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Abstract: This paper provides a defense of two traditional theses: the Autonomy of Philosophy and the Authority of Philosophy. The first step is a defense of the evidential status of intuitions (intellectual seemings). Rival views (such as radical empiricism), which reject the evidential status of intuitions, are shown to be epistemically self-defeating. It is then argued that the only way to explain the evidential status of intuitions is to invoke modal reliabilism. This theory requires that intuitions have a certain qualified modal tie to the truth. This result is then used as the basis of the defense of the Autonomy and Authority theses. The paper closes with a defense of the two theses against a potential threat from scientific essentialism
Abstract: This paper contains replies to comments on the author's paper "A Priori Knowledge and the Scope of Philosophy." Several points in the argument of that paper are given further clarification: the notion of our standard justificatory procedure, the notion of a basic source of evidence, and the doctrine of modal reliabilism. The reliability of intuition is then defended against Lycan's skepticism and a response is given to Lycan's claim that the scope of a priori knowledge does not include philosophically central topics such as the nature of consciousness. Next a counterfactual account of intuitions proposed by Sosa is criticized. Finally, in response to certain questions raised by Sosa, the explanation of the evidential status of intuition offered in the original paper receives further elaboration
Abstract: The topic of a priori knowledge is approached through the theory of evidence. A shortcoming in traditional formulations of moderate rationalism and moderate empiricism is that they fail to explain why rational intuition and phenomenal experience count as basic sources of evidence. This explanatory gap is filled by modal reliabilism -- the theory that there is a qualified modal tie between basic sources of evidence and the truth. This tie to the truth is then explained by the theory of concept possession: this tie is a consequence of what, by definition, it is to possess (i.e., to understand) one’s concepts. A corollary of the overall account is that the a priori disciplines (logic, mathematics, philosophy) can be largely autonomous from the empirical sciences
Abstract: The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism
Abstract: Radical empiricism is the view that a person's experiences (sensory and introspective), or a person's observations, constitute the person's evidence. This view leads to epistemic self-defeat. There are three arguments, concerning respectively: (1) epistemic starting points; (2) epistemic norms; (3) terms of epistemic appraisal. The source of self-defeat is traced to the fact that empiricism does not count a priori intuition as evidence (where a priori intuition is not a form of belief but rather a form of seeming, specifically intellectual as opposed to sensory). Moderate rationalism, by contrast, avoids self-defeat
Abstract: Modal intuitions are the primary source of modal knowledge but also of modal error. According to the theory of modal error in this paper, modal intuitions retain their evidential force in spite of their fallibility, and erroneous modal intuitions are in principle identifiable and eliminable by subjecting our intuitions to a priori dialectic. After an inventory of standard sources of modal error, two further sources are examined in detail. The first source - namely, the failure to distinguish between metaphysical possibility and various kinds of epistemic possibility - turns out to be comparatively easy to untangle and poses little threat to intuition-driven philosophical investigation. The second source is the local (i.e., temporary) misunderstanding of one's concepts (as opposed to outright Burgean misunderstanding). This pathology may be understood on analogy with a patient who is given a clean bill of health at his annual check-up, despite his having a cold at the time of the check-up: although the patient's health is locally (temporarily) disrupted, his overall health is sufficiently good to enable him to overcome the cold without external intervention. Even when our understanding of certain pivotal concepts has lapsed locally, our larger body of intuitions is sufficiently reliable to allow us, without intervention, to ferret out the modal errors resulting from this lapse of understanding by means of dialectic and/or a process of a priori reflection. This source of modal error, and our capacity to overcome it, has wide-ranging implications for philosophical method - including, in particular, its promise for disarming skepticism about the classical method of intuition-driven investigation itself. Indeed, it is shown that skeptical accounts of modal error (e.g., the accounts given by Hill, Levin, and several others) are ultimately self-defeating
Abstract: Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities (e.g., water = H2O) can be known only with the aid of empirical science. The thesis of the paper is that scientific essentialism does not extend to the central questions of philosophy and that these questions can be answered a priori. The argument is that the evidence required for the defense of scientific essentialism (e.g., twin earth intuitions) is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is also reliable. Included is an outline of a modal reliabilist theory of basic evidence and a concept-possession account of the reliability of a priori intuition
Abstract: In this paper I articulate and defend a view that I call phenomenal dogmatism about intuitive justification. It is dogmatic because it includes the thesis: if it intuitively seems to you that p, then you thereby have some prima facie justification for believing that p. It is phenomenalist because it includes the thesis: intuitions justify us in believing their contents in virtue of their phenomenology—and in particular their presentational phenomenology. I explore the nature of presentational phenomenology as it occurs perception, and I make a case for thinking that it is present in a wide variety of logical, mathematical, and philosophical intuitions.
