Evidentialism: Essays in Epistemology

Evidentialism: Essays in Epistemology

Evidentialism: Essays in Epistemology

Evidentialism: Essays in Epistemology

Synopsis

Evidentialism is a view about the conditions under which a person is epistemically justified in having a particular doxastic attitude toward a proposition. Evidentialism holds that the justified attitudes are determined entirely by the person's evidence. This is the traditional view of justification. It is now widely opposed. The essays included in this volume develop and defend the tradition. Evidentialism has many assets. In addition to providing an intuitively plausible account of epistemic justification, it helps to resolve the problem of the criterion, helps to disentangle epistemic and ethical evaluations, and illuminates the relationship between epistemic evaluations of beliefs and the evaluation of the methods used to form beliefs. These issues are all addressed in the essays presented here. External world skepticism poses the classic problem for an epistemological theory. The final essay in this volume argues that evidentialism is uniquely well qualified to make sense of skepticism and to respond to its challenge. Evidentialism is a version of epistemic internalism. Recent epistemology has included many attacks on internalism and has seen the development of numerous externalist theories. The essays included here respond to those attacks and raise objections to externalist theories, especially the principal rival, reliabilism. Internalism generally has been criticized for having unacceptable deontological implications, for failing to connect epistemic justification to truth, and for failing to provide an adequate account of what makes basic beliefs justified. Each of these charges is answered in these essays. The collection includes two previously unpublished essays and new afterwords to five of the reprinted essays; it will be the definitive resource on evidentialism for all epistemologists.

Excerpt

Earl Conee

Epistemology is difficult enough without transcendental constraints. Evidentialist epistemology is unencumbered by unjustified presuppositions and intrinsic limitations of scope. This is illustrated here by addressing several issues that seem somehow primordial or ultimate. The first such issue is refuting skepticism without begging the question. This leads to the problem of the criterion: the contention roughly to the effect that all positions about the extent of our knowledge beg the question. Following that, three basic philosophical projects that some philosophers have thought cannot be accomplished are discussed. One such project is fully reflectively justifying the reliability of a source of knowledge. The others are giving reasons for thinking that our most basic reasons really are reasons, and giving a complete philosophical explanation of all knowledge. It is argued that in each case there is no insuperable limit to what an evidentialist approach can accomplish.

Refuting Skepticism, Inside and Out

Some philosophers think that the only good way to dispute a radical skeptical position without begging the question is to show that the skepticism refutes itself. Not so. We do not have to undermine a skeptical position by using its own resources, in order to avoid doing anything illegitimate. A better approach is to find reasons to deny the skeptical thesis that are stronger than the reasons that argue for it.

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