34 found
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  1. The genealogical method in epistemology.Martin Kusch & Robin McKenna - 2020 - Synthese 197 (3):1057-1076.
    In 1990 Edward Craig published a book called Knowledge and the State of Nature in which he introduced and defended a genealogical approach to epistemology. In recent years Craig’s book has attracted a lot of attention, and his distinctive approach has been put to a wide range of uses including anti-realist metaepistemology, contextualism, relativism, anti-luck virtue epistemology, epistemic injustice, value of knowledge, pragmatism and virtue epistemology. While the number of objections to Craig’s approach has accumulated, there has been no sustained (...)
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  2. Skepticism Motivated: On the Skeptical Import of Motivated Reasoning.J. Adam Carter & Robin McKenna - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (6):702-718.
    Empirical work on motivated reasoning suggests that our judgments are influenced to a surprising extent by our wants, desires and preferences (Kahan 2016; Lord, Ross, and Lepper 1979; Molden and Higgins 2012; Taber and Lodge 2006). How should we evaluate the epistemic status of beliefs formed through motivated reasoning? For example, are such beliefs epistemically justified? Are they candidates for knowledge? In liberal democracies, these questions are increasingly controversial as well as politically timely (Beebe et al. 2018; Lynch forthcoming, 2018; (...)
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  3. Situating feminist epistemology.Natalie Alana Ashton & Robin McKenna - 2020 - Episteme 17 (1):28-47.
    Feminist epistemologies hold that differences in the social locations of inquirers make for epistemic differences, for instance, in the sorts of things that inquirers are justified in believing. In this paper we situate this core idea in feminist epistemologies with respect to debates about social constructivism. We address three questions. First, are feminist epistemologies committed to a form of social constructivism about knowledge? Second, to what extent are they incompatible with traditional epistemological thinking? Third, do the answers to these questions (...)
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  4. Persuasion and Epistemic Paternalism.Robin McKenna - 2020 - In Guy Axtell & Amiel Bernal (eds.), Epistemic Paternalism: Conceptions, Justifications and Implications. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 91-106.
    Many of us hold false beliefs about matters that are relevant to public policy such as climate change and the safety of vaccines. What can be done to rectify this situation? This question can be read in two ways. According to the descriptive reading, it concerns which methods will be effective in persuading people that their beliefs are false. According to the normative reading, it concerns which methods we are permitted to use in the service of persuading people. Some effective (...)
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  5. Revisionary Epistemology.Davide Fassio & Robin McKenna - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):755-779.
    What is knowledge? What should knowledge be like? Call an epistemological project that sets out to answer the first question ‘descriptive’ and a project that sets out to answer the second question ‘normative’. If the answers to these two questions don’t coincide—if what knowledge should be like differs from what knowledge is like—there is room for a third project we call ‘revisionary’. A revisionary project starts by arguing that what knowledge should be differs from what knowledge is. It then proposes (...)
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  6. Absolutism, Relativism and Metaepistemology.J. Adam Carter & Robin McKenna - 2019 - Erkenntnis 86 (5):1139-1159.
    This paper is about two topics: metaepistemological absolutism and the epistemic principles governing perceptual warrant. Our aim is to highlight—by taking the debate between dogmatists and conservativists about perceptual warrant as a case study—a surprising and hitherto unnoticed problem with metaepistemological absolutism, at least as it has been influentially defended by Paul Boghossian as the principal metaepistemological contrast point to relativism. What we find is that the metaepistemological commitments at play on both sides of this dogmatism/conservativism debate do not line (...)
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  7. Kornblith versus Sosa on grades of knowledge.J. Adam Carter & Robin McKenna - 2019 - Synthese 196 (12):4989-5007.
    In a series of works Sosa (in: Knowledge in perspective, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991; A virtue epistemology: apt belief and reflective knowledge, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007; Reflective knowledge: apt belief and reflective knowledge, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009; ‘How Competence Matters in Epistemology’, Philos Perspect 24(1):465–475, 2010; Knowing full well, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2011; Judgment and agency, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015; Epistemology, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2017) has defended the view that there are two kinds or (...)
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  8. Normative scorekeeping.Robin McKenna - 2014 - Synthese 191 (3):607-625.
    Epistemic contextualists think that the truth-conditions of ‘knowledge’ ascriptions depend in part on the context in which they are uttered. But what features of context play a role in determining truth-conditions? The idea that the making salient of error possibilities is a central part of the story has often been attributed to contextualists, and a number of contextualists seem to endorse it (see Cohen (Philos Perspect, 13:57–89, 1999) and Hawthorne, (Knowledge and lotteries, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004)). In this paper (...)
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  9. ‘Knowledge’ ascriptions, social roles and semantics.Robin McKenna - 2013 - Episteme 10 (4):335-350.
