Monday, June 9, 2008

The good news (for some of you) is that I'm not dead yet. I had planned on skydiving this afternoon, but the winds were too high to safely jump. I have to confess that I nearly vomited as they explained that we'd be falling at 120 mph for about 60 seconds and jumping from 14,000 ft. But, as the money isn't refundable I'll jump next Monday.

In more philosophical news, I'll likely attend the Dallas Socratic Society tomorrow to hear Keith Loftin present his paper, "Evolutionary Naturalism's Self-Referential Incoherence". Should be fun.

As for matters philosophical, I've been busy revising a paper on epistemic norms. Quick question. According to Huemer, believing p rationally commits you to the further belief that your belief that p can satisfy a comprehensive epistemic endorsement and that a belief can only satisfy such an endorsement if it constitutes knowledge. These are to explain the claim that knowledge is the norm of belief. (See his paper on Moore's Paradox in Themes from G.E. Moore)

Suppose you think that knowledge is more valuable than any subset of its proper parts. To deny that a belief has this value is to deny that it could receive this comprehensive epistemic endorsement. Don't Gettier cases show, however, that the possession of this value, while perhaps necessary for a belief's satisfying every relevant criteria of evaluation, is not necessary for permissible belief?

The assumption that you oughtn't X unless X satisfies a comprehensive evaluation strikes me as exceptionally problematic. If 'X' denotes an action, it seems false. A comprehensive endorsement would endorse that action as having moral worth, but an action's having moral worth is not necessary for permissibility. Similarly, a belief's being accidentally true and reasonably assumed to be true seems sufficient for permissible belief. However, such beliefs might not be valuable in the way that items of knowledge are. I can't bring myself to think that the lack of this value has deontic significance.

3 comments:

Bill Snedden said...

"In more philosophical news, I'll likely attend the Dallas Socratic Society tomorrow to hear Keith Loftin present his paper, "Evolutionary Naturalism's Self-Referential Incoherence". Should be fun."

Hmmm...like T. E. Lawrence, you seem to have a rather odd idea of what constitutes "fun"...

Keith said...

Clayton, what a pleasure it was to finally meet you in person. Thanks for your comments on my humble paper, and thanks especially for disagreeing in an irenic spirit. As Hume and Reid disagreed and yet behaved as gentleman toward one another, so you presented yourself at DSS.

I'm eager to check out the Swinburne line to which Jesse drew our attention.

Bill, disagreeing can be lots of "fun".

-R. Keith Loftin

Clayton said...

Keith,

Good to meet you as well. I enjoyed the paper and the discussion. I'm still hunting refs, but you might enjoy Stew Cohen's articles on "easy knowledge". They're easily found by googling that phrase and they touch on some of the deeper epistemic issues that seemed to come up in discussion,

C