Epistemic Circularity – University of Copenhagen

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Social Epistemology Research Group > Activities > Past Activities (2008-2014) > Epistemic Circularity

Epistemic Circularity

Workshop Program
February 16-17, 2012
Seminar Room 14.2.50

Thursday, February 16
13.00 - 13.30 Coffee and tea
13.30 - 15.00 Annalisa Colliva: Which Transmission Failure and Where?
15.00 - 16.30 Jesper Kallestrup: Overcoming Incompatibilism: From Epistemic To Semantic Circularity
19.00: Workshop Dinner (TBA)

Friday, February 17
09.00 - 09.30 Coffee and tea
09.30 - 11.00 Pat Bondy: Against Epistemic Circularity
11.00 - 12.30 Kristoffer Ahlström: The Costs of Epistemic Realism
12.30 - 13.30 Lunch
13.30 - 15.00 Mikkel Gerken: Experimental philosophy and the problem of the gold standard

Overcoming Incompatibilism: From Epistemic To Semantic Circularity

Crispin Wright’s epistemic response to McKinsey’s paradox is to argue that introspective knowledge of the first premise fails to transmit across the semantic externalist entailment in the second premise to the conclusion that one has such untoward knowledge of the external world. This paper argues first that Stewart Cohen and Jonathan Vogel’s bootstrapping arguments suffer from a novel kind of epistemic circularity which triggers failure of transmission but safeguards the possibility of basic perceptual knowledge. It is then argued that McKinsey’s paradox falls out as a special case of this template for transmission failure. The circularity in play is semantic: the paradox illicitly imports semantically relevant properties of belief- and knowledge- individuating sources into the contents of the knowledge states that those sources individuate by instantiating those properties. Importantly, this diagnosis permits the possibility of basic introspective knowledge as propounded by Tyler Burge and other semantic externalists.

Which Transmission Failure and Where?
The paper examines different kinds of so-called "warrant transmission failure" and argues that, beside the one made popular by Crispin Wright's writings, we should countenance a second kind of it. It contrasts this second kind of transmission failure with a proposal recently made by Martin Davies to the same effect and dismisses Davies' kind of transmission failure as spurious. Finally, the paper explores the issue of which arguments exhibit these two kinds of transmission failure, with special attention to sa-called bootstrapping arguments.

The Costs of Epistemic Realism
In epistemology, as in other theoretical pursuits, theories are opted for on the basis of their respective costs and benefits. Benefits typically consist in possibilities for explaining significant phenomena, while costs usually comprise commitments that one would prefer not taking on board. In this talk, I focus on some heretofore neglected costs of epistemic realism. As for the nature of those costs, I argue that one of the realist’s main arguments against epistemic expressivism not only fails, but that a crucial premise of it can be used to show that that, lest the realist accepts a far-reaching skepticism, she needs to reject the idea that truth is a central norm of inquiry, and hold that the diversity of views in discussions about epistemic normativity is a sign of massive irrationality or cognitive-behavioral incoherence.

Experimental Philosophy and the Problem of the Gold Standard

Abstract forthcoming

Against Epistemic Circularity
Abstract forthcoming