Epistemic Value

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Photos from the Stirling Conference

Joe Salerno has posted some great photos from the Stirling conference on Epistemic Value here.

Also, I've been posting commentaries on the conference papers, including papers by Heather Battally on Wayne Riggs, Klemens Kappell on Christian Pillar, and Joe Salerno on Pascal Engel.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Next Stirling Workshop

The conference on Epistemic Value the other weekend was a great success, with some excellent sessions. Our attentions are now turning to the next event in our series on epistemic value, which is a workshop on Value Theory and Epistemology that we're hosting in November. For more details, click here.

Don't forget that there is also the conference on Social Epistemology coming up next year, along with further workshops, so watch this space.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Armchair luck

I have been reading Duncan’s Epistemic luck, and working on the case of a priori domain. Here is my question to Duncan

I assume that your characterization of epistemic luck for contingent proposition is the best worked-out available. And I tend to agree with your general idea that what makes an event lucky, is that it occurs in the actual world but does not occur in a wide class of the nearest possible worlds with same (or maybe very similar—my addition) relevant initial conditions as in the actual world. I want to discuss two closely related questions about how to make the general idea precise. You propose to do it in terms of safety concerning related worlds, but leaving the agent, and her belief in question as they are. I agree with the basic inspiration, i.e. to use counterfactual reasoning, but the question is how to do it. I have two worries, and I would like to discuss the first one in this post.

First, your proposal is explicitly limited to a posteriori cases. For candidate necessary a priori propositions there are no variations in worlds available. Here is the worry: the safety proposal does not smoothly generalize to other domains with minor changes of parameters. So, for armchair knowledge it has to be replaced by something else. It might seriously LACK GENERALITY. Let me illustrate: think of two mistakes in calculation or proof that cancel each other resulting in the correct solution. Suppose they are extremely hard to detect, so that the thinker is justified in trusting her calculation. She is Gettier lucky in her final belief.

Obviously, Jane’s justification is not up to the task. Nothing to do with the structure of external world(s), with counterfactual instability of environment. The problem lies in the thinker: her thinking is the locus of trouble. The counterfactual picture would have to be focused upon variations there, e.g. what would have happen it there hadn’t been a second mistake that killed the first one. So the proposal would have to be along the following lines: had the cognizer’s ways of thinking (or even her capacities) been slightly different, she would not have managed to arrive at the same true belief as in the actual world. She might have ended up with believing the negation of the target proposition, or with agnosticism about it. Let us concentrate upon ways of thinking. This would yield the following proposal:

Procedural veritic luck

It is a matter of luck that the procedure used by the agent has resulted in true belief.

The agent's belief is true and has been justifiably arrived at in the actual world, but in a wide class of nearby possible worlds in which the relevant initial conditions are almost the same as in the actual world—and this will mean, in the basic case, that the agent at the very least forms her belief in the sufficiently similar way as in the actual world—the agent arrives at a false belief (or no belief at all).

The corresponding positive requirement would be a kind of stability of the cognizer:

If an agent knows a priori a (necessary) proposition p, then, in most nearby possible worlds in which she forms her belief about p in a slightly different way or with slightly changed cognitive apparatus as in the actual world, that agent will also come to believe that p.(Agent Stability).

The formulation needs working out, unfortunately. For instance, if both mistakes are very, very subtle, then Jane would continue to make both of them in close possible worlds. My question for the moment is: is it on the right track?

Jenkins on Epistemic Normativity

There's an interesting paper posted by Carrie Jenkins on Epistemic Normativity here.

New Blog on Virtue Theory

Guy Axtell has created a great new group blog on virtue theory called Janusblog. Check it out here.

Miscevic on Virtue and Value

There's a couple of great posts on Certain Doubts by Nenad Miscevic. You can catch them here and here.

Incidentally, there's also a post on Certain Doubts about the up-coming Brazil conference on Lehrer's epistemology, with contributions from Fred Dretske, Carl Ginet, Risto Hilpinen, Jonathan Kvanvig, John Pollock and Michael Williams (not to mention the man himself). (I'll also be there as well as one of the commentators). Here's the link.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Epistemic Value Research Resources Webpage

The webpage of research resources that I've been promising to get sorted out for some time now is finally up. Click here to check it out.

On another matter, all but one of the papers for the Epistemic Value conference later this month are now posted, including new papers from Mark Kaplan, Christian Piller, Berit Brogaard, Wayne Riggs, Jason Baehr, Stephen Grimm, and Robert Roberts & Jay Wood.