Volume I, Issue 2, 2010
EPISTEMIC ABSTAINERS, EPISTEMIC MARTYRS, AND EPISTEMIC CONVERTS (pages 211-219)
ABSTRACT: An intuitive view regarding the epistemic significance of disagreement says that when epistemic peers disagree, they should suspend judgment. This abstemious view seems to embody a kind of detachment appropriate for rational beings; moreover, it seems to promote a kind of conciliatory inclination that makes for irenic and cooperative further discussion. Like many strategies for cooperation, however, the abstemious view creates opportunities for free-riding. In this essay, the authors argue that the believer who suspends judgment in the face of peer disagreement is vulnerable to a kind of manipulation on the part of more tenacious peers. The result is that the abstemious view can have the effect of encouraging dogmatism.
EPISTEMIC CLOSURE AND SKEPTICISM (pages 221-246)
ABSTRACT: Closure is the epistemological thesis that if S knows that P and knows that P implies Q, then if S infers that Q, S knows that Q. Fred Dretske acknowledges that closure is plausible but contends that it should be rejected because it conflicts with the plausible thesis: Conclusive reasons (CR): S knows that P only if S believes P on the basis of conclusive reasons, i.e., reasons S wouldn’t have if it weren’t the case that P. Dretske develops an analysis of knowing that centers on CR, and argues that the requirement undermines skepticism by implying the falsity of closure. We develop a Dretske-style analysis of knowing that incorporates CR, and we argue that this analysis not only accords with closure, but also implies it. In addition, we argue that the analysis accounts for the prima facie plausibility of closure-invoking skeptical arguments, and nonetheless implies that they are fallacious. If our arguments turn out to be sound, the acceptability of Dretske’s analysis of knowing will be significantly enhanced by the fact that, despite implying closure, it undermines closure-based skepticism.
SCIENTIFIC RATIONALITY AS NORMATIVE SYSTEM (pages 247-256)
ABSTRACT: Decision-theoretic approach and a nonlinguistic theory of norms are applied in the paper in an attempt to explain the nature of scientific rationality. It is considered as a normative system accepted by scientific community. When we say that a certain action is rational, we express a speaker’s acceptance of some norms concerning a definite action. Scientists can choose according to epistemic utility or other rules and values, which themselves have a variable nature. Rationality can be identified with a decision to accept a norm. This type of decision cannot be reduced only to its linguistic formulation; it is an act of evolvement of the normative regulation of human behavior. Norms are treated as decisions of a normative authority: a specific scientific community is the normative authority in science. These norms form a system and they are absolutely objective in the context of individual scientists. There exists an invariant core in all the norms of rationality, accounting for their not being liable to change, as compared with the flexibility of legal norms. The acceptance of and abidance by these norms is of social importance – it affects the aims of the community. A norm only defines the common framework and principles of scientific problem-solving; its application is a matter of professional skills and creative approach to a particular problem. It is of no importance at all, if an agent’s cognitive abilities do not live up to the requirements of a norm. Such discrepancy can be compensated for by the fact that a scientist carries out work in a conceptual and normative framework established by a respective scientific community.
TWO FALLACIES (pages 257-268)
ABSTRACT: In charging argumentum ad hominem, we accuse someone of attacking the source of a claim. In charging argumentum ad verecundiam, we attack the source of a claim. This is reason for attending to “attacking the source.” It is important to distinguish probabilistic reasons for doubting a claim and evidentiary reasons. Evidence that the source of a claim is likely to be wrong is not evidence against the claim. The tendency to overlook this is the essential feature of the ad hominem fallacy. This is relevant in assessing the view that someone who regards his thinking as made possible by Godless arrangements of matter largely determined by chance is, in taking this attitude, advancing a hypothesis which undermines his theorizing about the world or himself.
CONCEPTS, INTUITIONS AND EPISTEMIC NORMS (pages 269-285)
ABSTRACT: In this paper, I argue that Dual Process Theories of cognition, as recently defended by Keith Frankish and Jonathan Evans, Keith Stanovich, Peter Carruthers, Richard Samuels, and others, offer a useful framework that can transform our conception of the nature and role of concepts in cognitive science and the role of intuitions in epistemology. The result is that recent debates concerning competing accounts of concepts, the role of intuition in epistemology, and debates between internalists and externalists concerning the nature of epistemic justification and knowledge, can be usefully advanced given the resources of such Dual Process Theories.
