I will have office hours from 8-10 am on Monday and 10:30 to 12:30 on Tuesday.
OK, here are the study questions for the exam.
Note: Question one of the original copy of the study questions was confusing because of a repeated phrase. I've lined it out in the current copy.
All class notes are now posted to the schedule. I will have the final exam posted by late Friday morning. (Sorry for the delay.) Analysis 4 is due Sunday night at midnight. The final exam is Friday 5/18 from 10:15-12:15. (Sorry for the late date.)
We'll finish up Sperber and Mercier. Here is your last journal entry. :(
Journal Entry for May 9, 2012
1. Summarize the important testable consequences of Sperber and Mercier's theory and their basis for thinking that they theory passes the test in each case. (There are four important ones.)
2. Identify and summarize one significant objection to the theory, either from the peer discussion or one of your own.
Lok Chi Chan will be lecturing on van Fraassen's article "Against Naturalized Epistemology." Journal questions below.
Journal Entry for May 7, 2012
1. Van Fraassen repeatedly asserts that there is a certain kind of metaphysics that the empiricist deplores (for instance, 68-69) - what is the defining characteristic of such metaphysics?
2. Van Fraassen rhetorically asks what Hume would have thought if the slogan of empiricism cannot be stated without invoking the notion of causality. What is van Fraassen trying to say? (Recall Hume's critique of necessary connection).
3. Van Fraassen says that 'we are not rationally compelled to disbelieve statements about facts concerning which we have no relevant information' (71). Is this contentious? Take, for example, the existence of God - can someone cite van Fraassen here in defense of a belief in God?
4. Why does van Fraassen suggest that (*) is foundationalistic? (70)
5. On page 73-74, van Fraassen attempts to sketch out on the naturalist's behalf a scientific project of naturalized epistemology. Does this project look anything like the ones we usually see being proposed by actual naturalist epistemologists? If yes, briefly describe the project.
If no, can we propose a way to read van Fraassen as not giving a strawman argument?
6. Van Fraassen says: (75) "it does not matter if there is no such relevant experience in the case of a given Y, for then it is vacuously so that all relevant experiences gives information about it". By "vacuous" van Fraassen means in a logical sense. For suppose:
8. (81-82) What are the doctrinal and conceptual parts of empiricist epistemology, as Quine articulates them?
9. On page 82, van Fraassen again makes reference to Hume: what does he mean by "the doctrinal part was anyway bankrupt after Hume's critique of induction"?
10. According to van Fraassen (82) what is the problem with the Aufbau's ambition to explicate any scientific statement into a logically reconstucted observation statement?
Sorry, wasn't able to get any questions up today. We'll finish Dennett and McKay and begin working on Sperber and Mercier.
We'll finish "The evolution of misbelief," and move on to "Why do humans reason?" by Sperber and Mercier. This is one of the more influential articles on the nature of reasoning written in the last couple of years. Here is a nice discussion of it on Edge.org.
Journal Entry for April 30, 2012
1. How do S&M distinguish between inference and reasoning?
2. What is the significance of their claim that reasoning (as defined above) is a substantially unconscious process?
3. Sperber and Mercier ask why the intuitive mechanisms that inform conscious reasoning are thought to be so important as to distinguish humans and animals. How do they answer this?
4. What is epistemic vigilance, and how does it inform S&M's view of the function of reasoning?
5. How do S&M define reasoning expertise?
Journal Entry for April 25, 2012
1. What is a doxastic shear pin and why do D&M think the case for their existence is weak?
2. How does our HADD figure into an EMT account of a belief in supernatural agency?
3. What is the evidence in support of this view and why do D&M find it less than compelling?
4. What is one of your aliefs?
5. On what basis do D&M doubt that self-deception is adaptive?
6. Yet D&M think that self-deception may serve an adaptive function. Why?
7. Can you think of any legitimate candidates for adaptive misbelief that D&M have failed to consider?
I have posted Analysis 4, which is due May 13 at midnight. On Monday we will discuss Floridi's article for the first part of the period, and then begin working on Dennett and Mckay's article, The Evolution of Misbelief.
