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The fact that each of us has significantly greater confidence in the claims of co-partisans – those belonging to groups with which we identify – explains, in large part, why so many people believe a significant amount of the misinformation they encounter. It's natural to assume that such misinformed partisan beliefs typically involve a rational failure of some kind, and philosophers and psychologists have defended various accounts of the nature of the rational failure purportedly involved. I argue that none of the standard diagnoses of the irrationality of misinformed partisan beliefs is convincing, but I also argue that we ought to reject attempts to characterize these beliefs as rational or consistent with epistemic virtue. Accordingly, I defend an alternative diagnosis of the relevant epistemic error. Specifically, I maintain that such beliefs typically result when an individual evaluating testimony assigns more weight to co-partisanship than he ought to under the circumstances, and consequently believes the testimony of co-partisans when better alternatives are available.
We argue that stereotypes associated with concepts like he-said–she-said, conspiracy theory, sexual harassment, and those expressed by paradigmatic slurs provide “normative inference tickets”: conceptual permissions to automatic, largely unreflective normative conclusions. These “mental shortcuts” are underwritten by associated stereotypes. Because stereotypes admit of exceptions, normative inference tickets are highly flexible and productive, but also liable to create serious epistemic and moral harms. Epistemically, many are unreliable, yielding false beliefs which resist counterexample; morally, many perpetuate bigotry and oppression. Still, some normative inference tickets, like some activated by sexual harassment, constitute genuine moral and hermeneutical advances. For example, our framework helps explain Miranda Fricker's notion of “hermeneutical lacunae”: what early victims of “sexual harassment” – as well as their harassers – lacked before the term was coined was a communal normative inference ticket – one that could take us, collectively, from “this is happening” to “this is wrong.”
Evidentialism as an account of theoretical rationality is a popular and well-defended position. However, recently, it's been argued that misleading higher-order evidence (HOE) – that is, evidence about one's evidence or about one's cognitive functioning – poses a problem for evidentialism. Roughly, the problem is that, in certain cases of misleading HOE, it appears evidentialism entails that it is rational to adopt a belief in an akratic conjunction – a proposition of the form “p, but my evidence doesn't support p” – despite it being the case that believing an akratic conjunction appears to be clearly irrational. In this paper, I diffuse the problem for evidentialism using the distinction between propositional and doxastic rationality. I argue that, although it can be propositionally rational to believe an akratic conjunction (according to evidentialism), one cannot inferentially base an akratic belief in one's evidence, and, thus, one cannot doxastically rationally possess an akratic belief. In addition, I address the worry that my solution to the puzzle commits evidentialists to the possibility of epistemic circumstances in which a proposition, p, is propositionally rational to believe (namely, an akratic conjunction), yet one cannot, in principle, (doxastically) rationally believe p. As I demonstrate, cases of misleading HOE are not the only types of cases that force evidentialists to accept that propositional rationality does not entail the possibility of doxastic rationality. There are no new problems raised by misleading HOE that weren't already present in cases involving purely first-order evidence.
Some authors maintain that anti-intellectualism faces a general epistemic problem of explaining the cognitive aspect of know-how, and answering the question of why know-how as a kind of disposition is to be considered a distinct kind of knowledge. In the present paper, I argue for a solution to this problem, the central idea of which is that there is a broader sense of knowledge to which both knowledge-that and knowledge-how belong. I present two versions of this solution. According to the first version, know-how is a distinct kind of knowledge since there is a general analyzable category of knowledge under which both know-how and know-that fall. This general category is analyzed into three components: a success component, an externalist anti-luck component, and an internalist anti-luck component. According to the second version of the solution, know-how is a distinct kind of knowledge since there is an unanalyzable analogical conception of knowledge that comes first in both the theoretical realm (as propositional knowledge) and the practical realm (as know-how). Both versions of the solution are plausible since they distinguish between know-how and knacks in an anti-intellectualist manner by positing that there is an internal relation between know-how and non-propositional intentionality.
