University of California, Irvine
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1995
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States of America
Areas of Interest
  •  7
    Animal deception and the content of signals
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 87 114-124. 2021.
  •  48
    The Epistemic Threat of Deepfakes
    Philosophy and Technology 1-21. forthcoming.
    Deepfakes are realistic videos created using new machine learning techniques rather than traditional photographic means. They tend to depict people saying and doing things that they did not actually say or do. In the news media and the blogosphere, the worry has been raised that, as a result of deepfakes, we are heading toward an “infopocalypse” where we cannot tell what is real from what is not. Several philosophers have now issued similar warnings. In this paper, I offer an analysis of why dee…Read more
  •  3
    Social Epistemology and the Digital Divide
    CRPIT '03: Selected Papers From Conference on Computers and Philosophy 37 79-84. 2003.
    The digital divide refers to inequalities in access to information technology. One of the main reasons why the digital divide is an important issue is that access to information technology has a tremendous impact on people's ability to acquire knowledge. According to Alvin Goldman (1999), the project of social epistemology is to identify policies and practices that have good epistemic consequences. In this paper, I argue that this sort of approach to social epistemology can help us to decide on …Read more
  •  80
    Fake news is counterfeit news
    Tandf: Inquiry 1-20. forthcoming.
  • Mathematicians only use deductive proofs to establish that mathematical claims are true. They never use inductive evidence, such as probabilistic proofs, for this task. Don Fallis (1997 and 2002) has argued that mathematicians do not have good epistemic grounds for this complete rejection of probabilistic proofs. But Kenny Easwaran (2009) points out that there is a gap in this argument. Fallis only considered how mathematical proofs serve the epistemic goals of individual mathematicians. Easwara…Read more
  •  41
    The Source of Chaitin's Incorrectness
    Philosophia Mathematica 4 (3): 261-269. 1996.
  •  6
    What is Disinformation?
    Library Trends 63 (3): 401-426. 2015.
    Prototypical instances of disinformation include deceptive advertising (in business and in politics), government propaganda, doctored photographs, forged documents, fake maps, internet frauds, fake websites, and manipulated Wikipedia entries. Disinformation can cause significant harm if people are misled by it. In order to address this critical threat to information quality, we first need to understand exactly what disinformation is. This paper surveys the various analyses of this concept that h…Read more
  •  72
    The Reliability of Randomized Algorithms
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 51 (2): 255-271. 2000.
    Recently, certain philosophers of mathematics (Fallis [1997]; Womack and Farach [(1997]) have argued that there are no epistemic considerations that should stop mathematicians from using probabilistic methods to establish that mathematical propositions are true. However, mathematicians clearly should not use methods that are unreliable. Unfortunately, due to the fact that randomized algorithms are not really random in practice, there is reason to doubt their reliability. In this paper, I analyze…Read more
  •  68
    The Brier Rule Is not a Good Measure of Epistemic Utility
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (3): 576-590. 2016.
    Measures of epistemic utility are used by formal epistemologists to make determinations of epistemic betterness among cognitive states. The Brier rule is the most popular choice among formal epistemologists for such a measure. In this paper, however, we show that the Brier rule is sometimes seriously wrong about whether one cognitive state is epistemically better than another. In particular, there are cases where an agent gets evidence that definitively eliminates a false hypothesis, but where t…Read more
  •  107
    An Objectivist Argument for Thirdism
    with Ian Evans, Peter Gross, Terry Horgan, Jenann Ismael, John Pollock, Paul D. Thorn, Jacob N. Caton, Adam Arico, Daniel Sanderman, Orlin Vakerelov, Nathan Ballantyne, Matthew S. Bedke, Brian Fiala, and Martin Fricke
    Analysis 68 (2): 149-155. 2008.
    Bayesians take “definite” or “single-case” probabilities to be basic. Definite probabilities attach to closed formulas or propositions. We write them here using small caps: PROB(P) and PROB(P/Q). Most objective probability theories begin instead with “indefinite” or “general” probabilities (sometimes called “statistical probabilities”). Indefinite probabilities attach to open formulas or propositions. We write indefinite probabilities using lower case “prob” and free variables: prob(Bx/Ax). The …Read more
  •  102
    Bullshitting, Lying, and Indifference toward Truth
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4. 2017.
    This paper is about some of the ways in which people sometimes speak while be- ing indifferent toward what they say. We argue that what Harry Frankfurt called ‘bullshitting’ is a mode of speech marked by indifference toward inquiry, the coop- erative project of reaching truth in discourse. On this view bullshitting is character- ized by indifference toward the project of advancing inquiry by making progress on specific subinquiries, represented by so-called questions under discussion. This ac- c…Read more
  •  55
    Accuracy-based arguments for conditionalization and probabilism appear to have a significant advantage over their Dutch Book rivals. They rely only on the plausible epistemic norm that one should try to decrease the inaccuracy of one's beliefs. Furthermore, it seems that conditionalization and probabilism follow from a wide range of measures of inaccuracy. However, we argue that among the measures in the literature, there are some from which one can prove conditionalization, others from which on…Read more
  •  24
    Shedding Light on Keeping People in the Dark
    Topics in Cognitive Science 12 (2): 535-554. 2018.
