Volume IV, Issue 2, 2013
SCIENTIFIC EPISTEMOLOGY VERSUS INDIGENOUS EPISTEMOLOGY: MEANINGS OF ‘PLACE’ AND ‘KNOWLEDGE’ IN THE EPISTEMIC CULTURES (pages 145–159)
ABSTRACT: The article is based on a synthetic comparative analysis of two different epistemic traditions and explores indigenous and scientific epistemic cultures through close reading and exploration of two books. The first book, Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge, written by Austrian sociologist Karin Knorr-Cetina (1999), serves as an excellent foundational material to represent scientific epistemic tradition. The second book by cultural and linguistic anthropologist Keith Basso (1996), Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache, opens a wide perspective for exploration indigenous epistemic culture. Both of the books deal with questions of knowledge production and social-cultural mechanisms that surround these processes. The article seeks to explain how the differences between methodological approaches, in their distinct questions, and the variance in research subjects eventually leads the authors to completely dissimilar understandings of such shared notions as ‘place’ and ‘knowledge.’ Through the comparative exploration of both texts, the present analysis uncovers the meanings of these notions as articulated and presented in each of the books.
KNOWLEDGE AND PERSISTENCE (pages 161–177)
ABSTRACT: States are states, in part, because they persist through time. Knowing is one such state, and it often persists beyond the time when evidence is first apprehended. The consequences for epistemology of this persistence are explored, including what are termed ‘unearned knowledge,’ and ‘one-sided knowledge.’ Knowing that you are not dreaming is one (important) example of unearned and one-sided knowing. The author contends that arguments for scepticism and for knowing as a purley mental state are undermined when this persistence is properly understood.
PEER DISAGREEMENT AND THE LIMITS OF COHERENT ERROR ATTRIBUTION (pages 179–197)
ABSTRACT: I argue that, in an important range of cases, judging that one disagrees with an epistemic peer requires attributing, either to one's peer or to oneself, a failure of rationality. There are limits, however, to how much irrationality one can coherently attribute, either to oneself or to another. I argue that these limitations on the coherent attribution of rational error put constraints on permissible responses to peer disagreement. In particular, they provide reason to respond to one-off disagreements with a single peer by maintaining one's beliefs, and they provide reason to moderate one's beliefs when faced with repeated disagreement, or disagreement with multiple peers. Finally, I argue that, though peer disagreement is rare, the occasions on which it does occur tend to be especially important, and the kind of response supported here is correspondingly important. In particular, how leading researchers spend their time and effort depends, in part, on how they respond to peer disagreement. And only a response of the kind supported here strikes the right balance between allowing individual researchers to freely pursue what seems to them to be worthwhile projects, and requiring that they pursue those research projects that the community of experts as a whole believes to be likely to yield significant results.
IN DEFENSE OF VIRTUE-RESPONSIBILISM (pages 201–216)
ABSTRACT: Modest realism affirms that some of the objects of our beliefs exist independently of our beliefs. That is, there is a mind-independent world that we can epistemically access. The Cartesian skeptic claims that we can’t offer any non-questionbegging arguments in favor of modest realism and therefore we are not justified in believing that modest realism is true. Reliabilists argue that the skeptic assumes an evidentialist-internalist account of justification and that a proper account of justification jettisons this. Hence, our belief in modest realism can be justified. I argue in this paper that virtue-responsibilism offers an analogous response to the Cartesian skeptic. According to the virtue-responsibilist, my belief that P is an instance of knowledge iff it maps onto reality and is the result of an act of virtue. I show that the virtueresponsibilist theory excludes evidentialist-internalism, and allows for our belief in modest realism to be justified. However, it may be objected that the virtue-responsibilist can’t offer non-question-begging reasons for thinking that the virtues are reliable. I argue that this objection fails and that we can know that the virtues are reliable by empirical study. Thus, virtue-responsibilism provides a satisfactory response to the Cartesian skeptic.
FOLEY’S SELF-TRUST AND RELIGIOUS DISAGREEMENT (pages 217–226)
ABSTRACT: In this paper, I’ll look at the implications of Richard Foley’s epistemology for two different kinds of religious disagreement. First, there are those occasions on which a stranger testifies to me that she holds disagreeing religious beliefs. Typically, I’m dismissive of such religious disagreement, and I bet you are too. Richard Foley gives reasons to think that we need not be at all conciliatory in the face of stranger disagreement, but I’ll explain why his reasons are insufficient. After that, I’ll look at those types of religious disagreement that occur between epistemic peers . Foley has argued for a conciliatory position. I worry that his position leads to what some in the literature have called “spinelessness.” I also worry that his view is self-defeating, and vulnerable to some apparent counterexamples. I’ll end the paper by sketching my own, non-Foleyan, solution to those problems.
LIES AND DECEPTION: A FAILED RECONCILIATION (pages 227–230)
ABSTRACT: The traditional view of lying says that lying is a matter of intending to deceive others by making statements that one believes to be false. Jennifer Lackey has recently defended the following version of the traditional view: A lies to B just in case (i) A states that p to B, (ii) A believes that p is false and (iii) A intends to be deceptive to B in stating that p. I argue that, despite all the virtues that Lackey ascribes to her view, conditions (i), (ii) and (iii) are not sufficient for lying.
DON’T KNOW, DON’T BELIEVE: REPLY TO KROEDEL (pages 231–238)
ABSTRACT: In recent work, Thomas Kroedel has proposed a novel solution to the lottery paradox. As he sees it, we are permitted/justified in believing some lottery propositions, but we are not permitted/justified in believing them all. I criticize this proposal on two fronts. First, I think that if we had the right to add some lottery beliefs to our belief set, we would not have any decisive reason to stop adding more. Suggestions to the contrary run into the wrong kind of reason problem. Reflection on the preface paradox suggests as much. Second, while I agree with Kroedel that permissions do not agglomerate, I do not think that this fact can help us solve the lottery paradox. First, I do not think we have any good reason to think that we’re permitted to believe any lottery propositions. Second, I do not see any good reason to think that epistemic permissions do not agglomerate.
PARADOXICAL ASSERTIONS: A REPLY TO TURRI (pages 239–241)
ABSTRACT: In earlier work, I have argued that the self-referential assertion that “this assertion is improper” is paradoxical for the truth account of assertion, the view on which an assertion is proper if and only if it is true. In a recent paper in this journal, John Turri has suggested a response to the paradox: one might simply deny that in uttering “this assertion is improper” one makes a genuine assertion. In this paper, I argue that this ‘no assertion’ response does not dissolve the paradox in the way Turri suggests.
History of Epistemology
‘PHILOSOPHIE DER SYMBOLISCHEN STRUKTUREN’? ZU EINIGEN PARALLELEN BEI ERNST CASSIRER UND CLAUDE LÉVI-STRAUSS (pages 245–267)
ABSTRACT: In order to answer the question formulated in the title, we firstly need to point out some theoretical constraints. A lot of parallels allow us to speak about a ‘philosophy of symbolic structures’ or, better, about a ‘philosophy of structural symbolic systems’ in Lévi-Strauss theory. This is possible only if we establish an equivalence between the concepts ‘Form’ and ‘Structure,’ as they are used by Lévi-Strauss and Cassirer. The orientation of this implicit philosophy of Lévi-Strauss is not that of a philosophy of culture based on a philosophical-anthropological reflection (as it is the case with Cassirer), but a scientific research of concrete primitive societies, together with their empirical cultures and their unconscious, hidden laws of formation.