We consider the complex interactions between rape culture and epistemology. A central case study is the consideration of a deferential attitude about the epistemology of sexual assault testimony. According to the deferential attitude, individuals and institutions should decline to act on allegations of sexual assault unless and until they are proven in a formal setting, i.e., a criminal court. We attack this deference from several angles, including the pervasiveness of rape culture in the criminal justice system, the epistemology of testimony (...) and norms connecting knowledge and action, the harms of tacit idealizations away from important contextual factors, and a contextualist semantics for 'knows' ascriptions. (shrink)
Ichikawa and Jarvis offer a new rationalist theory of mental content and defend a traditional epistemology of philosophy. They argue that philosophical inquiry is continuous with non-philosophical inquiry, and can be genuinely a priori, and that intuitions do not play an important role in mental content or the a priori.
The book develops and synthesises two main ideas: contextualism about knowledge ascriptions and a knowledge-first approach to epistemology. The theme of the book is that these two ideas fit together much better than it's widely thought they do. Not only are they not competitors: they each have something important to offer the other.
This paper will articulate and defend a novel theory of epistemic justification; I characterize my view as the thesis that justification is potential knowledge . My project is an instance of the ‘knowledge-first’ programme, championed especially by Timothy Williamson. So I begin with a brief recapitulation of that programme.
I argue that “consent” language presupposes that the contemplated action is or would be at someone else’s behest. When one does something for another reason—for example, when one elects independently to do something, or when one accepts an invitation to do something—it is linguistically inappropriate to describe the actor as “consenting” to it; but it is also inappropriate to describe them as “not consenting” to it. A consequence of this idea is that “consent” is poorly suited to play its canonical (...) central role in contemporary sexual ethics. But this does not mean that nonconsensual sex can be morally permissible. Consent language, I’ll suggest, carries the conventional presupposition that that which is or might be consented to is at someone else’s behest. One implication will be a new kind of support for feminist critiques of consent theory in sexual ethics. (shrink)
There are two central kinds of epistemological mistakes: believing things you shouldn’t, and failing to believe things that you should. The knowledge-first program offers a canonical explanation for the former: if you believe something without knowing it, you violate the norm to believe only that which you know. But the explanation does not extend in any plausible way to a story about what’s wrong with suspending judgment when one ought to believe. In this paper I explore prospects for a knowledge-centering (...) account of positive epistemic norms that describe epistemic duties to believe. (shrink)
How should we understand good philosophical inquiry? Ernest Sosa has argued that the key to answering this question lies with virtue-based epistemology. According to virtue-based epistemology, competences are prior to epistemic justification. More precisely, a subject is justified in having some type of belief only because she could have a belief of that type by exercising her competences. Virtue epistemology is well positioned to explain why, in forming false philosophical beliefs, agents are often less rational than it is possible to (...) be. False philosophical beliefs are often unjustified—and the agent is thereby less rational for having them—precisely because these beliefs could not be formed by exercising competences. But, virtue epistemology is not well positioned to explain why, in failing to form some true philosophical beliefs, agents are less rational than it is possible to be. In cases where agents fall short by failing to believe philosophical truths, the problem is not that they believe things they shouldn’t, but that they lack beliefs they ought to have. We argue that Timothy Williamson's recent critique of the a priori/a posteriori distinction falls prey to similar problem cases. Williamson fails to see that a type of belief might be a priori justified if and only if, even without any special confirming experiences, agents fall short by failing to have this type of belief. We conclude that there are types of beliefs that are deeply a priori justified for any agent regardless of what epistemic competences the agent has. However, we also point out that this view has a problem of its own: it appears to make the acquisition of a priori knowledge too easy. We end by suggesting that a move back towards virtue-based epistemology is necessary. But in order for this move to be effective, epistemic competences will have to be understood very differently than in the reliabilist tradition. (shrink)
I argue that evaluating the knowledge norm of practical reasoning is less straightforward than is often assumed in the literature. In particular, cases in which knowledge is intuitively present, but action is intuitively epistemically unwarranted, provide no traction against the knowledge norm. The knowledge norm indicates what it is appropriately to hold a particular content as a reason for action; it does not provide a theory of what reasons are sufficient for what actions. Absent a general theory about what sorts (...) of reasons, if genuinely held, would be sufficient to justify actions—a question about which the knowledge norm is silent—many of the kinds of cases prevalent in the literature do not bear on the knowledge norm. (shrink)
I offer an epistemic framework for theorising about faith. I suggest that epistemic faith is a disposition to believe or infer according to particular methods, despite a kind of tendency to perceive an epistemic shortcoming in that method. Faith is unjustified, and issues into unjustified beliefs, when the apparent epistemic shortcomings are actual; it is justified when the epistemic worries are unfounded. Virtuous faith is central to a great deal of epistemology. A rational agent will manifest faith in their perceptual (...) abilities, in determining which experts and testifiers to trust, in their a priori reasoning, and in the epistemic capacities that are specific to their social environment. To ignore faith is to ignore a crucial element of our social and individualistic epistemic lives. One exercises faith when one forms beliefs despite a kind of apparent epistemic shortcoming, which may or may not correspond to a genuine weakness in evidential support. For example, standing on a bridge one knows to be safe, despite one's natural but irrational fear, can manifest a kind of epistemic faith. So too can forming perceptual beliefs, or engaging in logical inferences, despite lacking a dialectically satisfying response to skeptical arguments. The same goes for beliefs that are informed by one's ideological stance – these too count as manifestations of faith, and under some circumstances, such faith is epistemically appropriate. One upshot of my project will be that an intuitively appealing neutrality ideal for education and discourse is untenable. I'll conclude with some discussion of practical questions about whether, when, and why it can be worthwhile engaging seriously with people who have radically opposed views and frameworks. (shrink)
We develop a novel challenge to pragmatic encroachment. The significance of belief-desire psychology requires treating questions about what to believe as importantly prior to questions about what to do; pragmatic encroachment undermines that priority, and therefore undermines the significance of belief-desire psychology. This, we argue, is a higher cost than has been recognized by epistemologists considering embracing pragmatic encroachment.
