The internalism-externalism debate is one of the oldest debates in epistemology. Internalists assert that the justification of our beliefs can only depend on facts internal to us, while externalists insist that justification can depend on additional, for example environmental, factors. Clayton Littlejohn proposes and defends a new strategy for resolving this debate. Focussing on the connections between practical and theoretical reason, he explores the question of whether the priority of the good to the right might be used to defend an (...) epistemological version of consequentialism, and proceeds to formulate a new 'deontological externalist' view. On this view, the justificatory status of a belief depends upon whether it is fit for the purposes of practical reasoning. Only beliefs that meet externalist standards are fit for such a purpose. If we want to understand how a wide range of norms (e.g., moral norms) apply to rational agents regardless of what their evidence or outlook is like, we have to embrace an externalist account of the justification. (shrink)
Could it be right to convict and punish defendants using only statistical evidence? In this paper, I argue that it is not and explain why it would be wrong. This is difficult to do because there is a powerful argument for thinking that we should convict and punish defendants using statistical evidence. It looks as if the relevant cases are cases of decision under risk and it seems we know what we should do in such cases (i.e., maximize expected value). (...) Given some standard assumptions about the values at stake, the case for convicting and punishing using statistical evidence seems solid. In trying to show where this argument goes wrong, I shall argue (against Lockeans, reliabilists, and others) that beliefs supported only by statistical evidence are epistemically defective and (against Enoch, Fisher, and Spectre) that these epistemic considerations should matter to the law. To solve the puzzle about the role of statistical evidence in the law, we need to revise some commonly held assumptions about epistemic value and defend the relevance of epistemology to this practical question. (shrink)
The typical epistemology course begins with a discussion of the distinction between justification and knowledge and ends without any discussion of the distinction between justification and excuse. This is unfortunate. If we had a better understanding of the justification-excuse distinction, we would have a better understanding of the intuitions that shape the internalism-externalism debate. My aims in this paper are these. First, I will explain how the kinds of excuses that should interest epistemologists exculpate. Second, I will explain why the (...) intuitions that underwrite the new evil demon argument don't provide support for the internalist claim that justification is just in the head. The positive response that Cohen's example elicits is an indication that the subject should be excused if she violates an epistemic norm, not an indication that no norm has been violated. For just about any conceivable norm we can think of we can imagine situations in which someone violates that norm because they're moved by evidence that misleadingly suggests that they'd conform to it. When that happens, we'll respond positively in just the way we do when we consider Cohen's deceived subjects. When that happens, we cannot say that the subjects' responses were justified because we've stipulated that the subjects' responses contravene the relevant norms. Regardless of whether you think of norms along internalist or externalist lines, you should see that the intuitions that underwrite the new evil demon objection tell us nothing at all about whether a subject conforms to a norm. They tell us nothing about justification. (shrink)
Belief does aim at the truth. When our beliefs do not fit the facts, they cannot do what they are supposed to do, because they cannot provide us with reasons. We cannot plausibly deny that a truth norm is among the norms that govern belief. What we should not say is that the truth norm is the fundamental epistemic norm. In this paper, I shall argue that knowledge is the norm of belief and that the truth norm has a derivative (...) status. Only a knowledge‐first approach to epistemic normativity can explain why epistemic assessment has its inward‐looking focus. (shrink)
There is much to like about the idea that justification should be understood in terms of normality or normic support (Smith 2016, Goodman and Salow 2018). The view does a nice job explaining why we should think that lottery beliefs differ in justificatory status from mundane perceptual or testimonial beliefs. And it seems to do that in a way that is friendly to a broadly internalist approach to justification. In spite of its attractions, we think that the normic support view (...) faces two serious challenges. The first is that it delivers the wrong result in preface cases. These cases suggest that the view is either too sceptical or too externalist. The second is that the view struggles with certain kinds of Moorean absurdities. It turns out that these problems can easily be avoided. If we think of normality as a condition on *knowledge*, we can characterise justification in terms of its connection to knowledge and thereby avoid the difficulties discussed here. The resulting view does an equally good job explaining why we should think that our perceptual and testimonial beliefs are justified when lottery beliefs cannot be. Thus, it seems that little could be lost and much could be gained by revising the proposal and adopting a view on which it is knowledge, not justification, that depends directly upon normality. (shrink)
