According to the fitting-attitudes account of value, for X to be good is for it to be fitting to value X. But what is it for an attitude to be fitting? A popular recent view is that it is for there to be sufficient reason for the attitude. In this paper we argue that proponents of the fitting-attitudes account should reject this view and instead take fittingness as basic. In this way they avoid the notorious ‘wrong kind of reason’ problem, (...) and can offer attractive accounts of reasons and good reasoning in terms of fittingness. (shrink)
Reasoning is a certain kind of attitude-revision. What kind? The aim of this paper is to introduce and defend a new answer to this question, based on the idea that reasoning is a goodness-fixing kind. Our central claim is that reasoning is a functional kind: it has a constitutive point or aim that fixes the standards for good reasoning. We claim, further, that this aim is to get fitting attitudes. We start by considering recent accounts of reasoning due to Ralph (...) Wedgwood and John Broome, and argue that, while these accounts contain important insights, they are not satisfactory: Wedgwood’s rules out too much, and Broome’s too little. We then introduce and defend our alternative account, discuss some of its implications and attractions, and, finally, consider objections. (shrink)
What makes the difference between good and bad reasoning? In this paper we defend a novel account of good reasoning—both theoretical and practical—according to which it preserves fittingness or correctness: good reasoning is reasoning which is such as to take you from fitting attitudes to further fitting attitudes, other things equal. This account, we argue, is preferable to two others that feature in the recent literature. The first, which has been made prominent by John Broome, holds that the standards of (...) good reasoning derive from rational requirements. The second holds that these standards derive from reasons. We argue that these accounts face serious difficulties in correctly distinguishing good from bad reasoning, and in explaining what's worthwhile about good reasoning. We then propose our alternative account and argue that it performs better on these counts. In the final section, we develop certain elements of the account in response to some possible objections. (shrink)
According to Paul Boghossian and others, inference is subject to the taking condition: it necessarily involves the thinker taking his premises to support his conclusion, and drawing the conclusion because of that fact. Boghossian argues that this condition vindicates the idea that inference is an expression of agency, and that it has several other important implications too. However, we argue in this paper that the taking condition should be rejected. The condition gives rise to several serious prima facie problems and (...) the reasons which have been offered in favour of it fail to convince. (shrink)
Beliefs are held to norms in a way that seems to require control over what we believe. Yet we don’t control our beliefs at will, in the way we control our actions. I argue that this problem can be solved by recognising a different form of control, which we exercise when we revise our beliefs directly for reasons. We enjoy this form of attitudinal control not only over our beliefs, but also over other attitudes, including intentions—that is, over the will (...) itself. Closely tied to our capacity for reasoning, attitudinal control is in important respects more fundamental than the voluntary control that we exercise over our actions. In the course of developing this account I respond to two objections recently raised against an earlier version of it by Booth. (shrink)
I argue that, if belief is subject to a norm of truth, then that norm is evaluative rather than prescriptive in character. No prescriptive norm of truth is both plausible as a norm that we are subject to, and also capable of explaining what the truth norm of belief is supposed to explain. Candidate prescriptive norms also have implausible consequences for the normative status of withholding belief. An evaluative norm fares better in all of these respects. I propose an evaluative (...) account according to which the goodness of true belief is, in Geach's sense, attributive rather than predicative. (shrink)
This is a survey of recent debates concerning the normativity of belief. We explain what the thesis that belief is normative involves, consider arguments for and against that thesis, and explore its bearing on debates in metaethics.
As rational agents, we are governed by reasons. The fact that there’s beer at the pub might be a reason to go there and a reason to believe you’ll enjoy it. As this example illustrates, there are reasons for both action and for belief. There are also many other responses for which there seem to be reasons – for example, desire, regret, admiration, and blame. This diversity raises questions about how reasons for different responses relate to each other. Might certain (...) such reasons be more fundamental than others? Should certain reasons and not others be treated as paradigmatic? At least implicitly, many philosophers treat reasons for action as the fundamental or paradigmatic case. In contrast, this paper articulates and defends an alternative approach, on which reasons for attitudes are fundamental, and reasons for action are both derivative and, in certain ways, idiosyncratic. After outlining this approach, we focus on defending its most contentious thesis, that reasons for action are fundamentally reasons for intention. We offer two arguments for this thesis, which turn on central roles of reasons: that reasons can be responded to, and that reasons can feature as premises of good reasoning. We then examine objections to the thesis and argue that none succeed. We conclude by sketching some ways in which our approach is significant for theorising about reasons. (shrink)
Beliefs can be correct or incorrect, and this standard of correctness is widely thought to be fundamental to epistemic normativity. But how should this standard be understood, and in what way is it so fundamental? I argue that we should resist understanding correctness for belief as either a prescriptive or an evaluative norm. Rather, we should understand it as an instance of the distinct normative category of fittingness for attitudes. This yields an attractive account of epistemic reasons.
