We use recent interventionist theories of causation to develop a compatibilist account of causal sourcehood, which provides a response to Manipulation Arguments for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. Our account explains the difference between manipulation and determinism, against the claim of Manipulation Arguments that there is no relevant difference. Interventionism allows us to see that causal determinism does not mean that variables outside of the agent causally explain her actions better than variables within the agent, whereas the causal (...) source of a manipulated agent’s actions instead lies outside of the agent in the intentions of the manipulator. As a result, determined agents can have free will and be morally responsible in a way that manipulated agents cannot, contrary to what Manipulation Arguments conclude. In this way, our account demonstrates not only how Manipulation Arguments fail but also how compatibilism can be strengthened by means of a plausible account of causal sourcehood. (shrink)
In this paper, we propose a new theory of rationality defeat. We propose that defeaters are indicators of ignorance, evidence that we’re not in a position to know some target proposition. When the evidence that we’re not in a position to know is sufficiently strong and the probability that we can know is too low, it is not rational to believe. We think that this account retains all the virtues of the more familiar approaches that characterise defeat in (...) terms of its connection to reasons to believe or to confirmation but provides a better approach to higher-order defeat. We also think that a strength of this proposal is that it can be embedded into a larger normative framework. On our account the no-defeater condition is redundant. We can extract our theory of defeat from our theory of what makes it rational to believe—it is rational to believe when it is sufficiently probable that our belief would be knowledge. Thus, our view can provide a monistic account of defeat, one that gives a unifying explanation of the toxicity of different defeaters that is grounded in a framework that either recognises knowledge as the norm of belief or identifies knowledge as the fundamental epistemic good that full belief can realise. (shrink)
Many epistemologists are enamored with a defeat condition on knowledge. In this paper we present some implementation problems for defeatism, understood along either internalist or externalist lines. We then propose that one who accepts a knowledge norm of belief, according to which one ought to believe only what one knows, can explain away much of the motivation for defeatism. This is an important result, because on the one hand it respects the plausibility of the intuitions about defeat shared (...) by many in epistemology; but on the other hand, it obviates the need to provide a unified account of defeat which plays well with the most plausible views of how knowledge fits with evidential probability. (shrink)
Justification depends on context: even if E on its own justifies H, still it might fail to justify in the context of D. This sort of effect, epistemologists think, is due to defeaters, which undermine or rebut a would-be justifier. I argue that there is another fundamental sort of contextual feature, disqualification, which doesn't involve rebuttal or undercutting, and which cannot be reduced to any notion of screening-off. A disqualifier makes some would-be justifier otiose, as direct testimony sometimes does to (...) distal testimony, and as manifestly decisive evidence might do to gratuitous evidence on the same team. Basing a belief on disqualified evidence, moreover, is distinctively irrational. One is not necessarily irresponsible. Instead one is turning down a free upgrade to a sleeker, stabler basis for one's beliefs. Such an upgrade would prevent wastes of epistemic effort, since someone who bases her belief on a disqualified proposition E will need to remember E and rethink her belief should E ever be defeated. The upgrade might also reduce reliance on unwieldy evidence, if E is relevant only thanks to some labyrinthine argument; and if even ideal agents should doubt their ability to follow such arguments, even they should care about disqualifiers. (shrink)
Michael Huemer has argued for the justification principle known as phenomenal conservativism by employing a transcendental argument that claims all attempts to reject phenomenal conservativism ultimately are doomed to self-defeat. My contribution presents two independent arguments against the self-defeat argument for phenomenal conservativism after briefly presenting Huemer’s account of phenomenal conservativism and the justification for the self-defeat argument. My first argument suggests some ways that philosophers may reject Huemer’s premise that all justified beliefs are formed on the (...) basis of seemings. In the second argument I contend that phenomenal conservativism is not a well-motivated account of internal justification, which is a further reason to reject the self-defeat argument. Consequently, the self-defeat argument fails to show that rejecting phenomenal conservativism inevitably leads one to a self-defeating position. (shrink)