This paper looks at whether it is possible to unify the requirements of rationality with the demands of normative reasons. It might seem impossible to do because one depends upon the agent’s perspective and the other upon features of the situation. Enter Reasons Perspectivism. Reasons perspectivists think they can show that rationality does consist in responding correctly to reasons by placing epistemic constraints on these reasons. They think that if normative reasons are subject to the right epistemic constraints, rational requirements (...) will correspond to the demands generated by normative reasons. While this proposal is prima facie plausible, it cannot ultimately unify reasons and rationality. There is no epistemic constraint that can do what reasons perspectivists would need it to do. Some constraints are too strict. The rest are too slack. This points to a general problem with the reasons-first program. Once we recognize that the agent’s epistemic position helps determine what she should do, we have to reject the idea that the features of the agent’s situation can help determine what we should do. Either rationality crowds out reasons and their demands or the reasons will make unreasonable demands. (shrink)
The central thesis of robust virtue epistemology (RVE) is that the difference between knowledge and mere true belief is that knowledge involves success that is attributable to a subject's abilities. An influential objection to this approach is that RVE delivers the wrong verdicts in cases of environmental luck. Critics of RVE argue that the view needs to be supplemented with modal anti-luck condition. This particular criticism rests on a number of mistakes about the nature of ability that I shall try (...) to rectify here. (shrink)
This is a critical discussion of the accuracy-first approach to epistemic norms. If you think of accuracy (gradational or categorical) as the fundamental epistemic good and think of epistemic goods as things that call for promotion, you might think that we should use broadly consequentialist reasoning to determine which norms govern partial and full belief. After presenting consequentialist arguments for probabilism and the normative Lockean view, I shall argue that the consequentialist framework isn't nearly as promising as it might first (...) appear. (shrink)
A defense of the idea that knowledge is first in the sense that there is nothing prior to knowledge that puts reasons or evidence in your possession. Includes a critical discussion of the idea that perception or perceptual experience might provide reasons and a defense of a knowledge-first approach to justified belief.
Cases of reasonable, mistaken belief figure prominently in discussions of the knowledge norm of assertion and practical reason as putative counterexamples to these norms. These cases are supposed to show that the knowledge norm is too demanding and that some weaker norm ought to put in its place. These cases don't show what they're intended to. When you assert something false or treat some falsehood as if it's a reason for action, you might deserve an excuse. You often don't deserve (...) even that. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend externalist accounts of justified belief from Cohen's new evil demon objection. While I think that Cohen might be right that the person is justified in believing what she does, I argue that this is because we can defend the person from criticism and that defending a person is a very different thing from defending a person's attitudes or actions. To defend a person's attitudes or actions, we need to show that they met standards or did (...) not violate norms. Intuitions about whether we can defend a person from criticism are a poor guide when it comes to determining whether norms were violated or standards were met. It turns out that even radical forms of externalism about justification are compatible with the intuitions that Cohen's example elicits. Properly understood, those intuitions show that the believer should be excused from criticism (and excused for failing to believe with adequate justification). (shrink)
A familiar complaint about conciliatory approaches to disagreement is that they are self-defeating or incoherent because they ‘call for their own rejection’. This complaint seems to be influential but it isn’t clear whether conciliatory views call for their own rejection or what, if anything, this tells us about the coherence of such views. We shall look at two ways of developing this self-defeat objection and we shall see that conciliatory views emerge unscathed. A simple version of the self-defeat objection leaves (...) conciliatory views untouched. A subtle version of the objection contains a subtle but overlooked flaw. If the conciliatory view is right, it might be right to be dogmatically conciliatory (i.e., to continue to be conciliatory however objectionable this might seem to ourselves and to others). (shrink)
On a standard view about reasons, evidence, and justification, there is justification for you to believe all and only what your evidence supports and the reasons that determine whether there is justification to believe are all just pieces of evidence. This view is mistaken about two things. It is mistaken about the rational role of evidence. It is also mistaken about the rational role of reasons. To show this, I present two basis problems for the standard view and argue that (...) it lacks the resources to solve these problems. It is easy to spot these mistakes once we are clear on the ontology of reasons and have a better understanding of the role that belief plays in the theory of possessed evidence. After attacking the standard view, I offer an alternative account of justification. On this view, the justificatory status of a belief is not a function of the reasons/evidence on which it is based (it might not be based on any) but is instead a function of the basis that it can provide. (shrink)
What relation is there between knowledge and action? According to Hawthorne and Stanley, where your choice is p-dependent, it is appropriate to treat the proposition that p as a reason for acting iff you know that p (RKP). In this paper, I shall argue that it is permissible to treat something as a reason for action even if it isn't known to be true and address Hawthorne and Stanley's arguments for RKP.
