Res Philosophica 96 (2):245-268.
    In a narrow sense of ‘disagreement,’ you and I disagree iff we believe inconsistent propositions. But there are numerous cases not covered by this definition that seem to constitute disagreements in a wider sense: disagreements about what to do, disagreements in attitude, disagreements in credence, etc. This wider sense of disagreement plays an important role in metaethics and epistemology. But what is it to disagree in the wider sense? On the view I’ll defend, roughly, you and I disagree in the (...)
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  18. Eliminating Prudential Reasons.Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 8:236-257.
    I argue, contrary to the consensus of most contemporary work in ethics, that there are no (fundamentally, distinctively) prudential reasons for action. That is to say: there is no class of reasons for action that is distinctively and fundamentally about the promotion of the agent’s own well-being. Considerations to do with the agent’s well-being can supply the agent with reasons only in virtue of her well-being mattering morally or in virtue of her caring about her own well-being. In both of (...)
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  19. Evidence-Coherence Conflicts Revisited.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - In Nick Hughes (ed.), Epistemic Dilemmas. Oxford University Press.
    There are at least two different aspects of our rational evaluation of agents’ doxastic attitudes. First, we evaluate these attitudes according to whether they are supported by one’s evidence (substantive rationality). Second, we evaluate these attitudes according to how well they cohere with one another (structural rationality). In previous work, I’ve argued that substantive and structural rationality really are distinct, sui generis, kinds of rationality – call this view ‘dualism’, as opposed to ‘monism’, about rationality – by arguing that the (...)
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  20. Contextualism and Knowledge Norms.Alex Worsnip - 2017 - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism. Routledge. pp. 177-189.
    I provide an opinionated overview of the literature on the relationship of contextualism to knowledge norms for action, assertion, and belief. I point out that contextualists about ‘knows’ are precluded from accepting the simplest versions of knowledge norms; they must, if they are to accept knowledge norms at all, accept “relativized” versions of them. I survey arguments from knowledge norms both for and against contextualism, tentatively concluding that commitment to knowledge norms does not conclusively win the day either for contextualism (...)
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  21. Narrow-Scoping for Wide-Scopers.Alex Worsnip - 2015 - Synthese 192 (8):2617-2646.
    Many philosophers think that requirements of rationality are “wide-scope”. That is to say: they are requirements to satisfy some material conditional, such that one counts as satisfying the requirement iff one either makes the conditional’s antecedent false or makes its consequent true. These contrast with narrow-scope requirements, where the requirement takes scope only over the consequent of the conditional. Many of the philosophers who have preferred wide-scope requirements to narrow-scope requirements have also endorsed a corresponding semantic claim, namely that ordinary (...)
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  22. Reasons, rationality, reasoning: how much pulling-apart?Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Problema 12:59-93.
    At the heart of John Broome’s research program in the philosophy of normativity is a distinction between reasons, on one hand, and requirements of rationality, on the other. I am a friend of Broome’s view that this distinction is deep and important, and that neither notion can be analyzed in terms of the other. However, I also think there are major challenges that this view is yet to meet. In the first part of the paper, I’ll raise four such challenges, (...)
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  23. Isolating Correct Reasoning.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - In Magdalena Balcerak Jackson & Brendan Balcerak Jackson (eds.), Reasoning: New Essays on Theoretical and Practical Thinking. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    This paper tries to do three things. First, it tries to make it plausible that correct rules of reasoning do not always preserve justification: in other words, if you begin with a justified attitude, and reason correctly from that premise, it can nevertheless happen that you’ll nevertheless arrive at an unjustified attitude. Attempts to show that such cases in fact involve following an incorrect rule of reasoning cannot be vindicated. Second, it also argues that correct rules of reasoning do not (...)
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  24. Epistemic Normativity is Independent of our Goals.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - In Blake Roeber, Matthias Steup, Ernest Sosa & John Turri (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology (3rd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.
    In epistemology and in ordinary life, we make many normative claims about beliefs. As with all normative claims, philosophical questions arise about what – if anything – underwrites these kinds of normative claims. On one view, epistemic instrumentalism, facts about what we (epistemically) ought to believe, or about what is an (epistemic, normative) reason to believe what, obtain at least partly in virtue of our goals (or aims, ends, intentions, desires, etc.). The converse view, anti-instrumentalism, denies this, and holds that (...)
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  25. Explanatory Indispensability and Deliberative Indispensability: Against Enoch's Analogy.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (4):226-235.
    In this note, I discuss David Enoch's influential deliberative indispensability argument for metanormative realism, and contend that the argument fails. In doing so, I uncover an important disanalogy between explanatory indispensability arguments and deliberative indispensability arguments, one that explains how we could accept the former without accepting the latter.
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  26. IIA, rationality, and the individuation of options.Tina Rulli & Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):205-221.