This paper defends the possibility of doxastic freedom, arguing that doxastic freedom should be modelled not on freedom of action but on freedom of intention. Freedom of action is exercised by agents like us, I argue, through voluntary control. This involves two conditions, intentions-reactivity and reasons-reactivity, that are not met in the case of doxastic states. Freedom of intention is central to our agency and to our moral responsibility, but is not exercised through voluntary control. I develop and defend an (...) account of freedom of intention, arguing that constitutive features of intention ensure that freedom of intention cannot require voluntary control. Then I show that an analogous argument can be applied to doxastic states. I argue that if we had voluntary control of intentions or of doxastic states, this would actually undermine our freedom. (shrink)
It is widely held that when you are deliberating about whether to believe some proposition p, only considerations relevant to the truth of p can be taken into account as reasons bearing on whether to believe p and motivate you accordingly. This thesis of exclusivity has significance for debates about the nature of belief, about control of belief, and about certain forms of evidentialism. In this paper I distinguish a strong and a weak version of exclusivity. I provide reason to (...) think that strong exclusivity is an illusion and that weak exclusivity may also be an illusion. I describe a number of cases in which exclusivity seems not to hold, and I show how an illusion of exclusivity may be generated by a rather different feature of doxastic deliberation, which I call demandingness. (shrink)
We tend to prescribe and appraise doxastic states in terms that are broadly deontic. According to a simple argument, such prescriptions and appraisals are improper, because they wrongly presuppose that our doxastic states are voluntary. One strategy for resisting this argument, recently endorsed by a number of philosophers, is to claim that our doxastic states are in fact voluntary (This strategy has been pursued by Steup 2008 ; Weatherson 2008 ). In this paper I argue that this strategy is neither (...) successful nor necessary. Our doxastic states are not voluntary in any interesting sense. But once we see why our doxastic states are not voluntary, we can also see that there is no apparent reason to think that deontic prescriptions and appraisals—epistemic ones, at any rate—presuppose doxastic voluntarism. Indeed, there is good reason to deny that they do so. Finally, I diagnose the misleading attraction of the idea that what I call ‘epistemic deontology’ presupposes doxastic voluntarism. (shrink)
It is often said that belief aims at truth. I argue that if belief has an aim then that aim is knowledge rather than merely truth. My main argument appeals to the impossibility of forming a belief on the basis of evidence that only weakly favours a proposition. This phenomenon, I argue, is a problem for the truth-aim hypothesis. By contrast, it can be given a simple and satisfying explanation on the knowledge-aim hypothesis. Furthermore, the knowledge-aim hypothesis suggests a very (...) plausible account of what it takes for evidence to be sufficiently good to make belief possible. I offer several further considerations in favour of the knowledge-aim hypothesis, and deal with objections. Although the main point of the paper is not to defend the view that belief has an aim, but to adjudicate between accounts of what that aim is, my argument nevertheless requires some attention to the motivation for attributing an aim to belief in the first place. In particular, I will explain an important advantage that this view has over the view that belief is not aim-directed, but only subject to a constitutive norm. (shrink)
Does belief have an aim? According to the claim of exclusivity, non-truth-directed considerations cannot motivate belief within doxastic deliberation. This claim has been used to argue that, far from aiming at truth, belief is not aim-directed at all, because the regulation of belief fails to exhibit a kind of interaction among aims that is characteristic of ordinary aim-directed behaviour. The most prominent reply to this objection has been offered by Steglich-Petersen (Philos Stud 145:395–405, 2009), who claims that exclusivity is in (...) fact compatible with belief’s genuinely having an aim. I argue, based on consideration of what is involved in pursuing an aim, that Steglich-Petersen’s reply fails. I suggest that the defender of the idea that belief has an aim should instead reject the claim of exclusivity, and I sketch how this can be done. (shrink)
I argue that a version of the so-called KK principle is true for principled epistemic reasons; and that this does not entail access internalism, as is commonly supposed, but is consistent with a broad spectrum of epistemological views. The version of the principle I defend states that, given certain normal conditions, knowing p entails being in a position to know that you know p. My argument for the principle proceeds from reflection on what it would take to know that you (...) know something, rather than from reflection on the conditions for knowledge generally. Knowing that you know p, it emerges, is importantly similar to cases of psychological self-knowledge like knowing that you believe p: it does not require any grounds other than your grounds for believing p itself. In so arguing, I do not rely on any general account of knowledge, but only on certain plausible and widely accepted epistemological assumptions. (shrink)
