Volume III, Issue 3, 2012
BEYOND MODES OF OBJECTIVITY (pages 361-371)
ABSTRACT: Frege, and others who followed him, stressed the role of fallibility as a means to defining ‘objectivity.’ By defining objective judgments as fallible, these philosophers contributed to the consolidation of a theory of objectivity which suggested interpreting epistemological, as well as other judgements, as being objective. An important philosophical implication of this theory lies in its disclosure of the interrelations between truth and objectivity. In light of this insight, and based on an analysis of instances of false (epistemological and other) judgments, I show that truth and objectivity go hand-in-hand, while falsity and objectivity do not. This finding alone indicates the necessity to revise the theory of objectivity.
DISCUSSION ON THE CHARACTERISTICS OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE. A ROMANIAN EXPLORATORY CASE-STUDY (pages 373-381)
ABSTRACT: As study of knowledge, epistemology attempts at identifying its necessary and sufficient conditions and defining its sources, structure and limits. From this point of view, until present, there are no applied approaches to the Romanian archaeology. Consequently, my present paper presents an attempt to explore the structural characteristics of the knowledge creation process through the analysis of the results of a series of interviews conducted on Romanian archaeologists. The interviews followed a qualitative approach built upon a semi-structured frame. Apparent data saturation was reached after four interviews within initial target group (senior researchers with institutional authority). Under these conditions a decision was made to continue the interviews within a secondary control group (young doctoral or post-doc researchers guided by members of the initial target group) in order to both verify the observed data saturation and to assess the impact of the attitude of senior researchers towards scientific research on the younger generation. The preliminary results allow to assert that Romanian archaeology is still caught in a highly conservative and intradisciplinarian manner of knowledge production with a negative effect on both new knowledge production and future specialists’ education.
EVOLUTION, PSYCHOLOGY, AND CULTURE (pages 383-404)
ABSTRACT: My goal is to clarify the type of relations one could hope can be established between psychology and the social sciences in general, on one side, and evolutionary biology, on the other. Thus, the paper analyzes one of the most remarkable contemporary attempts to forge such ties, namely that of John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, who explore the interface between the two domains and try to articulate a research methodology aimed at their better integration. Unfortunately, as I shall try to show, the position Tooby and Cosmides advance is undermined by adaptationist assumptions they don't manage to successfully defend. In doing so, my paper picks up the threads of the current adaptationism debate and seeks to draw some of the consequences it has for psychological research. Subsequently, I will attempt to generalize the chief results of my analysis, by emphasizing a few aspects of evolutionary theory I think are key for understanding its relation with human culture. On this grounds, I will argue for a position that makes social sciences autonomous in respect to evolutionary thinking, yet preserves solid ties with evolutionary thought, securing integration with the rest of science.
EPISTEMIC JUSTIFICATION, RIGHTS, AND PERMISSIBILITY (pages 405-411)
ABSTRACT: Can we understand epistemic justification in terms of epistemic rights? In this paper, we consider two arguments for the claim that we cannot and in doing so, we provide two arguments for the claim that we can. First, if, as many think, William James is right that the epistemic aim is to believe all true propositions and not to believe any false propositions, then there are likely to be situations in which believing (or disbelieving) a proposition serves one of these goals, whereas suspending judgement serves the other, equally important goal. Second, it is in principle always possible to have different epistemic standards for evaluating the evidence for the proposition in question, so that one can have a right to believe (or disbelieve) that proposition and a right to suspend judgement on it. Whereas the first consideration counts in favour of the idea that believing justifiedly is at least sometimes a matter of having an epistemic right, the latter consideration favours the view that believing justifiedly is always a matter of having an epistemic right.
UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLAINING (pages 413-428)
ABSTRACT: The quest to provide a fundamental understanding and explanation of reality is an ambitious one. Perhaps it is too ambitious. The possible restrictions for such an enterprise to be successful must be inquired in order to determine the issue. Section 1 explores one’s understanding in reaching (scientific) conclusions: to what extent does a successful account testify to understanding? Section 2 focuses on the other side of such an account: does it provide an explanation in a more fundamental sense than pointing out causes of phenomena, or is it restricted to such a task? A critical attitude vis-à-vis the (scientific) enterprise of unearthing reality’s structure remains necessary in order not to confuse a consistent and productive theory with one that demonstrates an understanding and explanation in the sense of this article.
JUSTIFICATION AND TRUTH CONDITIONS IN THE CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE (pages 429-447)
ABSTRACT: The traditional concept of propositional knowledge as justified true belief (JTB), even when modified, typically in its justification condition, to avoid Gettier-type counterexamples, remains subject to a variety of criticisms. The redefinition proposed here puts pressure more specifically on the concept of truth as redundant in light of and inaccessible beyond the most robust requirements of best justification. Best-J is defined as justification for believing in a proposition’s truth where there is no better countermanding justification for believing instead the proposition’s negation. A pragmatic perspective argues that truth is unnecessary and unattainable as a condition of knowledge beyond the requirement for practically attainable best justified belief. The key argument with respect to the eliminability of the truth condition in favor of a properly tailored justification condition is that there is nothing we do or can do in trying to satisfy the truth condition for knowledge beyond considering the epistemic merits of the justification that a believer accepts in coming to believe that the proposition is true.
