In this paper I take up the question of the nature of the doxastic attitudes we entertain while inquiring into some matter. Relying on a distinction between two stages of open inquiry, I urge to acknowledge the existence of a distinctive attitude of cognitive inclination towards a proposition qua answer to the question one is inquiring into. I call this attitude “hypothesis”. Hypothesis, I argue, is a sui generis doxastic attitude which differs, both functionally and normatively, from suspended judgement, full (...) belief, credences, and acceptance. In closing, I point to the epistemological significance of hypothesis. More specifically, I contend that holding an attitude of hypothesis enables us to respond rationally to peer disagreement, and I suggest that such an attitude offers a suitable articulation of the view, originally put forward by Philip Kitcher, that cognitive diversity in inquiry has epistemic benefits. (shrink)
Hinge epistemology has to dispel the worry that disagreeing over hinges is rationally inert. Building on a companion piece (Coliva and Palmira 2020), this paper offers a constitutivist solution to the problem of rational inertia by maintaining that a Humean sceptic and a hinge epistemologist disagree over the correct explication of the concept of epistemic rationality. The paper explores the implications of such a solution. First, it clarifies in what sense a disagreement over hinges would be a conceptual disagreement. Secondly, (...) it uses considerations about the (alleged) rational inertia of hinge disagreement to offer a test whereby to demarcate genuine hinges from merely entrenched beliefs. Thirdly, it offers a response to the challenge of explaining why we have reason to engage in the epistemic practices that hinges are constitutive of in the first place. Fourthly, it argues that the constitutivist approach to hinge disagreement does not result in a relativist view. (shrink)
The article investigates the significance of the so-called phenomenon of apparent faultless disagreement for debates about the semantics of taste discourse. Two kinds of description of the phenomenon are proposed. The first ensures that faultless disagreement raises a distinctive philosophical challenge; yet, it is argued that Contextualist, Realist and Relativist semantic theories do not account for this description. The second, by contrast, makes the phenomenon irrelevant for the problem of what the right semantics of taste discourse should be. Lastly, the (...) following dilemma is assessed: either faultless disagreement provides strong evidence against semantic theories; or its significance should be considerably downplayed. (shrink)
While it seems hard to deny the epistemic significance of a disagreement with our acknowledged epistemic peers, there are certain disagreements, such as philosophical disagreements, which appear to be permissibly sustainable. These two claims, each independently plausible, are jointly puzzling. This paper argues for a solution to this puzzle. The main tenets of the solution are two. First, the peers ought to engage in a deliberative activity of discovering more about their epistemic position vis-à-vis the issue at stake. Secondly, the (...) peers are permitted to do so while entertaining a sui generis doxastic attitude of hypothesis. (shrink)
Permissivism is the view that, sometimes, there is more than one doxastic attitude that is perfectly rationalised by the evidence. Impermissivism is the denial of Permissivism. Several philosophers, with the aim to defend either Impermissivism or Permissivism, have recently discussed the value of (im)permissive rationality. This paper focuses on one kind of value-conferring considerations, stemming from the so-called “truth-connection” enjoyed by rational doxastic attitudes. The paper vindicates the truth-connected value of permissive rationality by pursuing a novel strategy which rests on (...) two main planks: first, there is a distinction between a fine-grained and a coarse-grained type-individuation of belief-forming methods. Secondly, different kinds of decision-theoretic reasoning, i.e. expected-accuracy reasoning and accuracy-domination reasoning, must be paired with a fine-grained and a coarse-grained type-individuation of methods, respectively. I argue that while the first pair is wholly irrelevant to the question of the truth-connection, the second affords the means to a permissivist explanation of the truth-connected value of rationality. (shrink)
This paper addresses a largely neglected question in ongoing debates over disagreement: what is the relation, if any, between disagreements involving credences and disagreements involving outright beliefs? The first part of the paper offers some desiderata for an adequate account of credal and full disagreement. The second part of the paper argues that both phenomena can be subsumed under a schematic definition which goes as follows: A and B disagree if and only if the accuracy conditions of A's doxastic attitude (...) are such that, if they were fulfilled, this would ipso facto make B's doxastic attitude inaccurate, or vice-versa. (shrink)
