Volume II, Issue 2, 2011
EXPLANATION THROUGH SCIENTIFIC MODELS: REFRAMING THE EXPLANATION TOPIC (pages 177-189)
ABSTRACT: Once a central topic of philosophy of science, scientific explanation attracted less attention in the last two decades. My aim in this paper is to argue for a new sort of approach towards scientific explanation. In a first step I propose a classification of different approaches through a set of dichotomic characteristics. Taken into account the tendencies in actual philosophy of science I see a local, dynamic and non-theory driven approach as a plausible one. Considering models as bearers of explanations will provide a proper frame for such an approach. In the second part I make some suggestions for a working agenda that will further articulate a sketchy account of explanation through models proposed by Hartmann and Frigg.
INFINITISM AND PRACTICAL CONDITIONS ON JUSTIFICATION (pages 191-209)
ABSTRACT: This paper brings together two recent developments in the theory of epistemic justification: practical conditions on justification, and infinitism (the view that justification is a matter of having an infinite series of non-repeating reasons). Pragmatic principles can be used to argue that, if we’re looking for an ‘objective’ theory of the structure of justification – a theory that applies to all subjects independently of their practical context – infinitism stands the only chance at being the correct theory.
LIMITING SKEPTICISM (pages 211-224)
ABSTRACT: Skeptics argue that the acquisition of knowledge is impossible given the standing possibility of error. We present the limiting convergence strategy for responding to skepticism and discuss the relationship between conceivable error and an agent’s knowledge in the limit. We argue that the skeptic must demonstrate that agents are operating with a bad method or are in an epistemically cursed world. Such demonstration involves a significant step beyond conceivability and commits the skeptic to potentially convergent inquiry.
LOTTERIES, KNOWLEDGE, AND PRACTICAL REASONING (pages 225-231)
ABSTRACT: This paper addresses an argument offered by John Hawthorne against the propriety of an agent’s using propositions she does not know as premises in practical reasoning. I will argue that there are a number of potential structural confounds in Hawthorne’s use of his main example, a case of practical reasoning about a lottery. By drawing these confounds out more explicitly, we can get a better sense of how to make appropriate use of such examples in theorizing about norms, knowledge, and practical reasoning. I will conclude by suggesting a prescription for properly using lottery propositions to do the sort of work that Hawthorne wants from them.
WHAT EINSTEIN WANTED (pages 233-252)
ABSTRACT: Einstein envisioned a clear difference between a bottom-up physics that moves from observations to the conjecture of explanatory generalizations, and a topdown physics that deploys intuitively natural principles (especially of economy and elegance) to explain the observations. Einstein’s doubts regarding standard quantum mechanics thus did not simply lie in this theory’s use of probabilities. Rather, what he objected to was their status as merely phenomenological quantities configured to accommodate observation, and thereby lacking any basis of derivation from considerations of general principle.
TRUTH AND THE CRITIQUE OF REPRESENTATION (pages 253-272)
ABSTRACT: The correspondence theory of truth was regarded for many centuries as the correct position in the problem of truth. The main purpose of this paper is to establish the extent to which antirepresentationalist arguments devised by the pragmatists can destabilise the correspondence theory of truth. Thus, I identified three types of antirepresentationalist arguments: ontological, epistemological and semantic. Then I tried to outline the most significant varieties for each type of argument. Finally, I evaluated these counterarguments from a metaphilosophical perspective. The point I endeavoured to make is that these arguments are decisive neither in supporting the pragmatist theory of truth, nor in proving the failure of the correspondence theory of truth. Actually, we are dealing with two distinct modes of looking at the same problem, two theoretical approaches based on different sets of presuppositions. By examining the presuppositions of the classical theory of truth, the pragmatists engage in a theoretical undertaking with therapeutical qualities: they contributed significantly to the critical evaluation of a series of dogmas. The belief in the power of the human mind to mirror reality exactly as it is was one of these dogmas.
VAGUENESS, IGNORANCE, AND EPISTEMIC POSSIBILITIES (pages 273-284)
ABSTRACT: The paper focuses on a hitherto unexamined version of the third possibility conception of vagueness. It is claimed that statements about borderline cases can be treated by analogy with statements about epistemic possibilities. The proposed account can be readily subsumed under the generic category ‘third possibility view’ because, in contrast to definitively true and definitively false application cases of vague predicates, statements about borderline cases are interpreted as non-truth-functional.
IN DEFENSE OF EPISTEMIC ABSTEMIOUSNESS (pages 287-292)
ABSTRACT: The principle of suspension says that when you disagree with an epistemic peer about p, you should suspend judgment about p. In “Epistemic Abstainers, Epistemic Martyrs, and Epistemic Converts,” Scott F. Aikin, Michael Harbour, Jonathan Neufeld, and Robert B. Talisse argue against the principle of suspension, claiming that it “is deeply at odds with how we view ourselves as cognitive agents.” I argue that their arguments do not succeed.
A PUZZLE FOR DOGMATISM (pages 295-302)
ABSTRACT: I want to consider a puzzle in the realm of confirmation theory. The puzzle arises from consideration of reasoning with an argument, given certain epistemological commitments. Here is the argument (preceded by the stipulated justification for the first premise):
(JUSTIFICATION FOR 1) The table looks red.
(EK) (1) The table is red.
(2) If the table is red, then it is not white with red lights shining on it.
(3) The table is not white with red lights shining on it.
(EK) – the easy knowledge argument – has received much epistemological scrutiny of late. My aim, in this discussion note, is to set out an example, leading to the puzzle, putatively troubling for dogmatism. The puzzle takes the form of a pair of arguments which I take to be extractable from the recent work of a number of prominent epistemologists. My aim is modest: I seek not novelty, but rather merely to tie together accessibly some interesting recent work towards the formal end of epistemology which bears on cruxes at the heart of traditional epistemology.
Juan Manuel Torres (ed.), On Kuhn`s Philosophy and its Legacy (pages 305-308)
J.R. Croca and J.E.F. Araújo (eds.), A New Vision on Physis. Eurhythmy, Emergence and Nonlnearity (pages 309-312)
Robert B. Talisse, Democracy and Moral Conflict (pages 313-318)