The equal weight view says that if you discover that you disagree with a peer, you should decrease your confidence that you are in the right. Since peer disagreement seems to be quite prevalent, the equal weight view seems to tell us that we cannot reasonably believe many of the interesting things we believe because we can always count on a peer to contest the interesting things that we believe. While the equal weight view seems to have skeptical implications, few (...) epistemologists worry about these implications because the equal weight view is quickly falling out of favor. In this paper, I present an analogical argument for the view and defend it from critics who think that we can justifiably retain confidence in the face of peer disagreement. (shrink)
Ignorance is often a perfectly good excuse. There are interesting debates about whether non-culpable factual ignorance and mistake subvert obligation, but little disagreement about whether non-culpable factual ignorance and mistake exculpate. What about agents who have all the relevant facts in view but fail to meet their obligations because they do not have the right moral beliefs? If their ignorance of their obligations derives from mistaken moral beliefs or from ignorance of the moral significance of the facts they have in (...) view, should they be excused for failing to meet their moral obligations? It is not obvious that they should. In this paper we argue that the best non-skeptical accounts of moral responsibility acknowledge that factual ignorance and mistake will diminish moral responsibility in a way that moral ignorance and mistake will not. That is because factual ignorance is often non-culpable so long as it meets certain merely procedural epistemic standards but the same is not true of moral ignorance. Our argument is that the assumption that it is gets the standards of culpability for moral ignorance wrong, and that the mistake is encouraged by the thought that culpability in general requires an instance of known wrongdoing: that acting wrongly requires de dicto unresponsiveness to one’s obligations at some stage. We deny this and conclude that, therefore, ignorance and mistaken belief are indeed often perfectly good excuses – but far less often than some philosophers claim. (shrink)
If evidence is propositional, is one’s evidence limited to true propositions or might false propositions constitute evidence? In this paper, I consider three recent attempts to show that there can be ‘false evidence,’ and argue that each of these attempts fails. The evidence for the thesis that evidence consists of truths is much stronger than the evidence offered in support of the theoretical assumptions that people have relied on to argue against this thesis. While I shall not defend the view (...) that evidence is propositional, I shall defend the view that any propositional evidence must be true. (shrink)
Epistemic norms play an increasingly important role in current debates in epistemology and beyond. In this volume a team of established and emerging scholars presents new work on the key debates. They consider what epistemic requirements constrain appropriate belief, assertion, and action, and explore the interconnections between these standards.