Tradition has it that first-person thought is somehow special. It is also commonplace to maintain that the first-person concept obeys a rule of reference to the effect that any token first-person thought is about the thinker of that thought. Following Annalisa Coliva and, more recently, Santiago Echeverri, I take the specialness claim to be the claim that thinking a first-person thought comes with a certain guarantee of its pattern of reference. Echeverri maintains that such a guarantee is explained by a (...) fairly flatfooted interpretation of the thinker-reflexive rule. I argue, however, that the explanatory aspirations of the thinker-reflexive rule are fulfilled only if we accept an epistemically loaded gloss on the notion of a thinker of a thought featuring the rule. That gloss is unpacked in terms of the subject’s ability to be acquainted with the phenomenal character of their thoughts. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to illuminate the significance of thought insertion for debates about the first-person concept. My starting point is the often-voiced contention that thought insertion might challenge the thesis that introspection-based self-ascriptions of psychological properties are immune to error through misidentification relative to the first-person concept. In the first part of the paper I explain what a thought insertion-based counterexample to this immunity thesis should be like. I then argue that various thought insertion-involving scenarios do not give (...) rise to successful counterexamples to the immunity of the target class of self-ascriptions. In the second part of the paper I turn to defend a Metasemantic Explanation of why the immunity thesis holds. The Metasemantic Explanation rests on a reference-fixing story about the mental ‘I’ whose key contention is that introspective impressions play an essential role in fixing its reference. It is part of my argument in favour of the proposed reference-fixing story, as well as of the Metasemantic Explanation, that they respect the paradigmatic features of self-ascriptions of inserted thoughts. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the phenomenon of forming one’s judgement about epistemic matters, such as whether one has some reason not to believe false propositions, on the basis of the opinion of somebody one takes to be an expert about them. The paper pursues three aims. First, it argues that some cases of expert deference about epistemic matters are suspicious. Secondly, it provides an explanation of such a suspiciousness. Thirdly, it draws the metaepistemological implications of the proposed explanation.
The paper proposes an account of the rational response to higher-order evidence whose key claim is that whenever we acquire such evidence we ought to engage in the inquiring activity of double-checking. Combined with a principle that establishes a connection between rational inquiry and rational belief retention, the account offers a novel explanation of the alleged impermissibility of retaining one’s belief in the face of higher-order evidence. It is argued that this explanation is superior to the main competitor view which (...) appeals to the notion of defeat. (shrink)
Disagreement and the implications thereof have emerged as a central preoccupation of recent analytic philosophy. In epistemology, articles on so-called peer disagreement and its implications have burgeoned and now constitute an especially rich subject of discussion in the field. In moral and political philosophy, moral disagreement has of course traditionally been a crucial argumentative lever in meta-ethical debates, and disagreement over conceptions of the good has been the spark for central controversies in political philosophy, such as the limits of legitimate (...) state authority and public reason. Philosophers of language have also been keen to take up disagreement as a tool, for instance in motivating or exploring the merits of contextualist or relativist semantics for certain areas of discourse, such as matters of taste, aesthetic evaluation, and epistemic discourse. (shrink)
Deference to experts is normal in many areas of inquiry, but suspicious in morality. This is puzzling if one thinks that morality is relevantly like those other areas of inquiry. We argue that this suspiciousness can be explained in terms of the suspiciousness of deferring to an epistemic peer. We then argue that this explanation is preferable to others in the literature, and explore some metaethical implications of this result.
