Brandeis University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1975
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Areas of Interest
Metaphysics and Epistemology
  •  78
    The Function of Knowledge
    Analysis 81 (1): 100-107. 2021.
    Human beings are epistemically interdependent. Much of what we know and much of what we need to know we glean from others. Being a gregarious bunch, we are prone to venturing opinions whether they are warranted or not. This makes information transfer a tricky business. What we want from others is not just information, but reliable information. When we seek information, we are in the position of enquirers not examiners. We ask someone whether p because we do not ourselves already know whether p. …Read more
  •  20
    Synthese 199 (1-2): 1577-1597. 2020.
  •  6
    Intellectual Trust in Oneself and Others
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (3): 724-734. 2004.
  •  4
    Considered Judgment
    Princeton University Press. 1999.
    Philosophy long sought to set knowledge on a firm foundation, through derivation of indubitable truths by infallible rules. For want of such truths and rules, the enterprise foundered. Nevertheless, foundationalism's heirs continue their forbears' quest, seeking security against epistemic misfortune, while their detractors typically espouse unbridled coherentism or facile relativism. Maintaining that neither stance is tenable, Catherine Elgin devises a via media between the absolute and the arbi…Read more
  •  45
    The Mark of a Good Informant
    Acta Analytica 35 (3): 319-331. 2020.
    Edward Craig and Michael Hannon agree that the function of knowledge is to enable us to identify informants whose word we can safely take. This requires that knowers display a publicly recognizable mark. Although this might suffice for information transfer, I argue that the position that emerges promotes testimonial injustice, since the mark of a good informant need not be shared by all who are privy to the facts we seek. I suggest a way the problem might be alleviated.
  •  2
    Take It from Me: The Epistemological Status of Testimony
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (2): 291-308. 2002.
    Testimony consists in imparting information without supplying evidence or argument to back one’s claims. To what extent does testimony convey epistemic warrant? C. J. A. Coady argues, on Davidsonian grounds, that most testimony is true, hence most testimony supplies warrant sufficient for knowledge. I appeal to Grice’s maxims to undermine Coady’s argument and to show that the matter is more complicated and context-sensitive than is standardly recognized. Informative exchanges take place within n…Read more
  • Epistemically Useful Falsehoods
    In Cherie Braden, Rodrigo Borges & Branden Fitelson (eds.), Themes From Klein, Springer Verlag. 2019.
  •  2
    The Impossibility of Saying What Is Shown
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 16 (1): 617-627. 1978.
  •  33
    Philosophie de la danse (edited book)
    with Beauquel Julia, Carroll Noel, Karlsson Mikael M., Kintzler Catherine, Louis Fabrice, McFee Graham, Moore Margaret, Pouillaude Frédéric, Pouivet Roger, and Van Camp Julie
    Aesthetica, Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 2010.
    En posant avec clarté des questions de philosophie de l’esprit, d’ontologie et d’épistémologie, ce livre témoigne à la fois de l’intérêt réel de la danse comme objet philosophique et du rôle unique que peut jouer la philosophie dans une meilleure compréhension de cet art. Qu’est-ce que danser ? Que nous apprend le mouvement dansé sur la nature humaine et la relation entre le corps et l’esprit ? À quelles conditions une œuvre est-elle correctement interprétée par les danseurs et bien identifiée p…Read more
  •  73
    Can Belief Be Justified Through Coherence Alone?
    In Matthias Steup, John Turri & Ernest Sosa (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, Blackwell. pp. 244-273. 2013.
  •  7
    [Book review] considered judgment (review)
    In Stephen Everson (ed.), Ethics, Cambridge University Press. pp. 108--4. 1998.
  •  1
  •  75
    Lawlikeness and the end of science
    Philosophy of Science 47 (1): 56-68. 1980.
    Although our theories are not precisely true, scientific realists contend that we should admit their objects into our ontology. One justification--offered by Sellars and Putnam--is that current theories belong to series that converge to ideally adequate theories. I consider the way the commitment to convergence reflects on the interpretation of lawlike claims. I argue that the distinction between lawlike and accidental generalizations depends on our cognitive interests and reflects our commitmen…Read more
  •  6
    True Enough
    MIT Press. 2017.
    Science relies on models and idealizations that are known not to be true. Even so, science is epistemically reputable. To accommodate science, epistemology should focus on understanding rather than knowledge and should recognize that the understanding of a topic need not be factive. This requires reconfiguring the norms of epistemic acceptability. If epistemology has the resources to accommodate science, it will also have the resources to show that art too advances understanding
  •  49
    Davidson's token-Token identity theory is based on the indeterminacy of translation. I argue that psychological theories, Like other theories, Are underdetermined by the evidence, And that their reduction, Like other reductions, Is subject to the indeterminacy of translation. This does not invalidate reduction, But it does raise epistemic difficulties. Accepting a claim as law-Like involves uncertainty and risk. There are ideological reasons for thinking that psychophysical reduction involves ri…Read more
  •  21
    The Epistemic Normativity of Knowing-How
    In Astrid Wagner & Ulrich Dirks (eds.), Abel Im Dialog: Perspektiven der Zeichen- Und Interpretationsphilosophie, De Gruyter. pp. 483-498. 2018.
  • Esthétique et connaissance
    with Nelson Goodman
    Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 99 (1): 137-138. 1994.
  •  15
    Richard Foley’s Intellectual Trust in Oneself and Others
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (3): 724-734. 2004.
    Descartes’ demon is a crafty little devil. Despite centuries of effort by exceedingly clever thinkers, he continues to elude our clutches. Skepticism endures. The reason, Richard Foley thinks, is not hard to discover. It is simply impossible to break through the Cartesian circle. Our only means of vindicating a claim to knowledge or rational belief is to show that it is produced or sustained by our best epistemic methods, that it satisfies the best standards we can devise for rational belief. Th…Read more
  •  11
  •  113
    Construction and Cognition
    Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 24 (2): 135-146. 2009.
    _The Structure of Appearance_ presents a phenomenalist system which constructs enduring visible objects out of qualia. Nevertheless Goodman does not espouse phenomenalism. Why not? In answering this question this paper explicates Goodman’s views about the nature and functions of constructional systems, the prospects of reductionism, and the character of epistemology.
  •  1
    Philosophical Inquiry: Classic and Contemporary Readings (edited book)
    with Jonathan Eric Adler
    Hackett Publishing Company. 2007.
    This meticulously edited anthology provides a comprehensive, problems-oriented entree to philosophy. Substantial readings from major classical and contemporary thinkers--featuring many of Hackett's widely acclaimed translations--are supported by a general introduction, engaging introductions to each major topic, and a glossary of important philosophical terms.
  •  141
    Unnatural science
    Journal of Philosophy 92 (6): 289-302. 1995.
  •  11
    Considered Judgment
    Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 60 (3): 724-726. 2000.
  •  3
    v. 1. Nominalism, constructivism, and relativism in the work of Nelson Goodman -- v. 2. Nelson Goodman's new riddle of induction -- v. 3. Nelson Goodman's philosophy of art -- v. 4. Nelson Goodman's theory of symbols and its applications.
  •  37
    Between the Absolute and the Arbitrary
    Cornell University Press. 1997.
    In Between the Absolute and the Arbitrary, Catherine Z. Elgin maps a constructivist alternative to the standard Anglo-American conception of philosophy's ...