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Philosophy Without Belief

Mind 128 (509):109-138 (2019)

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  1. Oppy on arguments and worldviews: an internal critique.Bálint Békefi - 2024 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 95 (1):61-76.
    This paper develops an internal critique of Graham Oppy’s metaphilosophy of religion – his theories of argumentation, worldview comparison, and epistemic justification. First, it presents Oppy’s views and his main reasons in their favor. Second, it argues that Oppy is committed to two claims – that only truth-conducive reasons can justify philosophical belief and that such justification depends entirely on one’s judgments about the theoretical virtues of comprehensive worldviews – that jointly entail the unacceptable conclusion that philosophical beliefs cannot be (...)
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  • Epistemic practices: A unified account of epistemic and zetetic normativity.Will Fleisher - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper presents the epistemic practices account, a theory about the nature of epistemic normativity. The account aims to explain how the pursuit of epistemic values such as truth and knowledge can give rise to epistemic norms. On this account, epistemic norms are the internal rules of epistemic social practices. The account explains four crucial features of epistemic normativity while dissolving some apparent tensions between them. The account also provides a unified theory of epistemic and zetetic normativity.
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  • Systematicity and Skepticism.Aaron Segal - 2024 - American Philosophical Quarterly 64 (1):1-18.
    The fact that philosophy is systematic—that philosophical issues are thoroughly interconnected—was a commonplace among nineteenth century idealists, then neglected by analytic philosophers throughout much of the twentieth century, and has now finally started to get some renewed attention. But other than calling attention to the fact, few philosophers have tried to say what it consists in, or what its implications are. -/- I argue that the systematicity of philosophy has disastrous epistemological implications. In particular, it implies philosophical skepticism: philosophers are (...)
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  • The Weirdness of the World.Eric Schwitzgebel - 2024 - Princeton University Press.
    How all philosophical explanations of human consciousness and the fundamental structure of the cosmos are bizarre—and why that’s a good thing Do we live inside a simulated reality or a pocket universe embedded in a larger structure about which we know virtually nothing? Is consciousness a purely physical matter, or might it require something extra, something nonphysical? According to the philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel, it’s hard to say. In The Weirdness of the World, Schwitzgebel argues that the answers to these fundamental (...)
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  • Against Publishing Without Belief: Fake News, Misinformation, and Perverse Publishing Incentives.Rima Basu - forthcoming - In Sanford C. Goldberg & Mark Walker (eds.), Attitude in Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    The problem of fake news and the spread of misinformation has garnered a lot of attention in recent years. The incentives and norms that give rise to the problem, however, are not unique to journalism. Insofar as academics and journalists are working towards the same goal, i.e., publication, they are both under pressures that pervert. This chapter has two aims. First, to integrate conversations in philosophy of science, epistemology, and metaphilosophy to draw out the publishing incentives that promote analogous problems (...)
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  • Norms of Speech Acts.Grzegorz Gaszczyk - 2022 - Studia Semiotyczne 36 (11):45-56.
    This paper offers a systematic classification and characterization of speech acts and their norms. Recently, the normative approach has been applied to various speech acts, most notably to constatives. I start by showing how the work on the norms of assertion has influenced various approaches to the norms of other speech acts. I focus on the fact that various norms of assertion have different extensions, i.e., they denote different clusters of illocutions as belonging to an assertion. I argue that this (...)
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  • Understanding with epistemic possibilities: The epistemic aim and value of metaphysics.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - forthcoming - Argumenta.
    According to a recent proposal, the epistemic aim of metaphysics as a discipline is to chart the different viable theories of metaphysical objects of inquiry (e.g. causation, persistence). This paper elaborates on and seeks to improve on that proposal in two related ways. First, drawing on an analogy with how-possibly explanation in science, I argue that we can usefully understand this aim of metaphysics as the charting of epistemically possible answers to metaphysical questions. Second, I argue that in order to (...)
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  • Fine-Tuning Should Make Us More Confident that Other Universes Exist.Bradford Saad - 2024 - American Philosophical Quarterly 61 (1):29-44.
