Bled Philosophical Conferences
Epistemology 1999


10:00 Welcome
Morning: Mixed session
10:15-11:15 Ruth Weintraub, "On How Not to Wield Ockham's Razor"
11:30-12:30 Stewart Cohen, "Fallibilism and the Structure of Reasons"

Afternoon: Modality
2:30-3:30 Danilo Suster, "Possible Knowledge of Actual Ignorance"
3:45-4:45 Mark Brown, "(Modal) Logics of Knowledge and Belief--Limitations and Potential"
5:00-6:00 Scott Shalkowski, "A Plea for a Modal Realist Epistemology"


Morning: Skepticism attacked

9-10 Gene Mills, "What Skeptical Scenarios Don't Show"
10:15-11:15 Nicholas Nathan, "The Price of Ignorance"
11:30-12:30 Ted Morris, "Detached Doubt"

Afternoon: Ontology, truth, meaning
2:30-3:30 Reinhardt Grossman, "The Ontological Origin of Kant's Idealism"
3:45-4:45 Michael Lynch, "Alethic Pluralism"
5:00-6:00 U.T. Place, "The Picture Theory of Meaning: a Rehabilitation"


Morning: Skeptics among us
9-10 Mylan Engel, "Internalism, the Gettier Problem, and Metaepistemological Skepticism"
10:15-11:15 Anthony Graybosch, "Can There Still Be a Theory of Knowledge?"
11:30-12:30 Peter Klein, "The Failures of Dogmatism and a New Pyrrhonism"

Afternoon: Epistemic naturalism
2:30-3:30 David Eng, "Psychological Realism: A Solution to the Generality Problem"
3:45-4:45 Nenad Miscevic, "Two Kinds of A Priori Knowledge"
5:00-6:00 Hartry Field, "A Prioricity and Evaluativism"


Student session
Bara Kolenc & Maja Lovrenov, Borut Cerkovnik, Matevz Konte (Univ. of Ljubljana); Ciril Kosedar, Matija Arko, Tea Logar, Viljem Klinger (Univ. of Maribor), Christopher Ryder (Univ. of Graz)


Morning: Internalism, justification, and psychology
9-10 Matthias Steup, "Internalism Explained"
10:15-11:15 Matjaz Potrc, "Morphological Justification"
11:30-12:30 David Henderson and Terry Horgan, "Iceberg Epistemology"

Afternoon: Mixed session
2:30-3:30 Michael Williams, "Knowledge, Reasons and Causes: Sellars and Scepticism"
3:45-4:45 George Pappas, "Epistemic Deference"


Morning: Epistemic value
9-10 Marian David, "Truth and the Epistemic Goal"
10:15-11:15 Michael DePaul, "Value Monism in Epistemology"
11:30-12:30 Juli Eflin, "The Structure of Virtue Centered Epistemology"


Mark A. Brown
(Modal) Logics of Knowledge and Belief--Limitations and Potential

Attempts to provide an epistemic or doxastic logic have been disappointing. Possible worlds semantics, which at first seemed to hold much promise, has inherent limitations which make it unsuitable for a realistic epistemic logic, since it cannot distinguish between logically equivalent propositions, and thus cannot acknowledge the possibility of knowing one logical truth but not others. The search for a suitable logic of knowledge and belief can be of value nonetheless, particularly by focussing attention on the question just what apparatus a formal language would need to have in order to express sensitively, and appropriately differentiate, various possible claims to knowledge (and belief). In that connection, I explore the utility of employing more than one doxastic operator (and corresponding epistemic operators), following an analogy with a strategy used in dealing with Ross's paradox in deontic logic. I suggest that Kripke's puzzle about belief leads to one rationale which might be used to support such a strategy.


Stewart Cohen
Fallibilism and the Structure of Reasons

Fallibilists allow that you can know P even though your justification for P is consistent with not-P. Thus a fallibilist must allow that you can know P even though there is some hypothesis H, consistent with your evidence E, and inconsistent with P. This raises the issue of what our epistemic position is with respect to such an hypothesis. A problem arises in the case where H is a skeptical hypothesis because it looks as if E does not count against H. One fallibilist view is that you can know P without knowing not-H. Another is that you can know not-H by inferring it from P, even though E, your basis for knowing P, does not count against not-H. Still a third view argues that you have some basis for knowing not-H, independently of knowing P. I discuss the relative merits of these views.

