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Displaying: 1-20 of 281 documents

1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Adam Bjorndahl Knowledge Second
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Classical philosophical analyses seek to explain knowledge as deriving from more basic notions. The influential “knowledge first” program in epistemology reverses this tradition, taking knowledge as its starting point. From the perspective of epistemic logic, however, this is not so much a reversal as it is the default—the field arguably begins with the specialization of “necessity” to “epistemic necessity”—that is, it begins with knowledge. In this context, putting knowledge second would be the reversal. This article motivates, develops, and explores such a “knowledge second” approach in epistemic logic, founded on distinguishing what a body of evidence actually entails from what it is (merely) believed to entail. We import a logical framework that captures exactly this distinction, use it to define formal notions of (internal and external) justification and knowledge, and investigate applications to the KK principle, the “strong belief” postulate, and the regress problem.
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Catharine Saint-Croix Privilege and Position
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How does being a woman affect one’s epistemic life? What about being Black? Or queer? Standpoint theorists argue that such social positions can give rise to otherwise unavailable epistemic privilege. “Epistemic privilege” is a murky concept, however. Critics of standpoint theory argue that the view is offered without a clear explanation of how standpoints confer their benefits, what those benefits are, or why social positions are particularly apt to produce them. For this reason, many regard standpoint theory as being out of step with epistemology more broadly. But this need not be so. This article articulates a minimal version of standpoint epistemology that avoids these criticisms and supports the normative goals of its feminist forerunners. This account serves as the foundation for developing a formal model in which to explore standpoint epistemology using neighborhood semantics for modal logic.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Brandon Carey A Counterfactual Theory of Epistemic Possibility
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Standard theories of epistemic possibility analyze this relation in terms of knowledge, entailment, or probability. These theories are mistaken. Here, I present counterexamples to the standard theories and defend a new theory: that a proposition is epistemically possible on a body of evidence just in case that evidence supports that if the proposition were true, then the evidence might exist. In addition to avoiding the problems of the standard views, this new theory captures good reasoning about epistemic possibilities and matches intuitive judgments in a wide range of cases, giving us good reason to accept it.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Niklaas Tepelmann A Case for Weak Safety
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Safety theorists prefer a strong version of safety over a weak version, in order to account for our intuition that we do not know lottery propositions. I argue that weak safety has advantages that can outweigh our intuitions in lottery cases. First, I argue that for the nonepistemic domain, we should adopt weak safety to account for experts’ claims about cyber security. Second, I argue that a unified account of safety is preferable. Hence, we should adopt weak safety for the epistemic domain as well. My argument can also be put as follows. It is more plausible to suppose that our intuitions about lottery cases are misguided than to suppose either that experts’ judgments about cyber security are misguided or that there are different versions of safety.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Landon D. C. Elkind A Case Study in Formalizing Contingent a priori Claims
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Some philosophers, like Kripke, Williamson, Hawthorne, and Turri, have offered examples of claims that are allegedly contingent and a priori justifiable. If any of these examples is genuine, this would upend the traditional epistemological classification on which (a) all and only a priori justifiable claims are necessary and (b) all and only a posteriori ones are contingent. I argue here that these examples are not genuine. This conclusion is not new, but the strategy pursued here is to formalize these muchdiscussed examples in symbolic logics. Once formalized, a perspicuous representation of their logical form will bring into sharp relief that these examples are not both contingent and a priori. Two takeaways are (1) that the traditional epistemological classification remains plausible and (2) that one’s proposed examples of contingent a priori claims should be supported by a formalization in one’s preferred background symbolic logic.
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Albert Casullo Is Knowledge of Essence the Basis of Modal Knowledge?