    We want to keep hackers in the dark about our passwords and our credit card numbers. We want to keep potential eavesdroppers in the dark about our private communications with friends and business associates. This need for secrecy raises important questions in epistemology (how do we do it?) and in ethics (should we do it?). In order to answer these questions, it would be useful to have a good understanding of the concept of keeping someone in the dark. Several philosophers (e.g., Bok, 1983; Cars…Read more
  •  51
    Toward a formal analysis of deceptive signaling
    Synthese (6): 2279-2303. 2019.
    Deception has long been an important topic in philosophy. However, the traditional analysis of the concept, which requires that a deceiver intentionally cause her victim to have a false belief, rules out the possibility of much deception in the animal kingdom. Cognitively unsophisticated species, such as fireflies and butterflies, have simply evolved to mislead potential predators and/or prey. To capture such cases of “functional deception,” several researchers Machiavellian intelligence II, Cam…Read more
  • A Defense of a Probabilistic Method of Establishing Mathematical Truths
    Dissertation, University of California, Irvine. 1995.
    One of the primary goals of mathematicians is to establish new mathematical truths. Toward this end, mathematicians are almost invariably theorem provers. However, there are several methods other than writing down a proof which seem to achieve this epistemic goal of establishing mathematical truths. For instance, Michael Rabin describes a probabilistic test for primality which establishes to an arbitrarily high degree of certainty that a number is prime. Nevertheless, the vast majority of mathem…Read more
  •  18
    Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice, by Thomas L. Carson (review)
    Mind 120 (480): 1232-1237. 2011.
  •  37
    Goldman on Probabilistic Inference
    Philosophical Studies 109 (3). 2002.
    In his recent book, Knowledge in a Social World, Alvin Goldman claims to have established that if a reasoner starts with accurate estimates of the reliability of new evidence and conditionalizes on this evidence, then this reasoner is objectively likely to end up closer to the truth. In this paper, I argue that Goldman's result is not nearly as philosophically significant as he would have us believe. First, accurately estimating the reliability of evidence – in the sense that Goldman requires – …Read more
  •  210
    Epistemic Value Theory and Social Epistemology
    Episteme 2 (3): 177-188. 2006.
    In order to guide the decisions of real people who want to bring about good epistemic outcomes for themselves and others, we need to understand our epistemic values. In Knowledge in a Social World, Alvin Goldman has proposed an epistemic value theory that allows us to say whether one outcome is epistemically better than another. However, it has been suggested that Goldman's theory is not really an epistemic value theory at all because whether one outcome is epistemically better than another part…Read more
  •  120
    Lies, damned lies, and statistics: An empirical investigation of the concept of lying
    with Adam J. Arico
    Philosophical Psychology 26 (6). 2013.
    There are many philosophical questions surrounding the notion of lying. Is it ever morally acceptable to lie? Can we acquire knowledge from people who might be lying to us? More fundamental, however, is the question of what, exactly, constitutes the concept of lying. According to one traditional definition, lying requires intending to deceive (Augustine. (1952). Lying (M. Muldowney, Trans.). In R. Deferrari (Ed.), Treatises on various subjects (pp. 53?120). New York, NY: Catholic University of A…Read more
  •  81
    What Liars Can Tell Us about the Knowledge Norm of Practical Reasoning
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (4): 347-367. 2011.
    If knowledge is the norm of practical reasoning, then we should be able to alter people's behavior by affecting their knowledge as well as by affecting their beliefs. Thus, as Roy Sorensen (2010) suggests, we should expect to find people telling lies that target knowledge rather than just lies that target beliefs. In this paper, however, I argue that Sorensen's discovery of “knowledge-lies” does not support the claim that knowledge is the norm of practical reasoning. First, I use a Bayesian fram…Read more
  •  25
    Privacy and lack of knowledge
    Episteme 10 (2): 153-166. 2013.
    Two sorts of connections between privacy and knowledge (or lack thereof) have been suggested in the philosophical literature. First, Alvin Goldman has suggested that protecting privacy typically leads to less knowledge being acquired. Second, several other philosophers (e.g. Parent, Matheson, Blaauw and Peels) have claimed that lack of knowledge is definitive of having privacy. In other words, someone not knowing something is necessary and sufficient for someone else having privacy about that th…Read more
  •  49
    Introduction: Social epistemology and information science
    Social Epistemology 16 (1). 2002.
    This Article does not have an abstract
  •  110
    Collective epistemic goals
    Social Epistemology 21 (3). 2007.
    We all pursue epistemic goals as individuals. But we also pursue collective epistemic goals. In the case of many groups to which we belong, we want each member of the group - and sometimes even the group itself - to have as many true beliefs as possible and as few false beliefs as possible. In this paper, I respond to the main objections to the very idea of such collective epistemic goals. Furthermore, I describe the various ways that our collective epistemic goals can come into conflict with ea…Read more
  •  10
    In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings, Oxford University Press. 2010.
  •  101
    Toward an epistemology of Wikipedia
    Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 59 (10): 1662--1674. 2008.
    Wikipedia is having a huge impact on how a great many people gather information about the world. So, it is important for epistemologists and information scientists to ask whether people are likely to acquire knowledge as a result of having access to this information source. In other words, is Wikipedia having good epistemic consequences? After surveying the various concerns that have been raised about the reliability of Wikipedia, this article argues that the epistemic consequences of people usi…Read more