    This paper defends the view that discovering that our universe is fine-tuned should make us more confident that other universes exist. My defense exploits a distinction between ideal and non-ideal evidential support. I use that distinction in concert with a simple model to disarm the most influential objection—the this-universe objection—to the view that fine-tuning supports the existence of other universes. However, the simple model fails to capture some important features of our epistemic situation with respect to fine-tuning. To capture these (...)
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  • Intellectual courage and inquisitive reasons.Will Fleisher - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (4):1343-1371.
    Intellectual courage requires acting to promote epistemic goods despite significant risk of harm. Courage is distinguished from recklessness and cowardice because the expected epistemic benefit of a courageous action outweighs (in some sense) the threatened harm. Sometimes, however, inquirers pursue theories that are not best supported by their current evidence. For these inquirers, the expected epistemic benefit of their actions cannot be explained by appeal to their evidence alone. The probability of pursuing the true theory cannot contribute enough to the (...)
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  • Why philosophy needs a concept of progress.James Norton - 2023 - Metaphilosophy 54 (1):3-16.
    This paper defends the usefulness of the concept of philosophical progress and the common assumption that philosophy and science aim to make the same, or a comparable, kind of progress. It does so by responding to Yafeng Shan's (2022) arguments that the wealth of research on scientific progress is not applicable or useful to philosophy, and that philosophy doesn't need a concept of progress at all. It is ultimately argued that while Shan's arguments are not successful, they reveal the way (...)
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  • Wise groups and humble persons: the best of both worlds?Mattias Skipper - 2023 - Asian Journal of Philosophy 2 (1):1-10.
    This paper is about a problem that can arise when we try to harness the “wisdom of the crowd” from groups comprised of individuals who exhibit a certain kind of epistemic humility in the way they respond to testimonial evidence. I begin by setting out the problem and then make some initial steps toward solving it. The solution I develop is tentative and may not apply in all circumstances, but it promises to alleviate what seems to me to be a (...)
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  • Compromising with the Uncompromising: Political Disagreement under Asymmetric Compliance.Alex Worsnip - 2023 - Journal of Political Philosophy 31 (3):337-357.
    It is fairly uncontroversial that when you encounter disagreement with some view of yours, you are often epistemically required to become at least somewhat less confident in that view. This includes political disagreements, where your level of confidence might in various ways affect your voting and other political behavior. But suppose that your opponents don’t comply with the epistemic norms governing disagreement – that is, they never reduce their confidence in their views in response to disagreement. If you always reduce (...)
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  • Would Disagreement Undermine Progress?Finnur Dellsén, Insa Lawler & James Norton - 2023 - Journal of Philosophy 120 (3):139-172.
    In recent years, several philosophers have argued that their discipline makes no progress (or not enough in comparison to the “hard sciences”). A key argument for this pessimistic position appeals to the purported fact that philosophers widely and systematically disagree on most major philosophical issues. In this paper, we take a step back from the debate about progress in philosophy specifically and consider the general question: How (if at all) would disagreement within a discipline undermine that discipline’s progress? We reject (...)
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  • What philosophical disagreement and philosophical skepticism hinge on.Annalisa Coliva & Louis Doulas - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-14.
    Philosophers disagree. A lot. Pervasive disagreement is part of the territory; consensus is hard to find. Some think this should lead us to embrace philosophical skepticism: skepticism about the extent to which we can know, or justifiably believe, the philosophical views we defend and advance. Most philosophers in the literature fall into one camp or the other: philosophical skepticism or philosophical anti-skepticism. Drawing on the insights of hinge epistemology, this paper proposes another way forward, an intermediate position that appeals both (...)
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  • Viewpoint Convergence as a Philosophical Defect.Grace Helton - forthcoming - In Sanford C. Goldberg & Mark Walker (eds.), Attitude in Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    What can we know? How should we live? What is there? Philosophers famously diverge in the answers they give to these and other philosophical questions. It is widely presumed that a lack of convergence on these questions suggests that philosophy is not progressing at all, is not progressing fast enough, or is not progressing as fast as other disciplines, such as the natural sciences. Call the view that ideal philosophical progress is marked by at least some degree of convergence on (...)