The genus problem of populism presents one of the most vexing conceptual questions across the social sciences: Some theorists believe that populism is nothing more than an assembly of discursive patterns, while others maintain that populism is a strategy to gain political power. Then there are those that argue that populism is a thin ideology that lacks a coherent set of guiding principles. The paper intervenes in this debate in two ways: First, it offers a methodological apparatus for evaluating and developing contested concepts such as populism. Second, it puts forward and defends the claim that populism can be fruitfully understood as a coherent ideology that rests on four foundational principles. These principles, I will argue, are necessary for explaining the paradigmatic beliefs and dispositions exhibited by exponents of populism. One of the key characteristics of populism, on the account developed in this paper, is its peculiar epistemic stance.
In the recent literature on the nature of knowledge, a rivalry has emerged between modalism and explanationism. According to modalism, knowledge requires that our beliefs track the truth across some appropriate set of possible worlds. Modalists tend to focus on two modal conditions: sensitivity and safety. According to explanationism, knowledge requires only that beliefs bear the right sort of explanatory relation to the truth. In slogan form: knowledge is believing something because it's true. In this paper, we aim to vindicate explanationism from some recent objections offered by Gualtiero Piccinini, Dario Mortini, and Kenneth Boyce and Andrew Moon. Together, these authors present five purported counterexamples to the sufficiency of the explanationist analysis for knowledge. In addition, Mortini devises a clever argument that explanationism entails the violation of a plausible closure principle on knowledge. We will argue that explanationism is innocent of all these charges against it, and we hope that the strength of the defense we offer of explanationism is evidence in its favor, and a reason to investigate explanationism further as the long-elusive truth about the nature of knowledge.
I argue that, if doxastic involuntarism is true, then we should reconceive what are traditionally called reasons for belief. The truth of doxastic involuntarism would rule out a certain understanding of reasons for belief according to which they are reasons to form, alter, or relinquish beliefs. Thus, reconceiving reasons for belief would require reconceiving doxastic obligations. I argue that, in fact, a reconception of reasons for belief warrants abandoning the notion of doxastic obligations, understood as obligations to perform acts of belief formation, alteration, or relinquishment. Instead, the only sorts of obligations we would have that concern our doxastic states would be aretaic or practical.
In recent works, Stephen John (2018, Social Epistemology32(2), 75–87; 2019, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A78, 64–72) has deepened the social epistemological perspective on expert testimony by arguing that science communication often operates at the institutional level, and that at that level sincerity, transparency, and honesty are not necessarily epistemic virtues. In this paper I consider his arguments in the context of science journalism, a key constituent of the science communication ecosystem. I argue that this context reveals both the weakness of his arguments and a need for further analysis of how non-experts learn from experts.
In their “Educating for Intellectual Virtue: A Critique from Action Guidance” Kotzee, Carter and Siegel (2019) argue against what they call the intellectual virtues (IV) approach to the primary epistemic aim of education and in favor of what they call the critical thinking (CT) approach. The IV approach says that educating for intellectual virtue is the primary epistemic aim of education. The CT approach says that it is educating for critical thinking. They argue that the exemplarist/role-modeling pedagogy of the IV approach is not sufficiently action-guiding, because it does not teach students the know-how needed to think well. This they call the pedagogical challenge to the IV approach. We argue that their criticism of the IV approach fails. In general, possessing an intellectual virtue requires having a corresponding critical-thinking skill set. Also, for one to exercise critical-thinking skills well it is necessary that they possess dispositional components of corresponding intellectual virtues. Accordingly, intellectual virtues can be groomed in non-exemplarist ways that seem sufficiently action-guiding. Furthermore, the pedagogical challenge for the IV approach is a challenge for the CT approach as teaching for critical-thinking dispositions seems heavily reliant on an exemplarist pedagogy and so to this extent is non-action-guiding.
Perception can provide us with a privileged source of evidence about the external world – evidence that makes it rational to believe things about the world. In Reasons First, Mark Schroeder offers a new view on how perception does so. The central motivation behind Schroeder's account is to offer an answer to what evidence perception equips us with according to which it is what he calls world-implicating but non-factive, and thereby to glean some of the key advantages of both externalism and internalism, respectively. He answers this motivation by developing a more specific view that he calls the Apparent Factive Attitude view, which pairs an answer to what evidence is provided by a perceptual experience with an answer to why having that perceptual experience provides you with that evidence. In this paper, we advance two interconnected problems for Schroeder's Apparent Factive Attitude view. A traditional intuitive judgment that often motivates internalists is the idea that internal duplicates must necessarily be equally rational in whatever beliefs they have. Schroeder's arguments rely on a weaker claim – that people who are both internal and historical external duplicates but differ only in the veridicality of a single perceptual experience must be equally rational in whatever beliefs they have. In this way he preserves what he argues to be a more compelling internalist intuition. But our arguments will show that Schroeder's view is committed to denying an even more compelling internalist intuition yet – that internal duplicates must have the same phenomenology.