Journal Entry for April 23, 2012
1. What is the point of the authors' distinction between culpable and non culpable design limitations?
2. How is Millikan's analysis of proper functioning used to naturalize the notion of a culpable design limitation?
3. How do the authors identify the category of misbelief which could be meaningfully described as adaptive?
4. Why do the authors think it is reasonable to believe that adaptive misbelief will be evolutionarily unstable?
5. Watch this freaking awesome video and summarize it's significance for question 4.
Journal Entry for April 18, 2012
Read "What is the Philosophy of Information?," by Luciano Floridi
1. If you take the very first sentence of this article in isolation, how do you think it applies to the theory of knowledge?
Section 3 is rather weird reading (unless you are used to continental philosophy) but he says some things that you should sound a little familiar.
2. Can you relate his account of the "semanticization of of being" in any way to the Marcia Bates' article?
3. In terms of what we have studied recently, what does his criticism of scholasticism resemble and how?
4. See if you can relate what Floridi says about the phenomenological orientation of philosophy of information (in section 4 paragraph 4) to what Kornblith says about epistemology.
5. At the end of the article there is a quotation by Dummett that is worth reading carefully. Bates' provided us with a strikingly odd characterization of knowledge, but does reading Dummett's remakrs on information make you think we might want to remain open to a radical reconstruction of this concept?
Finish reading "Information and knowledge: an evolutionary framework for information science," by Marcia Bates. I'll have some additional questions by Sunday. Also, if you want to submit a summary for any Nammour session you attended, be sure to email it to me by Sunday at midnight. Follow the directions carefully in the Attendance credit link in the sidebar.
Journal Entry for April 9, 2012
1. What are Bates' reasons for thinking that Shannon's definition of information is not an adequate basis for understanding the information processing capabilities of humans and animals?
2. Given that Bates does not appear to want to abandon Shannon's definition, do you think it is helpful or confusing to introduces a different definition?
3. What is Bates' definition of knowledge? Does it strike you as being compatible with or significantly different than definitions we have worked with so far?
4. Is Bates' definition compatible with non human animals having knowledge?
5. Earlier in the semester I asked you whether it made sense to speak of knowledge being in a book. How does Bates answer the question?
6. In Bates' sense of the term, is it possible to gain the information (or come to know that) a certain phenomenon is random?
No class or journal entry. You can attend the Tuesday 1 o'clock session of the Nammour Symposium for quiz credit. At 1 PM press 'A' on your clicker and hit send. At the end of the last talk, press and send 'A' again. You can also get quiz credit as described in the attendance credit link in the sidebar. Check syllabus for instructions specific to this class.
We'll finish up the Neta article and start on "Information and knowledge: an evolutionary framework for information science," by Marcia Bates. We will not be meeting on Wednesday because of the Nammour, but if you attend the final session from 1-3 pm bring your clicker and you can get quiz credit. You can also get attendance credit by attending any of the sessions and submitting summaries per the instructions in the sidebar. (Maximum 3 per semester.)
Journal Entry for April 9, 2012
1. The first sentence of this article identifies its purpose. When you read it, what do you find yourself thinking concerning it's likely relevance to epistemology?
2. Bates is an information scientist, not a philosopher. After having read the Background and Objectives sections of the paper, do you find yourself thinking that she is dealing with a philosophical problem or a scientific problem? (Or both or neither?) Explain.
3. What early indications do you have that their may (or may not) be some kind of continuity with Kornblith's approach to knowledge?
4. Does Bates' proposed definition of information seem to characterize information as a natural kind?
5. Do you find the last paragraph of "Whose pattern of organization?" to be coherent?
6. In the "Evolutionary context" section Bates asks: Why should animals experience patterns of organization? Why not just process each bit of information...?" As you probably know "bit" is the term for the smallest quantity of information. Do you see a potential for confusion here?