Internalists tend to impose on justification higher-level requirements, according to which a belief is justified only if the subject has a higher-level belief (i.e., a belief about the epistemic credentials of a belief). I offer an error theory that explains the appeal of this requirement: analytically, a belief is not justified if we have a defeater for it, but contingently, it is often the case that to avoid having defeaters, our beliefs must satisfy a higher-level requirement. I respond to the (...) objection that externalists who endorse this error theory will be forced to accept a radical form of scepticism. (shrink)
This paper proposes a new externalist account of defeaters, in terms of reliable indicators, as an integral part of a unified externalist account of warrant and defeat. It is argued that posing externalist conditions on warrant, but internalist conditions on defeat lead to undesirable tensions. The proposal is contrasted to some rival accounts and then tested on some widely discussed cases, like the airport case. Misleading defeaters, where Laurence BonJour’s reliable clairvoyants serve as examples, also receive treatment, partly (...) because they illustrate how internalist constraints are inserted into the set up of the problem and therefore unduly constrain the domain of satisfactory solutions. Lastly, the proposal is defended against some objections. Firstly, that by posing externalist conditions on defeat, the account becomes too open. Secondly, that an externalist account fails to take into account the epistemic assessments of our fellows in the epistemic practice of forming beliefs and making epistemic claims, which can be based on accessible warrant only. (shrink)
Recently, Tomas Bogardus (2016), Andreas Mogensen (2017) and – at least on one plausible reconstruction – Sharon Street (2005) have argued that evolutionary theory debunks our moral beliefs by providing higher-order evidence of error. In response, moral realists such as Katia Vavova (2014) have objected that such evolutionary debunking arguments are self-defeating. The literature lacks any discussion of whether this self-defeat objection can be handled. My overall aim is to argue that it cannot, thus filling that lacuna – and (...) vindicating Vavova’s worry. To achieve my aim, I proceed in two steps. First, I propose a novel, prima facie promising strategy for avoiding self-defeat: evolutionary debunkers should reject Conciliationism, as defended by David Christensen (2007, 2009, 2011) and others, and instead explore Thomas Kelly’s (2010) Total Evidence View as their background view on the epistemic significance of higher-order evidence of error. Then, I show that evolutionary debunkers face insuperable difficulties trying to successfully implement that strategy. Depending on the kind of higher-order evidence of error that evolutionary considerations putatively provide, they either struggle with evidential weight or are committed to inconsistent assumptions about evolutionary counterparts. Either way, the evolutionary debunking argument from higher-order evidence of error fails. (shrink)
Higher‐order evidence can make an agent doubt the reliability of her reasoning. When this happens, it seems rational for the agent to adopt a cautious attitude towards her original conclusion, even in cases where the higher‐order evidence is misleading and the agent's original reasons were actually perfectly good. One may think that recoiling to a cautious attitude in the face of misleading self‐doubt involves a failure to properly respond to one's reasons. My aim is to show that this is not (...) so. My proposal is that (misleading) higher‐order evidence can undermine the agent's possession of her first‐order reasons, constituting what I call a dispossessing defeater. After acquiring the higher‐order evidence, the agent is no longer in a position to rely competently on the relevant first‐order considerations as reasons for her original conclusion, so that such reasons stop being available to her (even if they remain as strong as in the absence of the higher‐order evidence). In this way, an agent with misleading higher‐order evidence can adopt a cautious stance towards her original conclusion, while properly responding to the set of reasons that she possesses–a set that is reduced due to the acquisition of higher‐order dispossessing defeaters. (shrink)
ABSTRACTWe have no reason to believe that reasons do not exist. Contra Bart Streumer’s recent proposal, this has nothing to do with our incapacity to believe this error theory. Rather, it is because if we know that if a proposition is true, we have no reason to believe it, then we have no reason to believe this proposition. From a different angle: if we know that we have at best misleading reasons to believe a proposition, then we have no reason (...) to believe it. This has two consequences. Firstly, coming close to believing the error theory is idle or pointless. Secondly, philosophers who argue that believing sweeping theories like determinism or physicalism is self-defeating because they are either false or believed for no reason pursue a worthwhile argumentative strategy. (shrink)
Dr. Evil learns that a duplicate of Dr. Evil has been created. Upon learning this, how seriously should he take the hypothesis that he himself is that duplicate? I answer: very seriously. I defend a principle of indifference for self-locating belief which entails that after Dr. Evil learns that a duplicate has been created, he ought to have exactly the same degree of belief that he is Dr. Evil as that he is the duplicate. More generally, the principle shows that (...) there is a sharp distinction between ordinary skeptical hypotheses, and self-locating skeptical hypotheses. (shrink)
