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Recent work takes both philosophical and scientific progress to consist in acquiring factive epistemic states such as knowledge. However, much of this work leaves unclear what entity is the subject of these epistemic states. Furthermore, by focusing only on states like knowledge, we overlook progress in intermediate cases between ignorance and knowledge – for example, many now celebrated theories were initially so controversial that they were not known. This paper develops an improved framework for thinking about intellectual progress. Firstly, I argue that we should think of progress relative to the epistemic position of an intellectual community rather than individual inquirers. Secondly, I show how focusing on the extended process of inquiry (rather than the mere presence or absence of states like knowledge) provides a better evaluation of different types of progress. This includes progress through formulating worthwhile questions, acquiring new evidence, and increasing credence on the right answers to these questions. I close by considering the ramifications for philosophical progress, suggesting that my account supports rejecting the most negative views while allowing us to articulate different varieties of optimism and pessimism.
Philosophers think that there is something fishy about moral deference. The most common explanation of this fishiness is that moral deference doesn’t yield the epistemic states necessary for certain moral achievements (e.g., acting with moral worth or being virtuous). First, I argue that this explanation overgeneralizes. It entails that using many intuitively kosher belief-formation methods (e.g., abduction, reductio ad absurdum, and intuition) should be off-putting. Second, I argue that moral deference is sometimes superior to these other methods because it puts one in a better position to gain the relevant moral achievements.
Questions of consciousness pervade the social sciences. Yet, despite persistent tendencies to anthropomorphize states, most International Relations scholarship implicitly adopts the position that humans are conscious and states are not. Recognizing that scholarly disagreement over fundamental issues prevents answering definitively whether states are truly conscious, I instead demonstrate how scholars of multiple dispositions can incorporate a pragmatic notion of state consciousness into their theorizing. Drawing on recent work from Eric Schwitzgebel and original supplementary arguments, I demonstrate that states are not only complex informationally integrated systems with emergent properties, but they also exhibit seemingly genuine responses to qualia that are irreducible to individuals within them. Though knowing whether states possess an emergent ‘stream’ of consciousness indiscernible to their inhabitants may not yet be possible, I argue that a pragmatic notion of state consciousness can contribute to a more complete understanding of state personhood, as well as a revised model of the international system useful to multiple important theoretical debates. In the article's final section, I apply this model to debate over the levels of analysis at which scholarship applies ontological security theory. I suggest the possibility of emergent state-level ontological insecurity that need not be understood via problematic reduction to individuals.
This paper focuses on the phenomenon of forming one’s judgement about epistemic matters, such as whether one has some reason not to believe false propositions, on the basis of the opinion of somebody one takes to be an expert about them. The paper pursues three aims. First, it argues that some cases of expert deference about epistemic matters are suspicious. Secondly, it provides an explanation of such a suspiciousness. Thirdly, it draws the metaepistemological implications of the proposed explanation.
Theorists of community cling to one form of civic friendship—associations—as if no society-wide friendship could exist. Small groups may be friendlier, but they fall short of being truly civic when they fail to guarantee individual rights. John Locke’s liberalism is safer because it bases rights on property. Locke’s theory is also descriptively accurate because it still operates today, under cover of newer theories, for example in the beliefs of electoral majorities that earners deserve to keep the fruits of their labor and that “paying one’s own way” is dignified. Yet communitarians are correct that property rights obscure civic friendship. Aristotle’s psychology of commercial exchange builds on Lockean property, showing how money is a marker for honor, the civic analogue of love. Societies in which workers are paid a fair wage are friendly societies; where this does not occur, society is full of malcontents. Workers feel dishonored by low pay. Similarly, societies that honor civic patrons enjoy a concord that is like friendship; where public service is not honored, the wealthy desire revolution, according to Aristotle. Money and honor tie citizens to the larger society.
Conspiracy theories have largely been framed by the academy as a stigmatised form of knowledge. Yet recent scholarship has included calls to take conspiracy theories more seriously as an area of study with a desire to judge them on their own merits rather than an a priori dismissal of them as a class of explanation. This paper argues that the debates within the philosophy of religion, long overlooked by scholars of conspiracy theories, can help sow the seeds for re-examining our understanding of conspiracy theories in a more balanced and nuanced way. The nature of religious belief is elemental to understanding the epistemological foundations of the conspiracy theorising worldview amidst what we may call ‘conspiratorial ambiguity’. Specifically, R.M. Hare's concept of bliks, which are unfalsifiable but meaningful worldviews, offers a way forward to reframe our approach towards the theory of conspiracy theories.