Abstract: As a procedure, reflective equilibrium (RE) is simply a familiar kind of standard scientific method with a new name. (For descriptions of reflective equilibrium, see Daniels 1979, 1980b, 1984; Goodman 1965; Rawls 1971.) A theory is constructed to account for a set of observations. Recalcitrant data may be rejected as noise or explained away as the effects of interference of some sort. Recalcitrant data that cannot be plausibly dismissed force emendations in theory. What counts as a plausible dismissal depends, among other things, on the going theory, as well as on background theory and on knowledge that may be relevant to under-standing the experimental design that is generating the observations, including knowledge of the apparatus and observation conditions. This sort of mutual adjustment between theory and data is a familiar feature of scientific practice. Whatever authority RE seems to have comes, I think, from a tacit or explicit recognition that it has the same form as this familiar sort of scientific inference. One way to see the rationale underlying this procedure in science is to focus on prediction. Think of prediction as a matter of projecting what is known onto uncharted territory. To do this, you need a vehicle—a theory—that captures some invariant or pattern in what is known so that you can project it onto the unknown. How convincing the projection is depends on two factors: (i) how sure one is of the observational base, and (ii) how sure one is that the theory gets the invariants right. The two factors are not independent, of course. One's confidence in the observational base will be affected by how persuasively the theory identifies and dismisses noise; one's confidence in the theory, on the other hand, will depend on one's confidence in the observations it takes seriously. Prediction is important as a test of theory precisely because verified predictions seem to show that the theory has correctly captured the general in the particular, that it has got the drift of the observational evidence in which our confidence is ultimately grounded..
Abstract: Advocates of the use of intuitions in philosophy argue that they are treated as evidence because they are evidential. Their opponents agree that they are treated as evidence, but argue that they should not be so used, since they are the wrong kinds of things. In contrast to both, we argue that, despite appearances, intuitions are not treated as evidence in philosophy whether or not they should be. Our positive account is that intuitions are a subclass of inclinations to believe. Our thesis explains why intuitions play a role in persuasion and inquiry, without conceding that they are evidential. The account also makes predictions about the structure of intuitions that are confirmed by independent arguments
Abstract: I critically evaluate Ernest Sosa's (2007) contrast between intuitive justification and perceptual justification. I defend a competence-based approach to intuitive justification that is continuous with epistemic justification generally.
Abstract: Forthcoming in Philosophical Studies. Penultimate draft; please refer to published version. Abstract. What sorts of things are the intuitions generated via thought experiment? Timothy Williamson has responded to naturalistic skeptics by arguing that thought-experiment intuitions are judgments of ordinary counterfactuals. On this view, the intuition is naturalistically innocuous, but it has a contingent content and could be known at best a posteriori. We suggest an alternative to Williamson’s account, according to which we apprehend thought-experiment intuitions through our grasp on truth in fiction. On our view, intuitions like the Gettier intuition are necessarily true and knowable a priori. Our view, like Williamson’s, avoids naturalistic skepticism
Abstract: I argue that this widespread assumption about the evidential role of intuitions is importantly ambiguous, and, in the sense that is relied upon for many such critiques, it is false. Philosophical evidence is not primarily psychological; traditional methodology does not require introspected premises of the form ‘I have the intuition that p’. In this matter, I agree with recent work by Timothy Williamson
Abstract: While engaged in the analysis of topics such as the nature of knowledge, meaning, or justice, analytic philosophers have traditionally relied extensively on their own intuitions about when the relevant terms can, and can't, be correctly applied. Consequently, if intuitions about possible cases turned out not to be a reliable tool for the proper analysis of philosophically central concepts, then a radical reworking of philosophy's (or at least analytic philosophy's) methodology would seem to be in order. It is thus not surprising that the increasingly critical scrutiny that intuitions have received of late has produced what has been referred to as a "crisis" in analytic philosophy. This paper will argue, however, that at least those criticisms that stem from recent work on semantic externalism are not as serious as their proponents have claimed. Indeed, this paper will argue while the conceptual intuitions (and the analyses that result from them) will have to be recognized as fallible, they still have a prima facie claim to correctness. A naturalistic and externalistic account of concepts thus merely requires that the methodology of conceptual analysis be reinterpreted (from a 'Platonic' to a 'constructive' model) rather than given up