According to the phenomenal conservatives, beliefs are justified by non-doxastic states we might speak of as ‘appearances’ or ‘seemings’. Those who defend the view say that there is something self-defeating about believing that phenomenal conservatism is mistaken. They also claim that the view captures an important internalist insight about justification. I shall argue that phenomenal conservatism is indefensible. The considerations that seem to support the view commit the phenomenal conservatives to condoning morally abhorrent behavior. They can deny that their view (...) forces them to condone morally abhorrent behavior, but then they undercut the defenses of their own view. (shrink)
Can known disagreement with our epistemic peers undermine or defeat the justification our beliefs enjoy? Much of the current literature argues for one of two extreme positions on this topic, either that the justification of each person's belief is (fully) defeated by the awareness of disagreement, or that no belief is defeated by this awareness. I steer a middle course and defend a principle describing when a disagreement yields a partial defeater, which results in a loss of some, but (...) not all, of the justification of a belief. I show that the 'no defeater' view is too strong. I also offer reasons for thinking that the 'full defeater' view is similarly mistaken. (shrink)
Subjects who retain their beliefs in the face of higher-order evidence that those very beliefs are outputs of flawed cognitive processes are at least very often criticisable. Many think that this is because such higher-order evidence defeats various epistemic statuses such as justification and knowledge, but it is notoriously difficult to give an account of such defeat. This paper outlines an alternative explanation, stemming from some of my earlier work, for why subjects are criticisable for retaining beliefs in the (...) face of paradigm kinds of putatively defeating higher-order evidence: they manifest dispositions that are bad relative to a range of candidate epistemic successes such as true belief and knowledge. In particular, giving up belief in response to higher-order evidence only when that evidence is not misleading would require subjects to have dispositions that discriminate between cases in which their original cognitive processes is fine, and cases in which they merely seemed to be fine. But, I argue, such dispositions are not normally humanly feasible. I show that retaining belief in putative cases of defeat by higher-order evidence is problematic irrespective of whether veritism or some form of gnosticism is true. In the end I contrast my account of dispositional evaluations with similar-sounding ideas that have been put forth in the literature, such as consequentialist views that focus on instrumental means to success. (shrink)
I extend the Higher-Order View of Undermining Defeat (HOVUD) defended in Melis (2014) to account for the defeat of propositional justification. In doing so, I clarify the important notion of higher-order commitment, and I make some considerations concerning the defeat of externalist epistemic warrants.
Higher-order defeat occurs when one loses justification for one's beliefs as a result of receiving evidence that those beliefs resulted from a cognitive malfunction. Several philosophers have identified features of higher-order defeat that distinguish it from familiar types of defeat. If higher-order defeat has these features, they are data an account of rational belief must capture. In this article, I identify a new distinguishing feature of higher-order defeat, and I argue that on its own, and (...) in conjunction with the other distinguishing features, it favors an account of higher-order defeat grounded in non-evidential, ‘state-given reasons’ for belief. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have recently claimed that unjustified beliefs can be defeaters. However these claims have been made in passing, occurring in the context of defenses of other theses. As a result, the claim that unjustified beliefs can be defeaters has been neither vigorously defended nor thoroughly explained. This paper fills that gap. It begins by identifying problems with the two most in-depth accounts of the possibility of unjustified defeaters due to Bergmann and Pryor. It then offers a revised (...) version of Pryor’s account. On this proposal, an unjustified belief can be a defeater if it is rational, all things considered. If a belief is rational, all things considered, it can require one to abandon other beliefs with which it conflicts—even if it is unjustified. Finally, this paper shows that the proposed account of unjustified defeaters is one that can and should be embraced by leading accounts of justified belief as diverse as reliabilism and evidentialism. (shrink)
Defeaters can prevent a perceptual belief from being justified. For example, when you know that red light is shining at the table before you, you would typically not be justified in believing that the table is red. However, can defeaters also destroy a perceptual experience as a source of justification? If the answer is ‘no’, the red light defeater blocks doxastic justification without destroying propositional justification. You have some-things-considered, but not all-things-considered, justification for believing that the table is red. If (...) the answer is ‘yes’, the red light defeater blocks doxastic justification by destroying propositional justification. You have neither all-things-considered nor some-things-considered justification for believing that the table is red. According to dogmatism, the justificational force of perceptual experiences is indestructible. According to conservatism about sense experience, a perceptual experience ceases to have justificational force if there is evidence against its reliability. Finally, according to meta-evidentialism, a perceptual experience is blocked from being a source of justification is there is no evidence of its reliability. I argue that, of these three theories, meta-evidentialism is the most plausible. (shrink)