FREGE’S CONTEXT PRINCIPLE - ITS ROLE AND INTERPRETATION (pages 287-301)
ABSTRACT: The paper focuses on Gottlob Frege’s so called Context Principle (CP hereafter), which counts as one of the most controversial points of his philosophy. Due to its importance and centrality in Frege’s thought, a detailed discussion of the principle requires a detailed analysis of almost all aspects of his philosophy. Obviously, such a task cannot be successfully accomplished here. Thus I limit myself to address only two questions concerning the CP: what role does the principle play (in Grundlagen) and how can we interpret it. Addressing the first problem is required in order to address the second. Most authors interpreted CP from the perspective of Frege’s later distinction between sense and reference, which I will call the ‘semantic interpretation’. Although I accept this perspective as valuable and important, I will initially inverse the action and I will try to approach CP, and generally Grundlagen, in a more natural way, contextually, namely setting them in the initial logicist plan of the Begriffschrift. Finally, I will try to provide an interpretation concerning the alleged conflict between CP and Frege’s compositionality thesis such that they could coherently stay together.
OBSERVATION AND INDUCTION (pages 303-324)
ABSTRACT: This article offers a simple technical resolution to the problem of induction, which is to say that general facts are not always inferred from observations of particular facts, but are themselves sometimes defeasibly observed. The article suggests a holistic account of observation that allows for general statements in empirical theories to be interpreted as observation reports, in place of the common but arguably obsolete idea that observations are exclusively particular. Predictions and other particular statements about unobservable facts can then appear as deductive consequences of such general observation statements, rather than inductive consequences of other particular statements. This semantic shift resolves the problem by eliminating induction as a basic form of inference, and folding the justification of general beliefs into the more basic problem of perception.
SELF-EVIDENCE (pages 325-352)
ABSTRACT: This paper develops an account of what it is for a proposition to be selfevident to someone, based on the idea that certain propositions are such that to fully understand them is to believe them. It argues that when a proposition p is self-evident to one, one has non-inferential a priori justification for believing that p and, a welcome feature, a justification that does not involve exercising any special sort of intuitive faculty; if, in addition, it is true that p and there exists no reason to believe that the proposition that p is incoherent, then one knows a priori that p. The paper argues that certain deeply contingent truths, e.g., the truth that I would now express by saying “I exist”, can be self-evident to, and thus known a priori by, the person they are about at the time they are about; but, since they cannot be known a priori, or even expressed, by anyone else or at any other time, they should not count as a priori truths.
NO TIME TRAVEL FOR PRESENTISTS (pages 353-360)
ABSTRACT: In the present paper, I offer a new argument to show that presentism about time is incompatible with time travel. Time travel requires leaving the present, which, under presentism, contains all of reality. Therefore to leave the present moment is to leave reality entirely; i.e. to go out of existence. Presentist “time travel” is therefore best seen as a form of suicide, not as a mode of transportation. Eternalists about time do not face the same difficulty, and time travel is compossible with eternalism.
GETTING GETTIER’D ON TESTIMONY (pages 361-369)
ABSTRACT: There are noncontroversial ways in which our words are context dependent. Gradable adjectives like ‘flat’ or ‘bald’, for example. A more controversial proposition is that nouns can be context dependent in a reasonably similar way. If this is true, then it looks like we can develop a positive account of semantic content as sensitive to context. This might be worrying for the epistemology of testimony. That is, how can we garner knowledge from testimony if it’s the case that, though our syntactic utterances are identical, the semantic content of them may fail to be uniform? What if we mean different things by the same words? I argue that these kinds of semantic divergences provide the groundwork for a new kind of Gettier case. That is, given the likelihood of divergent semantic content, we can see a way to scenarios in which, despite that the semantic content is uniform, we might get justified true beliefs that nevertheless fail as knowledge. This, because it just as likely could have been the case that relevant contexts were dissimilar, and thus relevant semantic content would have been divergent. Lastly, where the losophie.hu-berlin.de">MoeckelC@Philosophie.hu-berlin.de.
Mark R. Wynn - Faith and Place. An Essay in Embodied Religious Epistemology (pages 373-378)
Mark Wynn’s book (currently senior lecturer at Exeter University, UK) represents an original attempt to bring forward for discussion some of the classic paradigms of both theology and philosophy. The title itself is a surprising one (Faith and Place. An Essay in Embodied Religious Epistemology) and clearly specifies the theme set for research: the re-evaluation of the signification that ‘the Place’ has, and a new discussion about what location, as a phenomenological ‘gesture’ in relation with the religious experience, is.
Cory Juhl & Eric Loomis - Analyticity (pages 379-386)
Since it was introduced by Immanuel Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason, the analytic–synthetic distinction had an intricate historical development. In some stages of this development it was considered to be one of the central problems in philosophical controversies, while in others it was virtually forgotten. In contemporary philosophy we witness a significant revival of this theme, beginning with the final decade of the last century. This resumption of the philosophical debate concerning the distinction between the truths in virtue of meaning and truths in virtue of facts occurred after a long interval in which it was practically ignored, because Quine’s criticism against analyticity was considered compelling by the majority of contemporary philosophers.