•  36
    The reductio argument against epistemic infinitism
    Synthese 196 (9): 3869-3887. 2019.
    Epistemic infinitism, advanced in different forms by Peter Klein, Scott Aikin, and David Atkinson and Jeanne Peijnenburg, is the theory that justification of a proposition for a person requires the availability to that person of an infinite, non-repeating chain of propositions, each providing a justifying reason for its successor in the chain. The reductio argument is the argument to the effect that infinitism has the consequence that no one is justified in any proposition, because there will be…Read more
  •  40
    Infinitism and scepticism
    Episteme 16 (1): 108-118. 2019.
    Infinitism, in contrast to foundationalism and coherentism, claims that justification in any proposition requires the availability of an infinite chain of propositional reasons, each providing a justificatory reason for its successor in the chain. Both infinitists and some critics of the theory have at times noted the possibility that the theory may have sceptical consequences for doxastic justification. It is argued here that, for reasons that appear not to have been previously appreciated, …Read more
  •  1
    This volume is a collection of ten essays by Douglas Gasking (1911–1994), a significant figure in Australian philosophy. There are three previously published papers, “Mathematics and the World” (proposing a form of conventionalism), “Causation and Recipes” (expounding a manipulation account of causation), and “Clusters”, (an account of certain varieties of class-membership). The seven previously unpublished papers include further work on causation, some epistemological issues, subjective probabi…Read more
  • STRAWSON, P. F.: "Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties"
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 64 (n/a): 525. 1986.
  •  86
    The Issue is Meaninglessness
    The Monist 93 (1): 106-122. 2010.
    I argue that attempts to give philosophical accounts of meaningfulness in life are largely empty since there is no unitary concept to be analysed, and there are no criteria for what will count as success in that project. I suggest that there is a better prospect for giving an account of meaninglessness in life, and that efforts are more usefully directed at this project. I then offer such an account in which it is proposed that what often (but not always) underlies feelings that life is meaningl…Read more
  •  102
    An Argument for Scepticism concerning Justified Beliefs
    American Philosophical Quarterly 13 (3). 1976.
    This paper argues for a completely universal scepticism, according to which no beliefs at all are justified to the least degree. The argument starts with a version of the Agrippan trilemma, according to which, if we accept that a belief is justified, we must choose between foundationalism, coherentism of a particular sort, and an infinite regress of justified beliefs. Each of these theories is given a careful specification in terms of the relationship of “justifiedness in p depending on justifie…Read more
  •  14
    The invalidation of induction: A reply to Pargetter and Bigelow
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (3). 1998.
    In this paper, I respond to the paper “The Validation of Induction” by Robert Pargetter and John Bigelow (Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 75:1, 1997), in which the authors propound the thesis that the arguments commonly thought of as good inductive arguments “properly construed, are deductively valid”. I maintain that they have not established this claim, and neither have they established a number of associated but logically independent claims that they make about inductive arguments and ind…Read more
  •  85
    A Skeptic’s Reply to Lewisian Contextualism
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (3): 309-332. 2001.
    In his justifiedly famous paper, “Elusive Knowledge” (Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74:4, 1996), David Lewis presents a contextualist account of knowledge, which, like other contextualist accounts, depicts sceptical claims as involving application of a higher standard of knowledge than is applied in everyday ascriptions of knowledge. On Lewis’ account, the sceptic’s denials and the everyday ascriptions are made in different contexts, which allows them both to be true. His account gives det…Read more
  •  39
    A Problem About Epistemic Dependence
    In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), Aspects of Knowing, Elsevier Science. pp. 17. 2006.
    A person’s being justified in a belief will sometimes depend on her being justified in some other belief. I argue that this concept of epistemic dependence is required for setting up the debate between epistemological foundationalism and its alternatives. I also argue that the concept is deeply problematic, in that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to give a coherent account of it. Several possible analyses of epistemic dependence are presented and found wanting, and attention is g…Read more
  •  23
    On an account of our analyticity judgements
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50 (2). 1972.
    I discuss and criticise Douglas Gasking’s paper, “The Analytic-Synthetic Controversy” (in the current issue of this journal). Gasking proposes an explanation of our classifying together as “analytic” statements like “Someone is a bachelor if and only if he is an unmarried man”. He proposes that the feature common to the statements that we so classify is that they provide the only “semantic anchor” for a word that does not have, in Quine’s terms, a socially constant stimulus meaning. I argue that…Read more
  •  61
    How to Release Oneself from an Obligation: Good News for Duties to Oneself
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1): 70-80. 2017.
    In some cases, you may release someone from some obligation they have to you. For instance, you may release them from a promise they made to you, or an obligation to repay money they have borrowed from you. But most take it as clear that, if you have an obligation to someone else, you cannot in any way release yourself from that obligation. I shall argue the contrary. The issue is important because one standard problem for the idea of having duties to oneself relies on the impossibility of self-…Read more
  •  44
    Scepticism and the diversity of epistemic justification
    Philosophical Quarterly 38 (152): 263-279. 1988.
    Sceptics have been accused of achieving their sceptical conclusions by an arbitrary (though usually implicit) redefinition of terms like “justified”, so that, while it may be true that no belief is justified in the sceptic’s new sense of the word, all the beliefs we have taken as justified remain so in the ordinary, standard meaning of the term. This paper defends scepticism against this charge. It is pointed out that there are several sorts of case where someone’s belief may be properly termed…Read more