    The idea that the concept ‘knowledge’ has a distinctive function or social role is increasingly influential within contemporary epistemology. Perhaps the best-known account of the function of ‘knowledge’ is that developed in Edward Craig’s Knowledge and the state of nature (1990, OUP), on which (roughly) ‘knowledge’ has the function of identifying good informants. Craig’s account of the function of ‘knowledge’ has been appealed to in support of a variety of views, and in this paper I’m concerned with the claim that (...)
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  10. Irrelevant Cultural Influences on Belief.Robin McKenna - 2018 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 36 (5):755-768.
    Recent work in psychology on ‘cultural cognition’ suggests that our cultural background drives our attitudes towards a range of politically contentious issues in science such as global warming. This work is part of a more general attempt to investigate the ways in which our wants, wishes and desires impact on our assessments of information, events and theories. Put crudely, the idea is that we conform our assessments of the evidence for and against scientific theories with clear political relevance to our (...)
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  11. No Epistemic Trouble for Engineering ‘Woman’.Robin McKenna - 2018 - Logos and Episteme 9 (3):335-342.
    In a recent article in this journal, Mona Simion argues that Sally Haslanger’s “engineering” approach to gender concepts such as ‘woman’ faces an epistemic objection. The primary function of all concepts—gender concepts included—is to represent the world, but Haslanger’s engineering account of ‘woman’ fails to adequately represent the world because, by her own admission, it doesn’t include all women in the extension of the concept ‘woman.’ I argue that this objection fails because the primary function of gender concepts—and social kind (...)
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  12. Shifting Targets and Disagreements.Robin McKenna - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):725-742.
    Many have rejected contextualism about ?knows? because the view runs into trouble with intra- and inter-contextual disagreement reports. My aim in this paper is to show that this is a mistake. First, I outline four desiderata for a contextualist solution to the problem. Second, I argue that two extant solutions to the problem fail to satisfy the desiderata. Third, I develop an alternative solution which satisfies the four desiderata. The basic idea, put roughly, is that ?knowledge? ascriptions serve the function (...)
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  13. Epistemic contextualism defended.Robin McKenna - 2015 - Synthese 192 (2):363-383.
    Epistemic contextualists think that the extension of the expression ‘knows’ depends on and varies with the context of utterance. In the last 15 years or so this view has faced intense criticism. This paper focuses on two sorts of objections. The first are what I call the ‘linguistic objections’, which purport to show that the best available linguistic evidence suggests that ‘knows’ is not context-sensitive. The second is what I call the ‘disagreement problem’, which concerns the behaviour of ‘knows’ in (...)
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  14. Epistemic Contextualism: A Normative Approach.Robin Mckenna - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (1):101-123.
    In his Knowledge and Practical Interests Jason Stanley argues that the view he defends, which he calls interest-relative invariantism, is better supported by certain cases than epistemic contextualism. In this article I argue that a version of epistemic contextualism that emphasizes the role played by the ascriber's practical interests in determining the truth-conditions of her ‘knowledge’ ascriptions – a view that I call interests contextualism – is better supported by Stanley's cases than interest-relative invariantism or other versions of epistemic contextualism. (...)
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  15. Assertion, Complexity, and Sincerity.Robin McKenna - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (4):782-798.
    The target of this paper is the ‘simple’ knowledge account of assertion, according to which assertion is constituted by a single epistemic rule of the form ‘One must: assert p only if one knows p’. My aim is to argue that those who are attracted to a knowledge account of assertion should prefer what I call the ‘complex’ knowledge account, according to which assertion is constituted by a system of rules all of which are, taken together, constitutive of assertion. One (...)
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  16. Asymmetrical Rationality: Are Only Other People Stupid?Robin McKenna - 2021 - In Michael Hannon & Jeroen de Ridder (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. New York: Routledge. pp. 285-295.
    It is commonly observed that we live in an increasingly polarised world. Strikingly, we are polarised not only about political issues, but also about scientific issues that have political implications, such as climate change. This raises two questions. First, why are we so polarised over these issues? Second, does this mean our views about these issues are all equally ir/rational? In this chapter I explore both questions. Specifically, I draw on the literature on ideologically motivated reasoning to develop an answer (...)
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  17. A (Partial) Defence of Moderate Skeptical Invariantism.Robin McKenna - 2021 - In Christos Kyriacou & Kevin Wallbridge (eds.), Skeptical Invariantism Reconsidered. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 154-171.
    Skeptical invariantism isn’t a popular view about the semantics of knowledge attributions. But what, exactly, is wrong with it? The basic problem is that it seems to run foul of the fact that we know quite a lot of things. I agree that it is a key desideratum for an account of knowledge that it accommodate the fact that we know a lot of things. But what sorts of things should a plausible theory of knowledge say that we know? In (...)
