Epistemic reasons their structure nature
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Epistemic Reasons: Their Structure & Nature. Kareem Khalifa Department of Philosophy Middlebury College. Overview. Justification Agrippa’s Trilemma Three Theories of Justification Epistemic Rationality Internalism vs. Externalism. I. Justification: Reminders.

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Epistemic reasons their structure nature

Epistemic Reasons: Their Structure & Nature

Kareem Khalifa

Department of Philosophy

Middlebury College


Overview

Overview

  • Justification

  • Agrippa’s Trilemma

  • Three Theories of Justification

  • Epistemic Rationality

  • Internalism vs. Externalism


I justification reminders

I. Justification: Reminders

  • A theory of justification should provide a general recipe for answering the following question:

    • How do you know?

  • Gettier cases show that justified true belief is not sufficient for knowledge

  • However, perhaps justified true belief is still necessary for knowledge


Ii agrippa s trilemma

II. Agrippa’s Trilemma

  • No Free Lunch

  • The Set-Up

  • The Three Horns


Epistemic reasons their structure nature

II.A.

If q is S’s justification for believing that p, then S must be justified in believing that q.


Ii b setting up the trilemma

II.B. Setting up the Trilemma

  • Suppose that you claim to know that p

  • How do you know that p?

  • If q is your justification, then you should answer, “Because q”

  • However, because there are no free lunches, we must be able to answer the question, “How do you that q?”


Ii c the three horns

II.C. The Three Horns

  • This line of questioning has only three possible outcomes:

    • An infinite regress: I know that p because of q, I know that q because of r…

    • A vicious circle: I know that p because of q, I know that q because of p

    • An arbitrary stopping point: I know that p because of q, and I know that q just because.

  • But we don’t possess infinite reasons, and neither viciously circular reasoning nor arbitrary stopping points seem to provide justification.

  • Hence we aren’t justified in believing in anything!!


Iii three theories of justification

III. Three Theories of Justification

  • Infinitism

  • Coherentism

  • Foundationalism


A infinitism

A. Infinitism

  • S is justified in believing that p if and only if S possesses an infinite, non-repeating chain of reasons for believing that p

  • Objection:

    • Nobody possesses an infinite, non-repeating chain of reasons for her beliefs.

    • So, if infinitism is true, then nobody is justified in any of her beliefs.

    • Somebody is justified in some of her beliefs.

    • So infinitism is not true.


B coherentism

B. Coherentism

  • S is justified in believing that p if and only if S possesses a finite, repeating chain of reasons for believing that p

  • No single proposition q justifies p; rather p is justified by its fit with one’s overall system of beliefs.


C foundationalism

C. Foundationalism

  • S is justified in believing that p if and only if S possesses a finite, non-repeating chain of reasons for believing that p.

  • Some beliefs are justified in themselves.

    • Called “self-justifying,” “basic,” or “foundational” beliefs.

  • Problem:

    • Hard to to have a criterion of self-justification that is: (a) defensible, and (b) rich enough to justify the remaining, non-basic beliefs.


Iv epistemic rationality

IV. Epistemic Rationality

  • What is epistemic rationality?

  • Different epistemic goals

  • Pointless truths


A what is epistemic rationality

A. What is Epistemic Rationality?

  • Rationality aimed at gaining true belief.

  • Other kinds of rationality are aimed at achieving other goals.


B different epistemic goals

B. Different epistemic goals

  • We should maximize our true beliefs.

    • Problem: gullibility

  • We should minimize our false beliefs.

    • Problem: Stingy belief

  • We should provide the best balance of seeking true beliefs and avoiding false beliefs.

    • Problem: what’s the right balance?


C pointless truths

C. Pointless truths

  • Suppose that I come to have many true beliefs about insignificant things.

  • I seem to have met some epistemic goal, but I don’t seem very epistemically rational.

  • 1st Response: You are epistemically rational, but perhaps non-epistemically irrational.

    • Problem: this trivializes epistemic rationality

  • 2nd Response: You are epistemically irrational, since pointless truths will not help you find other truths and avoid other falsehoods.


V internalism vs externalism

V. Internalism vs. Externalism

  • Rationality & responsibility

  • Two conceptions of rationality


A rationality responsibility

A. Rationality & responsibility

  • The R&R thesis: S is epistemically rational in believing that p if and only if S is intellectually responsible in believing that p.


B problems with the r r thesis

B. Problems with the R&R Thesis

  • Control Objection

  • Bad Norm Objection


1 control objection

1. Control Objection

  • If S is responsible for doing X, then S has some voluntary control over X.

  • We lack voluntary control over some of our beliefs.

  • So we are not responsible for some of our rational beliefs.

  • So epistemic rationality  intellectual responsibility


2 bad norm objection

2. Bad Norm Objection

  • If S doesn’t know better than to accept a bad epistemic norm N, then :

    • S is epistemically irrational;

    • S can’t be blamed for any belief p licensed by N.

  • If S can’t be blamed for doing X, then S is being responsible in doing X.

  • So, epistemic rationality  intellectual responsibility.


C two conceptions of rationality

C. Two conceptions of rationality

  • Internalism(deontic, egocentric)

  • Externalism (non-deontic, non-egocentric)


1 internalism

1. Internalism

  • S is internally justified in believing that p if and only if, from S’s perspective, it is intellectually responsible to believe that p.

  • 1st Objection: Appears insufficient as a theory of justification, since one can be internally justified on the basis of bad epistemic norms.

  • 2nd Objection: Appears unnecessary as a theory of justification, since babies & animals form their beliefs in the right way though without being responsible.


2 externalism

2. Externalism

  • S is externally justified in believing that p if and only if S’s belief that p was formed in a truth-conducive manner.

  • Objection: severs the connection between epistemic rationality and intellectual responsibility


Recap

Recap

  • Agrippa’s Trilemma forces a choice between infinitism, coherentism, and foundationalism.

  • Although epistemic rationality and justification seem as if they should be closely entwined, they also differ in important ways.

  • Internalists try to minimize these differences; externalists embrace them.


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