7. Bates defends her pattern conception of information by reference to its compatibility with an anti-reductionist stance. In philosophy this is related to what has become known as "multiple-realizability." This is also an important notion for Kornblith. He claims that cognitive ethologists make use of the concepts of knowledge and information because we can not explain the behavior of animals and humans with the concepts of physics and chemistry. This is because behaviors (like "bait and switch" as described by Bates) do not have explanatorily significant physical commonalities. However, they do have informational commonalities. This is not a question, but feel free to write down any further thoughts this may have provoked.
Finish reading Ram Neta's article "How to naturalize epistemology." Do the questions for 4/2 if you haven't already and I'll have some more up by Tuesday morning.
Journal Entry for April 4, 2012
1. What according to Neta, are the 4 main tenets of Kornblith's naturalized epistemology?
2. How does Neta's teleological account of knowledge differ from Kornblith's reliabilism?
4. Why does Neta think that his teleological account is at least as plausible as Kornblith's?
3. Why does Neta think teleological naturalism is preferable to Kornblith's reliabilist naturalism?
We'll take a look at Kornblith's consideration of Brandom's argument against naturalistic reliabilism and then move on to the first part of Neta's article: "How to naturalize epistemology." If you are submitting a Nammour presentation, you can postpone your journal entry until Wednesday. Be sure you send your Nammour entry to me by email per the submission guidelines on the philosophy department website. You will also need to post it as your analysis 3 on your journal, but not until the actual due date for analysis 3.
Journal Entry for April 2, 2012
1. What does Neta identify as the 4 planks of Bishop and Trout's strategic reliabilism?
2. Briefly summarize Neta's problem with strategic reliabilism and why this is a problem for the general task of naturalizing epistemology.
3. Briefly summarize what Neta takes to be a more enlightened approach than Bishop and Trout's.
Journal Entry for March 28, 2012
1. Kornblith considers two basic arguments that animal knowledge, if it exists at all, is too different from human knowledge to warrant attention from epistemologists. Briefly summarize the arguments and Kornblith's responses to them.
2. How does Kornblith deal with the charge that knowledge, considered as a natural kind, has no normative significance?
3. Summarize Brandom's argument that knowledge is not a natural kind.
4. How does Kornblith respond to it?
I have flipped the schedule so that we will read Kornblith's "Knowledge in Human and Other Animals," before Neta's "How to Naturalize Epistemology."
Journal Entry for March 26, 2012
1. What do you think Kornblith means when he proposes that knowledge is a natural kind?
2. To get some critical perspective on what Kornblith is suggesting, return to the article "A Priori Justification and Knowledge," by B. Russell and re-read Section 4. What reasons does Russell give for being skeptical of the idea that knowledge is a natural kind?
3. Kornblith claims that key to understanding why knowledge is a natural kind term is at the level of the explanation of cognitive traits in species rather than individual behavior. Briefly summarize his argument here.
4. Kornblith's perspective puts him quite clearly in the K-reliabilist camp. Why?
We'll try to finish up Bishop and Trout's article. Here are a couple of more questions.
Journal Entry for March 14, 2012
1. Proponents of SAE typically reject naturalistic epistemology claiming that it does not have the resources to answer normative questions. Bishop and Trout claim exactly the same criticism applies to SAE. Summarize the SAE claim and the B&T rejoinder. (You may have already done this to some degree for question 5 below.)
2. Assuming that B&T are right that SAE is subject to the same criticism, what reasons do B&T have for thinking that AP actually does have the ability to achieve normative aims in a way that SAE does not?
We'll finish up Kvanvig's article by discussing his argument that understanding is compatible with luck, then move on the Bishop and Trout's "The Pathologies of Standard Analytic Epistemology." I'll have some questions up by Saturday.