Juli Eflin
The Structure of Virtue Centered Epistemology
There is a need for an epistemic theory that accords with who and what we are. It must be a theory that can be lived by a human being who has particular desires, particular skills, and particular goals. These local, and particular, concerns have no place in standard, traditional epistemological accounts. In articulating the problems of epistemology, the delineating of epistemic concepts has been misconceived to be establishing only the nature of knowledge. We need also to attend to the nature and production of understanding. For this latter project, we need to attend to epistemic virtues. Insight on how a virtue account can include local concerns can be found by examining the parallel between ethics and epistemology. Here, I develop several interrelated issues that contrast the goals and evaluative concepts that form the structure of both standard, traditional epistemological and ethical theories and virtue-centered theories. In the end, I sketch a virtue-centered epistemology that accords with who we are and how we gain understanding.

David Eng
Psychological Realism: A Solution to the Generality Problem

The Generality problem is one of the most daunting problems for the reliable process view. It is a challenge to the reliabilist to specify a unique type that is relevant to epistemic considerations. In this paper, I develop a solution to this problem. Following Alston, I suggest that we identify a unique type with the one that is psychologically real. I then argue that this criterion always selects the relevant type, insofar as it always selects types that are neither too broad nor too narrow. I consider the three most plausible cases that are designed to show that the criterion does not select the relevant type. I argue that in each case the attempted counter-example fails.

Mylan Engel
Internalism, the Gettier Problem, and Metaepistemological Skepticism

When it comes to second-order knowledge (i.e. knowing that one knows), internalists typically contend that when we know that p, we can, by reflecting, directly know that we are knowing it. I employ Gettier considerations to challenge this internalistic contention and to make out a prima facie case for internalistic metaepistemological skepticism, the thesis that no one ever internalistically knows that one internalistically knows that p. In particular, I argue that at the metaepistemological second-order level, the Gettier problem generates three distinct problems, which taken together seriously undermine the possibility of our possessing second-order internalistic knowledge.

Hartry Field
A Prioricity and Evaluativism

The paper will begin with some remarks on a prioricity, but mostly as a lead-in to some remarks on the nature of epistemology. I will defend a view on which epistemological claims are not fully factual, and argue that this view provides a much more plausible way of achieving a broadly naturalistic epistemology than the reductive naturalism that is so prevalent.

Anthony Graybosch
Can There Still Be a Theory of Knowledge?

At the heart of the debate between internalists and externalists is the question whether evidence that fulfills a justificatory role must always be evidence that an epistemic agent can cite with a reasonable degree of psychological accuracy. In this paper I concentrate on how this question is developed in the exchange between Ernst Sosa and Barry Stroud in their exchange over the possibility of understanding human knowledge in general. I defend the view that psychological transparency of evidence is a necessary, but highly improbable, condition of a philosophical understanding of knowledge. The paper also uses this conclusion to advocate Pyhrronism as the preferable formulation of skepticism.

David Henderson and Terry Horgan
Iceberg Epistemology

Accounts of what it is for an agent to be justified in holding a belief commonly carry commitments concerning what cognitive processes can and should be like. A concern for the plausibility of such commitments leads to a multi-faceted epistemology in which elements of traditionally conflicting epistemologies are vindicated within a single epistemological account. The accessible and articulable states that have been the exclusive focus of much epistemology must constitute only a proper subset of epistemologically relevant processing. The interaction of such states looks rather contextualist. It might also be called quasi-foundationalist. However, in attending to our epistemological tasks we must rely on processing that is sensitive to information that we could not articulate, that is not accessible in the standard internalist sense. When focusing on the full range of epistemologically important processes, the structure of what makes for justification is rather more like that envisioned by some coherentists.

Peter Klein
The Failures of Dogmatism and a New Pyrrhonism

The purpose of this paper is to expose the failures of dogmatism and to suggest in very broad outline a new form of pyrrhonism. My main claims are (1) that reasoning cannot settle matters that go beyond how things appear to us but (2) that a kind of provisional justification of beliefs is still possible. For reasoning is either circular, or based upon arbitrary suppositions or infinitely long. But I will also argue that infinitism -- the normative epistemological position that holds that only infinitely long chains of non-repeating reasons can provide justifications for our beliefs -- is, at least, provisionally acceptable. I will not be arguing that foundationalism and coherentism are false, but rather that they cannot be rationally practiced.


