• Conspiracy Theories and Evidential Self-Insulation
    In Sven Bernecker, Amy Flowerree & Thomas Grundmann (eds.), The Epistemology of Fake News, Oxford University Press. pp. 82-105. 2021.
    What are conspiracy theories? And what, if anything, is epistemically wrong with them? I offer an account on which conspiracy theories are a unique way of holding a belief in a conspiracy. Specifically, I take conspiracy theories to be self-insulating beliefs in conspiracies. On this view, conspiracy theorists have their conspiratorial beliefs in a way that is immune to revision by counter-evidence. I argue that conspiracy theories are always irrational. Although conspiracy theories involve an e…Read more
  • How irrelevant influences bias belief
    Yuval Avnur and Dion Scott-Kakures
    Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1): 7-39. 2015.
  • Moorean Facts and Belief Revision, or Can the Skeptic Win?
    Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1): 179-209. 2005.
    A Moorean fact, in the words of the late David Lewis, is ‘one of those things that we know better than we know the premises of any philosophical argument to the contrary’. Lewis opens his seminal paper ‘Elusive Knowledge’ with the following declaration.
  • Review of Raymond Geuss, 'Who Needs a World View?' (review)
    Los Angeles Review of Books. 2020.
  • Is critical thinking epistemically responsible?
    Metaphilosophy 36 (4): 522-531. 2005.
    Three ways of approaching controversial issues are: (i) To accept the conclusions of experts on their authority; (ii) to evaluate the relevant evidence/arguments for ourselves; and (iii) to simply withhold judgement. The received view recommends strategy (ii). But (ii) is normally epistemically inferior to (i) and (iii), since we are justified in believing that it is less reliable at producing true beliefs and avoiding false ones.
  • Knowledge Norms and Acting Well
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (1): 49-55. 2012.
    I argue that evaluating the knowledge norm of practical reasoning is less straightforward than is often assumed in the literature. In particular, cases in which knowledge is intuitively present, but action is intuitively epistemically unwarranted, provide no traction against the knowledge norm. The knowledge norm indicates what it is appropriately to hold a particular content as a reason for action; it does not provide a theory of what reasons are sufficient for what actions. Absent a general th…Read more
  • Respect and the Reality of Apparent Reasons
    Kurt L. Sylvan
    Philosophical Studies. forthcoming.
    Some say that rationality only requires us to respond to apparent normative reasons. Given the independence of appearance and reality, why think that apparent normative reasons necessarily provide real normative reasons? And if they do not, why think that mistakes of rationality are necessarily real mistakes? This paper gives a novel answer to these questions. I argue first that in the moral domain, there are objective duties of respect that we violate whenever we do what appears to violate our …Read more
  • Suspended judgment
    Philosophical Studies 162 (2): 165-181. 2013.
    Abstract   In this paper I undertake an in-depth examination of an oft mentioned but rarely expounded upon state: suspended judgment. While traditional epistemology is sometimes characterized as presenting a “yes or no” picture of its central attitudes, in fact many of these epistemologists want to say that there is a third option: subjects can also suspend judgment. Discussions of suspension are mostly brief and have been less than clear on a number of issues, in particular whether this third o…Read more
  • Susanna Rinard has recently offered a new argument for pragmatism and against evidentialism. According to Rinard, evidentialists must hold that the rationality of belief is determined in a way that is different from how the rationality of other states is determined. She argues that we should instead endorse a view she calls Equal Treatment, according to which the rationality of all states is determined in the same way. In this paper, I show that Rinard’s claims are mistaken, and that evidentiali…Read more
  • Might All Normativity Be Queer?
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (1): 41-58. 2010.
    Here I discuss the conceptual structure and core semantic commitments of reason-involving thought and discourse needed to underwrite the claim that ethical normativity is not uniquely queer. This deflates a primary source of ethical scepticism and it vindicates so-called partner in crime arguments. When it comes to queerness objections, all reason-implicating normative claims?including those concerning Humean reasons to pursue one's ends, and epistemic reasons to form true beliefs?stand or fall …Read more
  • Evidence and Normativity: Reply to Leite
    Thomas Kelly
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2): 465-474. 2007.
    According to one view about the rationality of belief, such rationality is ultimately nothing other than the rationality that one exhibits in taking the means to one’s ends. On this view, epistemic rationality is really a species or special case of instrumental rationality. In particular, epistemic rationality is instrumental rationality in the service of one’s distinctively cognitive or epistemic goals (perhaps: one’s goal of holding true rather than false beliefs). In my (2003), I dubbed this …Read more
  • Consider the skeptic about the external world. Let’s straightaway concede to such a skeptic that perception gives us no conclusive or certain knowledge about our surroundings. Our perceptual justification for beliefs about our surroundings is always defeasible—there are always possible improvements in our epistemic state which would no longer support those beliefs. Let’s also concede to the skeptic that it’s metaphysically possible for us to have all the experiences we’re now having while all th…Read more
  • Solving the skeptical problem
    Philosophical Review 104 (1): 1-52. 1995.
  • Conditional Obligations
    Social Theory and Practice 46 (2): 365-390. 2020.
    Some obligations are conditional such that act A is morally optional, but if one chooses A, one is required to do act B rather than some other less valuable act C. Such conditional obligations arise frequently in research ethics, in the philosophical literature, and in real life. They are controversial: how does a morally optional act give rise to demanding requirements to do the best? Some think that the fact that a putative obligation has a conditional structure, so defined, is a strike agains…Read more
  • There are at least two threads in our thought and talk about rationality, both practical and theoretical. In one sense, to be rational is to respond correctly to the reasons one has. Call this substantive rationality. In another sense, to be rational is to be coherent, or to have the right structural relations hold between one’s mental states, independently of whether those attitudes are justified. Call this structural rationality. According to the standard view, structural rationality is associ…Read more
  • Why be rational
    Mind 114 (455): 509-563. 2005.
    Normativity involves two kinds of relation. On the one hand, there is the relation of being a reason for. This is a relation between a fact and an attitude. On the other hand, there are relations specified by requirements of rationality. These are relations among a person's attitudes, viewed in abstraction from the reasons for them. I ask how the normativity of rationality—the sense in which we ‘ought’ to comply with requirements of rationality—is related to the normativity of reasons—the sense …Read more
  • Enkrasia or evidentialism? Learning to love mismatch
    Philosophical Studies 177 (3): 597-632. 2020.
    I formulate a resilient paradox about epistemic rationality, discuss and reject various solutions, and sketch a way out. The paradox exemplifies a tension between a wide range of views of epistemic justification, on the one hand, and enkratic requirements on rationality, on the other. According to the enkratic requirements, certain mismatched doxastic states are irrational, such as believing p, while believing that it is irrational for one to believe p. I focus on an evidentialist view of justif…Read more
  • Accuracy, Coherence and Evidence
    Oxford Studies in Epistemology 5 61-96. 2015.
    Taking Joyce’s (1998; 2009) recent argument(s) for probabilism as our point of departure, we propose a new way of grounding formal, synchronic, epistemic coherence requirements for (opinionated) full belief. Our approach yields principled alternatives to deductive consistency, sheds new light on the preface and lottery paradoxes, and reveals novel conceptual connections between alethic and evidential epistemic norms
  • ``Subjective and Objective Justification in Ethics and Epistemology"
    Richard Feldman
    The Monist 71 (3): 405--419. 1988.
    A view widely held by epistemologists is that there is a distinction between subjective and objective epistemic justification, analogous to the commonly drawn distinction between subjective and objective justification in ethics. Richard Brandt offers a clear statement of this line of thought