Volume III, Issue 1, 2012
KNOWLEDGE, PRACTICAL REASONING AND ACTION (pages 7-26)
ABSTRACT: Is knowledge necessary or sufficient or both necessary and sufficient for acceptable practical reasoning and rational action? Several authors (e.g., Williamson, Hawthorne, and Stanley) have recently argued that the answer to these questions is positive. In this paper I present several objections against this view (both in its basic form as well in more developed forms). I also offer a sketch of an alternative view: What matters for the acceptability of practical reasoning in at least many cases (and in all the cases discussed by the defenders of a strong link between knowledge and practical reasoning) is not so much knowledge but expected utility.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF COMBINING FIRST-PERSON AND THIRD-PERSON DATA IN NEUROSCIENCES: AN EXAMPLE OF GREAT CLINICAL RELEVANCE (pages 27-41)
ABSTRACT. Both perspectives, the one of the first and the one of the third person and their interrelation are necessary for the progress of consciousness research. This progress presupposes the systematic and productive collaboration between philosophy and neuroscience and cognitive science. While the philosophy of mind deals with working out clear conceptual implications and argumentative coherency in this area and critically follows the state of the art in this regard, the mission of neuro- and cognitive sciences is to develop and employ useful methods for the approach of the main problems of consciousness. I discuss this necessity by the example of research on implicit and explicit memory processes. Implicit and explicit memory processes are essential for the understanding and treating several psychological and neurological disorders. Among these, memory deficits play a crucial role in stress-related disorders, such as PTSD, dissociative disorders, and borderline personality disorders. Criticism has been exercised with regard to neglect of subjective experience in the research of memory processes, as well as the inadequate application of the concept of consciousness, usually leading to confusion. However, a step forward has already been taken in the research of memory processes. For example, the psychotraumatology research provided important advances in understanding the undelying distorsions in implicit and explicit memory procesess by employing combined assessments of both first-person and third-person data. Such multimodal research approaches delivered an exemplary model for the scientific investigation of mental processes and disorders and their neuronal substrates.
KNOWING FUTURE CONTINGENTS (pages 43-50)
ABSTRACT: This paper argues that we know the future by applying a recent solution of the problem of future contingents to knowledge attributions about the future. MacFarlane has put forward a version of assessment-context relativism that enables us to assign a truth value 'true' (or 'false') to future contingents such as “There Will Be A Sea Battle Tomorrow.” Here I argue that the same solution can be applied to knowledge attributions about the future by dismissing three disanalogies between the case of future contingents and the case of knowledge attributions about the future. Therefore none of the traditional conditions for knowledge can be utilized to deny that we know the future, as I argue in the last section.
SIX SIGNS OF SCIENTISM (pages 75-95)
ABSTRACT: As the English word “scientism” is currently used, it is a trivial verbal truth that scientism – an inappropriately deferential attitude to science – should be avoided. But it is a substantial question when, and why, deference to the sciences is inappropriate or exaggerated. This paper tries to answer that question by articulating “six signs of scientism”: the honorific use of “science” and its cognates; using scientific trappings purely decoratively; preoccupation with demarcation; preoccupation with “scientific method”; looking to the sciences for answers beyond their scope; denying the legitimacy or worth of non-scientific (e.g., legal or literary) inquiry, or of writing poetry or making art.
AN ARROVIAN IMPOSSIBILITY THEOREM FOR THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF DISAGREEMENT (pages 97-115)
ABSTRACT: According to conciliatory views about the epistemology of disagreement, when epistemic peers have conflicting doxastic attitudes toward a proposition and fully disclose to one another the reasons for their attitudes toward that proposition (and neither has independent reason to believe the other to be mistaken), each peer should always change his attitude toward that proposition to one that is closer to the attitudes of those peers with which there is disagreement. According to pure higher-order evidence views, higher-order evidence for a proposition always suffices to determine the proper rational response to disagreement about that proposition within a group of epistemic peers. Using an analogue of Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, I shall argue that no conciliatory and pure higher-order evidence view about the epistemology of disagreement can provide a true and general answer to the question of what disagreeing epistemic peers should do after fully disclosing to each other the (first-order) reasons for their conflicting doxastic attitudes.