SCEPTICAL THOUGHTS ON PHILOSOPHICAL EXPERTISE (pages 449-458)
ABSTRACT: My topic is two-fold: a reductive account of expertise as an epistemic phenomenon, and applying the reductive account to the question of whether or not philosophers enjoy expertise. I conclude, on the basis of the reductive account, that even though philosophers enjoy something akin to second-order expertise (i.e. they are often experts on the positions of other philosophers, current trends in the philosophical literature, the history of philosophy, conceptual analysis and so on), they nevertheless lack first-order philosophical expertise (i.e. expertise on philosophical positions themselves such as the nature of mind, causality, normativity and so forth). Throughout the paper, I respond to potential objections.
PHILOSOPHICAL PEER DISAGREEMENT (pages 459-467)
ABSTRACT: It has been widely discussed, in recent years, which is the rational doxastic reaction in the face of peer disagreement. But not much has been said about an interesting instance of that debate: philosophical peer disagreement. That is precisely what I will be concerned with in this paper. First, I will offer a definition of philosophical peer that introduces the idea of an epistemic perspective. The proposed definition allows for a doublé distinction: between Strong and Weak Peers, and between Strong and Weak Disagreements. Based on these distinctions, I will defend that different doxastic reactions are required depending on the type of disagreement at issue. On the one hand, in the face of Weak Disagreement, we should be conciliatory. Cases of Strong disagreement, in turn, shouldn’t motívate a doxastic revision. In order to argue for that, some refinements into the notion of Rational Uniqueness will be needed.
AFTER UNIVERSAL GRAMMAR: THE ECOLOGICAL TURN IN LINGUISTICS (pages 469-487)
ABSTRACT: Of all the human sciences, linguistics has had perhaps the most success in pivoting itself towards the physical sciences, particularly in the past fifty years with the dominance of Universal Grammar, which is most closely associated with the work of Noam Chomsky. One of the most important implications of Universal Grammar has been that language production in its most natural and optimal state is organized analytically, and thus shares the same organizational logic of other knowledge systems in Western science, such as the binomial taxonomization of nature and analytic geometry. This essay argues that recent challenges to Universal Grammar represent more than just a theoretical dispute within a single discipline; they threaten to undermine the hegemony of analytical knowledge systems in general. While analytical logic has served Western science well, analogical knowledge systems may be able to address problems that analytical logic cannot, such as ecological crises, the limitations of artificial intelligence, and the problems of complex systems. Instead of studying languages as a means of modeling human thought in general, languages should also be studied and preserved as heteronomous knowledge systems which themselves exist as embodied objects within particular ecologies. Rethinking language as existing on a univocal plane with other ecological objects will provide us with new insight on the ethics and epistemology of analogical knowledge production.
MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS AND THE DYNAMIC THEORY OF MIND (pages 489-502)
ABSTRACT: In this paper I will investigate the possibility of defending the concept of ‘mental representation’ against certain contemporary critiques. Some authors, like Anthony Chemero, argue that it is possible to explain offline actions with dynamic concepts. Hence, the dynamic discourse preempts the representational one. I doubt that this is a recommendable strategy. A form of representation is necessary, though one which is different from the classical one. Instead of eliminating the concept of representation (as radical dynamicists do) or of splitting cognitive explanation in two separate discourses (as the adepts of the hybrid cognition version do), I consider that a dynamic concept of ‘representation’ is a better option. In my view, the higher level order resulted from the complex brain-body-environment coupling can be interpreted as being representational in nature. The dynamic paradigm involves a significant change concerning the intentional nature of representational states: the basic forms of representations are not maps of reality implemented as such in the brain, but limit conditions, attractors constraining the cognitive system’s evolution in its space state to reach its goals. On a certain threshold of complexity, the system develops stable attractors and attractor landscapes which could be interpreted as standing for something outside the system. This conception offers the advantages of avoiding preemption argument, of unifying the cognitive explanation and, by its interscalar account, offers dynamic tools for building more complex artificial intelligent systems.
PROBLEMS WITH THE DISPOSITIONAL TRACKING THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE (pages 505-507)
ABSTRACT: Rachel Briggs and Daniel Nolan attempt to improve on Nozick’s tracking theory of knowledge by providing a modified, dispositional tracking theory. The dispositional theory, however, faces more problems than those previously noted by John Turri. First, it is not simply that satisfaction of the theory’s conditions is unnecessary for knowledge – it is insufficient as well. Second, in one important respect, the dispositional theory is a step backwards relative to the original tracking theory: the original but not the dispositional theory can avoid Gettier-style counterexamples. Future attempts to improve the tracking theory would be wise to bear these problems in mind.
LOTTERIES, PROBABILITIES, AND PERMISSIONS (pages 509-514)
ABSTRACT: Thomas Kroedel argues that we can solve a version of the lottery paradox if we identify justified beliefs with permissible beliefs. Since permissions do not agglomerate, we might grant that someone could justifiably believe any ticket in a large and fair lottery is a loser without being permitted to believe that all the tickets will lose. I shall argue that Kroedel’s solution fails. While permissions do not agglomerate, we would have too many permissions if we characterized justified belief as sufficiently probable belief. If we reject the idea that justified beliefs can be characterized as sufficiently probably beliefs, Kroedel’s solution is otiose because the paradox can be dissolved at the outset.