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  18. Pluralism about Knowledge.Robin McKenna - 2017 - In Coliva Annalisa & Pedersen Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding (eds.), Epistemic Pluralism. Londra, Regno Unito: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 171-198.
    In this paper I consider the prospects for pluralism about knowledge, that is, the view that there is a plurality of knowledge relations. After a brief overview of some views that entail a sort of pluralism about knowledge, I focus on a particular kind of knowledge pluralism I call standards pluralism. Put roughly, standards pluralism is the view that one never knows anything simpliciter. Rather, one knows by this-or-that epistemic standard. Because there is a plurality of epistemic standards, there is (...)
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  19. Pragmatic Encroachment and Feminist Epistemology.Robin McKenna - 2020 - In Natalie Alana Ashton, Robin McKenna, Katharina Anna Sodoma & Martin Kusch (eds.), Social Epistemology and Epistemic Relativism. Routledge.
    Pragmatic encroachers argue that whether you know that p depends on a combination of pragmatic and epistemic factors. Most defenses of pragmatic encroachment focus on a particular pragmatic factor: how much is at stake for an individual. This raises a question: are there reasons for thinking that knowledge depends on other pragmatic factors that parallel the reasons for thinking that knowledge depends on the stakes? In this paper I argue that there are parallel reasons for thinking that knowledge depends on (...)
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  20. Parochialism in Political Epistemology.Robin Mckenna - manuscript
    “Political epistemology” has recently emerged as an area of analytic epistemology. While it may not be an entirely new area, and its precise boundaries are up for negotiation, recent political events in the UK (e.g. Brexit) and the US (e.g. the election of Donald Trump) played a key role in its rise to prominence within contemporary analytic epistemology. Further, political epistemology is an inter-disciplinary field, drawing on relevant work in political science, political psychology, and science communication that is often equally (...)
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  21. The Genealogy of Relativism and Absolutism.Martin Kusch & Robin McKenna - 2018 - In Christos Kyriacou & Robin McKenna (eds.), Metaepistemology: Realism & Antirealism. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 217-239.
    This paper applies Edward Craig’s and Bernard Williams’ ‘genealogical’ method to the debate between relativism and its opponents in epistemology and in the philosophy of language. We explain how the central function of knowledge attributions -- to ‘flag good informants’ -- explains the intuitions behind five different positions (two forms of relativism, absolutism, contextualism, and invariantism). We also investigate the question whether genealogy is neutral in the controversy over relativism. We conclude that it is not: genealogy is most naturally taken (...)
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  22. Interests Contextualism.Robin McKenna - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (4):741-750.
    In this paper I develop a version of contextualism that I call interests contextualism. Interests contextualism is the view that the truth-conditions of knowledge ascribing and denying sentences are partly determined by the ascriber’s interests and purposes. It therefore stands in opposition to the usual view on which the truth-conditions are partly determined by the ascriber’s conversational context. I give an argument against one particular implementation of the usual view, differentiate interests contextualism from other prominent versions of contextualism and argue (...)
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  23. Conversational Kinematics.Robin McKenna - 2017 - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism. New York: Routledge. pp. 321-331.
    Contextualism is the view that knowledge ascriptions – utterances of sentences containing the word “knows” - express different propositions in different contexts of utterance. But what features of context determine the propositions expressed by knowledge ascriptions? According to a version of contextualism I call conversational contextualism, the conversational dynamics or kinematics determine the propositions expressed by knowledge ascriptions. In this paper I argue that the most sophisticated version of conversational contextualism, which is the view defended by Michael Blome-Tillmann (2009; 2014), (...)
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  24. Disagreeing about 'Ought'.Robin McKenna - 2014 - Ethics 124 (3):589-597.
    In their ‘Metaethical contextualism defended’ (Ethics, 2010) Gunnar Björnsson & Stephen Finlay argue that metaethical contextualism - roughly, the view that 'ought' claims are semantically incomplete and require supplementation by certain parameters provided by the context in which they are uttered - can deal with two influential problems. The first concerns the connection between deliberation and advice (the 'practical integration problem'). The second concerns the way in which the expression ‘ought’ behaves in intra- and inter-contextual disagreement reports (the 'semantic assessment (...)
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  25. Contextualism in Epistemology.Robin McKenna - 2015 - Analysis 75 (3):489-503.
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  26. Why assertion and practical reasoning are possibly not governed by the same epistemic norm.Robin McKenna - 2013 - Logos and Episteme 4 (4):457-464.