    The independence of irrelevant alternatives is a popular and important axiom of decision theory. It states, roughly, that one’s choice from a set of options should not be influenced by the addition or removal of further, unchosen options. In recent debates, a number of authors have given putative counterexamples to it, involving intuitively rational agents who violate IIA. Generally speaking, however, these counterexamples do not tend to move IIA’s proponents. Their strategy tends to be to individuate the options that the (...)
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  27.  59
    Resisting Relativistic Contextualism: On Finlay's Confusion of Tongues.Alex Worsnip - 2020 - Analysis 80 (1):122-131.
    Stephen Finlay’s book Confusion of Tongues is extraordinarily sophisticated, ambitious and thought-provoking. I highly commend it to those who haven’t read it yet. I will begin this commentary with a summary of which big-picture issues Finlay and I agree on and which we disagree on.
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  28. Cryptonormative Judgments.Alex Worsnip - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):3-24.
    A cryptonormative judgment, roughly speaking, is a judgment that is presented by the agent who makes it as non-normative, but that is in fact normative. The idea of cryptonormativity is familiar from debates in social theory, social psychology, and continental political philosophy, but has to my knowledge never been treated in analytic metaethics, moral psychology or epistemology except in passing. In this paper, I argue, first, that cryptonormative judgments are pervasive: familiar cases from everyday life are most naturally diagnosed as (...)
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  29.  39
    From Impossibility to Evidentialism?Alex Worsnip - 2021 - Episteme 18 (3):384-406.
    It's often said that it is impossible to respond to non-evidential considerations in belief-formation, at least not directly and consciously. Many philosophers think that this provides grounds for accepting a normative thesis: typically, some kind of evidentialism about reasons for belief, or what one ought to believe. Some also think it supports thinking that evidentialist norms are constitutive of belief. There are a variety of ways in which one might try to support such theses by appeal to the impossibility-claim. In (...)
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  30. What to believe about your belief that you're in the good case.Alex Worsnip - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 6:206-233.
    Going about our daily lives in an orderly manner requires us, once we are aware of them, to dismiss many metaphysical possibilities. We take it for granted that we are not brains in vats, or living in the Matrix, or in an extended dream. Call these things that we take for granted “anti-skeptical assumptions”. What should a reflective agent who believes these things think of these beliefs? For various reasons, it can seem that we do not have evidence for such (...)
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  31.  77
    Benjamin Kiesewetter, The Normativity of Rationality. [REVIEW]Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  32. The Skeptic and the Climate Change Skeptic.Alex Worsnip - 2021 - In Michael Hannon & Jeroen de Ridder (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. Routledge.
    Outside the philosophy classroom, global skeptics – skeptics about all (purported) knowledge of the external world – are rare. But there are people who describe themselves as “skeptics” about various more specific domains, including self-professed “skeptics” about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. There is little to no philosophical literature that juxtaposes the climate change skeptic with the external world skeptic. While many “traditional” epistemologists assume that the external world skeptic poses a serious philosophical challenge in a way that the (...)
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  33. Hobbes and normative egoism.Alex Worsnip - 2015 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 97 (4):481-512.
    Is Hobbes a normative egoist? That is: does Hobbes think that an agent’s normative reasons are all grounded in her own good? A once-dominant tradition of Hobbes scholarship answers ‘yes’. In an important recent work, however, S.A. Lloyd has argued that the answer to the question is ‘no’, and built an alternative non-egoistic interpretation of Hobbes that stresses reciprocity and mutual justifiability. My aim in this paper is to articulate and defend an original ‘middle way’ interpretation of Hobbes which steers (...)
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  34.  42
    Daniel Star, Knowing Better. [REVIEW]Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  35.  58
    Introduction.Chris Howard & Alex Worsnip - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (10):3067-3068.
    No categories
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  36.  66
    Contrastive Reasons. [REVIEW]Alex Worsnip - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (3):367-371.
  37.  18
    Disagreement and Higher-Order Evidence.Yan Chen & Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - In Maria Baghramian, J. Adam Carter & R. A. Rowland (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Disagreement. Routledge.
    In the contemporary epistemological literature, peer disagreement is often taken to be an instance of a more general phenomenon of “higher-order evidence.” Correspondingly, its epistemic significance is often thought to turn on the epistemic significance of higher-order evidence in general. This chapter attempts to evaluate this claim, and in doing so to clarify some points of unclarity in the current literature – both about what it is for evidence to be “higher-order,” and about the relationship between disagreement and higher-order evidence. (...)
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  38. Deference to Experts.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - In Jonathan Dancy, Ernest Sosa, Matthias Steup & Kurt Sylvan (eds.), A Companion to Epistemology (3rd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.
    Especially but not exclusively in the United States, there is a significant gulf between expert opinion and public opinion on a range of important political, social, and scientific issues. Large numbers of lay people hold views contrary to the expert consensus on topics such as climate change, vaccines, and economics. Much political commentary assumes that ordinary people should defer to experts more than they do, and this view is certainly lent force by the literally deadly effects of many denials of (...)
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