Volume II, Issue 1, 2011
LITERATURE AND KNOWLEDGE. A NEW VERSION OF AN OLD STORY (pages 7-19)
ABSTRACT: This paper tries to discuss some of the theories concerning the relation between literature and knowledge. On the one hand, most of the time, philosophers do not believe in the force of literature to generate knowledge. On the other, litterateurs are more optimistic, considering that there is a specific kind of knowledge that literature (sometimes they emphasize: only literature) is able to deliver. These are the two antagonistic theories I have to arbitrate in this paper. In my opinion, literature is an ally of science and philosophy and it can provide a large amount of knowledge about some aspects of reality that cannot be put into concepts. Some examples like dreams and love regarded both by philosophers and writers try to demonstrate that sometimes only literature can conquer some territories of the human mind and sensibility. At the end, the paper asserts, along with Peter Swirski, that interdisciplinarity is a compulsory condition if we want to take advantage from the whole knowledge that sciences, as well as arts, among which literature is to be mentioned, can offer us. The conclusion is borrowed from Milan Kundera’s Art of the Novel: Knowledge is the literature’s only morality.
CAN SCIENCE SURVIVE ITS DEMOCRATISATION? (pages 21-32)
ABSTRACT:The question in the title is addressed in three parts. First, I associate the democratisation of science with the rise of ‘Protscience’ (i.e. ‘Protestant Science’), which pertains to the long-term tendency of universities to place the means of knowledge production in everyone’s hands, thereby producing universal knowledge that is also universally spread. Second, I discuss how the current neo-liberal political economy of knowledge production is warping the ways that universities deal with this long-term tendency. These include: the segmentation of research and teaching; the alienation of the student constituency; the lack of incentive to defend the university. I then discuss strategies for addressing the resulting deformities and re-building solidarity within the knowledge producing community. These include the establishment of a student-based co-curriculum and the introduction of employee ownership policies to the university as whole. Third, I reprise the entire argument by focusing on the economic challenges facing the integrity of the university and knowledge as a public good. Some of these arise from Protscience itself and others from the neo-liberal environment that it inhabits. But in any case, it is important that the democratisation of science is not reduced to its marketisation.
AN ONTOLOGICALLY LIBERATING SKEPTICISM? (pages 33-50)
ABSTRACT: In this paper I explore what I take to be the best hope for a physicalist ontolology of mind from within the framework of a radical empiricism about both knowledge and thought. That best hope is related to the view that Chalmers calls panprotopsychism. In short, the argument is that a rather radical skepticism about the external world opens the door to what might strike some as odd ontological possibilities concerning the exemplification of phenomenal properties in the brain. The conclusion will be of small comfort to traditional physicalists and, as we shall see, it is in the end, probably misleading to characterize the view as a version of physicalism at all.
THE ORIGIN OF THE ‘GETTIER’ PROBLEM: SOCRATES AND THE THEAETETUS (pages 51-66)
ABSTRACT:This article discusses the origin of what has become known as the Gettier Problem. It examines the claim put forward, though not expounded or defended, by J. Angelo Corlett in Analyzing Social Knowledge that the basis for Edmund Gettier’s article “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” was originally argued for in Plato’s Theaetetus. In his article, Gettier argues that the Justified True Belief condition is not sufficient for knowledge. However, Corlett questions the originality of this argument. This article examines Gettier’s article followed by the Theatetus. After which, the two articles are compared, and the claim is shown to be correct in accusing Gettier of failing consider the full work of the Theaetetus. Socrates also argued that the Justified True Belief condition was not sufficient for knowledge. However, this article concludes by arguing that Socrates went further with his examination than Gettier did. Socrates not only put forward the claim that this condition was insufficient for knowledge, he also tried to supply answers to the problem.
REASONING ABOUT CLOSURE (pages 67-76)
ABSTRACT: The specter of epistemic closure haunts current epistemology: some regard the refutation of closure as obvious, while others take its denial to be an epistemic outrage. To some extent, the strong difference of opinion has its source in certain misapprehensions. This paper tries to formulate and clarify the key issues dividing the two sides and contends that, in certain respects, the difference between the friend and the foe of closure may be more a matter of semantics than substance. The paper goes on to argue that once the substantial issues have been properly formulated, there is a limit to how far deductive reasoning can take the parties to the dispute.