I motivate and develop a novel account of the epistemic assessability of suspension as a development of my knowledge-first, virtue-epistemological research program. First, I extend an argument of Ernest Sosa's for the claim that evidentialism cannot adequately account for the epistemic assessability of suspension. This includes a kind of knowledge-first evidentialism of the sort advocated by Timothy Williamson. I agree with Sosa that the reasons why evidentialism fails motivate a virtue-epistemological approach, but argue that my knowledge-first account is preferable to his view. According to my account, rational belief is belief that manifests proper practical respect for what it takes to know. Beliefs are the only primary bearers of epistemic evaluation since they are the only candidates for knowledge. However, suspension can manifest a derivative kind of practical respect for what it takes to know. Thus, we can explain why the same sort of assessment is applicable to both belief and suspension (epistemic rationality), and why belief has a privileged claim to these properties. Lastly, I'll look at Sosa's and Williamson's treatments of Pyrrhonian skepticism, which treats a certain kind of suspension as the epistemically superior practice, and argue that my account provides a better anti-skeptical response than either of their approaches.
It is well known that Husserl considered phenomenology to be First Philosophy—the ultimate science. For Husserl, this means that phenomenology must clarify the ultimate phenomenological-epistemological principle that leads to ultimate elucidation. But what is this ultimate principle and what does ultimate elucidation mean? It is the aim of this paper to answer these questions. In section 2, we shall discuss what role Husserl’s principle of all principles can play in the quest for ultimate elucidation and what it means for a principle to be ultimately elucidating (letztaufklärend) and ultimately elucidated (letztaufgeklärt). We will see that the Husserlian thesis that originary presentive intuitions are an immediate and the ultimate source of justification qualifies as the ultimate epistemological principle.
This chapter offers a new interpretation of Raymond Aron’s doctoral thesis, Introduction à la philosophie de l’histoire (1938). Described by Aron as having established the basis of all his subsequent political thought, the Introduction contains a pluralist critique of Marx’s philosophy of history which doubles as a normative justification for political liberalism. Anticipating the ‘epistemology of doubt’ characteristic of later cold war liberalism, the book also served as the philosophical basis for Aron’s ethic of intellectual responsibility. Yet the extent to which the Introduction’s historical relativism undermines its ethical and normative arguments has been widely debated. Through an analysis of Aron’s previously under-explored interpretations of Dilthey and Heidegger, the chapter argues that scholarly disagreement on this issue reflects the Introduction’s ambiguous epistemological agnosticism. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the influence of the Introduction to the Philosophy of History on Jean-Paul Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason.
Like many of Nietzsche’s striking words and phrases, “perspectivism” (“Perspektivismus”) has received a great deal of attention in the secondary literature. However, Nietzsche uses the term only once in his published and authorized manuscripts, twice in fragments from 1886 to 1887, and once in a fragment from 1888. While tantalizing, GS 354 and the three fragments from 1886 to 1888 radically underdetermine what Nietzsche could have meant by “perspectivism.” In order to shed light on Nietzsche’s perspectivism, I approach it from two angles. First, I explore some of the rhetorical tropes that Nietzsche uses to reorient his audience’s perspective. These include engaging the audience’s emotions, apostrophic address to the reader, and what I’ve elsewhere called “Nietzschean summoning.” Each of these methods tugs at the affects and values of the audience, positioning them to notice, find salient, and be disposed to act in relation to certain (aspects of) things while ignoring, finding less salient, and being disposed to neglect (aspects of) other things. This suggests that, for Nietzsche, perspectivism has less to do with cognition than the painterly metaphor of a visual perspective suggests. Second, I employ the digital humanities methodology pioneered in my recent work to further elucidate the concept of perspectivism. I argue that, for Nietzsche, perspectivism relates primarily to agents’ motivational and evaluative sets, and that it is meant to offer a methodology for achieving various epistemic goods.
In the spirit of modal scepticism, Peter Hawke offers a modal epistemology, the safe explanation theory (SET), which takes the form of modal empiricism. By employing SET, he tries to defend enumerative induction (EI): it is reasonable to believe that any X is F on the basis of a sufficiently large sample in which any X is F. In this paper, I argue that Hawke’s defence fails. Moreover, I point out a problem with SET, which results in this failure: SET is too strict to account for some possibility claims that we are entitled to believe.
Big Data is now permeating environmental law and affecting its evolution. Data-driven innovation is highlighted as a means for major organizations to address social and global challenges. We present various contributions of Big Data technologies and show how they transform our knowledge and understanding of domains regulated by environmental law – environmental changes, socio-ecological systems, sustainable development issues – and of environmental law itself as a complex system. In particular, the mining of massive data sets makes it possible to undertake concrete actions dedicated to the elaboration, production, implementation, follow-up, and adaptation of the environmental targets defined at various levels of decision making (from the international to the subnational level).
