February 19, 2008

Epistemology Beach Update

Epistemology at the Beach
Below is an update on what the workshop participants were going on about. Pics are here, and here.

Patrick Greenough argued that Stanley's certainty account of assertion doesn't work. Among the counterexamples were warranted assertions of future contingents, for which the relevant brand of certainty is virtually impossible to achieve.

I responded to some of Angelica Kratzer's recent work on 'must' and 'can'. Kratzer thinks about 'must' claims as 'must in view of claims'. (Will post on some of this soon.) The view I defended was this: 'In view of premise set A, it must be that p' is true iff 'p' is true at all the relevantly similar (possible or impossible) A-worlds. This gives us the right predictions for cases of inconsistent premise sets and awkward cases where p is not a contingent matter (e.g., "in view of what Dummett believes it must be that excluded middle is false").

Yuri Cath argued against the view that knowledge-how is a species of knowledge-that. The strategy was to construct cases of knowledge-how (e.g., knowledge how to juggle) for which the relevant corresponding beliefs (e.g., that w is a way to juggle) are Gettiered or corresponding justification for such beliefs is defeated.

Brent Madison discussed the question of whether causation is necessary for epistemic basing. He argued that contrary to what is presupposed in much of the literature on basing relations, Lehrer's case of the gypsy lawyer doesn't undermine the requirement.

Stephen Hetherington disagreed with the orthodox belief that all Gettier cases are cases of knowledge failure. The discussion was driven by a pretheoretic intuition about the kind of luck that generates Gettier's original cases.

Declan Smithies defended a JJ-principle---viz., one is justified in believing p only if one is justified in believing that one is justified in believing that p. He argued that it explains various Moorean paradoxes and the role of justification in critical reflection.

Dave Chalmers sought an epistemic constraint on truth that avoids the Church-Fitch paradox of knowability. Dave takes it that each basic truth is knowable by somebody. Let 'b' express the conjunction of all the basic truths. All non-basic truths are knowable in the sense that someone is in a position to know that p is materially implied by b.

Daniel Star defended his view that a fact X is a reason for an agent N to F just when X is evidence that N ought to F.

Berit discussed the knowledge argument (construed as an argument against a priori physicalism). She defended it against a number of objections, including the old fact reply and the missing concepts reply.

Wolfgang Schwartz took issue with the standard interpretation of Frank Arntzenius' example of the traveler who in fact passed the mountains on her way to Shangri-La. It is usually treated as a case where the traveler must eventually update to .5 her credence that she came by way of the mountains, lest she violate the principle of Indifference. Wo, by contrast, defended the view that she should retain the credence she had when passing the mountains (viz. 1), lest she violate Conditionalization and Reflection.

Jonathan Schaffer closed the workshop with a paper about a brand of skepticism which threatens the broadest range of knowledge. Knowledge entails basing. Hence, any knowledge (even a priori knowledge and the cogito) is threatened by the debasing demon who, at the final stage of the basing process, intervenes to make it the case that the otherwise properly based belief is based on a guess or wishful thinking. The demon covers his tracks by leaving the victim with no indication that the normal process has been tampered with.

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