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How to be an Epistemic Expressivist Michael Ridge October, 2011.

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1 How to be an Epistemic Expressivist Michael Ridge October, 2011

2 Structure of my presentation: What is expressivism? What is expressivism? Why be an expressivist in the moral case? Why be an expressivist in the moral case? Do the arguments for expressivism carry over from the moral case to the epistemic case? Do the arguments for expressivism carry over from the moral case to the epistemic case? I argue that they carry over much better for ‘all things considered’ judgments than for pro tanto reason judgments. I argue that they carry over much better for ‘all things considered’ judgments than for pro tanto reason judgments. A (very tentative) Hypothesis: perhaps in the epistemic case, we should be expressivists about the all things considered ‘ought’ but cognitivists about judgments about pro tanto reasons. A (very tentative) Hypothesis: perhaps in the epistemic case, we should be expressivists about the all things considered ‘ought’ but cognitivists about judgments about pro tanto reasons. This would be a strange asymmetry, but perhaps an intelligible one. I consider some challenges to its intelligibility. This would be a strange asymmetry, but perhaps an intelligible one. I consider some challenges to its intelligibility. A further challenge: Explain why we would come to have a set of epistemic concepts that is bifurcated in this way. A further challenge: Explain why we would come to have a set of epistemic concepts that is bifurcated in this way.

3 What is expressivism? (1) Expressivism is a form of non-cognitivism. Expressivism is a form of non-cognitivism. How should we understand non-cognitivism, though? How should we understand non-cognitivism, though? First, draw a distinction between robust and minimal beliefs. First, draw a distinction between robust and minimal beliefs. Metaethical Non-Cognitivism is then the defined as follows: Metaethical Non-Cognitivism is then the defined as follows: For any claim M in which a moral predicate is used, M does not express a robust belief such that M is thereby guaranteed to be true if and only if the belief expressed is true. For any claim M in which a moral predicate is used, M does not express a robust belief such that M is thereby guaranteed to be true if and only if the belief expressed is true.

4 What is expressivism? (2) Metaethical Expressivism is Meta-ethical Non- Cognitivism plus the following positive thesis: Metaethical Expressivism is Meta-ethical Non- Cognitivism plus the following positive thesis: Moral claims express desire-like states of mind. Moral claims express desire-like states of mind. Most expressivists will also endorse the following auxiliary thesis: Most expressivists will also endorse the following auxiliary thesis: Moral judgments are at least partly constituted by desire-like states of mind. Moral judgments are at least partly constituted by desire-like states of mind. Epistemic expressivism makes the same claims, mutatis mutandis, about epistemic claims. Epistemic expressivism makes the same claims, mutatis mutandis, about epistemic claims.

5 What is expressivism? (3) Note that this conception of expressivism allows that the relevant class of judgments might also be partly constituted by even robust beliefs. Note that this conception of expressivism allows that the relevant class of judgments might also be partly constituted by even robust beliefs. This will be compatible with expressivism so long as those robust beliefs do not thereby fix the truth- conditions for the sentences which express them. This will be compatible with expressivism so long as those robust beliefs do not thereby fix the truth- conditions for the sentences which express them. One way of putting this is that moral claims might express beliefs, in a robust sense of belief, so long as those beliefs do not thereby count as having moral content. So long as there is no distinctively moral representational content. One way of putting this is that moral claims might express beliefs, in a robust sense of belief, so long as those beliefs do not thereby count as having moral content. So long as there is no distinctively moral representational content. Ditto, mutatis mutandis, for epistemic claims. Ditto, mutatis mutandis, for epistemic claims.

