•  33
    The Inelimninability of Epistemic Rationality
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    Many writers have recently urged that the epistemic rationality of beliefs can depend on broadly pragmatic (as opposed to truth-directed) factors. Taken to an extreme, this line of thought leads to a view on which there is no such thing as a distinctive epistemic form of rationality. A series of papers by Susanna Rinard develops the view that something like our traditional notion of pragmatic rationality is all that is needed to account for the rationality of beliefs. This approach has undeniabl…Read more
  •  13
    Formulating Independence
    In Mattias Skipper & Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen (eds.), Higher-Order Evidence: New Essays. pp. 13-34. 2019.
    We often get evidence that bears on the reliability of some of our own first-order reasoning. The rational response to such “higher-order” evidence would seem to depend on a rational assessment of how reliable we can expect that reasoning to be, in light of the higher-order evidence. “Independence” principles are intended to constrain this reliability-assessment, so as to prevent question-begging reliance on the very reasoning being assessed. However, extant formulations of Independence principl…Read more
  •  14
    On Acting as Judge in One’s Own (Epistemic) Case
    Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 93 (1): 207-235. 2018.
    We often get reason to doubt the reliability of some of our own reasoning. The rational response to such evidence would seem to depend on how reliable one should estimate that reasoning to be. Independence principles constrain that reliability-assessment, to prevent question-begging reliance on the very reasoning being assessed. But this has consequences some find disturbing: can it be rational for an agent to bracket some of her reasons—which she may, after all, be assessing impeccably? So seve…Read more
  •  16
    The Rationality of Science
    with David Christensen and W. H. Newton-Smith
    Philosophical Review 93 (3): 471. 1984.
  •  107
    Glymour on evidential relevance
    Philosophy of Science 50 (3): 471-481. 1983.
    Glymour's "bootstrap" account of confirmation is designed to provide an analysis of evidential relevance, which has been a serious problem for hypothetico-deductivism. As set out in Theory and Evidence, however, the "bootstrap" condition allows confirmation in clear cases of evidential irrelevance. The difficulties with Glymour's account seem to be due to a basic feature which it shares with hypothetico-deductive accounts, and which may explain why neither can give a satisfactory analysis of evi…Read more
  •  111
    Causal powers and conceptual connections
    Analysis 52 (3): 163-8. 1992.
    In "A Modal Argument for Narrow Content" ("Journal of Philosophy", LXXXVIII, 1991, pp 5-26), Jerry Fodor proposes a necessary condition for the distinctness of causal powers. He uses this condition to support psychological individualism. I show that Fodor's argument relies on inconsistent interpretations of his condition on distinct causal powers. Moreover, on no consistent interpretation does Fodor's condition yield the results claimed for it
  •  10
    Letters to the Editor
    Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 68 (5): 107-122. 1995.
  •  11
    The Nature of Rationality
    Noûs 29 (2): 259-274. 1995.
  •  40
    Letters to the Editor
    with Sanford G. Thatcher, James S. Stramel, Heather Blair, Ronald De Sousa, Timothy F. Murphy, Paul Raymont, Harold J. Dumain, Joseph A. Grispino, Todd Volker, Anto Knežević, and Karen M. Kuss
    Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 68 (5). 1995.
    A letter protesting the publication of a homophobic rant in the Proceedings of the APA.
  •  1203
    The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. 2013.
    This is a collective study of the epistemic significance of disagreement: twelve contributors explore rival responses to the problems that it raises for philosophy. They develop our understanding of epistemic phenomena that are central to any thoughtful engagement with others' beliefs.
  • Empirical Equivalence and Skeptical Methodology: The Case of the Switched Words
    Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles. 1987.
    In this dissertation, I study the strategy of giving semantical replies to skeptical puzzles. I concentrate on a very simple kind of puzzle, which seems to invite--and perhaps even require--semantical responses. ;Skeptical problems of this kind, which I call "switched-words" problems, are based on alternative hypotheses about the world which are structurally very similar to our standard hypotheses; for example, it has been asked how we can justify choosing our standard physical theory over an al…Read more
  •  1128
    Disagreement as evidence: The epistemology of controversy
    Philosophy Compass 4 (5): 756-767. 2009.
    How much should your confidence in your beliefs be shaken when you learn that others – perhaps 'epistemic peers' who seem as well-qualified as you are – hold beliefs contrary to yours? This article describes motivations that push different philosophers towards opposite answers to this question. It identifies a key theoretical principle that divides current writers on the epistemology of disagreement. It then examines arguments bearing on that principle, and on the wider issue. It ends by describ…Read more
  •  425
    Disagreement and Public Controversy
    In Jennifer Lackey (ed.), Essays in Collective Epistemology, Oxford University Press. 2014.
    One of Mill’s main arguments for free speech springs from taking disagreement as an epistemically valuable resource for fallible thinkers. Contemporary conciliationist treatments of disagreement spring from the same motivation, but end up seeing the epistemic implications of disagreement quite differently. Conciliationism also encounters complexities when transposed from the 2-person toy examples featured in the literature to the public disagreements among groups that give the issue much of its …Read more
  •  81
    The irrelevance of bootstrapping
    Philosophy of Science 57 (4): 644-662. 1990.
