To be a doxastic deontologist is to claim that there is such a thing as an ethics of belief (or of our doxastic attitudes in general). In other words, that we are subject to certain duties with respect to our doxastic attitudes, the non-compliance with which makes us blameworthy and that we should understand doxastic justification in terms of these duties. In this paper, I argue that these duties are our all things considered duties, and not our epistemic or moral (...) duties, for example. I show how this has the surprising result that, if deontologism is a thesis about doxastic justification, it entails that there is no such thing as epistemic or moral justification for a belief that p. I then suggest why this result, though controversial, may have some salutary consequences: primarily that it helps us make some sense of an otherwise puzzling situation regarding doxastic dilemmas. -/- . (shrink)
What, according to proponents of doxastic deontologism, is responsible belief? In this paper, we examine two proposals. Firstly, that responsible belief is blameless belief (a position we call DDB) and, secondly, that responsible belief is praiseworthy belief (a position we call DDP). We consider whether recent arguments in favor of DDP, mostly those recently offered by Brian Weatherson, stand up to scrutiny and argue that they do not. Given other considerations in favor of DDP, we conclude that the deontologist should (...) maintain that doxastic responsibility is a concept about freedom from appropriate blame. (shrink)
According to the doxastic compatibilist, compatibilist criteria with respect to the freedom of action rule-in our having free beliefs. In Booth (Philosophical Papers 38:1–12, 2009), I challenged the doxastic compatibilist to either come up with an account of how doxastic attitudes can be intentional in the face of it very much seeming to many of us that they cannot. Or else, in rejecting that doxastic attitudes need to be voluntary in order to be free, to come up with a principled (...) account of how her criteria of doxastic freedom are criteria of freedom. In two recent papers, Steup (Synthese 188:145–163, 2012; Dialectica 65(4):559–576, 2011) takes up the first disjunct of the challenge by proposing that even though beliefs cannot be practically intentional, they can be epistemically intentional. McHugh (McHugh forthcoming) instead takes up the second disjunct by proposing that the freedom of belief be modelled not on the freedom of action but on the freedom of intention. I argue that both Steup’s and McHugh’s strategies are problematic. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss two claims; the first is the claim that state-given reasons for belief are of a radically different kind to object-given reasons for belief. The second is that, where this last claim is true, epistemic reasons are object-given reasons for belief (EOG). I argue that EOG has two implausible consequences: (i) that suspension of judgement can never be epistemically justified, and (ii) that the reason that epistemically justifies a belief that p can never be the reason (...) for which one believes that p. (shrink)
The debate between “Normativists” and “Teleologists” about the normativity of belief has been taken to hinge on the question of which of the two views best explains why it is that we cannot believe at will. Of course, this presupposes that there is an explanation to be had. Here, I argue that this supposition is unwarranted, that Doxastic Involuntarism is merely contingently true. I argue that this is made apparent when we consider that suspended judgement must be involuntary if belief (...) is, that suspended judgment is not a belief, and that the aim or norm of suspended judgement cannot be constitutive if suspended judgement is not a belief. (shrink)
In this paper I consider whether there can be such things as epistemic reasons for action. I consider three arguments to the contrary and argue that none are successful, being either somewhat question-begging or too strong by ruling out what most epistemologists think is a necessary feature of epistemic justification, namely the epistemic basing relation. I end by suggesting a "non-cognitivist" model of epistemic reasons that makes room for there being epistemic reasons for action and suggest that this model may (...) support moral realism. (shrink)
Matthias Steup (Steup 2008) has recently argued that our doxastic attitudes are free by (i) drawing an analogy with compatibilism about freedom of action and (ii) denying that it is a necessary condition for believing at will that S's having an intention to believe that p can cause S to believe that p . In this paper, however, I argue that the strategies espoused in (i) and (ii) are incompatible.