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  • Dependent philosophical majorities and the skeptical argument from disagreement.Rasmus Jaksland - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-24.
    According to the skeptical argument from disagreement, we are mandated to suspend judgement about a question if we discover that others disagree with us. Critics, however, have proposed that this skeptical argument fails if there are not equally many people on either side of the debate: numbers matter. The present paper explicates this as the argument that a group can be more likely to arrive at the correct view by majority rule than the members are on their own. Defenders of (...)
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  • Problems with Publishing Philosophical Claims We Don't Believe.Işık Sarıhan - 2023 - Episteme 20 (2):449-458.
    Plakias has recently argued that there is nothing wrong with publishing defences of philosophical claims which we don't believe and also nothing wrong with concealing our lack of belief, because an author's lack of belief is irrelevant to the merit of a published work. Fleisher has refined this account by limiting the permissibility of publishing without belief to what he calls ‘advocacy role cases’. I argue that such lack of belief is irrelevant only if it is the result of an (...)
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  • Inquiring Minds Want to Improve.Arianna Falbo - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (2).
    Much of the recent work on epistemology of inquiry defends two related theses. First, inquiry into a question rationally prohibits believing an answer to that question. Second, knowledge is the aim of inquiry. I develop a series of cases which indicate that inquiry is not as narrow as these views suggest. These cases can be accommodated if we take a broader approach and understand inquiry as aiming at epistemic improvement, described more generally. This approach captures a wider range of inquiring (...)
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  • How Low Can You Go? A Defense of Believing Philosophical Theories.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - In Mark Walker & Sanford Goldberg (eds.), Philosophy with Attitude. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    What attitude should philosophers take toward their favorite philosophical theories? I argue that the answer is belief and middling to low credence. I begin by discussing why disagreement has motivated the view that we cannot rationally believe our philosophical theories. Then, I show why considerations from disagreement actually better support my view. I provide two additional arguments for my view: the first concerns roles for belief and credence and the second explains why believing one’s philosophical theories is superior to accepting (...)
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  • Non-uniformism and the Epistemology of Philosophically Interesting Modal Claims.Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - 2021 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 98 (4):629-656.
    Philosophers often make exotic-sounding modal claims, such as: “A timeless world is impossible”, “The laws of physics could have been different from what they are”, “There could have been an additional phenomenal colour”. Otherwise popular empiricist modal epistemologies in the contemporary literature cannot account for whatever epistemic justification we might have for making such modal claims. Those who do not, as a result of this, endorse scepticism with respect to their epistemic status typically suggest that they can be justified but (...)
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  • The Explanatory Demands of Grounding in Law.Samuele Chilovi & George Pavlakos - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (4):900-933.
    A new strategy in philosophy of law appeals to explanatory gap arguments to attack legal positivism. We argue that the strategy faces a dilemma, which derives from there being two available readings of the constraint it places on legal grounding. To this end, we elaborate the most promising ways of spelling out the epistemic constraints governing law-determination, and show that each of the arguments based on them has problems. Throughout the paper, we evaluate a number of explanatory requirements, ultimately with (...)
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  • Transitional attitudes and the unmooring view of higher‐order evidence.Julia Staffel - 2021 - Noûs 57 (1):238-260.
    This paper proposes a novel answer to the question of what attitude agents should adopt when they receive misleading higher-order evidence that avoids the drawbacks of existing views. The answer builds on the independently motivated observation that there is a difference between attitudes that agents form as conclusions of their reasoning, called terminal attitudes, and attitudes that are formed in a transitional manner in the process of reasoning, called transitional attitudes. Terminal and transitional attitudes differ both in their descriptive and (...)
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  • Thinking about Progress: From Science to Philosophy.Finnur Dellsén, Insa Lawler & James Norton - 2022 - Noûs 56 (4):814-840.
