Evolutionary Debunking Arguments purport to show that our moral beliefs do not amount to knowledge because these beliefs are “debunked” by the fact that our moral beliefs are, in some way, the product of evolutionary forces. But there is a substantial gap in this argument between its main evolutionary premise and the skeptical conclusion. What is it, exactly, about the evolutionary origins of moral beliefs that would create problems for realist views in metaethics? I argue that evolutionary debunking arguments are (...) best understood as offering up defeaters for our moral beliefs. Moreover, the defeater in question is a paradigmatic instance of undercutting defeat. If anything is an undercutting defeater, then learning about the evolutionary origins of our moral beliefs is a defeater for those beliefs. (shrink)
The Reliability Challenge to moral non-naturalism has received substantial attention recently in the literature on moral epistemology. While the popularity of this particular challenge is a recent development, the challenge has a long history, as the form of this challenge can be traced back to a skeptical challenge in the philosophy of mathematics raised by Paul Benacerraf. The current Reliability Challenge is widely regarded as the most sophisticated way to develop this skeptical line of thinking, making the Reliability Challenge the (...) strongest epistemic challenge to normative nonnaturalism. In this paper, I argue that the innovations that have occurred since Benacerraf’s statement of the challenge are misconceived and confused in a number of ways. The Reliability Challenge is not the most potent epistemic challenge to moral non-naturalism. The most potent challenge comes from the fact that there is a causal condition on knowledge – or, more precisely, a becaual condition – that non-natural moral facts cannot satisfy. (shrink)
Error theorists hold that, although our first-order moral thought and discourse commits us to the existence of moral truths, there are no such truths. Holding this position in metaethics puts the error theorist in an uncomfortable position regarding first-order morality. When it comes to our pre-theoretic moral commitments, what should the error theorist think? What should she say? What should she do? I call this the ‘Now What’ Problem for error theory. This paper suggests a framework for evaluating different approaches (...) to the ‘Now What’ Problem, and goes on to evaluate the three most common responses to this problem. All three are found to have noteworthy problems. Finally, I present my own solution, and argue that it presents the most appealing solution to the ‘Now What’ Problem. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Appley and Stoutenburg present two new objections to Explanationist Evidentialism : the Regress Objection and the Threshold Objection. In this paper, I develop a version of EE that is independently plausible and empirically grounded, and show that it can meet Appley and Stoutenburg’s objections.
The goal of this paper is to defend Simple Modest Invariantism (SMI) about knowledge from the threat presented by pragmatic encroachment. Pragmatic encroachment is the view that practical circumstances are relevant in some way to the truth of knowledge ascriptions—and if this is true, it would entail the falsity of SMI. Drawing on Ross and Schroeder’s recent Reasoning Disposition account of belief, I argue that the Reasoning Disposition account, together with Grice’s Maxims, gives us an attractive pragmatic account of the (...) connection between knowledge ascriptions and practical circumstances. This gives us the ability to explain away the data that is supposed to support pragmatic encroachment. Finally, I address three important objections to the view offered by giving a pragmatic account of when it is conversationally appropriate to cancel a conversational implicature, and discussing when sentences with true content can end up sounding false as well as cases where sentences with false content can end up sounding true. (shrink)
In this paper, I provide a novel explanationist framework for thinking about peer disagreement that solves many of the puzzles regarding disagreement that have troubled epistemologists over the last two decades. Explanationism is the view that a subject is justified in believing a proposition just in case that proposition is part of the best explanation of that subject’s total evidence. Applying explanationism to the problem of peer disagreement yields the following principle: in cases of peer disagreement, the thing that the (...) subjects ought to believe is the thing that is the best explanation of their total evidence, where part of their evidence is the fact that they happen to find themselves in disagreement with an epistemic peer. In what follows, I show how to understand and apply this core idea. (shrink)
David Enoch has argued that we can be justified in believing in irreducibly normative reasons on the grounds that such reasons are deliberatively indispensable. This deliberative indispensability argument has been attacked from a variety of angles and is generally held to be rather weak. In this paper, I argue that existing criticisms of the deliberative indispensability argument do not touch the core of Enoch's argument. Properly understood, the deliberative indispensability argument is much stronger than its critics allege. It deserves to (...) be taken seriously. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend an inductivist solution to Hume’s Problem of Induction against the popular counterinduction parody argument. Once we examine the structure of the inductivist position closely, we will see that there is no coherent way to parody it.
In a recent paper in this journal, Bengson, Cuneo and Reiser (hereafter bcr) present a novel epistemic challenge to naturalist moral realism, which they call the Projectability Challenge. The Projectability Challenge aims to show that there is an important epistemic phenomenon, projectability, that naturalists are unable to explain, but which non-naturalists can explain. This flips a familiar dynamic on its head, since it is typically argued that the moral naturalist has epistemic advantages over the moral non-naturalist (see, e.g., Joyce 2006, (...) Ch. 6; Bedke 2009). In this response, I argue that bcr dramatically underestimate the theoretical resources available to naturalists to explain the phenomenon of projectability. While bcr argue that no variety of moral naturalism can explain projectability, I contend that all varieties of moral naturalism can explain projectability. There is no projectability problem for any kind of naturalist realism. (shrink)