Abstract: There has been a movement recently to bring to bear on the conduct of philosophical thought experiments (henceforth “thought experiments”)1 the empirical techniques of the social sciences, that is, to treat their conduct as in the nature of an anthropological investigation into the application conditions of the concepts of a group of subjects. This is to take a third person, in contrast to the traditional ﬁrst person, approach to conceptual analysis. This has taken the form of conducting surveys about scenarios used in thought experiments.2 It has been called “experimental philosophy” by its practitioners and has been applied across a range of ﬁelds: the philosophy of language, the philosophy of action, the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics.3 The results of these surveys have been used to support conclusions about the application conditions of particular concepts of interest in philosophy. They have also been used to support (and been motivated by) skeptical claims about the traditional approach to conceptual analysis. The..
Abstract: We naturally evaluate the beliefs of others, sometimes by deliberate calculation, and sometimes in a more immediate fashion. Epistemic intuitions are immediate assessments arising when someone’s condition appears to fall on one side or the other of some significant divide in epistemology. After giving a rough sketch of several major features of epistemic intuitions, this article reviews the history of the current philosophical debate about them and describes the major positions in that debate. Linguists and psychologists also study epistemic assessments; the last section of the paper discusses some of their research and its potential relevance to epistemology
Abstract: Let us assume with the classical philosophers that we have a faculty of theoretical intuition, through which we intuit theoretical principles, and a faculty of practical intuition, through which we intuit practical principles. This modest assumption would allow us to distinguish conceptual intuitions from perceptual intuitions. l wish to ask how we could then know if our intuitions of practical principles are true or not. Could we justify or verify our theoretical and practical intuitions in the same way? One would think not, for we assume that we have two different faculties for grasping principles of different kinds. We would thus ask what method or technique we could use to justify or to verify our practical principles. The identification of a method for this purpose would appear to be desirable, for surely we ought to have some guide for developing principles for social and political policies. All too often we find that discourse about policy abandons rationality in favor of appeals to emotion or threats of coercion
Abstract: Jonathan Weinberg (2007) has argued that we should not appeal to intuition as evidence because it cannot be externally corroborated. This paper argues for the normative claim that Weinberg’s demand for external corroboration is misguided. The idea is that Weinberg goes wrong in treating philosophical appeal to intuition analogous to the appeal to evidence in the sciences. Traditional practice is defended against Weinberg’s critique with the argument that some intuitions are true simply in virtue of being intuited by the majority of people. The argument proceeds by way of examining a paradigm case, Putnam’s Twin Earth.
Abstract: The topic is experimental philosophy as a naturalistic movement, and its bearing on the value of intuitions in philosophy. This paper explores first how the movement might bear on philosophy more generally, and how it might amount to something novel and promising. Then it turns to one accomplishment repeatedly claimed for it already: namely, the discrediting of armchair intuitions as used in philosophy
Abstract: Despite well-established results in survey methodology, many experimental philosophers have not asked whether and in what way conclusions about folk intuitions follow from people’s responses to their surveys. Rather, they appear to have proceeded on the assumption that intuitions can be simply read off from survey responses. Survey research, however, is fraught with difficulties. I review some of the relevant literature—particularly focusing on the conversational pragmatic aspects of survey research—and consider its application to common experimental philosophy surveys. I argue for two claims. First, that experimental philosophers’ survey methodology leaves the facts about folk intuitions massively underdetermined; and second, that what has been regarded as evidence for the instability of philosophical intuitions is, at least in some cases, better accounted for in terms of subjects’ reactions to subtle pragmatic cues contained in the surveys.
