Thursday, February 19, 2009

Epistemic Goodness & Criticism

Get yer abstracts here. One paper in particular caught my attention:

ABSTRACT. It is wrong everywhere, always, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence. Let’s just take that as given. Is it wrong anywhere, ever, for anyone to believe anything on sufficient evidence? Not if the evidentialists are right. Are they right? I shall argue that they are not.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm having a hard time making sense of this passage from Lackey's "Norms of Assertion":
[T]here is an intimate connection between our assessment of asserters and our assessment of their assertions. In particular, asserters are in violation of a norm of assertion and thereby subject to criticism when their assertions are improper. An analogy with competitive basketball may make this point clear: suppose a player steps over the free throw line when making his foul shot. In such a case, there would be an intimate connection between our assessment of the player and our assessment of the free throw—we would, for instance, say that the player is subject to criticism for making an improper shot.

I'd say that about the free throw case, but isn't that case an exception to the rule. When you are given the rule book as referee, I thought that the rules did not have any sort of due care clause. These are strict liability rules in all the sports I know of. And, unless you are just overly critical you don't typically criticize agents while acknowledging that they took all the care that could reasonably be expected to avoid violating some rule. The free throw case is exceptional in this regard because it is hard to imagine realistic cases where the agent takes due care but shoots while stepping over the line. Is she just using 'criticize' in a funny way or do I just not know enough about rule books and refereeing? It seems that the analogy with competitive basketball just makes it clear that she's wrong and there is nothing like an intimate connection between assessment of the agent and the agent's deeds. If the norms of assertion are anything like the rules of basketball, we should expect there to be cases where an agent fails to keep within the rules/satisfy the norms even though they are beyond criticism.

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