Michael P. Lynch
Alethic Pluralism

Recently, several philosophers, including Crispin Wright, Hilary Putnam and Terence Horgan, have suggested various forms of what I'll call alethic pluralism. The essential idea behind alethic pluralism is that the nature of truth can vary across context. Despite the powerful objections which can be raised against such a view, alethic pluralism has significant promise. The key is to analyze truth as a multiply realizable functional concept.


Eugene Mills
What Skeptical Scenarios Don't Show

I argue that acknowledging the conceptual possibility of (e.g.) the brain-in-the-vat scenario provides no reason whatsoever for accepting the conceptual possibility that my experience is radically delusory--even given full-blooded realism about the world and internalism about psychological states. For my experience might be causally overdetermined - caused both by the brain-in-a-vat apparatus and also by an ordinary, realistically understood external world corresponding to my experience. The possibility of such overdetermination robs skeptical scenarios of any evidential or motivational force.


Nenad Miscevic
Two kinds of APRIORI knowledge


Ted Morris
Detached Doubt

Recent writers on epistemological scepticism, such as Barry Stroud (The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism, 1984), Thomas Nagel (The View From Nowhere, 1986), and Michael Williams (Unnatural Doubts, 1991/1996), maintain that the sceptical philosopher's challenge to our knowledge is rooted in a demand for an objective understanding of our epistemic position. We are to satisfy this demand by examining, from a detached 'external' standpoint, "all of our knowledge all at once." According to the sceptical philosopher, when we undertake this "total assessment of our knowledge from a detached objective perspective," we will find -- contrary to what we think and say in ordinary life -- that we never know anything about the world around us.

In this paper, I assess the coherence of the sceptical philosopher's demand by introducing the notion of an "argument context," a situation where movement from premises to a conclusion is possible. I argue that when we spell out the conditions that are minimally constitutive of an argument context, we will find that there is no possible argument context in which we could attempt to assess "all our knowledge all at once." Far from being a "view from nowhere," then, the perspectiveless perspective philosophical scepticism demands turns out to be no view from anywhere, for there is no coherent perspective that could provide the conditions the sceptical philosopher's position requires.


Nicholas Nathan
The Price of Ignorance

'No sound sceptical argument is more than trivial'. I pit this conjecture against certain neo-Cartesian arguments, in which your inability to know the falsity of a hypothesis about a deceiving demon is supposed to establish that you are ignorant of any contingent proposition which you know to be incompatible with that hypothesis. I try to show that, sound or otherwise, these sceptical argument do not falsify the conjecture. If this is right, it hardly matters if they are irrefutable. 'P, so Q'is trivial if Q's truth-value is a matter of indifference. Would you, on reflection, want the knowledge that the demonic sceptic argues that you lack? Would you, on reflection, want not to have that knowledge? If neither, then the truth-value of the sceptic's conclusion is a matter of indifference. I try to show that if you were convinced of your ignorance by a demonic argument then reflection would destroy any desire you might have to know the falsity of the pivotal demonic hypothesis, and in consequence also destroy any initial desire you might have for the further knowledge which the sceptic concludes that you lack. The truth-value of the sceptic's conclusion would then be a matter of indifference, unless, what seems unlikely, you had a reflectively indestructible desire not to have the knowledge which this conclusion says you lack. To falsify the conjecture that no sound sceptical argument is more than trivial, we need a different kind of counterexample. What, I wonder, would it be?