According to Williamson, your evidence consists of all and only what you know (E = K). According to his critics, it doesn’t. While E = K calls for revision, the revisions it calls for are minor. E = K gets this much right. Only true propositions can constitute evidence and anything you know non-inferentially is part of your evidence. In this paper, I defend these two theses about evidence and its possession from Williamson’s critics who think we should break more (...) radically from E = K. (shrink)
According to the phenomenal conservatives, beliefs are justified by non-doxastic states we might speak of as ‘appearances’ or ‘seemings’. Those who defend the view say that there is something self-defeating about believing that phenomenal conservatism is mistaken. They also claim that the view captures an important internalist insight about justification. I shall argue that phenomenal conservatism is indefensible. The considerations that seem to support the view commit the phenomenal conservatives to condoning morally abhorrent behavior. They can deny that their view (...) forces them to condone morally abhorrent behavior, but then they undercut the defenses of their own view. (shrink)
If I were to say, “Agnes does not know that it is raining, but it is,” this seems like a perfectly coherent way of describing Agnes’s epistemic position. If I were to add, “And I don’t know if it is, either,” this seems quite strange. In this chapter, we shall look at some statements that seem, in some sense, contradictory, even though it seems that these statements can express propositions that are contingently true or false. Moore thought it was paradoxical (...) that statements that can express true propositions or contingently false propositions should nevertheless seem absurd like this. If we can account for the absurdity, we shall solve Moore’s Paradox. In this chapter, we shall look at Moore’s proposals and more recent discussions of Moorean absurd thought and speech. (shrink)
According to ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ (OIC), your obligation can never be to do what you cannot do. In a recent attack on OIC, Graham has argued that intuitions about justified intervention can help us determine whether the agent whose actions we use force to prevent would have acted permissibly or not. These intuitions, he suggests, cause trouble for the idea that you can be obligated to refrain from doing what you can refrain from doing. I offer a defense of OIC (...) and explain how non-consequentialists can accommodate his intuitions about his cases. (shrink)
There has been considerable discussion recently of consequentialist justifications of epistemic norms. In this paper, I shall argue that these justifications are not justifications. The consequentialist needs a value theory, a theory of the epistemic good. The standard theory treats accuracy as the fundamental epistemic good and assumes that it is a good that calls for promotion. Both claims are mistaken. The fundamental epistemic good involves accuracy, but it involves more than just that. The fundamental epistemic good is knowledge, not (...) mere true belief, because the goodness of an epistemic state is connected to that state's ability to give us reasons. If I'm right about the value theory, this has a number of significant implications for the consequentialist project. First, the good-making features that attach to valuable full beliefs are not features of partial belief. The resulting value theory does not give us the values we need to give consequentialist justifications of credal norms. Second, the relevant kind of good does not call for promotion. It is good to know, but the rational standing of a belief is not determined by the belief's location in a ranked set of options. In the paper's final section, I explain why the present view is a kind of teleological non-consequentialism. There is a kind of good that is prior to the right, but as the relevant kind of good does not call for promotion the value theory shows us what is wrong with the consequentialist project. (shrink)
We shall evaluate two strategies for motivating the view that knowledge is the norm of belief. The first draws on observations concerning belief's aim and the parallels between belief and assertion. The second appeals to observations concerning Moore's Paradox. Neither of these strategies gives us good reason to accept the knowledge account. The considerations offered in support of this account motivate only the weaker account on which truth is the fundamental norm of belief.
We have written an introduction to epistemology that is accessible, engaging, and up to date. (We hope.) -/- Introduction Chapter 1: The Regress Problem Chapter 2: Perception Chapter 3: The Apriori Chapter 4: Inference Chapter 5: On Knowing the Truth Chapter 6: Memory Chapter 7: Testimony Chapter 8: Kinds of Knowledge Chapter 9: Internalism vs. Externalism Chapter 10: The Ethics of Belief Chapter 11: Skepticism .
