EPISTEME 9.4 now available

This marks the first year we have published on a quarterly cycle and compared with most journals, we are up to date with no backlog: contents and abstracts

Yuri Cath

Many philosophers accept a view – what I will call the intuition picture – according to which intuitions are crucial evidence in philosophy. Recently, Williamson (2004, 2007: ch. 1) has argued that such views are best abandoned because they lead to a psychologistic conception of philosophical evidence that encourages scepticism about the armchair judgements relied upon in philosophy. In this paper I respond to this criticism by showing how the intuition picture can be formulated in such a way that: (i) it is consistent with a wide range of views about not only philosophical evidence but also the nature of evidence in general, including Williamson’s famous view that E = K; (ii) it can maintain the central claims about the nature and role of intuitions in philosophy made by proponents of the intuition picture; (iii) it does not collapse into Williamson’s own deflationary view of the nature and role of intuitions in philosophy; and (iv) it does not lead to scepticism.

Weng Hong Tang

This paper focuses on the view that rationality requires that our credences be regular. I go through different formulations of the requirement, and show that they face several problems. I then formulate a version of the requirement that solves most of, if not all, these problems. I conclude by showing that an argument thought to support the requirement as traditionally formulated actually does not; if anything, the argument, slightly modified, supports my version of the requirement.

Andrew Moon

The new evil demon problem is often considered to be a serious obstacle for externalist theories of epistemic justification. In this paper, I aim to show that the new evil demon problem (‘NEDP’) also afflicts the two most prominent forms of internalism: moderate internalism and historical internalism. Since virtually all internalists accept at least one of these two forms, it follows that virtually all internalists face the NEDP. My secondary thesis is that many epistemologists – including both internalists and externalists – face a dilemma. The only form of internalism that is immune to the NEDP, strong internalism, is a very radical and revisionary view – a large number of epistemologists would have to significantly revise their views about justification in order to accept it. Hence, either epistemologists must accept a theory that is susceptible to the NEDP or accept a very radical and revisionary view.

Aidan McGlynn

In light of the failure of attempts to analyse knowledge as a species of justified belief, a number of epistemologists have suggested that we should instead understand justification in terms of knowledge. This paper focuses on accounts of justification as a kind of ‘would-be’ knowledge. According to such accounts a belief is justified just in case any failure to know is due to uncooperative external circumstances. I argue against two recent accounts of this sort due to Alexander Bird and Martin Smith. A further aim is to defend a more traditional conception, according to which justification is a matter of sufficiently high evidential likelihood. In particular, I suggest that this conception of justification offers a plausible account of lottery cases: cases in which one believes a true proposition – for example that one’s lottery ticket will lose – on the basis of probabilistic evidence.

William D. Rowley

An objection to reductionism in the epistemology of testimony that is often repeated but rarely defended in detail is that there is not enough positive evidence to provide the non-testimonial, positive reasons reductionism requires. Thus, on pain of testimonial skepticism, reductionism must be rejected. Call this argument the ‘Not Enough Evidence Objection’ (or ‘NEEO’). I will defend reductionism about testimonial evidence against the NEEO by arguing that we typically have non-testimonial positive reasons in the form of evidence about our testifier’s evidence. With a higher-level evidence principle borrowed from recent work on the epistemology of disagreement, I argue that, granting some plausible assumptions about conversational norms, the NEEO is unsound.

Chris Tucker

Many epistemologists hold that the Zebra Deduction (the animals are zebras, so they aren’t cleverly disguised mules) fails to transmit knowledge to its conclusion, but there is little agreement concerning why it has this defect. A natural idea is, roughly, that it fails to transmit because it fails to improve the safety of its conclusion. In his ‘Transmission Failure Explained’, Martin Smith defends a transmission principle which is supposed to underwrite this natural idea. There are two problems with Smith’s account. First, Smith’s argument for his transmission principle relies on a dubious premise (§1). Second, even if his transmission principle is true, Smith shows neither that it prevents the Zebra Deduction from transmitting knowledge to its conclusion, nor that it secures the natural idea (§2). I suspect that the failures of Smith’s account will be instructive for anyone who wants to connect transmission failure with a failure to enhance the safety, reliability or probability of one’s conclusion.