Epistemic defeat is standardly understood in either evidentialist or responsibilist terms. The seminal treatment of defeat is an evidentialist one, due to John Pollock, who famously distinguishes between undercutting and rebutting defeaters. More recently, an orthogonal distinction due to Jennifer Lackey has become widely endorsed, between so-called doxastic (or psychological) and normative defeaters. We think that neither doxastic nor normative defeaters, as Lackey understands them, exist. Both of Lackey’s categories of defeat derive from implausible assumptions about epistemic (...) responsibility. Although Pollock’s evidentialist view is superior, the evidentialism per se can be purged from it, leaving a general structure of defeat that can be incorporated in a reliabilist theory that is neither evidentialist nor responsibilist in any way. (shrink)
Paul Benacerraf’s argument that mathematical realism is apparently incompatible with mathematical knowledge has been widely thought to also show that a priori knowledge in general is problematic. Although many philosophers have rejected Benacerraf’s argument because it assumes a causal theory of knowledge, some maintain that Benacerraf nevertheless put his finger on a genuine problem, even though he didn’t state the problem in its most challenging form. After diagnosing what went wrong with Benacerraf’s argument, I argue that a new, more challenging, (...) version of Benacerraf’s problem can be constructed. The new version—what I call the Defeater Version—of Benacerraf’s problem makes use of a no-defeater condition on knowledge and justification. I conclude by arguing that the best way to avoid the problem is to construct a theory of how a priori judgments reliably track the facts. I also suggest four different kinds of theories worth pursuing. (shrink)
In previous work, I have suggested a doxastic account of perceptual experience according to which experiences form a kind of belief: Beliefs with what I have called “phenomenal” or “looks-content”. I have argued that this account can not only accommodate the intuitive reason providing role of experience, but also its justificatory role. I have also argued that, in general, construing experience and perceptual beliefs, i.e. the beliefs most directly based on experience, as having different contents best accounts for the defeasibility (...) of experiential reasons. In this paper, I shall have a closer look at the evidential or inferential relation between looks-propositions and the contents of perceptual beliefs and argue for a form of what I shall call “Pollockianism” about experiential reasons: such reasons are good unless defeated. Questions to be investigated include: Does the resulting picture of perceptual justification contain an externalist element? Is it compatible with Bayesianism? And how does it do with respect to problems that have been raised for other forms of Pollockianism such as dogmatism or phenomenal conservatism? (shrink)
An argument is self-defeating when it contains defeaters for some of its own defeasible lines. It is shown that the obvious rules for defeat among arguments do not handle self-defeating arguments correctly. It turns out that they constitute a pervasive phenomenon that threatens to cripple defeasible reasoning, leading to almost all defeasible reasoning being defeated by unexpected interactions with self-defeating arguments. This leads to some important changes in the general theory of defeasible reasoning.
At the core of public reason liberalism is the idea that the exercise of political power is legitimate only if based on laws or political rules that are justifiable to all reasonable citizens. Call this the Public Justification Principle. Public reason liberals face the persistent objection that the Public Justification Principle is self-defeating. The idea that a society’s political rules must be justifiable to all reasonable citizens is intensely controversial among seemingly reasonable citizens of every liberal society. So, the objection (...) goes, the Public Justification Principle is not justifiable to all reasonable citizens, and thus fails its own test of legitimacy. And this, critics conclude, undermines the public reason liberal project. This article argues that answering the self-defeat objection to public reason liberalism requires fundamentally rethinking prevailing accounts of the Public Justification Principle’s role. My aim is to develop an account of the Public Justification Principle that vindicates its coherence and moral appeal in the face of reasonable disagreement. (shrink)
This paper develops an argument that, if rule consequentialism is true, it’s not possible to defend it as the outcome of reflective equilibrium. Ordinary agents like you and me are ignorant of too many empirical facts. Our ignorance is a defeater for our moral intuitions. Even worse, there aren’t enough undefeated intuitions left to defend rule consequentialism. The problem I’ll describe won’t be specific to rule consequentialists, but it will be especially sharp for them.