An infuential twenty-first century philosophical project posits a central role for knowledge: knowledge is more fundamental than epistemic states like belief and justification. So-called “knowledge first” theorists find support for this thought in identifying central theoretical roles for knowledge. I argue that a similar methodology supports a privileged role for more specific category of basic knowledge. Some of the roles that knowledge first theorists have posited for knowledge generally are better suited for basic knowledge.
Epistemic contextualism is a recent and hotly debated topic in philosophy. Contextualists argue that the language we use to attribute knowledge can only be properly understood relative to a specified context. How much can our knowledge depend on context? Is there a limit, and if so, where does it lie? What is the relationship between epistemic contextualism and fundamental topics in philosophy such as objectivity, truth, and relativism? The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism is an outstanding reference source to the (...) key topics, problems, and debates in this exciting subject and is the first collection of its kind. Comprising thirty-seven chapters by a team of international contributors the _Handbook_ is divided into eight parts: Data and motivations for contextualism Methodological issues Epistemological implications Doing without contextualism Relativism and disagreement Semantic implementations Contextualism outside ‘knows’ Foundational linguistic issues. Within these sections central issues, debates and problems are examined, including contextualism and thought experiments and paradoxes such as the Gettier problem and the lottery paradox; semantics and pragmatics; the relationship between contextualism, relativism, and disagreement; and contextualism about related topics like ethical judgments and modality. The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism is essential reading for students and researchers in epistemology and philosophy of language. It will also be very useful for those in related fields such as linguistics and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
This chapter will consider three themes relating to the significance of intuitions in contemporary philosophy. In §1, I’ll review and explore the relationship between philosophical use of words like ‘intuitively’ and any kinds of mental states that might be called ‘intuitions’. In §2, I’ll consider the widely-discussed analogy between intuitive experience and perceptual experience, drawing out some interesting similarities and differences. Finally, in §3, I’ll introduce the recent movement of ‘experimental philosophy’, and consider to what extent its projects are tied (...) up with questions about the role of intuitions in philosophy. My primary aim will be to survey and explain; I will make no effort, however, to hide the fact that I’m a philosopher and a partisan to some of these debates. So there will be some arguments for controversial points of view, too—hopefully these will be easily perceptible, and my opponents fairly represented. Limitations of space demand a rather superficial treatment of most of our topics; endnotes will direct the reader to more comprehensive discussions. (shrink)
How radical is the idea that reasons are factive? Some philosophers consider it a dramatic departure from orthodoxy, with surprising implications about the bearing of the external world on what credences it’s reasonable to have, what beliefs are epistemically appropriate, and what actions are rational. I deny these implications. In the cases where external matters imply differences in factive states, there will inevitably be important weaker factive states in common. For example, someone who knows it is raining has many factive (...) states in common with someone who has a Gettiered belief that it is raining, or one who falsely but justifiably believes that it is raining. The factive reasons denied to subjects in Gettier cases or skeptical scenarios are in an important sense redundant; appropriate belief or action supervenes on internal states, even if reasons must be factive (and even if appropriate belief and action supervenes on reasons). The degree to which the strategy is applicable depends substantively on epistemic assumptions about basic or foundational knowledge. I argue that even given a significantly externalist approach to the latter internalist intuitions about rational credence, belief, and action can be vindicated. (shrink)
One of the more visible recent developments in philosophical methodology is the experimental philosophy movement. On its surface, the experimentalist challenge looks like a dramatic threat to the apriority of philosophy; ‘experimentalist’ is nearly antonymic with ‘aprioristic’. This appearance, I suggest, is misleading; the experimentalist critique is entirely unrelated to questions about the apriority of philosophical investigation. There are many reasons to resist the skeptical conclusions of negative experimental philosophers; but even if they are granted—even if the experimentalists are right (...) to claim that we must do much more careful laboratory work in order legitimately to be confident in our philosophical judgments— the apriority of philosophy is unimpugned. The kinds of scientific investigation that experimental philosophers argue to be necessary involve merely enabling sensory experiences. Although they are not enabling in the sense of permitting concept acquisition, they are enabling in another epistemically significant way that is also consistent with the apriority of philosophy. (shrink)