Many philosophers categorise judgment as a type of action. On the face of it, this claim is at odds with the seeming fact that judging a certain proposition is not something you can do voluntarily. I argue that we can resolve this tension by recognising a category of non-voluntary action. An action can be non-voluntary without being involuntary. The notion of non-voluntary action is developed by appeal to the claim that judging has truth as a constitutive goal. This claim, when (...) combined with a conception of judging as a way of settling a question, explains both why judging is genuinely agential, and why it is nevertheless non-voluntary. (shrink)
Norm-attitude accounts of value say that for something to be valuable is for there to be norms that support valuing that thing. For example, according to fitting-attitude accounts, something is of value if it is fitting to value, and according to buck-passing accounts, something is of value if the reasons support valuing it. Norm-attitude accounts face the partiality problem: in cases of partiality, what it is fitting to value, and what the reasons support valuing, may not line up with what’s (...) valuable. Buck-passers have a solution to this problem and may claim that this gives them an advantage over fitting-attitude accounts. In this paper, we show how fitting-attitudes accounts can offer a broadly analogous, and equally attractive, solution to the problem. (shrink)
This book has two main aims. First, it develops and defends a constitutive account of normative reasons as premises of good reasoning. This account says, roughly, that to be a normative reason for a response (such as a belief or intention) is to be premise of good reasoning, from fitting responses, to that response. Second, building on the account of reasons, it develops and defends a fittingness-first account of the structure of the normative domain. This account says that there is (...) a single normative property, fittingness, which is normatively basic, and on which all other normative properties depend. On this view, reasons, oughts, value, and other normative phenomena all ultimately depend on fittingness. The account of normative reasons is a part of this general view of the normative domain. The book begins, in chapter 1, by motivating the account of reasons as premises of good reasoning. Chapter 2 argues that good reasoning is, roughly, reasoning that preserves fittingness. Chapter 3 addresses the question of what fittingness is. Chapter 4 defends constitutive accounts of evaluative properties, like goodness, in terms of fitting attitudes. Chapters 5 and 6 shows how the view provides an attractive account of how reasons determine the deontic status of a response – whether you ought or may so respond. Chapter 7 addresses some challenges concerning certain reasons for belief, the relationship between reasons for action and reasons for intention, and reasons for emotion. (shrink)
Among the many important contributions of John Broome’s Rationality Through Reasoning is an account of what reasoning is and what makes reasoning correct. In this paper we raise some problems for both of these accounts and recommend an alternative approach.
What should I do? What should I think? Traditionally, ethicists tackle the first question, while epistemologists tackle the second. Philosophers have tended to investigate the issue of what to do independently of the issue of what to think, that is, to do ethics independently of epistemology, and vice versa. This collection of new essays by leading philosophers focuses on a central concern of both epistemology and ethics: normativity. Normativity is a matter of what one should or may do or think, (...) what one has reason or justification to do or to think, what it is right or wrong to do or to think, and so on. The volume is innovative in drawing together issues from epistemology and ethics and in exploring neglected connections between epistemic and practical normativity. It represents a burgeoning research programme in which epistemic and practical normativity are seen as two aspects of a single topic, deeply interdependent and raising parallel questions. (shrink)
I consider two possible evidentialist responses to Schmidt. According to the first, all of the reason-giving work in the relevant cases is being done by evidence. According to the second, even if the ‘incoherence fact’ sometimes provides a reason, what it provides a reason for is not a doxastic attitude, or at least not one that is an alternative to belief. I argue that the first response is not satisfying, but the second is defensible.
This paper considers a view according to which there are certain symmetries between the nature of belief and that of intention. I do not defend this Symmetry View in detail, but rather try to adjudicate between different versions of it: what I call Evaluative, Normative and Teleological versions. I argue that the central motivation for the Symmetry View in fact supports only a specific Teleological version of the view.
In this paper I discuss Pascal Engel’s recent work on doxastic correctness. I raise worries about two elements of his view—the role played in it by the distinction between i -correctness and e -correctness, and the construal of doxastic correctness as an ideal of reason. I propose an alternative approach.