    Is there progress in philosophy? If so, how much? Philosophers have recently argued for a wide range of answers to these questions, from the view that there is no progress whatsoever to the view that philosophy has provided answers to all the big philosophical questions. However, these views are difficult to compare and evaluate, because they rest on very different assumptions about the conditions under which philosophy would make progress. This paper looks to the comparatively mature debate about scientific progress (...)
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  • Scientific Conclusions Need Not Be Accurate, Justified, or Believed by their Authors.Haixin Dang & Liam Kofi Bright - 2021 - Synthese 199:8187–8203.
    We argue that the main results of scientific papers may appropriately be published even if they are false, unjustified, and not believed to be true or justified by their author. To defend this claim we draw upon the literature studying the norms of assertion, and consider how they would apply if one attempted to hold claims made in scientific papers to their strictures, as assertions and discovery claims in scientific papers seem naturally analogous. We first use a case study of (...)
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  • Moral disagreement scepticism leveled.Jonathan Dixon - 2021 - Ratio 34 (3):203-216.
    While many have argued that moral disagreement poses a challenge to moral knowledge, the precise nature of this challenge is controversial. Indeed, in the moral epistemology literature, there are many different versions of ‘the’ argument from moral disagreement to moral scepticism. This paper contributes to this vast literature on moral disagreement by arguing for two theses: 1. All (or nearly all) moral disagreement arguments share an underlying structure; and, 2. All moral disagreement arguments that satisfy this underlying structure cannot establish (...)
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  • A Faithful Response to Disagreement.Lara Buchak - 2021 - The Philosophical Review 130 (2):191-226.
    In the peer disagreement debate, three intuitively attractive claims seem to conflict: there is disagreement among peers on many important matters; peer disagreement is a serious challenge to one’s own opinion; and yet one should be able to maintain one’s opinion on important matters. I show that contrary to initial appearances, we can accept all three of these claims. Disagreement significantly shifts the balance of the evidence; but with respect to certain kinds of claims, one should nonetheless retain one’s beliefs. (...)
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  • Publishing without (some) belief.Will Fleisher - 2020 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (4):237-246.
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • How to endorse conciliationism.Will Fleisher - 2021 - Synthese 198 (10):9913-9939.
    I argue that recognizing a distinct doxastic attitude called endorsement, along with the epistemic norms governing it, solves the self-undermining problem for conciliationism about disagreement. I provide a novel account of how the self-undermining problem works by pointing out the auxiliary assumptions the objection relies on. These assumptions include commitment to certain epistemic principles linking belief in a theory to following prescriptions of that theory. I then argue that we have independent reason to recognize the attitude of endorsement. Endorsement is (...)
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  • When Conciliation Frustrates the Epistemic Priorities of Groups.Mattias Skipper & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2020 - In Fernando Broncano-Berrocal & Adam Carter (eds.), The Epistemology of Group Disagreement. Routledge.
    Our aim in this chapter is to draw attention to what we see as a disturbing feature of conciliationist views of disagreement. Roughly put, the trouble is that conciliatory responses to in-group disagreement can lead to the frustration of a group's epistemic priorities: that is, the group's favoured trade-off between the "Jamesian goals" of truth-seeking and error-avoidance. We show how this problem can arise within a simple belief aggregation framework, and draw some general lessons about when the problem is most (...)
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  • The Epistemic Benefits of Disagreement.Kirk Lougheed - 2019 - Springer Verlag.
    This book presents an original discussion and analysis of epistemic peer disagreement. It reviews a wide range of cases from the literature, and extends the definition of epistemic peerhood with respect to the current one, to account for the actual variability found in real-world examples. The book offers a number of arguments supporting the variability in the nature and in the range of disagreements, and outlines the main benefits of disagreement among peers i.e. what the author calls the benefits to (...)