Criticism can sometimes provoke defensive reactions, particularly when it implicates identities people hold dear. For instance, feminists told they are upholding rape culture might become angry or upset, since the criticism conflicts with an identity that is important to them. These kinds of defensive reactions are a primary focus of this paper. What is it to be defensive in this way, and why do some kinds of criticism, or implied criticism, tend to provoke this kind of response? What are the (...) connections between defensiveness, identity, and active ignorance? What are the social, political, and epistemic consequences of the tendency to defensiveness? Are there ways to improve the situation? (shrink)
Timothy Williamson (2000) makes a strong prima facie case for the identification of a subject's total evidence with the subject's total knowledge (E = K). However, as Brian Weatherson (Ms) has observed, there are intuitively problematic consequences of E = K. In this article, I'll offer a contextualist implementation of E = K that provides the resources to respond to Weatherson's argument; the result will be a novel approach to knowledge and evidence that is suggestive of an unexplored contextualist approach (...) to basic knowledge. (shrink)
In recent years, some defenders of traditional philosophical methodology have argued that certain critiques of armchair methods are mistaken in assuming that intuitions play central evidential roles in traditional philosophical methods. According to this kind of response, experimental philosophers attack a straw man; it doesn’t matter whether intuitions are reliable, because philosophers don’t use intuitions in the way assumed. Deutsch (2010), Williamson (2007), and Cappelen (2012) all defend traditional methods in something like this way. I also endorsed something like this (...) line in Ichikawa (2014a). -/- In this contribution, I will follow up on this sort of defence of traditional philosophical methods in three ways. In §1, I will rehearse and extend some of my reasons for challenging the idea that traditional methods depend on intuitions in an evidential role. (My reasons are very different from those discussed in (Cappelen, 2012).) I will also engage with some recent more sophisticated attempts to establish the idea that intuitions play evidential roles in philosophy, such as that of Chudnoff (2013). In §2, I will consider and argue against a dismissive response to such positions from experimental philosophers, who consider the question of philosophical reliance on intuitions to be irrelevant to the experimentalist critique. But in §3, I will argue that it would also be a mistake to conclude (as Herman Cappelen does) that the critique is rendered totally irrelevant by the denial of the evidential role of intuitions; I defend a more moderate view on which the bearing of experimental studies of philosophical intuitions is relevant for philosophical methodology, but only in a relatively limited way. (shrink)
I develop a class of counterexamples to Blome-Tillmann’s ‘Presuppositional Epistemic Contextualism’. There are cases in which subjects are ignorant of key propositions that are inconsistent with the pragmatic presuppositions in conversational contexts in which they are discussed; in such contexts, PEC wrongly predicts the subjects to satisfy certain ‘knows’ attributions.
This chapter considers Ernest Sosa’s contributions to philosophical methodology. In Section 1, Sosa’s approach to the role of intuitions in the epistemology of philosophy is considered and related to his broader virtue-theoretic epistemological framework. Of particular focus is the question whether false or unjustified intuitions may justify. Section 2 considers Sosa’s response to sceptical challenges about intuitions, especially those deriving from experimental philosophy. I argue that Sosa’s attempt to attribute apparent disagreement in survey data to difference in meaning fails, but (...) that some of his other, more general, responses to experimentalist sceptics succeed. (shrink)
Jennifer Windt’s Dreaming is an enormously rich and thorough book, developing illuminating connections between dreaming, the methodology of psychology, and various philosophical subfields. I’ll focus on two epistemological threads that run through the book. The first has to do with the status of certain assumptions about dreams. Windt argues that the assumptions that dreams involve experiences, and that dream reports are reliable — are methodologically necessary default assumptions, akin to Wittgensteinian hinge propositions. I’ll suggest that Windt is quietly pre-supposing some (...) sceptical assumptions, and that recent literature in epistemic externalism may bear in important ways on her arguments. The second thread involves the perennial sceptical worry that dreaming threatens ordinary knowledge. I’ll suggest again that Windt makes tacit sceptical assumptions one may wish to resist. (shrink)