RETHINKING THE DEBRIEFING PARADIGM: THE RATIONALITY OF BELIEF PERSEVERANCE (pages 51-74)
ABSTRACT: By examining particular cases of belief perseverance following the undermining of their original evidentiary grounds, this paper considers two theories of rational belief revision: foundation and coherence. Gilbert Harman has argued for coherence over foundationalism on the grounds that the foundations theory absurdly deems most of our beliefs to be not rationally held. A consequence of the unacceptability of foundationalism is that belief perseverance is rational. This paper defends the intuitive judgement that belief perseverance is irrational by offering a competing explanation of what goes on in cases like the debriefing paradigm which does not rely upon foundationalist principles but instead shows that such cases are properly viewed as instances of positive undermining of the sort described by the coherence theory.
THE TEMPORAL GENERALITY PROBLEM (pages 117-122)
ABSTRACT: The traditional generality problem for process reliabilism concerns the difficulty in identifying each belief forming process with a particular kind of process. That identification is necessary since individual belief forming processes are typically of many kinds, and those kinds may vary in reliability. I raise a new kind of generality problem, one which turns on the difficulty of identifying beliefs with processes by which they were formed. This problem arises because individual beliefs may be the culmination of overlapping processes of distinct lengths, and these processes may differ in reliability. I illustrate the force of this problem with a discussion of recent work on the bootstrapping problem.
ON EPISTEMIC ABSTEMIOUSNESS AND DIACHRONIC NORMS: A REPLY TO BUNDY (pages 129-134)
ABSTRACT: In “On Epistemic Abstemiousness,” Alex Bundy has advanced his criticism of our view that the Principle of Suspension yields serious diachronic irrationality. Here, we defend the diachronic perspective on epistemic norms and clarify how we think the diachronic consequences follow.
(MORE) SPRINGS OF MY DISCONTENT: A REPLY TO DOUGHERTY (pages 135-141)
ABSTRACT: A further reply to Trent Dougherty, author of Evidentialism and its Discontents, on a range of issues regarding a proper understanding of epistemic normativity and doxastic responsibility. The relative importance of synchronic and diachronic concerns with epistemic agency is discussed, both with respect to epistemology ‘proper,’ as well as in connection with broader concerns with ‘ethics of belief’ and ‘epistemology of disagreement.’
A NOTE ON ASSERTION, RELATIVISM AND FUTURE CONTINGENTS (pages 143-148)
ABSTRACT: I argue that John MacFarlane's attempt to reconcile his proposed truth-relativist account of future contingents with a plausible account of assertion is self-defeating. Specifically, a paradoxical result of MacFarlane's view is that assertions of future contingents are impermissible for anyone who already accepts MacFarlane's own truth-relativist account of future contingents.
STILL NO SUICIDE FOR PRESENTISTS: WHY HALES’ RESPONSE FAILS (pages 149-155)
ABSTRACT: In this paper, I defend my original objection to Hales’ suicide machine argument against Hales’ response. I argue Hales’ criticisms are either misplaced or underestimate the strength of my objection; if the constraints of the original objection are respected, my original objection blocks Hales’ reply. To be thorough, I restate an improved version of the objection to the suicide machine argument. I conclude that Hales fails to motivate a reasonable worry as to the supposed suicidal nature of presentist time travel.
ARE REASONS EVIDENCE OF OUGHTS? (pages 157-164)
ABSTRACT:In a series of recent papers Stephen Kearns and Daniel Star argue that normative reasons to ϕ simply are evidence that one ought to ϕ, and suggest that “evidence” in this context is best understood in standard Bayesian terms. I contest this suggestion.