•  1776
    Applied Ontology: An Introduction (edited book)
    ontos. 2008.
    Ontology is the philosophical discipline which aims to understand how things in the world are divided into categories and how these categories are related together. This is exactly what information scientists aim for in creating structured, automated representations, called 'ontologies,' for managing information in fields such as science, government, industry, and healthcare. Currently, these systems are designed in a variety of different ways, so they cannot share data with one another. They ar…Read more
  •  518
    Personal narratives can let us in on aspects of reality which we have not experienced for ourselves, and are thus important sources for philosophical reflection. Yet a venerable tradition in mainstream philosophy has little room for arguments which rely on personal narrative, on the grounds that narratives are particular and testimonial, whereas philosophical arguments should be systematic and transparent. I argue that narrative arguments are an important form of philosophical argument. Their te…Read more
  •  318
    Resolving Religious Disagreements
    Faith and Philosophy 35 (1): 56-83. 2018.
    Resolving religious disagreements is difficult, for beliefs about religion tend to come with strong biases against other views and the people who hold them. Evidence can help, but there is no agreed-upon policy for weighting it, and moreover bias affects the content of our evidence itself. Another complicating factor is that some biases are reliable and others unreliable. What we need is an evidence-weighting policy geared toward negotiating the effects of bias. I consider three evidence-weighti…Read more
  •  312
    Does Epistemic Humility Threaten Religious Beliefs?
    Journal of Psychology and Theology 46 (4). 2018.
    In a fallen world fraught with evidence against religious beliefs, it is tempting to think that, on the assumption that those beliefs are true, the best way to protect them is to hold them dogmatically. Dogmatic belief, which is highly confident and resistant to counterevidence, may fail to exhibit epistemic virtues such as humility and may instead manifest epistemic vices such as arrogance or servility, but if this is the price of secure belief in religious truths, so be it. I argue, however, t…Read more
  •  307
    Introduction: what is ontology for
    In Munn Katherine & Smith Barry (eds.), Applied Ontology: An Introduction, Walter De Gruyter. pp. 7-19. 2008.
  •  255
    The Epistemic Benefits of Religious Disagreement
    Religious Studies. forthcoming.
    Scientific researchers welcome disagreement as a way of furthering epistemic aims. Religious communities, by contrast, tend to regard it as a potential threat to their beliefs. But I argue that religious disagreement can help achieve religious epistemic aims. I do not argue this by comparing science and religion, however. For scientific hypotheses are ideally held with a scholarly neutrality, and my aim is to persuade those who are committed to religious beliefs that religious disagreement can b…Read more
  •  167
    Bodily Systems and the Modular Structure of the Human Body
    with Barry Smith and Igor Papakin
    Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (Lecture Notes on Artificial Intelligence 2780) 9 86-90. 2003.
    Medical science conceives the human body as a system comprised of many subsystems at a variety of levels. At the highest level are bodily systems proper, such as the endocrine system, which are central to our understanding of human anatomy, and play a key role in diagnosis and in dynamic modeling as well as in medical pedagogy and computer visualization. But there is no explicit definition of what a bodily system is; such informality is acceptable in documentation created for human beings, but f…Read more
  •  163
    Where there is trust, there is also vulnerability, and vulnerability can be exploited. Epistemic trust is no exception. This chapter maps the phenomenon of the exploitation of epistemic trust. I start with a discussion of how trust in general can be exploited; a key observation is that trust incurs vulnerabilities not just for the party doing the trusting, but also for the trustee (after all, trust can be burdensome), so either party can exploit the other. I apply these considerations to epistem…Read more
  •  161
    Religious Evidentialism
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 5 (2): 63--86. 2013.
    Should religious believers proportion their religious beliefs to their evidence? They should: Religious faith is better, ceteris paribus, when the beliefs accompanying it are evidence-proportioned. I offer two philosophical arguments and a biblical argument. The philosophical arguments conclude that love and trust, two attitudes belonging to faith, are better, ceteris paribus, when accompanied by evidence-proportioned belief, and that so too is the faith in question. The biblical argument conclu…Read more
  •  129
    Quality Control for Terms and Definitions in Ontologies and Taxonomies
    with Jacob Köhler, Alexander Rüegg, Andre Skusa, and Barry Smith
    BMC Bioinformatics 7 (212): 1-12. 2006.
    Background: Ontologies and taxonomies are among the most important computational resources for molecular biology and bioinformatics. A series of recent papers has shown that the Gene Ontology (GO), the most prominent taxonomic resource in these fields, is marked by flaws of certain characteristic types, which flow from a failure to address basic ontological principles. As yet, no methods have been proposed which would allow ontology curators to pinpoint flawed terms or definitions in ontologies …Read more
  •  118
    Evidence-Seeking as an Expression of Faith
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 92 (3): 409-428. 2018.
    Faith is often regarded as having a fraught relationship with evidence. Lara Buchak even argues that it entails foregoing evidence, at least when this evidence would influence your decision to act on the proposition in which you have faith. I present a counterexample inspired by the book of Job, in which seeking evidence for the sake of deciding whether to worship God is not only compatible with faith, but is in fact an expression of great faith. One might still think that foregoing evidence may…Read more
  •  101
    I give an overview of the trust literature and then of six central issues concerning epistemic trust. The survey of trust zeroes in on the kinds of expectations that trust involves, trust’s characteristic psychology, and what makes trust rational. The discussion of epistemic trust focuses on its role in testimony, the epistemic goods that we trust for, the significance of epistemic trust in contrast to reliance, what makes epistemic trust rational, and epistemic self-trust.