Proponents of semiotic arguments against the commodification of certain goods face the following challenge: formulate your argument such that it does not appeal to immoral consequences, nor is really an argument showing that we ought to reform the meaning we give to commodification. I here attempt to meet this challenge via appeal to the notion of what I call proto-on-a-par value. Under this construal, the semiotic argument yields that the commodification of certain goods necessarily signals value choice, where value choice (...) ought not to be signaled. (shrink)
Richard Foley has suggested that the search for a good theory of epistemic justification and the analysis of knowledge should be conceived of as two distinct projects. However, he has not offered much support for this claim, beyond highlighting certain salutary consequences it might have. In this paper, I offer some further support for Foley’s claim by offering an argument and a way to conceive the claim in a way that makes it as plausible as its denial, and thus levelling (...) the playing field. The burden of proof then lies with those who seek to deny Foley’s radical suggestion. (shrink)
I argue that the claim that epistemic ought is incommensurable is self-defeating. My argument, however, depends on the truth of the premise that there can be not only epistemic reasons for belief, but also non-epistemic reasons for belief. So I also provide some support for that claim.
I introduce a new version of Moral Error Theory, which I call Type-B Moral Error Theory. According to a Type-B theorist there are no facts of the kind required for there to be morality in stricto sensu, but there can be irreducible ‘normative’ properties which she deems, strictly speaking, to be morally irrelevant. She accepts that there are instrumental all things considered oughts, and categorical pro tanto oughts, but denies that there are categorical all things considered oughts on pain of (...) requiring ‘queer’ facts to obtain. I detail the most central motivation of this version of the theory against its more traditional rival, according to which there are no irreducible normative properties at all. The motivation is that it, unlike its rival, can successfully be defended against the notorious charge of self-defeat. (shrink)
This book is an introduction to Islamic Philosophy, beginning with its Medieval inception, right through to its more contemporary incarnations. Using the language and conceptual apparatus of contemporary Anglo-American ‘Analytic’ philosophy, this book represents a novel and creative attempt to rejuvenate Islamic Philosophy for a modern audience. It adopts a ‘rational reconstructive’ approach to the history of philosophy by affording maximum hermeneutical priority to the strongest possible interpretation of a philosopher’s arguments while also paying attention to the historical context in (...) which they worked. The central canonical figures of Medieval Islamic Philosophy – al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Avicenna, al-Ghazali, Averroes – are presented chronologically along with an introduction to the central themes of Islamic theology and the Greek philosophical tradition they inherited. The book then briefly introduces what the author collectively refers to as the ‘Pre-Modern’ figures including Suhrawardi, Mulla Sadra, and Ibn Taymiyyah, and presents all of these thinkers, along with their Medieval predecessors, as forerunners to the more modern incarnation of Islamic Philosophy: Political Islam. (shrink)
I introduce a new version of Moral Error Theory, which I call Type-B Moral Error Theory. According to a Type-B theorist there are no facts of the kind required for there to be morality instricto sensu, but there can be irreducible ‘normative’ properties which she deems, strictly speaking, to be morally irrelevant. She accepts that there areinstrumentalall things considered oughts, andcategoricalpro tanto oughts (both of which she deems morally irrelevant), but denies that there arecategoricalall things considered oughts on pain of (...) requiring ‘queer’ facts to obtain. I detail the most central motivation of this version of the theory against its more traditional rival, according to which there are no irreducible normative properties at all. The motivation is that it, unlike its rival, can successfully be defended against the notorious charge of self-defeat. (shrink)
Shah, N. The Philosophical Quarterly, 56, 481–498 (2006) has defended evidentialism on the premise that only it (and not pragmatism) is consistent with both (a) the deliberative constraint on reasons and (b) the transparency feature of belief. I show, however, that the deliberative constraint on reasons is also problematic for evidentialism. I also suggest a way for pragmatism to be construed so as to make it consistent with both (a) and (b) and argue that a similar move is not available (...) to the evidentialist. Thus, far from settling the debate in favour of evidentialism, considerations concerning the deliberative constraint on reasons support pragmatism. (shrink)
In this paper I hope to demonstrate two different ways of interpreting the tenets of evidentialism and show why it is important to distinguish between them. These two ways correspond to those proposed by Feldman and Adler. Feldman’s way of interpreting evidentialism makes evidentialism a principle about epistemic justification, about what we ought to believe. Adler’s, on the other hand, makes evidentialism a principle about how we come to believe, what it is, broadly speaking, rational for us to believe. Having (...) identified this difference, I consider two complaints levied against evidentialism, namely what I call the threshold problem and what I call the availability problem, and hope to show that: only an independent, bracketed justification principle of evidentialism can deal with those problems; the rationality principle of evidentialism is not in fact independent from the justification principle; the rationality principle is hard to motivate; and that in the final analysis the argument for the justification principle depends on the rationality principle. I thus conclude that although it may be convenient for evidentialists to treat these two principles as independent, such an independence cannot be maintained. (shrink)
This paper comprises a defence of Infallibilism about knowledge. In it, I articulate two arguments in favour of Infallibilism, and for each argument show that Infallibilism about knowledge does not lead to an unpalatable Scepticism if justified belief is neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge, and if Fallibilism about justified belief is true.