One famous debate in contemporary epistemology considers whether there is always one unique, epistemically rational way to respond to a given body of evidence. Generally speaking, answering “yes” to this question makes one a proponent of the Uniqueness thesis, while those who answer “no” are called “permissivists”. Another influential recent debate concerns whether non-truth-related factors can be the basis of epistemic justification, knowledge, or rational belief. Traditional theories answer “no”, and are therefore considered “purists”. However, more recently many theorists have argued to the contrary, claiming that impurist factors, such as practical stakes, can sometimes encroach or even override truth-related considerations. This paper bridges the two debates by presenting and defending what I call “Impurist Permissivism”. I support Impurist Permissivism by showing how it can resist Roger White's famous Argument from Arbitrariness (2005).
There is currently a lively debate about whether there are practical reasons for belief, epistemic reasons for belief, or both. I will argue that the intuitions on all sides can be fully accounted for by applying an independently motivated contextualist semantics for normative terms. Specifically, normative terms must be relativized to a goal. One possible goal is epistemic, such as believing truly and not believing falsely, while another possible goal is practical, such as satisfying desires, or maximizing value. I will argue that we have practical reasons given the practical goal and epistemic reasons given the epistemic goal. Disagreement disappears when we make the context explicit. The result is an independently motivated version of pluralism.
In this essay, I reply to an influential objection to evolutionary debunking arguments against moral realism. According to this objection, our capacity for autonomous rational reflection allows us to grasp moral truths independently of distorting evolutionary influences, so those influences do not prevent us from having moral knowledge. I argue that rational moral reflection is not, in fact, autonomous from evolutionary influences, since it depends on our evolved, pre-reflective grasp of moral properties. I then consider and reject the suggestion that realists can supply an autonomous foundation for rational moral reflection or do without any such foundation. Next, I address the allegation that my arguments have skeptical implications for rational reflection in non-moral domains. Finally, I conclude with a gesture toward a more promising route for realists who oppose debunking arguments.
This paper develops a novel account of the nature of disinformation that challenges several widely spread theoretical assumptions, such as that disinformation is a species of information, a species of misinformation, essentially false or misleading, essentially intended/aimed/having the function of generating false beliefs in/misleading hearers. The paper defends a view of disinformation as ignorance generating content: on this account, X is disinformation in a context C iff X is a content unit communicated at C that has a disposition to generate ignorance at C in normal conditions. I also offer a taxonomy of disinformation, and a view of what it is for a signal to constitute disinformation for a particular agent in a particular context. The account, if correct, carries high stakes upshots, both theoretically and practically: disinformation tracking will need to go well beyond mere fact checking.
In this paper I identify a family of explanatory demands facing permissivists, those who deny the uniqueness thesis, according to which every body of evidence rationally permits exactly one doxastic attitude for a person to have in light of that evidence. Call a pair of a body of evidence and a proposition a permissive case just in case there is more than one attitude that is permitted for someone who has that body of evidence to take to that proposition. Uniquers claim that there are no permissive cases, and permissivists deny this. The uniqueness thesis is a strong claim, and is vulnerable to counterexamples because it is a universal generalization, and indeed, many permissivists argue for their view by identifying putative counterexamples to the uniqueness thesis. However, in virtue of advancing these putative counterexamples, permissivists incur explanatory demands. If some, but not all, cases are permissive cases, then permissivists owe us an explanation of why some cases are permissive and others are not. Likewise, for each permissive case, permissivists must explain why some attitudes towards the proposition are permitted and others are not. Permissivists draw arbitrary lines between permissive and impermissive cases, and between permitted and impermitted attitudes, giving rise to distinctions which need explaining.