This paper does four things. First it lays out an orthodox position on reasons and defeaters. Then it argues that the position just laid out is mistaken about “undercutting” defeaters. Then the paper explains an unpublished thought experiment by Dorothy Edgington. And then it uses that thought experiment to motivate a new approach to undercutting defeaters.
I make a case for distinguishing clearly between subjective and objective accounts of undercutting defeat and for rejecting a hybrid view that takes both subjective and objective elements to be relevant for whether or not a belief is defeated. Moderate subjectivists claim that taking a belief to be defeated is sufficient for the belief to be defeated; subjectivist idealists add that if an idealised agent takes a belief to be defeated then the belief is defeated. Subjectivist idealism evades some (...) of the objections levelled against moderate subjectivism but can be shown to yield inconsistent results in some cases. Both subjectivisms should be rejected. We should be objectivists regarding undercutting defeat. This requirement, however, is likely to be problematic for a popular interpretation of evolutionary debunking arguments in metaethics as it can be shown that existing objectivist accounts of defeat do not support such arguments. I end by discussing the constraints of developing such an account. (shrink)
Recent authors have drawn attention to a new kind of defeating evidence commonly referred to as higher-order evidence. Such evidence works by inducing doubts that one’s doxastic state is the result of a flawed process – for instance, a process brought about by a reason-distorting drug. I argue that accommodating defeat by higher-order evidence requires a two-tiered theory of justification, and that the phenomenon gives rise to a puzzle. The puzzle is that at least in some situations involving higher-order (...) defeaters the correct epistemic rules issue conflicting recommendations. For instance, a subject ought to believe p, but she ought also to suspend judgment in p. I discuss three responses. The first resists the puzzle by arguing that there is only one correct epistemic rule, an Über-rule. The second accepts that there are genuine epistemic dilemmas. The third appeals to a hierarchy or ordering of correct epistemic rules. I spell out problems for all of these responses. I conclude that the right lesson to draw from the puzzle is that a state can be epistemically rational or justified even if one has what looks to be strong evidence to think that it is not. As such, the considerations put forth constitute a non question-begging argument for a kind of externalism. (shrink)
The central thesis of this paper is that fake news and related phenomena serve as defeaters for knowledge transmission via journalistic channels. This explains how they pose a threat to democracy; and it points the way to determining how to address this threat. Democracy is both intrinsically and instrumentally good provided the electorate has knowledge of the common good and the means of achieving it. Since journalism provides such knowledge, those who value democracy have a reason to protect it. Hostile (...) agents, however, can undermine both the effectiveness of democratic decision-making and faith in democracy itself, by deliberately promulgating fake news and hyper-partisan views; moreover, these effects can come about unintentionally on social media. I conclude that we may need to change, not just the way we process information online, but also the informational environment in which we operate. (shrink)
What modal relation must a fact bear to a belief in order for this belief to constitute knowledge of that fact? Externalists have proposed various answers, including some that combine externalism with contextualism. We shall find that various forms of externalism share a modal conception of “sensitivity” open to serious objections. Fortunately, the undeniable intuitive attractiveness of this conception can be explained through an easily confused but far preferable notion of “safety.” The denouement of our reflections, finally, will be to (...) show how replacing sensitivity with safety makes it possible to defend plain Moorean common sense against the spurious advantages over it claimed by skeptical, tracking, relevant-alternative, and contextualist accounts. (shrink)
