Presentation on theme: "Reliabilism and virtue epistemology"— Presentation transcript:
1 Reliabilism and virtue epistemology Michael Lacewing
2 Reliabilism You know that p if p is true;You believe that p; andYour belief is caused by a reliable cognitive process.A reliable cognitive process is just one that produces a high percentage of true beliefsE.g. perception, memory and testimony(A false belief caused by a reliable process is not knowledge.)
3 An advantage Young children and animals have knowledge. Young children and animals don’t have a sophisticated rational psychology that provides justifications for their beliefs.So knowledge is not justified true belief.Young children and animals do have reliable cognitive processes, though.Knowledge is reliable true belief.
4 Objection A belief can be true and reliable but not be knowledge Henry in Barn County: Henry believes ‘there’s a barn’ when looking at the only real barn in a countryside full of barn facades, but he also believes ‘there’s a barn’ when looking at the barn facades.The problem is Henry can’t tell the difference between real barns and barn facades.
5 Improved reliabilism You know that p if p is true; You believe that p; Your belief that p is caused by a reliable cognitive process; andYou are able to discriminate between ‘relevant possibilities’ in the actual situation.
6 Tracking the truthA different definition of ‘reliable cognitive process’ is one that ‘tracks’ the truth.Nozick: you know that p ifp is true;You believe that p;In the situation you are in, or a similar situation, if p were not true, then you would not believe that p; andIn the situation you are in, or a similar situation, if p were true, then you would believe that p.
7 Tracking the truthIn normal cases, Henry knows whether or not he is looking at a barnIf it wasn’t a barn, he wouldn’t believe that it is.In Barn County, Henry doesn’t knowBecause he would believe something is a barn when it isn’t.Reliability doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be mistaken in any situation, just in ones likely to come up.
8 Brains in vats I know I have two hands. But imagine: I am a brain in a vat, and all my perceptual experiences are being fed to me by a supercomputer (The Matrix) or a demon (Descartes).Do I know (now) that I am not a brain in a vat?No, because if I were, I would believe that I am not.
9 The principle of closure The principle: if I know the premises, I know the conclusion of a valid deduction.A valid deduction:I have two handsIf I have two hands, then I am not a brain in a vatTherefore, I am not a brain in a vat.Reliabilism says that I know the premises, but I don’t know the conclusion!But if you accept the principle, and you accept that you don’t know you are a brain in a vat, you must accept scepticism – you don’t know the premises either.
10 Virtue epistemologyIntellectual virtue: an intellectual skill or ability or trait that contributes to getting to the truth.You know that p ifp is true;You believe that p; andYour true belief is a result of you exercising your intellectual virtues.The fact that you have a true belief is a ‘cognitive achievement’ for which you deserve ‘credit’.
11 The three As Sosa: suppose an archer shoots an arrow at a target Accuracy: did the arrow hit the target?Adroitness: was the arrow shot well? Was the shot competent?Aptness: did the arrow hit the target because it was shot well?A shot can be adroit without being accurate; it can even be accurate and adroit without being apt, e.g. luck (the wind blows the arrow off target and then on again).
12 Apt belief Knowledge is apt belief: Accuracy: is the belief true?Adroitness: is the way that the person formed the belief an exercise of their intellectual virtues?Aptness: is the belief true because the person used their intellectual virtues in forming it?Henry: normally, Henry knows ‘there’s a barn’ because he sees and recognises it. In Barn County, his belief isn’t aptEither because Henry can’t recognise barns – he doesn’t have the right intellectual virtues (abilities)Or when his belief is right, it isn’t because he has exercised his virtues, but because of luck.