I shall argue that permissivists cannot discharge these explanatory burdens in a satisfying way. After carefully presenting these explanatory demands in section 2, I consider how permissivists might answer them in section 3. I argue that the only permissivists who are able to successfully answer the explanatory demands are extreme permissivists like subjective Bayesians. Most philosophers, however, will find this epistemological outlook implausible because it contains no substantive constraints on rational belief. I also show that previous attempts by permissivists to explain why there are permissive cases merely relocate, rather than answer, the explanatory demands I have identified. The final section argues that permissivists cannot soften up the explanatory demands, either. I show that permissivist cannot appeal to the vagueness of the notion of a permissive case, or of an attitude's being permitted, in order to make the line between the permitted and the impermitted attitudes appear less arbitrary. Nor, I argue, can the permissivist hold that our ignorance of which cases are permissive, and how permissive they are, lessens the explanatory burdens they face.
Unfortunately, permissivists have been most interested in attempting to identify a counterexample to the uniqueness thesis, and have not been concerned with the explanatory demands which they incur in so doing. If my arguments are successful, then, permissivism is a much less plausible view than it is currently given credit for, and, at the very least, permissivists have a lot of work to do in further articulating and generalizing their view so as to provide an adequate explanation of the scope of epistemic permission.
Contemporary virtue epistemology has been progressing remarkably in the activity of virtue profiling, yet a lot remains to be discussed about the many ways and extents to which some virtues and vices of the intellect impact our lives. This paper is an attempt at sketching a preliminary profile to an epistemic virtue that hasn't received a lot of attention to this date: the virtue of being a good convincer, aka persuasiveness. I submit that there is a particular way of using speech in which persuasiveness is allied with benevolence as a means of conveying a distinctive type of epistemic good, the good of understanding.
I argue that in many cases, there are good reasons to engage with people who hold fringe beliefs such as debunked conspiracy theories. I (1) discuss reasons for engaging with fringe beliefs; (2) discuss the conditions that need to be met for engagement to be worthwhile; (3) consider the question of how to engage with such beliefs, and defend what Jeremy Fantl has called “closed-minded engagement” and (4) address worries that such closed-minded engagement involves problematic deception or manipulation. Thinking about how we engage with irrational emotions offers a way of responding to these concerns. Reflection on engagement with fringe beliefs has wider implications for two distinct philosophical discussions. First, it can help illuminate the nature of beliefs, lending support to the view that not all states which are deeply resistant to evidence thereby fail to be beliefs. Second, an implication of the view I put forth is that it need not constitute a lack of respect to adopt what Peter Strawson called “the objective stance” in relationships.
This paper will critically engage with Daniel Buckley's argument against “evidential minimalism” (EM), i.e., the claim that necessarily, bits of evidence (are or) provide epistemic reasons for belief. Buckley argues that in some cases, a subject has strong evidence that p (and fulfills further minimal conditions), does not believe p, but nevertheless is not epistemically criticizable and has no epistemic reason to believe p. I will defend EM by pointing out that Buckley's argument trades on an ambiguity between a strong and a weak notion of criticizability.
Practitioners of science treat evidence as a separate and objective body of materials that is independent of, and possibly also prior to, all of theorizing. Philosophers of science, by contrast, are increasingly wary of the role of theory in testing and measurement contexts, and hence have problematized the notion of evidence as prior or independent, even in the context of measurement. This paper argues that there is an important sense in which empirical certification of a quantity, via measurement, is indeed prior to theorizing, albeit not necessarily in order of time. The case for this priority distinguishes between the certification of the measurability of a given quantity, as a quantity appropriately measured on a specified scale, and the epistemic warrant due to an assignment of a specific magnitude to that quantity on a given occasion. The result is an account of the certification of a measurable quantity, independent of any theory in which that quantity features. The effect is to render certification of quantities theory-neutral. The aim of the essay is thus to bolster and re-establish a more nuanced empiricist view, via building a case for quantity certification as the epistemic basis (i.e., foundation) of the scientific enterprise.
This paper defends three theses on the normativity of the suspension of judgment. First, even if beliefs have to fit the truth and disbelief the false, suspension can still have satisfiable fittingness conditions. Second, combining this view with specific theses on the link between fittingness and normative reasons in favour of attitudes commits one to the existence of reasons to suspend judgement, which are neither reasons to believe nor reasons to disbelieve. These independent reasons, in turn, generate a form of epistemic permissivism. Finally, I argue that there are different routes to derive this commitment to independent reasons for suspending judgement. Not only fittingness-centred approaches to epistemic normativity but also many analyses in terms of reasons are committed to this form of epistemic permissivism.