It appears to have gone unnoticed in the literature that Pollock's widely endorsed analysis of evidential defeat entails a remarkably strong symmetry principle, according to which, for any three propositions D, E and H, if both E and D provide a reason to believe H, then D is a defeater for E's support for H if and only if, in turn, E is a defeater for D's support for H. After illustrating the counterintuitiveness of this constraint, a simple, more (...) suitable, alternative to the Pollockian account is offered. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to initiate and contribute to debate concerning the possibility of behavior that is both self-defeating and self-governed. In the first section of the paper, I review a couple of points that figure in the literature as platitudes about (the relevant notion of) self-governance. In the second section, I explain how these points give rise to what seems to be a dilemma that suggests that informed self-defeating behavior, wherein one is aware of the consequences of (...) each choice one makes, is impossible. In the third and fourth sections, I consider two types of cases that appear to be cases of informed self-defeating behavior and argue that one of the cases is a genuine case of self-defeating self-governance. I end with some remarks concerning self-governance, self-defeat, and dynamic choice. I suggest that the notion of self-defeat here employed provides a simple and compelling answer to the question “Are there any diachronic rationality constraints on agents?” The answer (or at least part of the answer) is “Yes, agents must avoid self-defeating behavior.” In section 5, I give reasons for thinking that all cases of diachronic irrationality are cases of self-defeating behavior in the relevant sense. As will become apparent, to the extent that the requirement to avoid self-defeating behavior calls for any cross-temporal coherence, it does so without endorsing a sort of conservatism that can interfere with personal growth and change. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis, roughly, that one’s beliefs should fit one’s evidence. The enkratic principle is the thesis, roughly, that one’s beliefs should "line up" with one’s beliefs about which beliefs one ought to have. While both theses have seemed attractive to many, they jointly entail the controversial thesis that self-misleading evidence is impossible. That is to say, if evidentialism and the enkratic principle are both true, one’s evidence cannot support certain false beliefs about which beliefs one’s evidence supports. Recently, (...) a number of epistemologists have challenged the thesis that self-misleading evidence is impossible on the grounds that misleading higher-order evidence does not have the kind of strong and systematic defeating force that would be needed to rule out the possibility of such self-misleading evidence. Here I respond to this challenge by proposing an account of higher-order defeat that does, indeed, render self-misleading evidence impossible. Central to the proposal is the idea that higher-order evidence acquires its normative force by influencing which conditional beliefs it is rational to have. What emerges, I argue, is an independently plausible view of higher-order evidence, which has the additional benefit of allowing us to reconcile evidentialism with the enkratic principle. (shrink)
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 purpose of this paper is to refute the widespread view that challenging a knowledge-claim always raises the original standards of justification–a view often associated with contextualism. To that purpose the distinction between undermining and overriding defeaters will be used. Three kinds of challenges will be considered that differ in their degree of specification. In all three kinds of challenges, the rising standards of justification model fails to capture the dialectic of justification in the case of undermining defeaters. At the (...) end, the skeptical challenge will more briefly be given a similar analysis. (shrink)
In a recent article, Joel Pust argued that direct inference based on reference properties of differing arity are incommensurable, and so direct inference cannot be used to resolve the Sleeping Beauty problem. After discussing the defects of Pust's argument, I offer reasons for thinking that direct inferences based on reference properties of differing arity are commensurable, and that we should prefer direct inferences based on logically stronger reference properties, regardless of arity.