What kind of mental state is trust? It seems to have features that can lead one to think that it is a doxastic state but also features that can lead one to think that it is a non-doxastic state. This has even lead some philosophers to think that trust is a unique mental state that has both mind-to-world and world-to-mind direction of fit, or to give up on the idea that there is a univocal analysis of trust to be had. (...) Here, I propose that ‘trust’ is the name we give to mental states that we would think of as beliefs if belief was to be thought of in ‘pragmatist’ terms and belief resists ‘pragmatist’ treatment. Only such an account, I argue, can univocally account for all the diverse features of trust. As such, I also propose that the explanation of trust provides us with a case for understanding the limitations of a comprehensively ‘pragmatist’, or ‘Neo-Wittgensteinian’ conception of the mental. (shrink)
Stephen Hetherington has defended the tripartite analysis of knowledge (Hetherington in Philos Q 48:453–469, 1998; J Philos 96:565–587, 1999; J Philos Res 26:307–324, 2001a; Good knowledge, bad knowledge, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001b). His defence has recently come under attack (Madison in Australas J Philos 89(1):47–58, 2011; Turri in Synthese 183(3):247–259, 2012). I critically evaluate those attacks as well as Hetherington’s newest formulation of his defence (Hetherington in Philosophia 40(3):539–547, 2012b; How to know: A practicalist conception of knowledge, Wiley, Oxford, (...) 2011a; Ratio 24:176–191, 2011b; Synthese 188:217–230, 2012a). I argue that his newest formulation is vulnerable to a modified version of Madison’s and Turri’s objection. However, I argue that Hetherington’s considerations lend support to a different, though also radical, thesis which can meet the objection. This thesis is what I call the Divorce thesis: the theory of epistemic justification is importantly independent of the theory of knowledge. (shrink)
According to many philosophers there are only pro tanto oughts to believe relative to a standard of assessment: there are epistemic oughts to believe, moral oughts to believe, prudential oughts to believe etc. But there are no oughts to believe simpliciter. Many of the same philosophers who hold this view, also hold that ought to believe is to be understood deontologically – such that if S violates such an ought without excuse, S is blameworthy for doing so. I here argue (...) that on a deontological understanding of ought to believe there must be ought to believe simpliciter and that it is the violation of this ought that determines whether we are to blame for our beliefs. (shrink)
Abstract: In this article, I consider some of the similarities and differences between deontologism in ethics and epistemology. In particular, I highlight two salient differences between them. I aim to show that by highlighting these differences we can see that epistemic deontologism does not imply epistemic internalism and that it is not a thesis primarily about epistemic permissibility . These differences are: (1) deontologism in epistemology has a quasi -teleological feature (not shared with moral deontologism) in that it does not (...) require that one abide by epistemic duties for the sake of (and not merely in accordance with) those very duties; and (2) in ethics, the relevant options we speak of are whether someone acts or does not act; in epistemology, we have an analogous further option: we can speak of whether someone believes that p , fails to believe that p , or withholds judgment about that p. (shrink)
Several philosophers think that we do not have duties to believe but that we can nevertheless sometimes be held to blame for our beliefs, since duties relevant to belief are exclusively duties to critical reflection. One important line of argument for this claim goes as follows: we at most have influence over our beliefs such that we are not responsible for belief, but responsible for the acts of critical reflection that influence them. We can be blameworthy not just for violating (...) a duty but also for the obtaining of a state of affairs that would not have obtained had we not violated a duty. We can thus also be blameworthy for our beliefs even though we have no duties to believe. The chapter levies several objections to this argument, and then defends an alternative argument for the same conclusion. Roughly stated, the argument goes: if S has a duty to believe that p, then S has a duty to reflect on whether p. But duties to reflect on whether p always undercut duties to believe that p. Thus, the duties relevant to belief are always duties to critical reflection. (shrink)