  •  100
    Functional anatomy: A taxonomic proposal
    with Ingvar Johansson, Barry Smith, Nikoloz Tsikolia, Kathleen Elsner, Dominikus Ernst, and Dirk Siebert
    Acta Biotheoretica 53 (3): 153-166. 2005.
    It is argued that medical science requires a classificatory system that (a) puts functions in the taxonomic center and (b) does justice ontologically to the difference between the processes which are the realizations of functions and the objects which are their bearers. We propose formulae for constructing such a system and describe some of its benefits. The arguments are general enough to be of interest to all the life sciences.
  •  57
    Epistemic Authority: Preemption or Proper Basing?
    Erkenntnis 83 (4): 773-791. 2018.
    Sometimes it is epistemically beneficial to form a belief on authority. When you do, what happens to other reasons you have for that belief? Linda Zagzebski’s total-preemption view says that these reasons are “preempted”: you still have them, but you do not use them to support your belief. I argue that this situation is problematic, because having reasons for a belief while not using them forfeits you doxastic justification. I present an alternative account of belief on authority, the proper-bas…Read more
  •  49
    Wegen der Globalisierung und der Säkularisierung ist heute nicht mehr selbstverständlich davon auszugehen, dass die eigenen religiösen Überzeugungen richtig sind. Wie können Gläubige darauf reagieren? Eine nachvollziehbare Reaktion wäre zu versuchen, das eigene religiöse Glaubenssystem vor aller scheinbaren Konkurrenz zu schützen, indem man religiösen Dissens innerhalb oder außerhalb der Glaubensgemeinschaft unterbindet oder unterdrückt. Die Autorin argumentiert jedoch dafür, dass die Förderung …Read more
  •  36
    Some religious communities argue that public policy is best decided by their own members, on the grounds that collaborating with those reasoning from secular or “worldly” perspectives will only foment error about how society should be run. But I argue that epistemology instead recommends fostering disagreement among a plurality of religious and secular worldviews. Inter-worldview disagreement over public policy can challenge our unquestioned assumptions, deliver evidence we would likely have mis…Read more
  •  27
    Trust in Epistemology (edited book)
    Taylor & Francis. 2020.
    Trust is fundamental to epistemology. It features as theoretical bedrock in a broad cross-section of areas including social epistemology, the epistemology of self-trust, feminist epistemology, and the philosophy of science. Yet epistemology has seen little systematic conversation with the rich literature on trust itself. This volume aims to promote and shape this conversation. It encourages epistemologists of all stripes to dig deeper into the fundamental epistemic roles played by trust, and it …Read more
  •  17
    Disagreement from the Religious Margins
    Res Philosophica 95 (3): 371-395. 2018.
    Religious communities often discourage disagreement with religious authorities, on the grounds that allowing it would be epistemically detrimental. I argue that this attitude is mistaken, because any social position in a community—including religious authority—comes with epistemic advantages as well as epistemic limitations. I argue that religious communities stand to benefit epistemically by engaging in disagreement with people occupying other social positions. I focus on those at the community…Read more
  •  5
    Epistemic Self-Trust: It's Personal
    Episteme 1-16. forthcoming.
    What is epistemic self-trust? There is a tension in the way in which prominent accounts answer this question. Many construe epistemic trust in oneself as no more than reliance on our sub-personal cognitive faculties. Yet many accounts – often the same ones – construe epistemic trust in others as a normatively laden attitude directed at persons whom we expect to care about our epistemic needs. Is epistemic self-trust really so different from epistemic trust in others? I argue that it is not. We c…Read more
  •  4
    Digital whiplash: The case of digital surveillance
    Human Affairs 30 (4): 559-569. 2020.
    Digital technology is rapidly transforming human life. But our cognition is honed for an analog world. I call this the problem of digital whiplash: that the digital transformation of society, like a vehicle whose sudden acceleration injures its occupants, is too fast to be safe. I focus on the unprecedented phenomenon of digital surveillance, which I argue poses a long-term threat to human autonomy that our cognition is ill-suited to recognize or respond to. Human cognition is embodied and conte…Read more
  •  1
    Wir leben in einem Zeitalter der religiösen Vielfalt. Es gibt viele unterschiedliche und scheinbar inkompatible religiöse und säkulare Glaubensformen, die einander mit einer erstaunlichen Intensität und Geschwindigkeit dank Globalisierung und sozialen Medien begegnen. Damit wächst die Einsicht, dass das eigene Überzeugungssystem nicht mehr einfach als gegeben und plausibel anzunehmen ist. Aufgrund dieser neuen Entwicklungen haben sich in den letzten Jahren intensive philosophische Diskussionen e…Read more
  •  1
    Intellectual humility and epistemic trust
    In Mark Alfano, Michael Lynch & Alessandra Tanesini (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Humility, Routledge. 2020.
    Intellectual humility has something important in common with trust: both, independently, help secure knowledge. But they also do so in tandem, and this chapter discusses how. Intellectual humility is a virtue of a person’s cognitive character; this means that it disposes her to perceive and think in certain ways that help promote knowledge. Trust is a form of cooperation, in which one person depends on another (or on herself) for some end, in a way that is governed by certain norms. Epistemic tr…Read more