While it is generally believed that justification is a fallible guide to the truth, there might be interesting exceptions to this general rule. In recent work on bridge-principles, an increasing number of authors have argued that truths about what a subject ought to do are truths we stand in some privileged epistemic relation to and that our justified normative beliefs are beliefs that will not lead us astray. If these bridge-principles hold, it suggests that justification might play an interesting role (...) in our normative theories. In turn, this might help us understand the value of justification, a value that's notoriously difficult to understand if we think of justification as but a fallible means to a desired end. We will argue that these bridge-principles will be incredibly difficult to defend. While we do not think that normative facts necessarily stand in any interesting relationship to our justified beliefs about them, there might well be a way of defending the idea that our justified beliefs about what to do won't lead us astray. In turn, this might help us understand the value of justification, but this way of thinking about justification and its value comes with costs few would be willing to pay. (shrink)
This is part of an authors meets critics session on Daniel Star's wonderful book, Knowing Better. I discuss a potential problem with Kearns and Star's Reasons as Evidence thesis. The issue has to do with the difficulties we face is we treat normative reasons as evidence and impose no possession conditions on evidence. On such a view, it's hard to see how practical reasoning could be a non-monotonic process. One way out of the difficulty would be to allow for (potent) (...) unpossessed reasons but insist that all evidence is possessed evidence. This option, I argue, isn't open to proponents of the Reasons as Evidence thesis. Instead, it seems that they'll have to say that all normative reasons are identified with pieces of possessed evidence. This requires the proponents of the Reasons as Evidence thesis to impose epistemic constraints on norms that some of us find objectionable. (shrink)
This paper takes a critical look at the idea that knowledge involves reflective access to reasons that provide rational support. After distinguishing between different kinds of awareness, I argue that the kind of awareness involved in awareness of reasons is awareness of something general rather than awareness of something that instances some generality. Such awareness involves the exercise of conceptual capacities and just is knowledge. Since such awareness is knowledge, this kind of awareness cannot play any interesting role in a (...) story about how knowledge is acquired. After arguing that reflective access to reasons is not a precondition on acquiring knowledge, I look at one motivation for introducing this kind of access requirement. I argue that the argument for the access requirement rests on a mistaken assumption about the relationship between reasons and responsibility. While the target of this critical discussion is a version of epistemological disjunctivism, the criticism applies mutatis mutandis to many traditional internalist views in epistemology. (shrink)
A discussion of epistemic reasons, theoretical rationality, and the relationship between them. Discusses the ontology of reasons and evidence, the relationship between reasons (motivating, normative, possessed, apparent, genuine, etc.) and rationality, the relationship between epistemic reasons and evidence, the relationship between rationality, justification, and knowledge, and many other related topics.
I argue that justification isn't just in the head. The argument is simple. We should be guided by our beliefs. We shouldn't be guided by anything to do what we shouldn't do. So, we shouldn't believe in ways that would guide us to do the things that we shouldn't. Among the various things we should do is discharge our duties (e.g., to fulfil our promissory obligations) and respect the rights of others (e.g., rights not to be harmed or killed by (...) agents acting on bad information). The grounds of our duties and obligations aren't just in the head. Thus, the conditions that bear on the justification of our beliefs cannot be contained wholly in our heads. The internalist might be right about aspects of normativity, but their theories tell us important normative truths without telling us the whole truth. In addition to norms that tell us how to process information, there are norms that tell us how we ought to live together. In information-asymmetry cases, these norms clearly come apart. Important normative questions about what we should do when agents (who, we might suppose, do what they subjectively ought to do) have interests that come into conflict can only be answered by externalist theories that recognise information-transcendent norms and normatively significant relations that don't supervene upon the information of any agent in particular. The internalist picture turns out to be disturbing precisely because it falls silent when we're faced with questions about how to resolve these conflicts. Resolving these conflicts should be a pressing concern for every normative theory. (shrink)
Thomas Kroedel argues that we can solve a version of the lottery paradox if we identify justified beliefs with permissible beliefs. Since permissions do not agglomerate, we might grant that someone could justifiably believe any ticket in a large and fair lottery is a loser without being permitted to believe that all the tickets will lose. I shall argue that Kroedel’s solution fails. While permissions do not agglomerate, we would have too many permissions if we characterized justified belief as sufficiently (...) probable belief. If we reject the idea that justified beliefs can be characterized as sufficiently probably beliefs, Kroedel’s solution is otiose because the paradox can be dissolved at the outset. (shrink)
A theory of what we should believe should include a theory of what we should believe when we are uncertain about what we should believe and/or uncertain about the factors that determine what we should believe. In this paper, I present a novel theory of what we should believe that gives normative externalists a way of responding to a suite of objections having to do with various kinds of error, ignorance, and uncertainty. This theory is inspired by recent work in (...) ethical theory in which non-consequentialists 'consequentialize' their theories and then use the tools of decision-theory to give us an account of what we ought (in some sense) to do when we're uncertain about what we ought (in some primary sense) to do. On my proposal, because what we ought to do is acquire knowledge and avoid ignorance, we ought to believe iff the probability of coming to know is sufficiently high. This view has a number of important virtues. Among them, it gives us a unified story about how defeaters defeat (a theory developed with Julien Dutant), explains puzzling intuitions about the differences between lottery cases, preface cases, and cases of perceptual knowledge, and provides externalists (and internalists!) with a general framework for thinking about subjective normativity. It's also relatively brief. (shrink)
