Vanderbilt University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1987
Huntsville, Alabama, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Epistemology
  •  23
    Harmless Naturalism: The Limits of Science and the Nature of Philosophy
    Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 62 (2): 493-495. 1998.
  •  1998
    Meno’s Paradox is an Epistemic Regress Problem
    Logos and Episteme 10 (1): 107-120. 2019.
    I give an interpretation according to which Meno’s paradox is an epistemic regress problem. The paradox is an argument for skepticism assuming that (1) acquired knowledge about an object X requires prior knowledge about what X is and (2) any knowledge must be acquired. (1) is a principle about having reasons for knowledge and about the epistemic priority of knowledge about what X is. (1) and (2) jointly imply a regress-generating principle which implies that knowledge always requires an infinite…Read more
  • The purpose of this dissertation is to consider Paul Churchland's arguments for eliminative materialism and for the abolition of traditional epistemology. It is shown that these arguments are faulty and that there is more to be said for our commonsense conception of mentality than the eliminative materialist supposes. ;The essay begins by explaining the eliminative materialists' claim that our commonsense conception of mentality is an outmoded theory which will, or at least should, be replaced b…Read more
  •  34
    The empirical virtues of belief
    Philosophical Psychology 4 (3): 303-23. 1991.
    Abstract Meeting the eliminativist challenge to folk psychology requires showing that beliefs have explanatory virtues unlikely to be duplicated by non?cognitive accounts of behavior. The explanatory power of beliefs is rooted in their intentionality. That beliefs have a distinctive kind of intentionality is shown by the distinctive intensionality of the sentences which report them. Contrary to Fodor, the fundamental explanatory virtues of beliefs are not to be found in their capacity to make ca…Read more
  •  31
    Mind and Cognition (review)
    Teaching Philosophy 15 (2): 196-198. 1992.
  •  31
    Empirical Justification. By Paul K. Moser (review)
    Modern Schoolman 67 (1): 71-73. 1989.
  •  22
    Self‐supporting Arguments
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2): 279-303. 2003.
    Deductive and inductive logic confront this skeptical challenge: we can justify any logical principle only by means of an argument but we can acquire justification by means of an argument only if we are already justified in believing some logical principle. We could solve this problem if probative arguments do not require justified belief in their corresponding conditionals. For if not, then inferential justification would not require justified belief in any logical principle. So even arguments …Read more
  •  33
    Harmless Naturalism (review)
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (2): 493-495. 2001.
    Almeder considers three versions of naturalism. The most radical claims that legitimate questions can only be answered by science, so epistemology should be replaced by scientific psychology. Moderate naturalism holds that there is a legitimate role for philosophy and for science in epistemology: philosophy tells us what knowledge is, but since it is reliably-produced true belief, science tells us how much we can have. “Harmless” naturalism holds that philosophy can provide us with non-scientifi…Read more
  •  62
    Reasons Regresses and Tragedy
    American Philosophical Quarterly 46 (4): 333-346. 2009.
    The epistemic regress problem is about the possibility of having beliefs that are based on evidence. The problem of the criterion is about the possibility of having beliefs that are based on general standards for distinguishing what is true from what is false. These problems are similar. Each is constituted by a set of propositions about epistemically valuable relational properties—being supported by evidence and being authorized by a criterion of truth—that are individually plausible but jointl…Read more
  •  48
    The Rationality of Induction. By D. C. Stove (review)
    Modern Schoolman 65 (4): 292-294. 1988.
  •  16
    Mind and Cognition (review)
    Teaching Philosophy 15 (2): 196-198. 1992.
  •  107
    Epistemic levels and the problem of the criterion
    Philosophical Studies 88 (2): 109-140. 1997.
    The problem of the criterion says that we can know a proposition only if we first know a criterion of truth and vice versa, hence, we cannot know any proposition or any criterion of truth. The epistemic levels response says that since knowledge does not require knowledge about knowledge, we can know a proposition without knowing a criterion of truth. This response (advocated by Chisholm and Van Cleve) presupposes that criteria of truth are epistemic principles. In general, however, criteria of t…Read more
  •  269
    The epistemic regress problem
    Philosophical Studies 140 (3). 2008.
    The best extant statement of the epistemic regress problem makes assumptions that are too strong. An improved version assumes only that that reasons require support, that no proposition is supported only by endless regresses of reasons, and that some proposition is supported. These assumptions are individually plausible but jointly inconsistent. Attempts to explain support by means of unconceptualized sensations, contextually immunized propositions, endless regresses, and holistic coherence all …Read more
  •  15
    Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. By Donald Davidson (review)
    Modern Schoolman 65 (3): 207-209. 1988.
  •  265
    The trouble with infinitism
    Synthese 138 (1). 2004.
    One way to solve the epistemic regress problem would be to show that we can acquire justification by means of an infinite regress. This is infinitism. This view has not been popular, but Peter Klein has developed a sophisticated version of infinitism according to which all justified beliefs depend upon an infinite regress of reasons. Klein's argument for infinitism is unpersuasive, but he successfully responds to the most compelling extant objections to the view. A key component of his position …Read more
  •  122
    Posing the problem of the criterion
    Philosophical Studies 75 (3). 1994.
    Although it has been largely neglected in contemporary philosophy , the problem of the criterion raises questions which must be addressed by any complete account of knowledge . But the problem of the criterion suffers not onl
  •  170
    There are important similarities between the epistemic regress problem and the problem of the criterion. Each turns on plausible principles stating that epistemic reasons must be supported by epistemic reasons but that having reasons is impossible if that requires having endless regresses of reasons. These principles are incompatible with the possibility of reasons, so each problem is a paradox. Whether there can be an antiskeptical solution to these paradoxes depends upon the kinds of reasons t…Read more
  •  102
    Justification-affording circular arguments
    Philosophical Studies 111 (3). 2002.
    An argument whose conclusion C is essential evidence for one of its premises can provide its target audience with justification for believing C. This is possible because we can enhance our justification for believing a proposition C by integrating it into an explanatory network of beliefs for which C itself provides essential evidence. I argue for this in light of relevant features of doxastic circularity, epistemic circularity, and explanatory inferences. Finally, I confirm my argument with an …Read more
  •  56
    Disappearance and knowledge
    Philosophy of Science 57 (2): 226-47. 1990.
    Paul Churchland argues that the continuity of human intellectual development provides evidence against folk psychology and traditional epistemology, since these latter find purchase only at the later stages of intellectual development. He supports this contention with an analogy from the history of thermodynamics. Careful attention to the thermodynamics analogy shows that the argument from continuity does not provide independent support for eliminative materialism. The argument also rests upon c…Read more
  •  110
    Self-supporting arguments
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2). 2003.
    Deductive and inductive logic confront this skeptical challenge: we can justify any logical principle only by means of an argument but we can acquire justification by means of an argument only if we are already justified in believing some logical principle. We could solve this problem if probative arguments do not require justified belief in their corresponding conditionals. For if not, then inferential justification would not require justified belief in any logical principle. So even arguments …Read more
  •  41