Journal Entry for March 12, 2012
1. What is the stasis requirement and what do B & T think is wrong with it?
2. How do they employ the Gettier example to make this point?
3. How does the reliability of SPR's over expert judgment fit into this argument?
4. How does their concept of ameliorative psychology depart from SAE?
5. How do they deal with the standard objection that empirical methods can't yield normative results.
6. Given B & T's focus on reasoning excellence, do you see their approach as being commensurate with virtue epistemology?
Please finish reading Kvanvig's article, "The Value of Understanding." I will have some journal questions up by about noon tomorrow (Wednesday).
Journal Entry for March 7, 2012
1. What is the significance of Kvanvig's distinction between 'propositional' and 'objectual.'
2. Kvanvig writes at some length about the significance of ordinary language intuitions for philosophical inquiry. Briefly summarize what he says.
3. Do you think there is a clear difference between propositional knowledge and propositional understanding? Does he give clear examples of each? Explain.
4. Do you think there is a clear difference between objectual knowledge and objectual understanding? Does he give clear examples of each? Explain.
5. Can you think of any reason for denying his claim that you can have lucky objectual understanding (and that OU is therefore not susceptible to the Gettier problem)?
6. Kvanvig makes an interesting appeal to randomness as a way of grounding the distinction between knowledge and understanding. What is it?
7. Do you think Kvanvig is right that to explain why something happens inherently involves identifying a cause?
8. After reading the Grimm-DePaul example and Kvanvig's response, do you think Kvanvig is right that objectual understanding can not be Gettierized?
9. Does Kvanvig ever tell us why understanding can't be Gettierized?
Sorry, had a complicated weekend and wasn't able to get the questions up. I won't dump any new ones on you this late.
We'll talk a little more about "The Value of Knowledge," specifically the section on Bonjour's argument for infallibilism. But then we will move on to Kvanvig's article, "The Value of Understanding." I'll have some questions up about that by Saturday evening or so. For your second analysis I am assigning an article that I originally had in the schedule of class readings, John Greco's article "Virtue, Luck and the Pyrrhonian Problematic." The article I've linked to says it is forthcoming, but it was actually published in Phil Studies in 2006. The analysis will be due on March 18th, which is the Sunday before spring break.
Finish reading the Value of Knowledge.
Journal Entry for February 29, 2012
1. Summarize Greco's achievement conception of knowledge.
2. Why do the author's think Greco's view provides a possible solution to the secondary value problem?
3. What do you think of Greco's analysis?
4. What are the alleged weaknesses of Kvanvig's claim that understanding, rather than knowledge, should be the focus of epistemological theorizing?
5. How does Bonjour use the value problem as a way of arguing against fallibilism?
We will spend about half the period finishing the Steup article on the Analysis of Knowledge and looking at your responses to questions from 2/22. We'll then get into Turri and Pritchard on the Value of Knowledge.
Journal Entry for February 27, 2012
1. What is the Meno problem and what is the difference between a revisionary and a non revisionary response to it?
2. What is the secondary value problem?
3. How does the value problem arise in the context of reliablism?
4. In general terms, how does virtue epistemology attempt to address the value problem? (It is worth reading the SEP article on virtue epistemology, as it is introduced pretty casually in this article.)
Read Steup on the Analysis of Knowledge.
Journal Entry for February 22, 2012
(Note: We'll use almost the entire period to review your answers to these. I'll post class notes afterwards.)
1. Summarize and evaluate Radford's objection to the belief condition. Does your answer imply anything about whether you tend toward internalism or externalism? Explain.
2. What does 'extensionally equivalent' mean?
3. Reliabilism was formulated in response to the Gettier problem. Oddly, reliabilist epistemologies are still susceptible to it. Why is that?
4. If you had to be a reliabilist, would you be a J-reliabilist or a K-reliabilist? Explain.
5. Why will an evidentialist be a J-internalist rather than a J-externalist? Huh?
6. Does it make sense to you that a person can be justified in believing something without knowing that he is justified? What does your answer make you?