    This paper focuses on Martin Montminy’s recent attempt to show that assertion and practical reasoning are necessarily governed by the same epistemic norm (“Why assertion and practical reasoning must be governed by the same epistemic norm”, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly [2013]). I show that the attempt fails. I finish by considering the upshot for the recent debate concerning the connection between the epistemic norms of assertion and practical reasoning.
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  27. Clifford and the Common Epistemic Norm.Robin McKenna - 2016 - American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (3):245-258.
    This paper develops a “Cliffordian” argument for a common epistemic norm governing belief, action, and assertion. The idea is that beliefs are the sorts of things that lead to actions and assertions. What each of us believes influences what we act on and assert, and in turn influences what those around us believe, act on, and assert. Belief, action, and assertion should be held to a common epistemic norm because, otherwise, this system will become contaminated. The paper finishes by drawing (...)
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  28. Relativism and externalism.J. Adam Carter & Robin McKenna - 2019 - In Martin Kusch (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Relativism. Routledge. pp. 301-309.
    Internalists in epistemology think that whether one possesses epistemic statuses such as knowledge or justification depends on factors that are internal to one; externalists think that whether one possesses these statuses can depend on factors that are external to one. In this chapter we focus on the relationship between externalism and epistemic relativism. Externalism isn’t straightforwardly incompatible with epistemic relativism but, as we’ll see, it is very common to hold that key externalist insights block or undermine some standard arguments for (...)
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  29. Persuasion and Intellectual Autonomy.Robin McKenna - 2021 - In Jonathan Matheson & Kirk Lougheed (eds.), Epistemic Autonomy. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 113-131.
    In her paper “Democracy, Public Policy, and Lay Assessments of Scientific Testimony” Elizabeth Anderson (2011) identifies a tension between the requirements of responsible public policy making and democratic legitimacy. The tension, put briefly, is that responsible public policy making should be based on the best available scientific research, but for it to be democratically legitimate there must also be broad public acceptance of whatever policies are put in place. In this chapter I discuss this tension, with a strong focus on (...)
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  30. Reliabilism and Relativism.Robin McKenna - 2015 - In McKenna Robin (ed.), Proceedings of the 38th International Wittgenstein Society Conference.
    Process reliabilism says that a belief is justified iff the belief-forming process that produced it is sufficiently reliable. But any token belief-forming process is an instance of a number of different belief-forming process types. The problem of specifying the relevant type is known as the ‘generality problem’ for process reliabilism. This paper proposes a broadly relativist solution to the generality problem. The thought is that the relevant belief-forming process type is relative to the context. While the basic idea behind the (...)
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  31. Epistemic Contextualism, Epistemic Relativism and Disagreement.Robin McKenna - 2012 - Philosophical Writings.
    In the recent philosophy of language literature there is a debate over whether contextualist accounts of the semantics of various terms can accommodate intuitions of disagreement in certain cases involving those terms. Relativists such as John MacFarlane have claimed that this motivates adopting a form of relativist semantics for these terms because the relativist can account for the same data as contextualists but doesn’t face this problem of disagreement (MacFarlane 2005, 2007 and 2009). In this paper I focus on the (...)
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  32.  40
    Pluralism about Knowledge.Robin McKenna - 2017 - In Coliva Annalisa & Pedersen Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding (eds.), Epistemic Pluralism. Londra, Regno Unito: Palgrave Macmillan.
    In this paper I consider the prospects for pluralism about knowledge, that is, the view that there is a plurality of knowledge relations. After a brief overview of some views that entail a sort of pluralism about knowledge, I focus on a particular kind of knowledge pluralism I call standards pluralism. Put roughly, standards pluralism is the view that one never knows anything simpliciter. Rather, one knows by this-or-that epistemic standard. Because there is a plurality of epistemic standards, there is (...)
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  33. What is Good Thinking? Comments on Mona Simion's Shifty Speech and Independent Thought. [REVIEW]Robin McKenna - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Mona Simion’s Shifty Speech and Independent Thought argues for epistemic independence—the independence of good thinking from practical considerations. Along the way she argues against “shifty” views of knowledge and knowledge ascriptions, as well as against those who have tried to preserve the independence of knowledge from practical considerations by accepting shifty views of the epistemic normativity of assertion. In my discussion I start by highlighting some of Simion’s main claims and reconstructing her main lines of argument. I then raise some (...)
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  34. The Disappearance of Ignorance. [REVIEW]Robin McKenna - 2020 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 10 (1):4-20.
    Keith DeRose’s new book The Appearance of Ignorance is a welcome companion volume to his 2009 book The Case for Contextualism. Where latter focused on contextualism as a view in the philosophy of language, the former focuses on how contextualism contributes to our understanding of some perennial epistemological problems, with the skeptical problem being the main focus of six of the seven chapters. DeRose’s view is that a solution to the skeptical problem must do two things. First, it must explain (...)
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