This development calls into question the traditional approach to legal epistemology and ethics, as implementation and enforcement of rules take on new forms, such as regulation through smart environmental targets and securing legal compliance through the design of technological artefacts. The entry of Big Data therefore requires the development of a new and specific epistemology of environmental law.
“Real knowledge,” as I use the term, is the most highly prized form of true belief sought by an epistemic agent. This paper argues that defeasible infinitism provides a good way to characterize real knowledge and it shows how real knowledge can arise from fallible justification. Then, I argue that there are two ways of interpreting Ernest Sosa's account of real knowledge as belief that is aptly formed and capable of being fully defended. On the one hand, if beliefs are aptly formed only if they have a specific causal etiology, namely that they are efficiently caused fully or partially by virtuous characteristics of the epistemic agent, then Sosa's account falls prey to what I call the problem of the Hazard of Empirical Disconfirmation (HED). The HED problem applies to all forms of causal accounts of real knowledge and is simply that as we gain more empirical knowledge about the causal origins of our true beliefs that are the most highly prized we will discover that they do not always (or even hardly ever) satisfy the required efficient causal constraints. Bluntly put, having sufficiently good reasons for our beliefs might not require that the beliefs have the requisite efficient causal etiology. On the other hand, there is a way of interpreting Sosa's views that does not include an efficient causal prerequisite. That interpretation makes Sosa's account of real knowledge almost identical to defeasible infinitism but expressed in an alternate vocabulary. Such a view is not subject to the HED problem and it can solve the deep problem in epistemology, namely how to get epistemically certain (as opposed to psychologically certain) knowledge from fallible justification.
This paper offers a new interpretation of the young Spinoza’s method of distinguishing the true ideas from the false, which shows that his answer to the sceptic is not a failure. This method combines analysis and synthesis as follows: if we can say of the object of an idea (a) which simple things underlie it, (b) how it can be constructed out of simple elements, and (c) what properties it has after it has been produced, doubt concerning the object simply makes no sense. The paper also suggests a way in which this methodology connects to the ontology of the Ethics.
This paper discusses Ernest Sosa's account of knowledge and epistemic normativity. The paper has two main parts. The first part identifies places where Sosa's account requires supplementation if it is going to capture important epistemic phenomena. In particular, additional theoretical resources are needed to explain (i) the way in which epistemic aims are genuinely good aims, and (ii) the way in which some forms of reasoning can be epistemically better than others even when they are equally conducive to attaining the truth. The second part focuses on Sosa's claim that there is a kind of belief – judgmental belief – that doesn't merely aim at truth but also aims at aptness, and that this kind of belief is central to our mental lives. The paper raises several concerns about this part of Sosa's account, including the concern that aiming at aptness is overly self-directed, and so is more closely tied to vice than epistemic virtue.
Testimony poses a challenge to systematic epistemology. I cite two kinds of testimony situation where the recipient's belief is not safe, yet intuitively counts as knowledge. Can Sosa's more sophisticated virtue reliabilism, which theorises animal knowledge as apt belief, yield the intuitively correct verdict on these cases? Sosa shows that a belief can be apt, though it is not safe, and so it may seem a quick positive answer is forthcoming. However, I explore complications in applying his AAA framework, regarding what we take as the circumstances in which the subject's attempt is made: the AAA framework does not mandate a particular choice, yet this affects whether the attempt (in particular, a believing in the endeavour to attain truth) comes out as apt or not. I conclude that Sosa's theory is subject to a familiar charge: it does not give a reductive account of knowledge, since we must deploy independent intuitions about whether knowledge is gained in a case, in order to apply it.
A telic virtue epistemology was presupposed in our treatment of insight and understanding. What follows will lay out the main elements of that telic theory and explore how it provides an epistemology of suspension.
Chapter One presents what I propose is a perennial conflict of divine and human law, a conflict that is built into the very nature of religious freedom itself. It examines the reasons why the conflict is especially acute in late modernity, arguing that liberal approaches to religious freedom have both addressed and exacerbated the problem. Finally, the chapter proposes a theoretical framework in which natural law serves as a mediator between human law and divine law and thereby as a means forward from the perennial conflict of the two forms of law.
In her 1938 paper ‘Logical and Metaphysical Necessity’, Martha Kneale introduces the necessary a posteriori. I present a critical summary of Kneale's argument that so-called ‘metaphysical propositions’ are necessary but not a priori. I argue that Kneale is well placed to offer a template for reconciling conceivability approaches to modal epistemology with the post-Kripkean trend for taking metaphysical necessities to have their source in mind-independent reality.