Michael R. DePaul
Value Monism in Epistemology

Virtually without question, epistemologists presuppose the truth of a certain type of value monism. For a long while they seemed to assume that there was only one significant epistemic concept about which they were debating, a concept usually referred to as 'justification'. But epistemologists seem to be becoming more pluralistic when it comes to epistemic concepts. They are willing to grant that there are a number of concepts of epistemic evaluation which they should investigate, and they are even willing to grant that more than one of these concepts have a significant role to play in the epistemic evaluation of belief. [See W. Alston, "Epistemic Desiderata," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, (1993).] But one can admit that there are a number of important evaluative concepts in an area while holding to a monistic value theory. Hedonists hold that pleasure is the only thing that is good, and its opposite, pain, the only thing that is bad, and then go on to identify a number of evaluative concepts. One can speak, e.g., of the action that is rational for an individual, i.e., that maximizes the balance of his or her pleasure over his or her pain, the action that is objectively right in that it will in fact maximize the balance of pleasure over pain for everyone concerned, the action that is subjectively right for an individual because it is the action that the individual justifiably believes will maximize the balance of pleasure over pain for everyone concerned, and so on. The thing that epistemologists take to be good is true belief. False belief is bad. They define some concepts, e.g., the concept of 'reliability', with explicit reference to true belief. But even in cases where concepts are not defined in terms of truth, it is not difficult to detect the underlying monism. According to a foundationalist conception of justification a belief is justified just in case it either satisfies the conditions for being a foundational belief itself or it stands in the right kind of relation to foundational beliefs. No reference to truth, but of course even though nearly all foundationalist have backed away from the sort of infallibilism found in Descartes, it is still true that foundational beliefs are picked out with an eye to the likelihood that these beliefs are true and right relations to the beliefs are relations that preserve likelihood of truth. Similarly, although coherence theories of justification proceed by characterizing the relations that must tie a set of beliefs together in order for the beliefs to constitute a coherent system and hence be justified, perhaps the most serious problem thought to face such theories -- a problem that nearly all theorists feel they must solve -- is showing that systems of belief that cohere in the specified way are in fact likely to be true. For if it cannot be shown that coherent systems of belief are likely to be true, it is taken to be obvious that a coherentist conception of justification holds little interest for epistemology.

Of course, epistemologists all do recognize that our cognitive affairs are guided by more than a desire to have true beliefs and avoid false beliefs. Otherwise memorizing phone books or sums of larger and larger numbers would make perfectly good sense. But this recognition has not had much impact in epistemology. It has not, e.g., generated a literature about the relative importance of various epistemic values, how to balance them, or what to do in tragic cases where once must choose between significant values -- the sort of literature pluralistic value theories have generated in ethics. I suspect this is because one can admit that we value more in our cognitive activities than truth and the avoidance of falsehood without granting that these values are properly epistemic. One can reasonably respond that the strategies mentioned above do make perfectly good "e p i s t e m i c" sense. Memorized phone numbers and large sums are no less knowledge than the most surprising scientific discovery or elegantly proven mathematical theorem.

In this paper I plan to argue against the value monism that dominates epistemology. My argument will have a positive and a negative component. The negative component will consist of an attempt to argue that true belief is not the sole epistemic value because if it were, there would be no reason to value knowledge more than mere true belief. The positive component of the argument will involve an effort to illustrate how subjectively rational beliefs are epistemically valuable apart from any connection they may have to the truth.


George Pappas
Epistemic Deference

In this paper I examine a special sort of deference that we pay to others, what I term epistemic deference. This is, roughly, the sort of deference we accord others when we regard them as an occupant of a strong epistemic position concerning some subject matter. A special case of epistemic deference is testimony, though I think the former notion is actually wider than the latter.

As with testimony, a natural question for epistemic deference is this: under what conditions does epistemically deferring to another person result in knowledge or justified belief for one who has deferred? The answer depends on whether the deference in question is episodic, occurring now for the first time or occurring occasionally; or whether it is an element of a standing deferrment. Episodic deference requires that the person who defers have some positive reason to believe that the individual to whom deference is paid has some special epistemic credentials regarding the relevant subject matter, while with standing deference it is required merely that a form of reliability be in place regarding the person to whom
deference is paid. These two notions help explain the intuitive appeal of a broadly Humean account of testimony, in the case of episodic deference; and an account of testimony associated with Reid, in the case of standing deference

Ullin T. Place
The Picture Theory of Meaning: a Rehabilitation

I argue the case for a rehabilitation of the "picture theory" of the meaning of sentences exponded by Wittgenstein (1921/1961) in the TRACTATUS, but abandoned by him in moving from his earlier to his later philosophy. This rehabilitation requires the replacement of `facts' as the objects which sentences depict by `situations' (Barwise and Perry 1983) and the recognition that the situation depicted by a sentence is an "intentional object" (Brentano 1871/1995). It also implies a different view of the way his sense (SINN)/reference (BEDEUTUNG) distinction should be applied to to the meaning of sentences from that maintained by Frege (1892/1960) himself. Such a theory opens the door to a thorough-going empiricist theory of the acquisition of both concepts and sentence structure.