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E. J. Lowe offers an account of modal knowledge that involves two primary theses. First, the basis of modal knowledge is essential knowledge, and the source of essential knowledge is grasp of essence. Second, all empirical knowledge ultimately depends on some modal knowledge. This article assesses Lowe’s account and defends four conclusions. First, there is a tension in Lowe’s account of grasp of essence; it wavers between an undemanding version, which holds that grasp of essence requires no more than our ordinary understanding of propositions, and a more demanding version, which holds that it requires rational insight into necessary relationships between essences. Second, both versions face serious challenges. Third, Lowe’s account of knowledge of essence does not provide a basis for modal knowledge. Fourth, Lowe’s supporting argument for his second thesis contains two significant gaps and the principles necessary to close the gaps reveal further tensions in his epistemological views.
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Felipe Morales Carbonell Epistemic Projects, Indispensability, and the Structure of Modal Thought
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I argue that modal epistemology should pay more attention to questions about the structure and function of modal thought. We can treat these questions from synchronic and diachronic angles. From a synchronic perspective, I consider whether a general argument for the epistemic support of modal though can be made on the basis of modal thoughs’s indispensability for what Enoch and Schechter (2008) call rationally required epistemic projects. After formulating the argument, I defend it from various objections. I also examine the possibility of considering the indispensability of modal thought in terms of its components. Finally, I argue that we also need to approach these issues from a diachronic perspective, and I sketch how to approach this task.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Tom Schoonen The Problem of Modally Bad Company
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A particular family of imagination-based epistemologies of possibility promises to provide an account that overcomes problems raised by Kripkean a posteriori impossibilities. That is, they maintain that imagination plays a significant role in the epistemology of possibility. They claim that imagination consists of both linguistic and qualitative content, where the linguistic content is independently verified not to give rise to any impossibilities in the epistemically significant uses of imagination. However, I will argue that these accounts fail to provide a satisfactory basis for an epistemology of possibility as they fall victim to, what I call, the problem of modally bad company. In particular, I will argue that there is a deep methodological problem that these accounts face: to deliver the significant epistemology of possibility that they promise, they have to rely on problematic prior knowledge of necessities.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 4
Daniel Nolan Imaginative Resistance and Modal Knowledge
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Readers of fictions sometimes resist taking certain kinds of claims to be true according to those fictions, even when they appear explicitly or follow from applying ordinary principles of interpretation. This “imaginative resistance” is often taken to be significant for a range of philosophical projects outside aesthetics, including giving us evidence about what is possible and what is impossible, as well as the limits of conceivability or readers’ normative commitments. I will argue that this phenomenon cannot do the theoretical work that has been asked of it. Resistance to taking things to be fictional is often best explained by unfamiliarity with kinds of fictions than any representational, normative, or cognitive limits. With training and experience, any understandable proposition can be made fictional and be taken to be fictional by readers. This requires a new understanding both of imaginative resistance and what it might be able to tell us about topics like conceivability or the bounds of possibility.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Jamie Dreier Two Models of Agent-Centered Value
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The consequentializing project relies on agentcentered value (aka agent-relative value), but many philosophers find the idea incomprehensible or incoherent. Discussions of agent-centered value often model it with a theory that assigns distinct better-than rankings of states of affairs to each agent, rather than assigning a single ranking common to all. A less popular kind of model uses a single ranking, but takes the value-bearing objects to be properties (sets of centered worlds) rather than states of affairs (sets of worlds). There are rhetorical, presentational differences between these kinds of models, but are there also structural differences? Do the two kinds of models differ in their capacity to represent normative theories? Despite an initial appearance of equivalence, the two kinds of models are different. The single ranking of properties has greater representational power; its representations contain more information. The main question I address in this article is whether this extra information is useful, in the sense that it distinguishes between normative views that we think are really different, or whether it is just junk information.
11. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Dionysis Christias Are Persons Human Beings?