Abstract: Sosa’s topic is the use of intuitions in philosophy. Much of what I have written on the issue has been critical of appeals to intuition in epistemology, though in recent years I have become increasingly skeptical of the use of intuitions in ethics and in semantic theory as well
Abstract: Intuitively, Gettier cases are instances of justified true beliefs that are not cases of knowledge. Should we therefore conclude that knowledge is not justified true belief? Only if we have reason to trust intuition here. But intuitions are unreliable in a wide range of cases. And it can be argued that the Gettier intuitions have a greater resemblance to unreliable intuitions than to reliable intuitions. Whats distinctive about the faulty intuitions, I argue, is that respecting them would mean abandoning a simple, systematic and largely successful theory in favour of a complicated, disjunctive and idiosyncratic theory. So maybe respecting the Gettier intuitions was the wrong reaction, we should instead have been explaining why we are all so easily misled by these kinds of cases
Abstract: A growing body of empirical literature challenges philosophers’ reliance on intuitions as evidence based on the fact that intuitions vary according to factors such as cultural and educational background, and socio-economic status. Our research extends this challenge, investigating Lehrer’s appeal to the Truetemp Case as evidence against reliabilism. We found that intuitions in response to this case vary according to whether, and which, other thought experiments are considered first. Our results show that compared to subjects who receive the Truetemp Case first, subjects first presented with a clear case of knowledge are less willing to attribute knowledge in the Truetemp Case, and subjects first presented with a clear case of nonknowledge are more willing to attribute knowledge in the Truetemp Case. We contend that this instability undermines the supposed evidential status of these intuitions, such that philosophers who deal in intuitions can no longer rest comfortably in their armchairs
Abstract: How ought we to go about forming and revising our beliefs, arguing and debating our reasons, and investigating our world? If those questions constitute normative epistemology, then I am interested here in normative metaepistemology: the investigation into how we ought to go about forming and revising our beliefs about how we ought to go about forming and revising our beliefs -- how we ought to argue about how we ought to argue. Such investigations have become urgent of late, for the methodology of epistemology has reached something of a crisis. For analytic epistemology of the last half-century has relied overwhelmingly on intuitions,1 and a growing set of arguments and data has begun to call this reliance on intuition seriously into question (e.g., Weinberg, Nichols, and Stich 2001; Nichols, Stich, and Weinberg 2003; Cummins 1998). Although that method has not been entirely without defenders (BonJour 1998; Bealer 1996; Jackson 1998; Sosa forthcoming; Weatherson 2003), these defenses have not generally risen to the specific challenges leveled by the anti-intuitionist critics. In particular, the critics have attacked specific ways of deploying intuitions, and the defenders have overwhelmingly responded with in-principle defenses of the cogency of appealing to intuition. An analogy here would be someone’s responding to arguments alleging systematic..
Abstract: 1. What are called ‘intuitions’ in philosophy are just applications of our ordinary capacities for judgement. We think of them as intuitions when a special kind of scepticism about those capacities is salient. 2. Like scepticism about perception, scepticism about judgement pressures us into conceiving our evidence as facts about our internal psychological states: here, facts about our conscious inclinations to make judgements about some topic rather than facts about the topic itself. But the pressure should be resisted, for it rests on bad epistemology: specifically, on an impossible ideal of unproblematically identifiable evidence. 3. Our resistance to scepticism about judgement is not simply epistemic conservativism, for we resist it on behalf of others as well as ourselves. A reason is needed for thinking that beliefs tend to be true. 4. Evolutionary explanations of the tendency assume what they should explain. Explanations that appeal to constraints on the determination of reference are more promising. Davidson’s truth-maximizing principle of charity is examined but rejected. 5. An alternative principle is defended on which the nature of reference is to maximize knowledge rather than truth. It is related to an externalist conception of mind on which knowing is the central mental state. 6. The knowledge-maximizing principle of charity explains why scenarios for scepticism about judgement do not warrant such scepticism, although it does not explain how we know in any particular case. We should face the fact that evidence is always liable to be contested in philosophy, and stop using talk of intuition to disguise this unpleasant truth from ourselves