Matjaz Potrc
Morphological Justification

An adequate account of justification is better served by description of real cognizers' resources than by normative conditions determining what cognitive processes supporting justification should be like. Cognitive justificatory basis covers more than what is accessible and occurrent. (Henderson and Horgan,1999). Particularly, it is to be extended to include the system's background knowledge, which is rendered as morphological content in the model of dynamical cognition. How to give a plausible formulation to this wider basis? Occurrent justification is expressible propositionally. What are means of an adequate presentation of the morphological justificatory background in a global dynamical picture combining foundationalism and coherentism?


Robert C. Richardson
The Evolution of Human Reason

It is tempting and natural to think that rationality is an evolved trait, shaped and molded by natural selection (cf. Dennett 1987, 1995, Nozick 1993). Rationality, on this picture, is a matter of following inferential procedures that maximize truth and minimize error. Such procedures would also lead to knowledge, as they would justify us in our beliefs and are justified in turn because they are reliable. The driving assumption is that human cognition is designed to maximize truth, and that our attributions of belief should accordingly reflect this assumption. Stephen Stitch (1985, 1990) has argued convincingly that this picture of the evolution of rationality is naive and substantively misleading. I discuss and evaluate Stitch's arguments, and go on to explore their implications for the understanding of human reasoning.


Scott Shalkowski
A Plea for a Modal Realist Epistemology


Danilo Suster
Possible knowledge of actual ignorance

Epistemicist is a philosopher who defends a conceptual link between truth and epistemic conditions. One version, weak idealism, claims that any true proposition is knowable. According to strong idealism all truths are in fact known. Fitch�s proof, or paradox of knowability, establishes that if all truths are knowable, then all truths are in fact known. This result is grossly implausible, for a realist this is a reductio of epistemicism. But the dominant reaction is expressed by T. Williamson: �profound philosophical questions are unlike victims of swift natural deduction.� Every step which leads to the paradox was examined. I give a survey of some recent attempts to avoid the reductio of epistemicism. I agree that it is possible to mix epistemic notions and modality in such a way that the paradox is avoided. But I claim that the price is too high. All things considered, denial of the thesis that every true proposition is knowable is still the most persuasive option.


Matthias Steup
Internalism Explained

Internalism in epistemology is the view that the things which determine whether a belief is justified(J-factors) must be suitably internal: accessible in a way that ensures that they a readily recognizable. In his forthcoming paper "Externalism Exposed," Alvin Goldman sets forth a series of objections to internalism, objections he takes to be fatal. First, there is the problem of stored beliefs: beliefs that are justified without owing their justification to anything that is included among the subject's conscious states. Internalists can respond to this problem by relaxing the internality constraint. They could say that, although J-factors must be directly recognizable, they need not be conscious states. However, this weakened internality constraint runs into the problem of forgotten evidence. Some beliefs are justified by evidence that is no longer stored in the subject's memory. Further problems arise from logical and probabilistic support relations, as well as epistemic principles: do they have to be included among the set of J-factors? If they do, internalism seems to have the unintended consequence of skepticism, since neither support relations nor epistemic principles meet the recognizability constraint internalists impose. Finally, internalism is unreasonably restrictive regarding the methods of inquiry epistemologists should employ. Internalists favor a priori methods, but recent studies in cognitive science suggest that the problems of epistemology cannot be solved without relying on empirical methods as well. I will sketch a version of internalism--one that is both deontological and evidentialist--and defend it against Goldman's objections.


Ruth Weintraub
On How Not to Wield Ockham's Razor

I aim to show that Ockham's razor, the methodological principle which enjoins us not to "multiply entities needlessly", is often misused. We should distinguish between two kinds of parsimony: ontological and conceptual, giving rise to two versions of the principle. Whereas conceptual economy is an important constraint on belief-formation, ontological economy is not an epistemological virtue, not even a derivative one, and Ockham's principle, as it is commonly (i.e., ontologically) understood, cannot be invoked to support reductionist programmes.