This paper examines the prospects of a prima facie attractive response to Fantl and McGrath’s argument for pragmatic encroachment. The response concedes that if one knows a proposition to be true then that proposition is warranted enough for one to have it as a reason for action. But it denies pragmatic encroachment, insofar as it denies that whether one knows a proposition to be true can vary with the practical stakes, holding fixed strength of warrant. This paper explores two ways (...) to allow knowledge-reason links without pragmatic encroachment, both of which appeal to defeat. The first appeals to defeaters of reasons. If you know the bank is open tomorrow, what you know is available as a reason, but it may be defeated by considerations concerning the stakes. The second appeals to defeaters which do not defeat reasons but which nonetheless do something similar: they make the action recommended by those reasons vicious. In a high stakes case performing the “risky” action would be vicious even if it is justified in the sense of being supported by undefeated reasons. What is defeated is a virtue-based epistemic status rather than reasons or justification. I argue that neither proposal halts the march from a knowledge-reason link to pragmatic encroachment. (shrink)
Taking the inspiration from some points made by Scott Sturgeon and Albert Casullo, I articulate a view according to which an important difference between undermining and overriding defeaters is that the former require the subject to engage in some higher-order epistemic thinking, while the latter don’t. With the help of some examples, I argue that underminers push the cognizer to reflect on the way she formed a belief by challenging the epistemic worthiness of either the source of justification or the (...) specific justificatory process. By contrast, overriders needn’t pose any such challenge. I also consider some problems for the proposed view, and I put forward some possible solutions. Finally, I provide some details on how undermining defeat works in different cases. (shrink)
If individual knowledge and justification can be vanquished by epistemic defeaters, then the same should go for group knowledge. Lackey (2014) has recently argued that one especially strong conception of group knowledge defended by Bird (2010) is incapable of preserving how it is that (group) knowledge is ever subject to ordinary mechanisms of epistemic defeat. Lackey takes it that her objections do not also apply to a more moderate articulation of group knowledge--one that is embraced widely in collective epistemology--and (...) which she does not challenge. This paper argues that given certain background premises that are embraced by orthodox thinking in collectivist epistemology, the more moderate account of group knowledge cannot make sense of either psychological or normative epistemic defeaters. I conclude by offering some suggestions for how the more moderate proposal might avoid this result. (shrink)
You reach for the bowl with ‘sugar’ written on it only to discover, from the bad taste of your coffee, that it contained salt. Mundane experiences like these show that epistemic justification does not necessarily hold stable across possible changes of information. One can be justified in believing a proposition at a certain time (that the bowl contains sugar) and cease to be justified at a later time, as one enlarges one’s epistemic perspective (as one drinks a salty coffee). When (...) this happens, one’s justification has been defeated. An epistemic defeater, broadly speaking, is that in terms of which the defeat of justification proceeds. The notion of an epistemic defeater is mostly associated with J. Pollock’s work on reasoning and inference. Pollock has provided the canonical definition of an epistemic defeater and proposed an influential taxonomy in terms of the way different types of defeaters induce their characteristic effects. The notion of an epistemic defeater has acquired a broader meaning in current epistemology, and several distinctions have been introduced that have contributed to a more nuanced understanding of the phenomenon of defeat as well as to complement Pollock’s original taxonomy. The correlated notion of a propositional defeater, defined in terms of would-be defeat of justification, is appealed to by the proponents of the defeasibility theory in the parallel debate about knowledge to explain what prevents a justified true belief from constituting knowledge in Gettier cases. (shrink)
John DePoe has criticized the self-defeat argument for Phenomenal Conservatism. He argues that acquaintance, rather than appearance, may form the basis for non-inferentially justified beliefs, and that Phenomenal Conservatism conflicts with a central motivation for internalism. I explain how Phenomenal Conservatism and the self-defeat argument may survive these challenges.
I critically examine two features of Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology. (i) If basic theistic beliefs are threatened by defeaters (of various kinds) and thus must be defended by higher-order defeaters in order to remain rational and warranted, are they still “properly basic”? (ii) Does Plantinga’s overall account offer an argument that basic theistic beliefs actually are warranted? I answer both questions in the negative.
Consider a simple form of process reliabilism: S is justified in believing that p if and only if S’s belief that p was formed through a reliable process. Such accounts are thought to face a counter-example in the form of defeaters. It seems possible that a belief might result from a reliable belief forming process and yet be unjustified because one possesses a defeater with respect to that belief. This counter-example is merely apparent. The problem of defeaters is just a (...) special case of the generality problem, i.e., the problem of determining which of the process types instantiated by a process token is relevant to determining that reliability of the process token. Drawing on similarities between cases that involve defeaters and cases that involve adverse local conditions, e.g., a white-out blizzard, I argue that any adequate solution to the generality problem for all cases that don’t involve defeaters will pick out an unreliable process type as relevant in cases that do involve defeaters. Thus, there is no sui generis problem of defeaters for simple process reliablism. (shrink)
This paper challenges a common assumption in the literature concerning the problem of divine hiddenness, namely, that the following are inconsistent: God's making available adequate evidence for belief that he exists and the existence of non-culpable nonbelievers. It draws on the notions of defeated evidence and glimpses to depict the complexity of our evidential situation with respect to God's existence.