What is the structure of normative reality? According to X First, normativity has a monistic foundationalist structure: there is a unique normatively basic property in terms of which all the other normative properties are analysed. The main aim of this paper is to defend the view that fittingness—the property that an attitude has when it gets things right with respect to its object, as when you admire the admirable or desire the desirable—is first, or perhaps joint first. I will focus (...) in particular on the questions whether and why fittingness is normative. (shrink)
What sort of thing is the mind? And how can such a thing at the same time - belong to the natural world, - represent the world, - give rise to our subjective experience, - and ground human knowledge? Content, Consciousness and Perception is an edited collection, comprising eleven new contributions to the philosophy of mind, written by some of the most promising young philosophers in the UK and Ireland. The book is arranged into three parts. Part I, Concepts and (...) Mental Content, which begins with an attack by Hans-Johann Glock on the representational theory of mind, addresses the nature of mental representation. Part II, Consciousness and the Metaphysics of Mind, concerns the prospects for a naturalistic metaphysics of the conscious mind. Finally, Part III, entitled Perception, pursues the project of giving a satisfactory philosophical account of perceptual experience. The book begins with an introductory essay by the editors, which provides an overview of the state of contemporary philosophy of mind, locating the articles to follow within that context. The individual chapters of Content, Consciousness and Perception are professional contributions to their respective areas, of interest to any philosopher of mind. The volume as a whole is ideal for non-specialists and students interested in getting to grips with the state of the art in contemporary philosophy of mind. -/- Praise for the book: 'If you want to know what the next but one generation of philosophers of mind are thinking about now, *Content, Consciousness and Perception * is a terrific place to look. This wide-ranging international collection is relevant to psychologists and cognitive scientists as well as philosophers.' Tim Williamson Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford University. (shrink)
This book has two main aims. First, it develops and defends a constitutive account of normative reasons as premises of good reasoning. This account says, roughly, that to be a normative reason for a response (such as a belief or intention) is to be premise of good reasoning, from fitting responses, to that response. Second, building on the account of reasons, it develops and defends a fittingness-first account of the structure of the normative domain. This account says that there is (...) a single normative property, fittingness, which is normatively basic, and on which all other normative properties depend. On this view, reasons, oughts, value, and other normative phenomena all ultimately depend on fittingness. The account of normative reasons is a part of this general view of the normative domain. The book begins, in Chapter 1, by motivating the account of reasons as premises of good reasoning. Chapter 2 argues that good reasoning is, roughly, reasoning that preserves fittingness. Chapter 3 addresses the question of what fittingness is. Chapter 4 defends constitutive accounts of evaluative properties, like goodness, in terms of fitting attitudes. Chapters 5 and 6 shows how the view provides an attractive account of how reasons determine the deontic status of a response—whether you ought or may so respond. Chapter 7 addresses some challenges concerning certain reasons for belief, the relationship between reasons for action and reasons for intention, and reasons for emotion. (shrink)
Epistemology, like ethics, is normative. Just as ethics addresses questions about how we ought to act, so epistemology addresses questions about how we ought to believe and enquire. We can also ask metanormative questions. What does it mean to claim that someone ought to do or believe something? Do such claims express beliefs about independently existing facts, or only attitudes of approval and disapproval towards certain pieces of conduct? How do putative facts about what people ought to do or believe (...) fit in to the natural world? In the case of ethics, such questions have been subject to extensive and systematic investigation, yielding the thriving subdiscipline of metaethics. Yet the corresponding questions have been largely ignored in epistemology; there is no serious subdiscipline of metaepistemology. This surprising state of affairs reflects a more general tendency for ethics and epistemology to be carried out largely in isolation from each other, despite the important substantive and structural connections between them. A movement to overturn the general tendency has only recently gained serious momentum, and has yet to tackle metanormative questions in a sustained way. This edited collection aims to stimulate this project and thus advance the new subdiscipline of metaepistemology. Its original essays draw on the sophisticated theories and frameworks that have been developed in metaethics concerning practical normativity, examine whether they can be applied to epistemic normativity, and consider what this might tell us about both. (shrink)
Abstract: Some recent arguments against the classical invariantist account of knowledge exploit the idea that there is a ‘knowledge norm’ for assertion. It is claimed that, given the existence of this norm, certain intuitions about assertability support contextualism, or contrastivism, over classical invariantism. In this paper I show that, even if we accept the existence of a knowledge norm, these assertability-based arguments fail. The classical invariantist can accommodate and explain the relevant intuitions about assertability, in a way that retains the (...) idea that knowledge is the epistemic norm for assertion. When we consider the role of assertion as a conversational act, it becomes plausible that a subject's epistemic warrant to assert can be defeated even though she has knowledge. This defeasibility thesis is what allows the classical invariantist to accommodate and explain the kinds of intuitions on which assertability-based arguments depend. (shrink)