I defend the view that propositional knowledge can be defined as follows: A knows that p if and only if A believes that p because p. Spelling out the meaning of 'because' in this formula results in a causal-explanatory view of knowledge.
I argue that there are perverse actions, in the sense that they are acts performed in the belief that they are wrong. They are also, however, acts done in the belief that they are right. What makes them perverse is, not only that they have conflicting motivations, but that the motivation that wins out is not in accord with reason. That is, a perverse act is one resulting from one's strongest motivation but not based on all one's available reasons.
If skepticism is once again fashionable, then much of the credit must go to Peter Unger who gives a sustained defense of an ultra-pyrrhonian position in his book, Ignorance: A case for Skepticism. Starting with a version of the traditional argument that we know nothing about the external world, Unger plunges deeper into skeptical waters by next arguing that there is at most hardly anything which we know to be so; and he scarcely pauses before proceeding to defend the stronger (...) conclusion of ‘universal ignorance,’ the thesis that nobody ever knows anything to be the case. I view Unger's thesis and the arguments that led him to it as a challenge to be overcome, not by an appeal to dogmatism - which Unger sees as the only alternative to skepticism - but by recourse to hard-biting arguments of the sort in which Unger himself puts his faith. In what follows I shall attempt to restate Unger's three main skeptical arguments with a view to showing that their bite is not nearly so hard as he imagines. (shrink)
I argue for the following analysis of a freely willed action: an act is done of one's own free will, if and only if, it is an intentional act performed by one acting as a rational agent from unobstructed reasons, and so situated that he or she has the capacity to forbear from performing it.
Bredo C. Johnsen1 misconceives my strictures concerning acceptance of the following principle : If A both knows that p and knows that p entails q, then A can come to know that q.Johnsen seems unaware that my criticism was intended to apply only after is made to appear in its most plausible light; that is, only after its consequent is interpreted as: ’It is logically possible for A to know that q.’ Without this interpretation might be dismissed simply on the (...) grounds that A suffers from some physical or psychological disability that prevents him from drawing inferences from what he knows.Properly interpreted, remains acceptable as long as the propositions substituted for p and q are such that it is at least logically possible for A to get evidence enough to make them known. Agreement on this point is itself enough to render Johnsen's own examples irrelevant. For instance, even though it may be physically impossible for A to get adequate evidence that in the constellation Andromeda there is a planet intermediate in size between Venus and Earth, the foregoing is still a fit substitution instance for q; but since such a q does not suffice to falsify the consequent of, it does nothing to generate any skeptical argument, either. (shrink)
I argue that the time-gap argument poses no objection to Direct Realism. In the case of exploded stars many light years from us, what we see is no longer the star, but its light. I argue that in all cases of seeing we see light, but only when physical objects exist at the time of our seeing do we see them.
I argue that Davidson's anti-skeptical thesis can survive objections made against it by treating skepticism as logically possible, but not epistemically possible. That is, the skeptical hypothesis of massive error conflicts with what we must take ourselves to know if we are to have coherent thought and speech.
Edmund Gettier has cited familiar cases in which it seems plausible to conclude that a person has a true and justified belief, yet lacks knowledge. Robert Almeder denies that Gettier’s cases falsify the traditional account. What they show is that Gettier’s subjects lack knowledge because they are not completely justified in their beliefs, where being completely justified in believing that p entails the truth of the proposition that p. This move blocks Gettier’s counterexamples, which rely on the possibility that one (...) might be justified in believing something false. (shrink)
I argue that a modern gloss on Aristotle’s notions of Form and Matter not only allows us to escape a dualism of the psychological and the physical, but also results in a plausible sort of materialism. This is because Aristotle held that the essential nature of any psychological state, including perception and human thought, is to be some physical property. I also show that Hilary Putnam and Martha Nussbaum are mistaken in saying that Aristotle was not a materialist, but a (...) functionalist. His functionalism should instead be given a materialistic interpretation, since he holds that only the appropriate sort of matter can realize the human psyche. Aristotle’s functionalism is therefore best viewed as a “causal functionalism,” in which functional descriptions enable us to find the right sort of material embodiment. By sidestepping dualistic assumptions, Aristotle also avoids having to deal with any further notion of consciousness. (shrink)
I argue that Robert Almeder's "Blind Realism," although instructive, fails to show that recourse to completely justified belief defuses Gettier counterexamples. This is because Almeder's notion of complete justification involves conflating truth with "warranted assertibility," thus making truth relative to what was scientifically fashionable at the time.
In this article it is argued that it is impossible to give a reductive analysis of knowledge, given that knowledge is an "epistemic" concept with these marks: (1) like necessity, it is only partially truth-functional; and, (2) unlike necessity, it includes an "intentional" component (belief) which is completely non-truth-functional. a reductive analysis would have to contain at least one extensional component, one intentional component, and none that is itself epistemic. but any plausible analysis then turns out either to be non-reductive, (...) e.g., causal, or else falls prey to "gettier" counterexamples. my positive suggestion is that we eschew reductive analyses of epistemic concepts in favor of non-reductive analyses. (shrink)
I argue that sentences ascribing beliefs to non-human animals have the same logical form as sentences of the "perceives that" variety. Pace D.M. Armstrong, I argue that animal belief sentences can be referentially opaque, just as perception sentences containing a propositional clause are. In both cases, referential opacity requires our assuming that the animal believer and the human perceiver has each identified the object of the belief or perception.