The recent debate on Semantic Contextualism and Relativism has definitely brought the phenomenon of disagreement under the spotlight. Relativists have considered disagreement as a means to accomplish a defence of their own position regarding the semantics of knowledge attributions, epistemic modals, taste predicates, and so on. The aim of this paper is twofold: first, we argue that several specific notions of disagreement can be subsumed under a common “schema” which provides a unified and overarching notion of disagreement. Secondly, we avail (...) ourselves of such a unified notion of disagreement to assess the arguments devised especially by Relativists in order to criticise certain forms of Contextualism, which crucially rely on the idea that Relativism is better suited than Contextualism to capture certain intuitions of disagreement. (shrink)
The paper explores the idea that some singular judgements about the natural numbers are immune to error through misidentification by pursuing a comparison between arithmetic judgements and first-person judgements. By doing so, the first part of the paper offers a conciliatory resolution of the Coliva-Pryor dispute about so-called “de re” and “which-object” misidentification. The second part of the paper draws some lessons about what it takes to explain immunity to error through misidentification. The lessons are: First, the so-called Simple Account (...) of which-object immunity to error through misidentification to the effect that a judgement is immune to this kind of error just in case its grounds do not feature any identification component fails. Secondly, wh-immunity can be explained by a Reference-Fixing Account to the effect that a judgement is immune to this kind of error just in case its grounds are constituted by the facts whereby the reference of the concept of the object which the judgement concerns is fixed. Thirdly, a suitable revision of the Simple Account explains the de re immunity of those arithmetic judgements which are not wh-immune. These three lessons point towards the general conclusion that there is no unifying explanation of de re and wh-immunity. (shrink)
Several philosophers maintain that outright belief exists because it plays a reasoning simplifying role (Holton 2008; Ross and Schroeder 2014; Staffel 2019; Weisberg 2020). This claim has been recently contested, on the grounds that credences also can simplify reasoning (Dinges 2021). This paper takes a step back and asks: what features of an attitude explain its alleged ability to simplify reasoning? The paper contrasts two explanations, one in terms of dispositions and the other in terms of representation, arguing in favour (...) of the latter and against the former. The proposed explanation yields two interesting results: first, both belief and other attitudes, such as acceptance and imagination, can play a reasoning simplifying role; second, credences do not simplify our reasoning. (shrink)
This paper investigates the question of how to correctly capture the scope of singular thinking. The first part of the paper identifies a scope problem for the dominant view of singular thought maintaining that, in order for a thinker to have a singular thought about an object o, the thinker has to bear a special epistemic relation to o. The scope problem has it is that this view cannot make sense of the singularity of our thoughts about objects to which (...) we do not or cannot bear any special epistemic relation. The paper focuses on a specific instance of the scope problem by addressing the case of thoughts about the natural numbers. Various possible solutions to the scope problem within the dominant framework are assessed and rejected. The second part of the paper develops a new theory of singular thought which hinges on the contention that the constraints that need to be met in order to think singularly vary depending on the kind of object we are thinking about. This idea is developed in detail by discussing the difference between the somewhat standard case of thoughts about spatio-temporal medium-sized inanimate objects and the case of thoughts about the natural numbers. It is contended that this new Pluralist theory of singular thought can successfully solve the scope problem. (shrink)
The paper argues that the view to the effect that one should suspend judgment in the face of a disagreement with a recognised epistemic peer results in a puzzle when applied to disagreements in which one party is agnostic. The puzzle is this: either the agnostic party retains her suspension of judgment, or she suspends it. The former option is discarded by proponents of the agnostic response; the latter leads the agnostic response to undermine itself.
In his 2010 paper “Philosophical Naturalism and Intuitional Methodology”, Alvin I. Goldman invokes the Condorcet Jury Theorem in order to defend the reliability of intuitions. The present note argues that the original conditions of the theorem are all unrealistic when analysed in connection to the case of intuitions. Alternative conditions are discussed.