AGAINST PRAGMATIC ENCROACHMENT (pages 77-85)
ABSTRACT: Anti-intellectualist theories of knowledge claim that in some way or other, practical stakes are involved in whether knowledge is present (or, where the view is contextualist, whether sentences about knowledge are true in a given context). Interest in pragmatic encroachment arose with the development of contextualist theories concerning knowledge ascriptions. In these cases, there is an initial situation in which hardly anything is at stake, and knowledge is easily ascribed. The subsequent situation is one where the costs of being wrong are fairly significant from a practical point of view, and the claim made by pragmatic encroachers is that knowledge should not be ascribed in such situations and typically is not by competent speakers. My goal here is to show how mistaken the idea of pragmatic encroachment is.
HEALTHY SKEPTICISM AND PRACTICAL WISDOM (pages 87-102)
ABSTRACT. This paper explores and articulates an alternative to the two main approaches that have come to predominate in contemporary philosophical discussions of skepticism. These we may call the ‘Foil Approach’ and the ‘Bypass Approach’ respectively. On the Foil Approach, skepticism is treated as a problem to be solved, or challenge to be met, or threat to be parried; skepticism’s value, insofar as it is deemed to have one, accrues from its role as a foil contrastively illuminating what is required for knowledge and justified belief. On the Bypass Approach, skepticism is bypassed as a central concern of epistemology. In this paper, I articulate an alternative to both these approaches, one that explores when skepticism is healthy and when it is not. I call it the ‘Health Approach’ to skepticism.
MIRACLES, TRUST, AND ENNUI IN BARNES’ PREDICTIVISM (pages 103-115)
ABSTRACT: Eric Barnes’ The Paradox of Predictivism is concerned primarily with two facts: predictivism (the fact that novel predictions play an important part in scientific confirmation) and pluralism (the fact that scientific development is not just a matter of isolated individuals judging the truth, but at least partly a matter of trusting legitimate experts). In the middle part of the book, he peers through these two lenses at the tired realist scarecrow of the no-miracles argument. He attempts to reanimate this weather-worn realist argument, contra suggestions by people like me that it should be abandoned. In this paper, I want to get clear on Barnes’ contribution to the debate. He focuses on what he calls the miraculous endorsement argument, which explains not the success of a specific theory but instead the history of successes for an entire research program. The history of successes is explained by reliable and improving methods, which are the flipside of approximately true background theories. Yet, as Barnes notes, the whole story must begin with methods that are at least minimally reliable. Barnes demands that the realist explain the origin of the minimally reliable take-off point, and he suggests a way that the realist might do so. I contend that his explanation still relies on contingent developments and so fails to completely explain the development of take-off theories. However, this line of argument digs into familiar details of the no-miracles argument and overlooks what’s new in Barnes’ approach. By calling attention to pluralism, he reminds us that we need an account of scientific expertise. This is important, I suggest, because expertise is not indefinite. We do not trust specific experts for everything, but only for things within the bounds of their expertise. Drawing these boundaries relies on our own background theories and is only likely to be reliable if our background theories are approximately true. I argue, then, that pluralism gives us reason to be realists (about some things).
THREE PROBLEMATIC THEORIES OF CONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE (pages 117-125)
ABSTRACT: In this paper it is argued that three of the most prominent theories of conditional acceptance face very serious problems. David Lewis' concept of imaging, the Ramsey test annd Jonathan Bennett's recent hybrid view all face viscous regresses, or they either employ unanalyzed components or depend upon an implausibly strong version of doxastic voluntarism.
PEER-HOOD (pages 127-140)
ABSTRACT: When one is involved in a disagreement with another individual it is important to know how much weight to give to the disputant's testimony. I argue that it is not necessary to have background information about the individual with whom one is disagreeing in order for one to rationally regard the disputant as an epistemic peer. I contrast this view with an alternative view according to which it is only rational to regard a disputant as a peer in cases where one has background information to indicate that the disputant is a peer. I show that unless we make some implausible assumptions about the truth-effectiveness of reconsideration, it is better to regard unknown disputants as peers because doing so increases the ratio of true to total beliefs in one's belief set.
MYTHOLOGY OF THE FACTIVE (pages 143-152)
ABSTRACT: It’s a cornerstone of epistemology that knowledge requires truth—that is, that knowledge is factive. Allan Hazlett boldly challenges orthodoxy by arguing that the ordinary concept of knowledge is not factive. On this basis Hazlett further argues that epistemologists shouldn’t concern themselves with the ordinary concept of knowledge, or knowledge ascriptions and related linguistic phenomena. I argue that either Hazlett is wrong about the ordinary concept of knowledge, or he’s right in a way that leaves epistemologists to carry on exactly as they have, paying attention to much the same things they always did.
Lloyd P. Gerson, Ancient Epistemology (pages 155-156)
Sam Harris, Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (pages 157-159)
Balkan Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2010