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1. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Yuval Avnur Introduction
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2. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Jonathan Barker Genealogical Defeat and Ontological Sparsity
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When and why does awareness of a belief's genealogy make it irrational to hold that belief? According to explanationism, a belief’s genealogy undermines its rational status by revealing the lack of an explanatorily connected between that belief and the relevant worldly facts. I argue that an influential recent version of explanationism, due to Korman and Locke, incorrectly implies that it is not rationally permissible to adopt a sparse ontology of worldly facts or states of affairs. I then propose a new “truthmaker” version of explanationism capable of accommodating the possibility of accommodating the possibility of rational belief in ontological sparsity. I close by arguing that, if I am right about the nature of genealogical defeat, then genealogical debunking arguments carry a greater metaphysical burden than has previously been recognized.
3. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
David Bourget, Angela Mendelovici Debunking Debunking: Explanationism, Probabilistic Sensitivity, and Why There Is No Specifically Metacognitive Debunking Principle
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On explanationist accounts of genealogical debunking, roughly, a belief is debunked when its explanation is not suitably related to its content. We argue that explanationism cannot accommodate cases in which beliefs are explained by factors unrelated to their contents but are nonetheless independently justified. Justification-specific versions of explanationism face an iteration of the problem. The best account of debunking is a probabilistic account according to which subject S’s justification J for their belief that P is debunked when S learns that J is no more likely to be true on the hypothesis that P than on the hypothesis that ¬P. The probabilistic criterion is fully general, applying not only to cases where the learned undercutting defeater is a proposition about our beliefs or other mental states but to any case of undercutting defeat, providing the grounds for a debunking argument against the existence of a special, metacognitive debunking principle.
4. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Annalisa Coliva "You Just Believe That Because . . . It’s a Hinge"
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This paper looks at the genealogical challenge encapsulated in the schema “You just believe that because . . .” through the lens of hinge epistemology. It is claimed that hinges are typically held just because one has been brought up to believe them. It is further claimed that, while fitting into the YJBTB schema, hinges are rationally held when different de facto hinges are taken for granted merely because of one’s position in history. Moreover, they are rationally held if they are de jure hinges, constitutive of epistemic rationality. By contrast, holding different de facto hinges, while aware that one’s reasons for them are either question-begging or no stronger than the ones in favor of incompatible ones, is not rational. The latter would be cases of “deep disagreement”—that is, disagreement that is in principle insoluble. Hence, the nature and epistemic significance of the genealogical challenge are clarified.
5. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Brian Cutter From Moral Realism to Axiarchism: A Metaphysical Response to the Debunking Challenge
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Moral realism faces a well known genealogical debunking challenge. I argue that the moral realist’s best response may involve abandoning metaphysical naturalism in favor of some form of axiarchism—the view, very roughly, that the natural world is “ordered to the good.” Axiarchism comes in both theistic and non-theistic forms, but all forms agree that the natural world exists and has certain basic features because it is good for it to exist and have those features. I argue that theistic and non-theistic forms of axiarchism are better positioned than metaphysical naturalism to avoid two commitments that a moral realist should seek to avoid: that the correctness of our moral beliefs is a major coincidence, and that there is a complete explanation of our moral beliefs that does not mention any moral truths.
6. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Catarina Dutilh Novaes Should We Be Genealogically Anxious?: From Anxiety to Epistemic Agency and Critical Resistance
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Genealogical anxiety is the worry that the origins of beliefs, once revealed to be influenced by “irrelevant” factors such as personal histories and circumstances of upbringing, will undermine or cast doubt on those beliefs. Discussions on these irrelevant influences in the epistemological literature have so far primarily focused on their contingency. But there is another issue that merits further examination: the fact that epistemic environments condition beliefs suggests that epistemic agency is significantly curtailed. I present a model of belief-forming processes that highlights how networks of attention and trust/distrust influence these processes. The model suggests that, while there is a lot happening beyond our control that shapes what we come to believe, we still retain some degree of agency to the extent that we can rewire our networks of attention and trust/distrust. I conclude that, surprisingly, genealogical anxiety may in fact increase agency insofar as it may encourage critical resistance.
7. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Daniel Z. Korman, Dustin Locke Modal Security and Evolutionary Debunking
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According to principles of modal security, evidence undermines a belief only when it calls into question certain purportedly important modal connections between one’s beliefs and the truth (e.g., safety or sensitivity). Justin Clarke-Doane and Dan Baras have advanced such principles with the aim of blocking evolutionary moral debunking arguments. We examine a variety of different principles of modal security, showing that some of these are too strong, failing to accommodate clear cases of undermining, while others are too weak, failing to do their advertised work of blocking evolutionary moral debunking arguments. If there is a security principle that slips between the horns of this dilemma—one that is both viable and debunker-blocking—it remains to be formulated.
8. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Brian Leiter On the Relevance of Etiology to Justification (with reference to Marx and Nietzsche)
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Some philosophers associated with the post-Kantian Continental traditions in philosophy (for example, Marx and Nietzsche) think that the etiology of a belief can impugn the epistemic status of that belief, leading us, correctly, to be “suspicious” of it; let us call them “Etiological Critics. Many analytic philosophers, responding to these and related etiological critiques within Anglophone philosophy are unimpressed. These analytic philosophers agree that facts about the etiology of belief might bring to one’s attention epistemically relevant considerations—for example, the fact that other possible epistemic peers disagree with one’s beliefs—but they deny that the etiology itself has any direct bearing on the epistemic status of belief (in particular, whether it is doxastically justified). I argue that etiology is directly relevant to the epistemic status of belief, arguing against White and Srinivasan, using examples from Marx and Nietzsche.
9. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Alexander Prescott-Couch Genealogy beyond Debunking
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Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality (GM) is often interpreted as providing a debunking argument of some kind. I consider different versions of such arguments and suggest that they face important challenges. Moving beyond debunking interpretations of GM, I consider Nietzsche’s claim that his genealogy should be used to assess the “value” of moral values. After explaining how to understand this claim, I consider different ways that history might be used to assess the value of beliefs, practices, and institutions. The upshot is a general account of genealogy beyond debunking.
10. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Matthieu Queloz Debunking Concepts
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Genealogies of belief have dominated recent philosophical discussions of genealogical debunking at the expense of genealogies of concepts, which has in turn focused attention on genealogical debunking in an epistemological key. As I argue in this paper, however, this double focus encourages an overly narrow understanding of genealogical debunking. First, not all genealogical debunking can be reduced to the debunking of beliefs—concepts can be debunked without debunking any particular belief, just as beliefs can be debunked without debunking the concepts in terms of which they are articulated. Second, not all genealogical debunking is epistemological debunking. Focusing on concepts rather than beliefs brings distinct forms of genealogical debunking to the fore that cannot be comprehensively captured in terms of epistemological debunking. We thus need a broader understanding of genealogical debunking, which encompasses not just epistemological debunking, but also what I shall refer to as metaphysical debunking and ethical debunking.
11. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
David Sosa Truth within Reason
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It can be seen as a mark against a belief that its causal history be disconnected from the truth. And that idea fits well with the view that discovering that a belief’s causal history is so disconnected itself diminishes its normative status. But this latter view can also be held independently: believing that your belief was influenced by irrelevant factors might be seen as problematic even should it not be seen as in general a mark against a belief that it be caused in one way or another. I pursue a more radical rejection of the role of truth in an adequate understanding of the normative status of belief. If a belief can be perfectly good independently of its connection to the truth, then perhaps it can be perfectly good even for an agent who knows that it is not causally determined by the truth.
12. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Alex Worsnip Suspiciously Convenient Beliefs and the Pathologies of (Epistemological) Ideal Theory
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Public life abounds with examples of people whose beliefs—especially political beliefs—seem suspiciously convenient: consider, for examples, the billionaire who believes that all taxation is unjust, or the Supreme Court Justice whose interpretations of what the law says reliably line up with her personal political convictions. After presenting what I take to be the best argument for the epistemological relevance of suspicious convenience, I diagnose how attempts to resist this argument rest on a kind of epistemological ideal theory, in a sense to be made precise. And I argue that the ways in which this ideal theory can be deployed in defense of suspiciously convenient beliefs brings out the pernicious and distorting nature of such ideal theory in epistemology.
13. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
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14. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 47
Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Published Volumes 1976–2022
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15. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Gwen Bradford Introduction: A Very Brief History of Ill-Being
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16. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Christopher Woodard The Value and Significance of Ill-Being
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Since Shelly Kagan pointed out the relative neglect of ill-being in philosophical discussions, several philosophers have contributed to an emerging literature on its constituents. In doing so, they have explored possible asymmetries between the constituents of ill-being and the constituents of positive well-being. This paper explores some possible asymmetries that may arise elsewhere in the philosophy of ill-being. In particular, it considers whether there is an asymmetry between the contribution made to prudential value by equal quantities of goods and bads. It then considers a similar question about the contributions made to moral value by equal quantities of ill-being and positive well-being. The paper explores some of the difficulties involved in assessing these questions. It ends by considering broader differences, both practical and theoretical, between the significance of ill-being and of positive well-being.
17. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Ben Bramble Passé Pains
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Why are pains bad for us? A natural answer is that it is just because of how they feel (or their felt-qualities). But this answer is cast into doubt by cases of people who are unbothered by certain pains of theirs. These pains retain their felt-qualities, but do not seem bad for the people in question. In this paper, I offer a new response to this problem. I argue that in such cases, the pains in question have become “just more of the same,” and for this reason have ceased to be bad for the relevant individuals. It is because they (implicitly) recognise this that they are unbothered by such pains.
18. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Chris Heathwood Ill-Being for Desire Satisfactionists
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Shelly Kagan notices in a recent, influential paper how philosophers of well-being tend to neglect ill-being—the part of the theory of well-being that tells us what is bad in itself for subjects—and explains why we need to give it more attention. This paper does its part by addressing the question, If desire satisfaction is good, what is the corresponding bad? The two most discussed ill-being options for theories on which desire satisfaction is a basic good are the Frustration View and the Aversion View. I aim to show that the Frustration View is more plausible than Kagan and others think; to introduce and evaluate two additional desire-oriented theories of ill-being worth considering, the Pluralist View and the Deflationary View; and to present a new line of argument for the Aversion View.
19. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Eden Lin Two Kinds of Desire Theory of Well-Being
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Which entities should the desire theory of well-being deem basically good for you—good for you in the most fundamental way? On the object view, what is basically good for you when one of your desires is satisfied is the object of that desire. On the combo view, what is basically good for you when one of your desires is satisfied is the combination or conjunction of the object of that desire and the fact that you have that desire. I argue that which of these views the desire theory accepts makes no difference to what it implies about anyone’s amount of well-being. Then, I consider the main arguments that have been given for the superiority of one or the other of those two views. Finding none of those arguments persuasive, I conclude that we lack good grounds for rejecting the initial impression that it would be natural to have about those views: that it does not matter which of them the desire theory accepts.
20. Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Volume > 46
Dale Dorsey Ill-Being for Subjectivists: An Ecumenical Primer
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The axiological phenomenon of ill-being has been thought to be a special problem for subjectivist theories. I argue here that this common supposition is false. I argue that no leading theory of subjectivism need be unable to accommodate the phenomenon of ill-being. In addition, subjectivists on the whole are licensed to adopt somewhat more outré alternatives, including adopting a disunified approach to ill-being, or rejecting the notion altogether.