Wordly internalists claim that while internal duplicates always share the same evidence, our evidence includes non-trivial propositions about our environment. It follows that some evidence is false. Worldly internalism is thought to provide a more satisfying answer to scepticism than classical internalist views that deny that these propositions about our environment might belong to our evidence and to provide a generally more attractive account of rationality and reasons for belief. We argue that worldly internalism faces serious difficulties and that its (...) apparent advantages are illusory. First, it cannot adequately handle some not terribly strange cases of perceptual error. Second, it cannot explain why one should plan to use their evidence to update their beliefs. The second issue allows us to explain why cases of misplaced certainty do not require us to introduce false evidence into our views and that why the alleged advantage of worldly internalism in resisting sceptical pressures is illusory. (shrink)
There is a kind of objectivism in epistemology that involves the acceptance of objective epistemic norms. It is generally regarded as harmless. There is another kind of objectivism in epistemology that involves the acceptance of an objectivist account of justification, one that takes the justification of a belief to turn on its accuracy. It is generally regarded as hopeless. It is a strange and unfortunate sociological fact that these attitudes are so prevalent. Objectivism about norms and justification stand or fall (...) together. Justification is simply a matter of conforming to norms. In this essay, I shall make the case for objectivism about justification. (shrink)
According to moral error theorists, moral claims necessarily represent categorically or robustly normative facts. But since there are no such facts, moral thought and discourse are systematically mistaken. One widely discussed objection to the moral error theory is that it cannot be true because it leads to an epistemic error theory. We argue that this objection is mistaken. Objectors may be right that the epistemic error theory is untenable. We also agree with epistemic realists that our epistemological claims are not (...) systematically in error. However, this is not because there are robustly normative facts, but rather because the truth of our epistemic claims doesn’t turn on whether there are such facts. Epistemic facts, we argue, are not robustly or categorically normative. Moral error theorists should therefore respond to the objection that their view does not commit them to the epistemic error theory. (shrink)
In recent work, Thomas Kroedel has proposed a novel solution to the lottery paradox. As he sees it, we are permitted/justified in believing some lottery propositions, but we are not permitted/justified in believing them all. I criticize this proposal on two fronts. First, I think that if we had the right to add some lottery beliefs to our belief set, we would not have any decisive reason to stop adding more. Suggestions to the contrary run into the wrong kind of (...) reason problem. Reflection on the preface paradox suggests as much. Second, while I agree with Kroedel that permissions do not agglomerate, I do not think that this fact can help us solve the lottery paradox. First, I do not think we have any good reason to think that we’re permitted to believe any lottery propositions. Second, I do not see any good reason to think that epistemic permissions do not agglomerate. (shrink)
My contribution to the author meets critics discussion of Pritchard's _Epistemological Disjunctivism_. In this paper, I examine some of the possible motivations for epistemological disjunctivism and look at some of the costs associated with the view. While Pritchard's view seems to be that our visual beliefs constitute knowledge because they're based on reasons, I argue that the claim that visual beliefs are based on reasons or evidence hasn't been sufficiently motivated. In the end I suggest that we'll get all the (...) benefits with none of the costs of epistemological disjunctivism if we accept E=K. (shrink)
What is knowledge? Why is it valuable? How much of it do we have, and what ways of thinking are good ways to use to get more of it? These are just a few questions that are asked in epistemology, roughly, the philosophical theory of knowledge. This is Epistemology is a comprehensive introduction to the philosophical study of the nature, origin, and scope of human knowledge. Exploring both classic debates and contemporary issues in epistemology, this rigorous yet accessible textbook provides (...) readers with the foundation necessary to start doing epistemology. Organized around 11 key subtopics, and assuming no prior knowledge of the subject, this volume exposes readers to diverse, often contentious perspectives—guiding readers through crucial debates including Hume’s problem of induction, Descartes’ engagement with radical skepticism, rationalist and empiricist evaluations of a priori justification, and many more. The authors avoid complex technical terms and jargon in favor of an easy-to-follow, informal writing style with engaging chapters designed to stimulate student interest and encourage class discussion. Throughout the text, a wealth of up-to-date references and links to online resources are provided to enable further investigation of an array of epistemological topics. A balanced and authoritative addition to the acclaimed This is Philosophy series, This is Epistemology is a perfect primary textbook for philosophy undergraduates, and a valuable resource for general readers with interest in this important branch of philosophy. (shrink)
In a recent article Dylan Dodd has argued that anyone who holds that all knowledge is evidence must concede that we know next to nothing about die external world. The argument is intended to show that any infallibilist account of knowledge is committed to scepticism, and that anyone who identifies our evidence with the propositions we know is committed to infallibilism. I shall offer some reasons for thinking Dodd's argument is unsound, and explain where his argument goes wrong.