7. Do you think Bonjour's clairvoyant Norman works best as a reason for accepting internalism or rejecting it? Explain.
8. After reading "Why Internalism?" and "Why Externalism?" do you incline more to internalism or externalism? Explain.
Just work on your analyses which are due Sunday. We've got another day to go on Russell's "A Priori Justification and Knowledge." Here is a nice little piece of applied epistemology you might enjoy talking about in class.
We'll start (and hopefully finish) talking about Russell's "A Priori Justification and Knowledge." No new journal questions, but take this opportunity to get acquainted with the analysis assignment as well as the article. Thursday most of lecture will be driven by your answers to the journal questions for 2/13, so we'll look at as many as we can.
We'll be finishing Markie's "Rationalism and Empiricism," and moving on to Russell's "A Priori Justification and Knowledge." I'll have some questions on the latter up by Friday. Also, I'll have your first analysis assignment.
Here is your first analysis assignment. Be sure to read and follow the submission instructions. I have created a discussion board for those of you who would like to talk about class content, including ideas for writing your analyses. The link is at the top of the page. You will not be able to post anything until I add your email address to it, so send me an email if you want to participate.
Journal entry for February 13, 2012
1. How does Russell explain the origin of rational intuitions with respect to analytic propositions?
2. Russell claims that concept possession guarantees that our judgments concerning analytic proposition will be reliable.
a. Why does he think that?
b. What do you think of that?
c. Consider the claim: "Concept possession guarantees that our judgments concerning analytic proposition will be reliable." How would Hume evaluate this? (To answer this, remember how Hume divides truths into two mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories.)
3. Russell claims that rational intiuitions with respect to synthetic a priori propositions can provide the basis of a defeasible a priori justification.
a. Why does he think that?
b. What do you think of that?
c. Does Russell base his view here on the apparent reliability of our rational intuitions?
Read Rationalism vs. Empiricism by Markie. I'll have journal questions posted by about noon Wednesday.
Journal entry for February 8, 2012
1. After reading this article do you think it can make sense for an empiricist to accept the rationalist thesis that some truths are known a priori? Explain.
2. After reading this article what do you take to be the strongest argument in favor of a rationalist thesis? Summarize it (don't quote it) and the empiricist objection to it.
3. What is Locke's objection to the innate knowledge thesis and how does Carruthers attempts to meet it?
4. Why might reliabilism (an externalist view) be more attractive than internalism to those who believe in innate knowledge?
5. Evolutionary theory is obviously empirical, yet Carruthers appeals to it in an attempt to justify a rationalist thesis. Do you think this make sense? Explain.
We'll finish up the DeRose article in class and hope to get started on the Rationalism/Empiricsm article. I'll have some journal questions here by Friday morning.
If you like poetry, check out this poem by Wislawa Szymborksa, a Polish poet who died the other day. Several of her poems relate to epistemology and philosophical questions generally. Also, watch the video that I put on my main page. I am very interested in what you think about it.
Journal entry for February 6, 2012
Listen to this conversation with Barry Stroud. Then extend this conversation in a way that interests you and in a way that shows some familiarity with the DeRose article on skepticism.
I: Would you say that you know that you are not dreaming?
E: I think I probably do know that, yes.
I: You probably know?
E: Yes, I can't be certain. It's possible that I am dreamng, or a BIV, or a computer simulation, or whatever.
I: If you allow that it's possible that you are dreaming, doesn't it follow that you don't know that you are not dreaming?
E: Well, if it does, then universal skepticism follows pretty immediately doesn't it? I think it's just axiomatic that human knowledge is real in spite of the fact that we are fallible and can be wrong about anything. So it just has to be the case that I can know that I'm not dreaming even though it's possible that I am dreaming. If our concept of knowledge implies otherwise, then we just need to change it.
I: Fair enough, but just to be clear, we agree- don't we?- that if you are dreaming and you think you are not dreaming, then you are wrong, and therefore do not know that you're not dreaming.
