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Philosophy Without Belief

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

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  1. 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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  • Would Disagreement Undermine Progress?Finnur Dellsén, Insa Lawler & James Norton - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    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 reconstruct (...)
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  • Inquiring Minds Want to Improve.Arianna Falbo - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    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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  • The Explanatory Demands of Grounding in Law.Samuele Chilovi & George Pavlakos - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    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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  • Akratic (epistemic) modesty.David Christensen - 2021 - 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Believing in Accordance with the Evidence: New Essays on Evidentialism.McCain Kevin (ed.) - 2018 - 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Viewpoint Convergence as a Philosophical Defect (Work in Progress, Committed to Volume Attitude in Philosophy, Eds. Goldberg & Walker).Grace Helton - manuscript
    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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  • Problems with Publishing Philosophical Claims We Don’T Believe.Işık Sarıhan - forthcoming - Episteme:1-10.
    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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  • 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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  • Thinking About Progress: From Science to Philosophy.Finnur Dellsén, Insa Lawler & James Norton - forthcoming - Noûs.
    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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  • Endorsement and Assertion.Will Fleisher - 2021 - 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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  • How Low Can You Go? A Defense of Believing Philosophical Theories.Elizabeth Jackson - manuscript
    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 98:629-656.
    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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  • Transitional Attitudes and the Unmooring View of Higher-Order Evidence.Julia Staffel - forthcoming - Noûs.
    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Publishing Without Belief.Alexandra Plakias - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):638-646.
    Is there anything wrong with publishing philosophical work which one does not believe? 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 wrong with PWB, and show that none is (...)
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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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  • Scientific Conclusions Need Not Be Accurate, Justified, or Believed by Their Authors.Haixin Dang & Liam Kofi Bright - 2021 - Synthese (3-4):1-17.
    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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  • When Conciliation Frustrates the Epistemic Priorities of Groups.Mattias Skipper & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen - 2021 - In Fernando Broncano-Berrocal & J. 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The Presidential Address: Philosophical Scepticism and the Aims of Philosophy.Helen Beebee - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (1):1-24.
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