Abstract: When do we meet the standard of proof in a criminal trial? Some have argued that it is when the guilt of the defendant is sufficiently probable on the evidence. Some have argued that it is a matter of normic support. While the first view provides us with a nice account of how we ought to manage risk, the second explains why we shouldn’t convict on the basis of naked statistical evidence alone. Unfortunately, this second view doesn’t help us (...) understand how we should manage risk (e.g., the risk of violating rights against wrongful conviction) and faces counterexamples of its own. I shall defend an alternative approach that builds on the strengths of these two accounts. On the approach defending here, it is objectively suitable to punish iff we know a defendant to be guilty. To determine what is consistent with procedural justice and to determine what we prospectively ought to do, we need to think about the risks we face of deviating from this objective ideal. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall discuss a problem that arises when you try to combine an attractive account of what constitutes evidence with an independently plausible account of the kind of access we have to our evidence. According to E = K, our evidence consists of what we know. According to the principle of armchair access, we can know from the armchair what our evidence is. Combined, these claims entail that we can have armchair knowledge of the external world. Because (...) it seems that the principle of armchair access is supported by widely shared intuitions about epistemic rationality, it seems we ought to embrace an internalist conception of evidence. I shall argue that this response is mistaken. Because externalism about evidence can accommodate the relevant intuitions about epistemic rationality, the principle of armchair access is unmotivated. We also have independent reasons for preferring externalism about evidence to the principle of armchair access. (shrink)
Certain combinations of attitudes are manifestly unreasonable. It is unreasonable to believe that dogs bark, for example, if one concedes that one has no justification to believe this. Why are the irrational combinations irrational? One suggestion is that these are attitudes that a subject cannot have justification to have. If this is right, we can test claims about the structure of propositional justification by relying on our observations about which combinations of attitudes constitute Moorean absurd pairs. In a recent defense (...) of access internalism, Smithies argues that only access internalism can explain why various combinations of attitude are irrational. In this paper, I shall argue that access internalism cannot explain the relevant data. Reflection on Moore's Paradox will not tell us much of anything about propositional justification and cannot support access internalism. (shrink)
There has been a considerable amount of debate about the norms of belief, but little discussion to date about what the reasons associated with these norms demand from us. By working out an account of what reasons demand, we can better understand the nature of justification.