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In this article, I suggest that reflection on a broadly Aristotelian-cum-Hegelian conception about the determination of the conditions of identity and individuation of objects and properties shows that it entails (what Brandom calls) the Kant–Sellars thesis about modality and identity, one consequence of which is that persons are not identical to human beings. This view is in conflict with the Aristotelian liberal naturalist view to the effect that to be a person is identical to being an individual of a specific animal kind—namely, homo sapiens—characterized by a specific and unique ‘form of life’ (and natural history) which differentiates it from all other animal kinds. I conclude that this novel and unorthodox liberal naturalist view about personhood constitutes an interesting and viable liberal naturalist alternative to more ‘orthodox’ liberal naturalist neo-Aristotelian views like Thompson’s, as it can better accommodate certain counterfactual ‘person-human being decoupling’ scenarios in our modern conception of ourselves-in-the-world.
12. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Andrew Beards The Irreducibility of the Good: G. E. Moore and Bernard Lonergan
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For both G. E. Moore and Bernard Lonergan, the question of the good provides a fundamental heuristic indicating its irreducible and thus transcending nature. In Lonergan’s later work, the focus is primarily on the good as manifest in intentional responses to values. But the fundamental metaphysics of the good is never absent from this perspective, and it re-appears explicitly in some later writing. Moore’s anti-reductionist metaethics played a central role in the debates to follow in analytical philosophy in the decades after the appearance of Principia Ethica. In this article, I explore possible convergences between these two avenues of speculation, which in their way both witness to the abiding significance of the scholastic notion of the good as a transcendental. It is argued that the wider purview offered by Lonergan’s analysis of the good, sought in questions as implying metaphysical and theological dimensions, assists in rendering cogent the objectives to which Moore’s question of the good points.
13. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Andrzej Słowikowski The Word Became an Individual: The Hermeneutic of Upbuilding as a Method of Christian Anthropology in the Religious Discourses of Kierkegaard
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This article is an attempt to both reconstruct and sort out the hermeneutics of upbuilding emerging from Kierkegaard’s discourses. This hermeneutics turns out to be a method of transferring the Christian ideal from the level of idea to the level of life within the larger Christian anthropological project that Kierkegaard’s discourses constitute. What is shown herein is that this general hermeneutics of upbuilding consists of three dialectical movements defining, respectively, the relation between: the discourse and the reader (the hermeneutic of spiritual life), Scripture and the reader (the hermeneutic of content internalization) and the reader and the temporal world (the hermeneutic of repetition). At the center of Kierkegaard’s Christian anthropological project is the relation between Scripture and the reader, a relation to whose description three hermeneutic levels (presentation—understanding—appropriation) are introduced here. These levels are in line both with three movements of the upbuilding process (the terrifying—consolation—upbuilding), which one can identify on the basis of a reading of the discourses, and with three conditions that are, in the opinion of the Danish philosopher, required in order “to look at oneself with true blessing in the mirror of the word.”
14. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Adam Harmer The Role of Plurality in Leibniz’s Argument from Unity
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I argue that Leibniz’s well-known Argument from Unity is equally an argument from plurality. I detail two main claims about plurality that drive the argument, and I provide evidence that they structure Leibniz’s argument from the late 1670s onwards. First, there is what I call Mereological Nihilism (i.e., the claim that a plurality cannot be made into a true unity by any available means). Second, there is what I call the Plurality Thesis (i.e., the claim that matter is a plurality in need of unity in the first place). I suggest that the Plurality Thesis offers a general analysis of materiality that, in some sense, is the most important aspect of Leibniz’s argument. Finally, I connect these claims about plurality to the common seventeenth and eighteenth-century commitment known as the actual parts doctrine.
15. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 3
Víctor M. Verdejo Rip Van Winkle and the Retention of ‘Today’-Belief: A Puzzle
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Can a subject who expresses a belief with ‘today’ on a given day, and subsequently loses track of time, retain and re-express that belief on a future, potentially distant day? Since Kaplan’s tentative remarks on Rip Van Winkle, it has become popular to answer this question in the positive. However, a remarkably simple variation of the Rip Van Winkle story can show that this kind of view leads to a puzzling dilemma: either subjects cannot re-express a belief with utterances of ‘today’ on the same day, or else they may rationally exhibit conflicting stances toward the same ‘today’-belief. This result may be seen as supporting the claim that retention of ‘today’-belief over time requires the tracking of days. Yet it may also spur further research into the capacities involved in belief retention and re-expression to solve the puzzle.
16. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Chad Flanders, Scott Berman Introduction
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2019 res philosophica essay prize
17. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Jessica Flanigan, Christopher Freiman Drug War Reparations
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Public officials should compensate the victims of wrongful conviction and enforcement. The same considerations in favor of compensating people for wrongful conviction and enforcement in other cases support officials’ payment of reparations to the victims of unjust enforcement practices related to the drug war. First, we defend the claim that people who are convicted and incarcerated because of an unjust law are wrongfully convicted. Although their convictions do not currently qualify as wrongful convictions in the legal sense, we argue that the same reasons for legally recognizing other wrongful convictions support conceiving of these cases as wrongful convictions. If so, then people who suffered wrongful convictions associated with unjust laws, like others who were wrongfully convicted, are entitled to compensation and reparation. We then argue that America’s drug laws are unjust laws. Therefore, people who were convicted of nonviolent drug offenses are entitled to compensation.
18. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Erin I. Kelly Rethinking Criminal Justice
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The punitive, moralizing conception of individual responsibility commonly associated with retributive justice exaggerates the moral meaning of criminal guilt. Criminal guilt does not imply moral desert, nor does it justify moral blame. Mental illness, intellectual disability, addiction, immaturity, poverty, and racial oppression are factors that mitigate our sense of a wrongdoer’s moral desert, though they are mostly not treated by the criminal justice system as relevant to criminal culpability. The retributive theory also distracts from shared responsibility for social injustice. Instead of highlighting the moral urgency of correcting conditions that help to explain the crime rate, a commitment to retribution diverts attention from the social conditions that engender crime. These conditions include an unequal distribution of social, economic, and political power, which poses a serious problem for the retributive theory. When disadvantaged members of society act in ways that violate the criminal law, they are less morally blameworthy, even when the laws they violate are justified. Judgments of blame and desert, in relation to criminal justice, vary in accordance with political status. The diminished political power of oppressed groups is at odds with a retributive justification of punishment.
19. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Ekow N. Yankah Punishing Them All: How Criminal Justice Should Account for Mass Incarceration
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The piece returns to my earlier challenges of retributivism as the basis of contemporary criminal law, advancing my work on republican political justifications that make central the effect of punishment on citizenship. In short, the justification of punishment should eschew individual retributivist “desert” and focus primarily on the effects of punishment on the entire polity. In particular, this would mean that the effects of mass incarceration would be explicitly a part of justification of punishment. Concretized, members of communities where widespread punishment (incarceration) has damaged collective civic health should explicitly receive discounts on otherwise “retributively justified” punishment. Most obviously, a regime focused on the effect of punishment on civic bonds would explicitly target the vast racial disparities in contemporary punishment regimes, grounding an explicit claim that an African-American or Hispanic defendant from overly punished communities should be punished less and requiring other state resources to secure the safety of the community. While critical, this regime is not solely aimed at racial disparities. This principle would equally address the concentration of punishment in poor, white communities often battered by punishment and policing. Thus, the policy shows a way of building allies across racial lines.
20. Res Philosophica: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Eric J. Miller The Moral Burdens of Police Wrongdoing
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When addressing the burdens borne by victims of police wrongdoing, we often overlook moral harms in focusing on the physical and psychological harms that they suffer. These moral harms undermine the moral status of the victim, her ability to consistently pursue the values she endorses, and her character. Victimhood is a morally significant social role. Victimhood imposes normative standards that measure the moral or political status of victim. Conforming to these standards affects our assessment of the conduct of the victim and her moral standing. Considering the victims’ role provides important insights into contemporary practices of policing in the United States. The physical and verbal acts of the police often force race-based degradation upon racially subordinated groups. There is often no morally good way out of racially discriminatory encounters when the choice is to degrade oneself or suffer violence or even death. Worse, how we respond to the threat of police violence morally undermines our relationships with those we would keep safe from policeviolence.