I: OK, so tell me what concept of knowledge allows that it can be the case that you might be dreaming but still know that you are not dreaming. And why should we endorse that concept?
Finish reading the DeRose article.
Finish previous journal entry if you have not already, as well as the following.
Journal entry for February 1, 2012
1. What is the principle of epistemic closure?
2. How would denying the principle of epistemic closure affect the argument by skeptical hypothesis?
3. What reasons does Dretske give for denying closure? (Nozick's reasoning is hard to follow in this essay.)
4. What is epistemic contextualism?
5. How does the contextualist attempt to address the argument by skeptical hypothesis? (This section of the SEP article on contextualism may be a little easier to follow.)
6. How might the contextualist response be seen as a certain kind of concession to the argument by skeptical hypothesis?
If my initials 'grm' have appeared on your journal page, then your journal has been set up correctly and you are ready to go. Just erase my initials. Your first journal questions are listed below. Copy and paste all of the text inside the box (not the box itself) into your journal. After you do this you will see white text on a black background. To make this look normal just select the text and go to the toolbar and change the text color and text background color.)
Write your answer to each question directly beneath the corresponding question. Be sure to use your own words in answering these questions. Do not copy your answer from any source and keep direct quotes to an absolute minimum.
Good answers to questions will be well-written and thoughtful, with a minimum of spelling and grammatical errors. You must also be sure to get the majority of your responses in before the corresponding class meeting since that's where we will be looking at them.
Be aware that GoogleDocs is a highly transparent medium. I may sometimes visit and comment on your page while you are working on it. This is not meant to freak you out.
Your assignment for 1/25 is to study the syllabus, register your clicker online according to the instructions below and create your journal according to the instructions below. You should read the article on Epistemology by Steup, as it will give you a sense for some of the basic issues of contemporary epistemology. However, our focus in class on Thursday will be the first 4 sections of DeRose's article on skepticism. Your first journal entry will be assigned on 1/27 for material we will cover in class on 1/30. We will have a clicker quiz over the syllabus on 1/25.
Here is a link to a video showing you how to make a Google Doc for this class. If you prefer just to follow a set of written instructions, scroll down to the section on How to Make a Google Doc.
Here is a link to a video showing you how to make a Google Doc for this class. If you prefer just to follow a set of written instructions, scroll down to the section on How to Make a Google Doc.
Hi everyone, this is the page you will check regularly to find out about your daily assignments. Please read everything below carefully and follow the directions given.
By the first day of class you should have done the following:
1. Get yourclicker. (see below)
2. Register your clicker online. (see instructions below) and bring it with you the first day of class.
3. Read the syllabus carefully. (see link to syllabus on main page. If it is not there now, it will be shortly.
4. Create your journal page in Google Docs. (see below)
These are the course materials you will need to buy or rent.
1. Texts. There is no textbook for this course. All material will be available online.
2. e-instruction CPS RF Response Pad (aka: clicker). The clicker is available at the bookstore. The instructions for registering it are below.
Instructions for registering your clicker.
You will need to go online and register your clicker for this class. Register it according to the instructions on the box or those you were provided with when you purchased or rented it. You will require a credit card. Be careful to register the serial number of your clicker accurately. At some point during the registration process you will be prompted for a class key. This is a unique number associated with the class in which you are enrolling. The class key for this class is:
Note: The first symbol is a capital letter 'I'.
If you do not have a box or instructions for registering your clicker, then do one of the following.
1. If you just acquired this clicker, then click here to register it. You'll need a credit card and the class key above.
2. If you are using a clicker that you have previously registered, click here and log in. Then follow the instructions given in 1 above.
3. A few important points about clickers.
Instructions for creating your Google Doc
Here are the instructions for making and sharing your Google Doc journal with me. You must have this document created by Friday at the latest. Be sure to follow every step very carefully. When you have shared the document with me correctly I will put a comment on the page. If you do not get a comment within 24 hours, it means you have done something wrong.