An epistemic duty would be a duty to believe, disbelieve, or withhold judgment from a proposition, and it would be grounded in purely evidential or epistemic considerations. If I promise to believe it is raining, my duty to believe is not epistemic. If my evidence is so good that, in light of it alone, I ought to believe it is raining, then my duty to believe supposedly is epistemic. I offer a new argument for the claim that there are no (...) epistemic duties. Though people do sometimes have duties to believe, disbelieve, or withhold judgment from propositions, those duties are never grounded in purely epistemic considerations. (shrink)
We might suppose it is not only instrumentally valuable for beliefs to be true, but that it is intrinsically valuable – truth makes a non-derivative, positive contribution to a belief's overall value. Some intrinsic goods are better than others, though, and this article considers the question of how good truth is, compared to other intrinsic goods. I argue that truth is the worst of all intrinsic goods; every other intrinsic good is better than it. I also suggest the best explanation (...) for truth's inferiority is that it is not really an intrinsic good at all. It is intrinsically neutral. (shrink)
The following four assumptions plausibly describe the ideal rational agent. (1) She knows what her beliefs are. (2) She desires to believe only truths. (3) Whenever she desires that P → Q and knows that P, she desires that Q. (4) She does not both desire that P and desire that ~P, for any P. Although the assumptions are plausible, they have an implausible consequence. They imply that the ideal rational agent does not believe and desire contradictory propositions. She neither (...) desires the world to be any different than she thinks it is, nor thinks it is any different than she desires it to be. The problem of preserving our intuitions about desire, without embracing the implausible conclusion, is what I call “the Wishful Thinking Puzzle.” In this paper, I examine how this puzzle arises, and I argue that it is surprisingly difficult to solve. Even the decision theoretic conception of desire is not immune to the puzzle. One approach, the contrastive conception of desire, does avoid the puzzle without being ad hoc, but it remains too inchoate to win our full confidence. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Epistemic duties would be duties to believe, disbelieve, or withhold judgement from propositions, and they would be grounded in purely evidential considerations. I offer a new argument for the claim that there are no epistemic duties. Though people may have duties to believe, disbelieve, or withhold judgement from propositions, those duties are never grounded in purely epistemic considerations. Rather, allegedly epistemic duties are a species of moral duty.RÉSUMÉ: Les fonctions épistémiques sont censées désigner le fait de croire ou de (...) ne pas croire des propositions, ou de suspendre notre jugement, et seraient fondées uniquement sur la prise en compte de l’évidence. Je présente un nouvel argument soutenant que les fonctions épistémiques n’existent pas. Bien que nous devions recourir aux fonctions de croire ou de ne pas croire des propositions, ou de suspendre notre jugement, ces fonctions ne sont jamais fondées sur d’uniques considérations épistémiques. Ce que l’on reconnaît comme des fonctions épistémiques appartient plutôt à l’espèce des fonctions morales. (shrink)
This paper argues against the almost universally held view that truth is an instrumentally valuable property of beliefs. For truth to be instrumentally valuable in the way usually supposed, it must play a causal role in the satisfaction of our desires. As it happens, truth can play no such role, because it is screened off from causal relevance by some of the truth-like properties first discussed by Stephen Stich. Because it is not causally relevant to the success of our actions, (...) truth is not instrumentally valuable in the way usually supposed. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider an argument of Harvey Siegel's according to which there can be no hypothetical normativity anywhere unless there is categorical normativity in epistemology. The argument fails because it falsely assumes people must be bound by epistemic norms in order to have justified beliefs.
According to a common objection to epistemological naturalism, no empirical, scientific theory of knowledge can be normative in the way epistemological theories need to be. In response, such naturalists as W.V. Quine have claimed naturalized epistemology can be normative by emulating engineering disciplines and addressing the relations of causal efficacy between our cognitive means and ends. This paper evaluates that "engineering reply" and finds it a mixed success. Based on consideration of what it might mean to call a theory "normative," (...) seven versions of the normativity objection to epistemological naturalism are formulated. The engineering reply alone is sufficient to answer only the four least sophisticated versions. To answer the others, naturalists must draw on more resources than their engineering reply alone provides. (shrink)
Laurence BonJour has recently proposed a novel and interesting approach to the problem of induction. He grants that it is contingent, and so not a priori, that our patterns of inductive inference are reliable. Nevertheless, he claims, it is necessary and a priori that those patterns are highly likely to be reliable, and that is enough to ground an a priori justification induction. This paper examines an important defect in BonJour's proposal. Once we make sense of the claim that inductive (...) inference is "necessarily highly likely" to be reliable, we find that it is not knowable a priori after all. (shrink)
C. S. Peirce once defined pragmatism as the opinion that metaphysics is to be largely cleared up by the application of the following maxim for attaining clearness of apprehension: ‘Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.’ (Peirce 1982a: 48) More succinctly, Richard Rorty has described the position in this way.
A “self-eﬀacing” property is one that is deﬁnable without referring to it. Colin McGinn (2000) has argued that there is exactly one such property: truth. I show that if truth is a self-eﬀacing property, then there are very many others—too many even to constitute a set.
This paper offers an interpretation of Plato's argument in Republic V that lovers of sights and sounds can have only opinion, and philosophers alone have legitimate claims to knowledge. The argument depends on the idea that knowledge is "set over what is" while mere opinion is "set over what is and is not." I argue for an enhanced veridical interpretation of 'to be' in this passage, on which 'what is' means, roughly, "what is so." Given a distinction between what is (...) so independently of how things seem and what is so partly in virtue of how things seem, I interpret the argument as an attempt to show that philosophers, who attend to what is so independently of how things seem, have knowledge, while the lovers of sights and sound have mere opinion because they attend not to how things are independently of how they seem, but only to how they are in virtue of how they seem. (shrink)
Alethic pluralists often claim that truth is not only relevant to normative evaluations, but inherently normative. I raise a problem for such versions of pluralism, based on the dual phenomena of “blindspots” and “brightspots.” If truth is inherently a kind of fitness for belief, then all true propositions should be fit for belief, and no false ones should be. Blindspots, however, are true propositions that can’t be the content of true beliefs. I argue that they aren’t fit for belief. Similarly, (...) brightspots are false propositions that can’t be the contents of false beliefs. They are fit for belief. I also consider some moves alethic pluralists might make to avoid the problem. (shrink)