Hay dos supuestos sobre el valor epistémico que guían las discusiones más recientes sobre éste. El primero es que hay algo bueno con respecto a la creencia verdadera. El segundo supuesto es que es posible que dos creencias difieran en su valor incluso si ambas creencias son igualmente correctas. El veritista tiene fácil explicar el primer supuesto, pero tiene más difícil explicar el segundo. Para explicarlo, el veritista tiene que mostrar que las creencias verdaderas pueden diferir en su valor porque (...) encarnan diferentes valores de bienes derivativos. El veritista tiene que proporcionarnos una historia de cómo es posible que pares de creencias verdaderas difieran en su valor epistémico no-instrumental. La forma más prometedora que una explicación de este tipo puede tomar, en mi opinión, apela al trabajo de Sosa (2007) sobre el valor epistémico y la naturaleza del conocimiento. Según la postura de Sosa, el conocimiento es un tipo de logro, un tipo de éxito que es atribuible al sujeto y a sus habilidades. Estos logros, nos sugiere, son más valiosos que un caso de éxito atribuible a la suerte y que no constituye un logro. Presentaré algunas dificultades potenciales para su postura y consideraré si tiene los recursos para lidiar con ellas. Voy a delinear los detalles de una postura alternativa que evade estas dificultades. Tal postura retiene el análisis del conocimiento de Sosa, pero requiere que revisemos algunas propuestas veritistas sobre el valor epistémico. La postura revisada nos proporciona algunas herramientas que serán útiles al tratar de ofrecer una teoría de la creencia racional o diestra. (shrink)
Some recent defenses of the 'ought' implies 'can' (OIC) principle try to derive that principle from uncontroversial claims about reasons for action. Reasons for action, it's said, are reasons only for 'potential' actions, which are actions that an agent can perform. Given that 'ought' implies 'reasons', it seems we have our proof of OIC. In this paper, I argue that this latest strategy for defending OIC fails.
In Fallibilism: Evidence and Knowledge, Jessica Brown identifies a number of problems for the so-called knowledge view of justification. According to this view, we cannot justifiably believe what we do not know. Most epistemologists reject this view on the grounds that false beliefs can be justified if, say, supported by the evidence or produced by reliable processes. We think this is a mistake and that many epistemologists are classifying beliefs as justified because they have properties that indicate that something should (...) be excused. Brown thinks that previous attempts to make this case have been unsuccessful. While the difficulties Brown points to are genuine, I think they show that attempts to explain a classificatory judgment haven't been successful. Still, I would argue that the classification is correct. We need a better explanation of this classificatory judgment. I will try to clarify the justification-excuse distinction and explain why it's a mistake to insist that beliefs that violate epistemic norms might be justified. Just as it's possible for a rational agent to act without justification in spite of her best intentions, it's possible that a rational thinker who follows the evidence and meets our expectations might nevertheless believe without sufficient justification. If our justified beliefs are supposed to guide us in deciding what to do, we probably should draw on discussions from morality and the law about the justification/excuse distinction to inform our understanding of the epistemic case. (shrink)
Abstract: On one formulation, epistemological disjunctivism is the view that our perceptual beliefs constitute knowledge when they are based on reasons that provide them with factive support. Some would argue that it is impossible to understand how perceptual knowledge is possible unless we assume that we have such reasons to support our perceptual beliefs. Some would argue that it is impossible to understand how perceptual experience could furnish us with these reasons unless we assume that the traditional view of experience (...) is mistaken. For reasons explained here, I think that the epistemological argument for metaphysical disjunctivism rests on mistaken assumptions about reasons and their rational role. Neither disjunctivist view is needed to understand how perceptual knowledge is possible. (shrink)
We discuss the difficulties that arise for standard reasons-first theories by looking at a case in which an agent who seems initially to know that n individuals are responsible for wrongdoing learns that n-1 are guilty. On the one hand, if this agent can retain their initial knowledge, it seems the agent should be able to believe in at least n-1 cases that the relevant subject is culpable, blame this agent for wrongdoing, and punish accordingly. Since we're not primarily interested (...) in objective rightness, it doesn't seem right that only n-1 should be punished, blamed, or believed to be guilty since there needn't be any discernible differences between the cases that could explain why they should be handled differently. We argue that standard reasons-centred theories don't have the tools necessary for handling this kind of case. We also argue that the most familiar reasons-free approaches get this kind of case right but cannot handle variant cases where an agent has to rely on naked statistical evidence. We propose that the best approach will combine the tools of reasons-centred and decision-theoretic approaches. We need the reasonologists to help us understand what objective suitability would consist in and the decision-theorists to tell us how to cope with uncertainty about the presence or absence of objective right-making (and wrong-making) features. (shrink)