WORKSHOP PAPERS

Michael Bergmann: Externalist Justification and the Role of Appearances

It's not implausible to think that whenever I have a justified noninferential belief that p, it is caused by a seeming that p. It's also tempting to think that something contributes to the justification of my belief only if I hold my belief because of that thing. Thus, given that many of our noninferential beliefs are justified and that we hold them because of seemings (or appearances, as I'll sometimes call them), one might be inclined to hold a view like Phenomenal Conservatism, according to which appearances play a crucial role--perhaps the only crucial role--in the justification of our noninferential beliefs. But Phenomenal Conservatism seems to conflict, in a number of ways, with externalist accounts of justification. As a result, the attractiveness of the intuitions appealed to in support of views like Phenomenal Conservatism present something of a challenge to externalism. The purpose of this paper is to deal with that challenge by developing and defending an externalist-friendly account of the role of appearances in the formation and justification of our noninferential beliefs--an account that incorporates what is attractive in views like Phenomenal Conservatism. Because this externalist-friendly account is compatible with both externalist accounts of justification and the most plausible of the intuitions appealed to in support of views like Phenomenal Conservatism, the challenge to externalism inspired by such views is thereby undermined.

Brit Brogaard: Disjunctivism and Primitive Knowledge

Abstract: I reconstruct John McDowell's master argument for classical disjunctivism in such a way as to safeguard against standard objections. Inspired by Timothy Williamson's anti-luminosity argument I then offer a new objection to classical disjunctivism. Finally I offer arguments in favor of a new kind of disjunctivism, which I will call 'primitive knowledge disjunctivism' and show that primitive knowledge disjunctivism avoids the charges pressed against classical disjunctivism.

Tyler Burge: Self-Understanding

A certain sort of self-understanding is constitutively necessary for the applicability of norms of morality and norms of critical reason. The talk explores the epistemic status of this sort of self-understanding. It develops a conception of a self-understanding that is warranted by an entitlement that is de re and sometimes but not always apriori. The talk concludes with some comparisons of the relevant self-understanding to epistemic capacities that are highlighted by Descartes and Kant.

Juan Comesaña: Epistemic Pragmatism: An Argument Against Moderation

An intriguing idea has gained a fair amount of support in the recent epistemological literature: the idea that whether propositions instantiate certain key epistemic properties (such as being known or being justifiably believed) depends not just on factors traditionally recognized as epistemic, but also on "pragmatic" factors, such as how costly it would be to the subject if the proposition were false. Positions of this sort advocate what I will call "epistemic pragmatism." Two varieties of epistemic pragmatism will occupy me in what follows. According to what I shall call moderate epistemic pragmatism, how much justification we need in favor of a proposition in order to know that the proposition is true depends on our preferences. According to what I shall call extreme epistemic pragmatism, on the other hand, our preferences influence our epistemic position at a more basic level, because they help determine how much justification we actually have in favor of the proposition in question. Simplifying brutally, moderate epistemic pragmatism has it that the more worried we are about a proposition's being false, the more justification we need in order to know it, whereas extreme epistemic pragmatism has it that the more worried we are about a proposition's being false, the less justification we have for it.

Moderate epistemic pragmatism can be motivated by plausible arguments, but extreme epistemic pragmatism has some very implausible consequences. It would be good, therefore, if one could be a merely moderate epistemic pragmatist--that is, it would be good if one could hold on to moderate epistemic pragmatism while denying extreme epistemic pragmatism. In this paper I argue, however, that that intermediate position is unstable: given a plausible epistemic principle, moderate epistemic pragmatism entails extreme epistemic pragmatism. Therefore, either even moderate epistemic pragmatism is false, or else extreme epistemic pragmatism is true.

Andy Egan: Epistemic Modals Revisited

Epistemic modals are weird. They display a lot of unusual behavior--behavior that's hard to explain by using the usual tools from the semanticist's toolkit in the usual ways. We need to say something fancy here--we either need to introduce some new tools, or use our existing tools in a non-standard way. I've argued elsewhere that the right response is to accept a certain sort of relativism about epistemic modals. My aim here is to make clearer just what that sort of relativism amounts to, to situate my semantic proposal in a broader account of how these sorts of semantic proposals fit into an overall theory of communication, and to show how my preferred relativist proposal handles the recalcitrant data.

Adam Leite: Immediate Warrant, Epistemic Responsibility, and Moorean Dogmatism

Moorean Dogmatists endorse a response to skeptical hypotheses (such as the evil demon hypothesis) that many people find dissatisfying. This paper seeks to locate this dissatisfaction in considerations about epistemic responsibility. I sketch a theory of immediate warrant and show how it can be combined with plausible "inferential internalist" demands arising from considerations of epistemic responsibility. The resulting view endorses immediate perceptual warrant but forbids the sort of reasoning that Moorean Dogmatism would allow. A surprising result is that Dogmatism's commitment to immediate epistemic warrant isn't enough to avoid standard arguments for skepticism about the external world.

Peter Markie: Rational Intuition and Understanding

When we intuit that, P, it seems to us as if it is true that P and we feel an inclination to believe that P, with no reliance on inference, perception, introspection, memory or testimony. In some cases, our intuition involves our understanding the proposition, P, in such a way that we just intellectually "grasp" its truth. This is rational intuition. It is a source of prima facie justified belief and, in the right circumstances, of justified belief and knowledge. How does rational intuition support these normative epistemic states? Various views have been proposed, and I'm particularly interested in Phenomenal Conservatism, Proper Functionalism and the Epistemic Competency Theory. I'll argue that all three fail to explain the epistemic superiority of rational intuition to an alternative form of intuition. I'll briefly consider some strategies for addressing the problem behind the objection.

Jonathan Weinberg: Regress-Stopping for Neopragmatists

Where should chains of justification be allowed legitimately to terminate (if at all)? Instead of approaching that question through the traditional mix of intuition and introspection, I will propose answering that question by addressing a slightly different one: what set of justificatory norms would best promote our epistemic goals, and in particular, what norms of regress-stopping would do so? The importance of norms of justification to the detection and correction of error suggests two main ways that a given move should be allowed legitimately to be terminal. One, if the move is one that has an extremely low risk of error in the first place, then there is little risk to our epistemic goals by allowing a chain of justification to stop on it. Two, if the move is one for which we already possess ample resources for quickly detecting and correcting its errors, then we will be able successfully to manage any risks that we may incur by stopping there.