    The main appeal of the currently popular "bootstrap" account of confirmation developed by Clark Glymour is that it seems to provide an account of evidential relevance. This account has, however, had severe problems; and Glymour has revised his original account in an attempt to solve them. I argue that this attempt fails completely, and that any similar modifications must also fail. If the problems can be solved, it will only be by radical revisions which involve jettisoning bootstrapping's basic…Read more
  •  14
    Measuring Confirmation
    Journal of Philosophy 96 (9): 437-461. 1999.
  •  509
    Epistemic Modesty Defended
    In David Christensen & Jennifer Lackey (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays, Oxford University Press. pp. 77. 2013.
    It has often been noticed that conciliatory views of disagreement are "self-undermining" in a certain way: advocates of such views cannot consistently maintain them when other philosophers disagree. This leads to apparent problems of instability and even inconsistency. Does self-undermining, then, show conciliationism untenable? If so, the untenablity would extend not only to almost all views of disagreement, but to a wide range of other views supporting what one might call epistemic modesty: ro…Read more
  •  78
    Skeptical problems, semantical solutions
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (2): 301-321. 1993.
  •  275
    Introduction: The Epistemology of Disagreement
    Episteme 6 (3): 231-232. 2009.
    One of the most salient features of forming beliefs in a social context is that people end up disagreeing with one another. This is not just an obvious fact about belief-formation; it raises interesting normative questions, especially when people become aware of the opinions of others. How should my beliefs be affected by the knowledge that others hold contrary beliefs? In some cases, the answer seems easy. If I have reason to think that my friend is much better informed than I am, her dissent w…Read more
  •  342
    Diachronic coherence versus epistemic impartiality
    Philosophical Review 109 (3): 349-371. 2000.
    It is obvious that we would not want to demand that an agent' s beliefs at different times exhibit the same sort of consistency that we demand from an agent' s simultaneous beliefs; there' s nothing irrational about believing P at one time and not-P at another. Nevertheless, many have thought that some sort of coherence or stability of beliefs over time is an important component of epistemic rationality.
  •  422
    Disagreement, Drugs, etc.: from Accuracy to Akrasia
    Episteme 13 (4): 397-422. 2016.
    We often get evidence concerning the reliability of our own thinking about some particular matter. This “higher-order evidence” can come from the disagreement of others, or from information about our being subject to the effects of drugs, fatigue, emotional ties, implicit biases, etc. This paper examines some pros and cons of two fairly general models for accommodating higher-order evidence. The one that currently seems most promising also turns out to have the consequence that epistemic akrasia…Read more
  •  182
    Testimony, memory and the limits of the a priori
    Philosophical Studies 86 (1): 1-20. 1997.
    A number of philosophers, from Thomas Reid1 through C. A. J. Coady2, have argued that one is justified in relying on the testimony of others, and furthermore, that this should be taken as a basic epistemic presumption. If such a general presumption were not ultimately dependent on evidence for the reliability of other people, the ground for this presumption would be a priori. Such a presumption would then have a status like that which Roderick Chisholm claims for the epistemic principle that we …Read more
  •  102
    Preference-based arguments for probabilism
    Philosophy of Science 68 (3): 356-376. 2001.
    Both Representation Theorem Arguments and Dutch Book Arguments support taking probabilistic coherence as an epistemic norm. Both depend on connecting beliefs to preferences, which are not clearly within the epistemic domain. Moreover, these connections are standardly grounded in questionable definitional/metaphysical claims. The paper argues that these definitional/metaphysical claims are insupportable. It offers a way of reconceiving Representation Theorem arguments which avoids the untenable p…Read more
  •  1564
    Epistemology of disagreement: The good news
    Philosophical Review 116 (2): 187-217. 2007.
  •  267
    Conciliation, Uniqueness and Rational Toxicity
    Noûs 50 (3): 584-603. 2016.
    Conciliationism holds that disagreement of apparent epistemic peers often substantially undermines rational confidence in our opinions. Uniqueness principles say that there is at most one maximally rational doxastic response to any given batch of total evidence. The two views are often thought to be tightly connected. This paper distinguishes two ways of motivating conciliationism, and two ways that conciliationism may be undermined by permissive accounts of rationality. It shows how conciliatio…Read more
  •  10
    Skeptical Problems, Semantical Solutions
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (2): 301-321. 1993.
    This paper defends the legitimacy of semantical responses to certain skeptical challenges, with a particular focus on Putnam’s treatment of a particular version of Brain-in-Vat skepticism. It argues that while Putnam’s argument does not provide a general reply to Brain-in-Vat skepticism, the general approach it exemplifies is actually crucial in replying to other skeptical challenges that are otherwise hard to rebut.
  •  181
    Does murphy’s law apply in epistemology
    Oxford Studies in Epistemology 2 3-31. 2008.
    Formally-inclined epistemologists often theorize about ideally rational agents--agents who exemplify rational ideals, such as probabilistic coherence, that human beings could never fully realize. This approach can be defended against the well-know worry that abstracting from human cognitive imperfections deprives the approach of interest. But a different worry arises when we ask what an ideal agent should believe about her own cognitive perfection (even an agent who is in fact cognitively perfec…Read more
  •  81
    Three questions about Leplin’s reliabilism
    Philosophical Studies 134 (1): 43-50. 2007.
    This paper raises three critical questions about Jarrett Leplin's version of reliabilism.