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  • Modesty and Humility.Nicolas Bommarito - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This article discusses conceptions of modesty and humility and their key features. It gives a brief historical overview of debates about whether or not they’re really virtues at all. It also discusses theories of modesty and humility that root them in the presence or absence of particular beliefs, emotions, desires, and attention. it also discusses related phenomena in epistemology: rational limits on self-ascription of error, attitudes to disagreement, and openness to alternative views.
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  • Endorsement and assertion.Will Fleisher - 2019 - Noûs 55 (2):363-384.
    Scientists, philosophers, and other researchers commonly assert their theories. This is surprising, as there are good reasons for skepticism about theories in cutting-edge research. I propose a new account of assertion in research contexts that vindicates these assertions. This account appeals to a distinct propositional attitude called endorsement, which is the rational attitude of committed advocacy researchers have to their theories. The account also appeals to a theory of conversational pragmatics known as the Question Under Discussion model, or QUD. Hence, (...)
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  • Publishing without belief.Alexandra Plakias - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):638-646.
    Is there anything wrong with publishing philosophical work which one does not believe (publishing without belief, henceforth referred to as ‘PWB’)? I argue that there is not: the practice isn’t intrinsically wrong, nor is there a compelling consequentialist argument against it. Therefore, the philosophical community should neither proscribe nor sanction it. The paper proceeds as follows. First, I’ll clarify and motivate the problem, using both hypothetical examples and a recent real-world case. Next, I’ll look at arguments that there is something (...)
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  • Inquiry and the doxastic attitudes.Michele Palmira - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):4947-4973.
    In this paper I take up the question of the nature of the doxastic attitudes we entertain while inquiring into some matter. Relying on a distinction between two stages of open inquiry, I urge to acknowledge the existence of a distinctive attitude of cognitive inclination towards a proposition qua answer to the question one is inquiring into. I call this attitude “hypothesis”. Hypothesis, I argue, is a sui generis doxastic attitude which differs, both functionally and normatively, from suspended judgement, full (...)
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  • The Presidential Address: Philosophical Scepticism and the Aims of Philosophy.Helen Beebee - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (1):1-24.
    I define ‘philosophical scepticism’ as the view that philosophers do not and cannot know many of the substantive philosophical claims that they make or implicitly assume. I argue for philosophical scepticism via the ‘methodology challenge’ and the ‘disagreement challenge’. I claim that the right response to philosophical scepticism is to abandon the view that philosophy aims at knowledge, and (borrowing from David Lewis) to replace it with a more modest aim: that of finding ‘equilibria’ that ‘can withstand examination’. Finally, I (...)
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  • Disagreement.Jonathan Matheson & Bryan Frances - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This article examines the central epistemological issues tied to the recognition of disagreement.
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  • Believing in Accordance with the Evidence: New Essays on Evidentialism.McCain Kevin (ed.) - 2018 - Cham: Springer Verlag.
    This volume explores evidentialism, a major theory of epistemic justification. It contains more than 20 papers that examine its nuances, its challenges, as well as its future directions. Written by leading and up-and-coming epistemologists, the papers cover a wide array of topics related to evidentialism. The contributors present both sides of the theory: some are advocates of evidentialism, while others are critics. This provides readers with a comprehensive, and cutting-edge, understanding of this epistemic theory. Overall, the book is organized into (...)
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  • The Belief Norm of Academic Publishing.Wesley Buckwalter - 2022 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9.
    The belief norm of academic publishing states that researchers should believe certain claims they publish. The purpose of this paper is to defend the belief norm of academic publishing. In its defense, the advantages and disadvantages of the belief norm are evaluated for academic research and for the publication system. It is concluded that while the norm does not come without costs, academic research systemically benefits from the belief norm and that it should be counted among those that sustain the (...)
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  • A Paradox About Our Epistemic Self-Conception: Are You an Über Epistemic Superior?Mark Walker - 2022 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 12 (4):285-316.
    I hope to show that each of 1, 2, and 3 are plausible, yet we can derive 4: 1. It is epistemically permissible to believe that our preferred views in multi-proposition disputes are true, or at least more likely true than not. 2. If it is epistemically permissible to believe that our preferred views in multi-proposition disputes are true, or at least more likely true than not, then it is epistemically permissible for us to believe that we are über epistemic (...)
