Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Krasia & Detox

There's been some discussion over at Certain Doubts about my post, "Justification in Action" (here) but I need more! An exchange with Greg was really helpful for me in clarifying the sense in which Conee and Feldman might be properly described as defending a deontological theory of justification and the sense in which such a description is inappropriate. I think twice I've had referees list as among their reasons for rejecting a paper my claim that C&F defend a deontological theory of justification. Greg said that they didn't. I noted that they say in their essay, "Evidentialism" that, "We hold the general view that one epistemically ought to have the doxastic attitudes that fit one's evidence. We think that being epistemically obligatory is equivalent to being epistemically justified" (2004: 88). However, Greg is right that they reject most of what people associate with deontologism. They also seem to think that the underpinnings of our epistemic obligations have to do with epistemic value and that seems very un-deontological. Anyway, with that cleared up I'm sure I can count on referees to start rejecting my papers for much better reasons than they have previously.

Jacob raised a good question about the relationship between epistemic and moral permissibility and I wanted to see if I could give a defense of Link, a principle that is a commitment of yours if you accept Detox and Krasia:
Detox: If you intend to A and it’s not the case that you shouldn’t so intend, it’s not the case that you shouldn’t A.
Krasia: If you believe you should A and it’s not the case that you shouldn’t so believe, it’s not the case that you shouldn’t intend to act in accordance with this belief.
Link: If you believe you should A and it’s not the case that you shouldn’t so believe, it’s not the case that you shouldn’t act in accordance with this belief.

Suppose that an agent is in the good case, knowing all the external facts and internal facts that we might think matters to the justification of some action. Suppose she also knows what she ought to do and why she ought to do it. It seems to me that in such a scenario the subject would know that the reasons in light of which she's right to judge that she should A just as the reasons in light of which she should A.

[Let 'Rm' and 'Re' stand for the epistemic and moral reasons respectively.]

Now, suppose that an epistemic counterpart of this subject (i.e., a subject in precisely the non-factive mental states as our first subject) is in the bad case but her mistaken beliefs are all about non-normative matters. It might be that owing to such factual ignorance the subject doesn't know what reasons bear on whether to act or not (depending upon whether reasons are facts or provided by non-factive states of mind), but would such factual ignorance change the fact of the matter as to how the reasons that bear on belief and action relate? I can't see how that could be. And, if it can't be, then it seems whether the subject is in the good or bad case the subject knows that the reasons that bear on whether to act and whether to believe she should act are just the same thing. If one is inaccessible in the bad case, so is the other. If one is accessible in the bad case, so is the other. To deny Link, it seems you'd either have to (i) deny that in the case of full information the subject doesn't know that the reasons that bear on action and belief are the same or (ii) say that an agent's ignorance changes that relationship.

4 comments:

Brandon said...

Anyway, with that cleared up I'm sure I can count on referees to start rejecting my papers for much better reasons than they have previously.


Oh, I'm sure they'll have the ingenuity to find reasons as bad or worse; it's virtually a requirement.

Clayton said...

Sad but true. There is also the "no reason" rejection and while that typically comes without comments I recently had one that came with comments. I had written a response piece and the sum total of the referee's comments were these:
"This is a professional piece of philosophy, with competently laid out theses and arguments. However, it would have limited interest, since it is a critique of a critique." Or, as I'd call it, a defense.

Errol Lord said...

"This is a professional piece of philosophy, with competently laid out theses and arguments. However, it would have limited interest, since it is a critique of a critique." Or, as I'd call it, a defense.

Oh, Clayton, your giving away your precious anonymity.

Errol Lord said...

Shit, obviously 'your' should 'you're'.