Philosophy after Objectivity: Making Sense in Perspective

Philosophy after Objectivity: Making Sense in Perspective

Philosophy after Objectivity: Making Sense in Perspective

Philosophy after Objectivity: Making Sense in Perspective

Synopsis

This book discusses a range of central philosophical disputes about knowledge, objectivity, meaning, physicalism, and practical rationality. Its lessons about reasons and explanation affect all areas of theoretical philosophy, and challenge common philosophical assumptions about objectivity, realism, and physicalism. The book explains how various perennial disputes in philosophy rest not on genuine disagreement, but on conceptual diversity.

Excerpt

Philosophers, among other theorists, have long sought objective knowledge: roughly, knowledge of things whose existence does not depend on one's conceiving of them. Skeptics can effectively demand non-questionbegging evidence for claims to objective knowledge or truth, even if they typically despair of achieving such evidence. This book examines questions about objective knowledge in order to characterize the kinds of reasons available to philosophers and other theorists.

Philosophers, like other theorists, fall into two general categories: those who take skeptics seriously and those who do not. Philosophers who take skeptics seriously investigate the availability of non-questionbegging evidence for their claims, particularly their ontological claims about what actually exists. Philosophers who do not take skeptics seriously disregard their concern for nonquestionbegging supporting evidence. It is not unusual for philosophers simply to ignore this concern for non-questionbegging evidence. Our ignoring skeptics will not, however, make them--or their concern for non-questionbegging evidence--go away. In contrast, our attending to skeptical concerns about evidence can yield important lessons about the status of our available evidence. This book identifies these lessons, and explores their implications for ontology, epistemology, the theory of meaning, the theory of practical rationality, and the philosophy of mind.

Questionbegging support for a claim fails to answer theorists whose questions are begged. If questionbegging support is acceptable in argument, we can support any position we prefer: We need only invoke our preferred position to support that position itself. This strategy would be maximally permissive and hence excessively permissive. It would tolerate an "anything goes" attitude that makes argument superfluous. Philosophers contending that we have objective knowledge, such as knowledge of a conceiver-independent world, inevitably prompt skeptical challenges regarding non-questionbegging support. A standard challenge concerns non-questionbegging support for the presumed reliability of various belief-forming processes and inference-patterns. Given such a challenge, one cannot, without begging a question at hand, merely presume the reliability of the belief-forming processes and inference-patterns under dispute. This book shows how skeptics can genuinely trouble nonskeptics on the mat-

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