In this note I defend nonreductionism about understanding by arguing that knowledge is neither necessary nor sufficient for understanding. To do so, I examine Paulina Sliwa’s recent (Sliwa 2015, 2017) defence of knowledge-based Reductionism (Reductionism for short). Sliwa claims that one understands why p if and only if one has a sufficient amount of knowledge why p. Sliwa also contends that Reductionism is supported by intuitive verdicts about our uses of ‘understanding why’ and ‘knowing why’. In reply, I first argue (...) that Sliwa’s Reductionism leads to a vicious infinite regress. Secondly, I defuse the motivation in favour of Reductionism by showing how the linguistic data can be accommodated within a Nonreductionist framework. (shrink)
Reductionist realist accounts of certain entities, such as the natural numbers and propositions, have been taken to be fatally undermined by what we may call the problem of arbitrary identification. The problem is that there are multiple and equally adequate reductions of the natural numbers to sets (see Benacerraf, 1965), as well as of propositions to unstructured or structured entities (see, e.g., Bealer, 1998; King, Soames, & Speaks, 2014; Melia, 1992). This paper sets out to solve the problem by canvassing (...) what we may call the arbitrary reference strategy. The main claims of such strategy are 2. First, we do not know which objects are the referents of proposition and numerical terms since their reference is fixed arbitrarily. Second, our ignorance of which object is picked out as the referent does not entail that no object is referred to by the relevant expression. Different articulations of the strategy are assessed, and a new one is defended. (shrink)
Helen Beebee (2018) defends a view of the aims of philosophy she calls ‘equilibrism’. Equilibrism denies that philosophy aims at knowledge and maintains that the collective aim of philosophy is ‘to find what equilibria there are that can withstand examination’ (Beebee 2018, p. 3). In this note, I probe equilibrism by focusing on how disagreement challenges our doxastic commitment to our own philosophical theories. Call this the Commitment Challenge. I argue that the Commitment Challenge comes in three varieties and that (...) endorsing equilibrism provides us with an answer to one of them only. (shrink)
In this paper we take up the question of the explanatory significance of the notion of propositional content. Our first goal is to disentangle two types of approach: According to what we call inflationism, propositions should be taken seriously enough to expect explanatory payoffs from them. The alternative deflationary approach rejects this claim. Our second goal is to explore the inflationism vs. deflationism contrast in depth by focusing on the distinction between singular and general propositions. We argue that inflationism fails (...) and outline a variety of deflationism that offers the best prospects for explaining the singular/general divide. (shrink)
In recent work, J. Adam Carter argues that truth-relativism should be compatible with the so-called conformist response to peer disagreement about taste to the effect that subjects should revise their opinions. However, Carter claims that truth-relativism cannot make sense of this response since it cannot make sense of the idea that when two subjects are recognised as epistemic peers, they should acknowledge that they are equally likely to be right about the targeted issue. The main aim of this paper is (...) a modest one: to argue that truth-relativists should not be worried about their alleged incompatibility with conformism for they should be non-conformists. (shrink)
Contemporary epistemology devotes much attention to disagreements among epistemic peers, that is, disagreements in which subjects take themselves to be equals with respect to the evidence that bears on the matter at issue as well as general intellectual virtues. The crucial question is: what should you do when you disagree with an epistemic peer? The paper pursues three goals. First, it clarifies some as of yet unexplained details of the problem of peer disagreement. Second, it distinguishes between Invariantist and Contextualist (...) Treatments of the problem. Third, it provides an assessment of Contextualist Treatments. These are attractive because they seem to have the resources to capture the intuition that the rational response to peer disagreement varies across contexts. However, this paper argues that Contextualist Treatments don’t fare any better than their Invariantist rivals. (shrink)
A popular definition of epistemic peerage maintains that two subjects are epistemic peers if and only if they are equals with respect to general epistemic virtues and share the same evidence about the targeted issue. In this paper I shall take up the challenge of defending the necessity of the evidential equality condition for a definition of epistemic peerage from criticisms that can be elicited from the literature on peer disagreement. The paper discusses two definitions that drop this condition and (...) argues that they yield implausible verdicts about the instantiation of the epistemic peerage relation. (shrink)