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  • Disagreement in metametaphysical dispute.Rasmus Jaksland - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-21.
    Recent years have seen several studies of metaphysical disputes as disagreement phenomena employing the resources from the research on disagreement in social epistemology. This paper undertakes an analogous study of the metametaphysical disagreement over the substantiveness of metaphysical disputes between inflationists and deflationists. The paper first considers and questions the skeptical argument that the mere existence of the disagreement mandates the suspension of judgement about the substantiveness of metaphysical disputes. Rather, the paper argues that steadfastness in the face of this (...)
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  • Disagreement in philosophy.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-16.
    Recent philosophical discussions construe disagreement as epistemically unsettling. On learning that a peer disagrees, it is said, you should suspend judgment, lower your credence, or dismiss your peer’s conviction as somehow flawed, even if you can neither identify the flaw nor explain why you think she is the party in error. Philosophers do none of these things. A distinctive feature of philosophy as currently practiced is that, although we marshal the strongest arguments we can devise, we do not expect others (...)
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  • Kann ich rational und ein Außenseiter sein? Außenseitermeinungen in der Wissenschaft.Moritz Schulz - 2021 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 75 (1):71-93.
    The present paper addresses the question of whether outsiders in science can be rational. This question is addressed on three levels: the level of beliefs of outsiders, the level of decisions of out-siders, and the level of assertions of outsiders. It is argued that outsiders can indeed be rational but only within tightly constrained limits.
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  • Akratic (epistemic) modesty.David Christensen - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (7):2191-2214.
    Abstract: Theories of epistemic rationality that take disagreement (or other higher-order evidence) seriously tend to be “modest” in a certain sense: they say that there are circumstances in which it is rational to doubt their correctness. Modest views have been criticized on the grounds that they undermine themselves—they’re self-defeating. The standard Self-Defeat Objections depend on principles forbidding epistemically akratic beliefs; but there are good reasons to doubt these principles—even New Rational Reflection, which was designed to allow for certain special cases (...)
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  • Pro tem rationality.Julia Staffel - 2021 - Philosophical Perspectives 35 (1):383-403.
    Epistemologists routinely distinguish between two kinds of justification or rationality – the propositional and the doxastic kind – in order to characterize importantly different ways in which an attitude can be justified or rational for a person. I argue that these notions, as they are commonly understood, are well suited to capture rationality judgments about the attitudes that agents reach as conclusions of their reasoning. Yet, these notions are ill-suited to capture rationality judgments about attitudes that agents form while their (...)
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  • Science, assertion, and the common ground.Corey Dethier - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-19.
    I argue that the appropriateness of an assertion is sensitive to context—or, really, the “common ground”—in a way that hasn’t previously been emphasized by philosophers. This kind of context-sensitivity explains why some scientific conclusions seem to be appropriately asserted even though they are not known, believed, or justified on the available evidence. I then consider other recent attempts to account for this phenomenon and argue that if they are to be successful, they need to recognize the kind of context-sensitivity that (...)
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  • Elgin’s community-oriented steadfastness.Klaas J. Kraay - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):4985-5008.
    In recent years, epistemologists have devoted enormous attention to this question: what should happen when two epistemic peers disagree about the truth-value of some proposition? Some have argued that that in all such cases, both parties are rationally required to revise their position in some way. Others have maintained that, in at least some cases, neither party is rationally required to revise her position. In this paper, I examine a provocative and under-appreciated argument for the latter view due to Elgin (...)
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  • Three Pillars of Skepticism in Classical India: Nagarjuna, Jayarasi, and Sri Harsa.Ethan Mills - 2018 - Lexington Books.
    This book argues that the philosophical history of India contains a tradition of skepticism about philosophy represented most clearly by three figures: Nāgārjuna, Jayarāśi, and Śrī Harṣa. Furthermore, understanding this tradition ought to be an important part of our contemporary metaphilosophical reflections on the purposes and limits of philosophy.
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