6 What is expressivism? (4) This opens the way for a kind of “Ecumenical Expressivism,” according to which the relevant claims express both desire-like states of mind and beliefs. This opens the way for a kind of “Ecumenical Expressivism,” according to which the relevant claims express both desire-like states of mind and beliefs. The key ideas are that (a) the desire-like states of mind have a kind of logical priority and (b) any robust beliefs expressed do not thereby fix the truth-conditions of the claim which express them. The key ideas are that (a) the desire-like states of mind have a kind of logical priority and (b) any robust beliefs expressed do not thereby fix the truth-conditions of the claim which express them. So we can have Ecumenical Epistemic Expressivism. So we can have Ecumenical Epistemic Expressivism. On my own version of Ecumenical Expressivism, it is important to also distinguish expression de re and expression de dicto. On my own version of Ecumenical Expressivism, it is important to also distinguish expression de re and expression de dicto.

7 Why be an expressivist in the moral case? (1) Moral propositions seem problematic. Moral propositions seem problematic. Such propositions seem to be about moral properties, but however we understand moral properties we face problems. Such propositions seem to be about moral properties, but however we understand moral properties we face problems. Suppose we understand such properties as irreducible. Suppose we understand such properties as irreducible. Such properties would, however, seem to be ‘queer’ in at least some of the ways Mackie discussed. Such properties would, however, seem to be ‘queer’ in at least some of the ways Mackie discussed.

8 Why be an expressivist in the moral case? (2) An obvious solution is to understand moral properties in some reductionist way. An obvious solution is to understand moral properties in some reductionist way. However, this approach faces Moore’s OQA and its successors. However, this approach faces Moore’s OQA and its successors. By ‘its successors’ I have in mind Horgan and Timmons’ work on ‘moral twin earth’. By ‘its successors’ I have in mind Horgan and Timmons’ work on ‘moral twin earth’. So we have a kind of dilemma for the cognitivist, with reductionists facing one sort of objection and anti-reductionists facing another. So we have a kind of dilemma for the cognitivist, with reductionists facing one sort of objection and anti-reductionists facing another.

9 Why be an expressivist in the moral case? (3) The expressivist avoids both horns of this dilemma by starting not with the moral proposition, but with moral judgment itself. The expressivist avoids both horns of this dilemma by starting not with the moral proposition, but with moral judgment itself. On a standard expressivist view, moral judgments are constituted by pro-attitudes, which explains the Moorean intuitions underwriting the OQA. On a standard expressivist view, moral judgments are constituted by pro-attitudes, which explains the Moorean intuitions underwriting the OQA. For one can always coherently admit that some action has a given set of descriptive features yet not adopt a suitable pro- (or con-) attitude toward that action. For one can always coherently admit that some action has a given set of descriptive features yet not adopt a suitable pro- (or con-) attitude toward that action. This is one motivation for metaethical expressivism: avoiding ontological or epistemological extravagance without implausible reductionism. This is one motivation for metaethical expressivism: avoiding ontological or epistemological extravagance without implausible reductionism.

10 Why be an expressivist in the moral case? (4) A second argument for expressivism emphasizes the practicality of moral judgment. A second argument for expressivism emphasizes the practicality of moral judgment. Moral judgment seems to motivate action directly. Moral judgment seems to motivate action directly. Further, changes in a person’s moral judgment over time are tracked by changes in her corresponding motivations. Further, changes in a person’s moral judgment over time are tracked by changes in her corresponding motivations.

11 Why be an expressivist in the moral case? (5) Yet ordinary descriptive beliefs are plausibly construed as motivationally inert, in and of themselves. Yet ordinary descriptive beliefs are plausibly construed as motivationally inert, in and of themselves. So, prima facie, at least, cognitivists have trouble explaining the practical character of moral judgment. So, prima facie, at least, cognitivists have trouble explaining the practical character of moral judgment. The expressivist, by contrast, can explain how this is so by construing moral judgments as (at least partly) constituted by pro-attitudes. The expressivist, by contrast, can explain how this is so by construing moral judgments as (at least partly) constituted by pro-attitudes.

12 Why be an epistemic expressivist? Prima facie, one might think that there is some unity across the different areas of normative thought and discourse. Prima facie, one might think that there is some unity across the different areas of normative thought and discourse. Plausibly, epistemic discourse is normative. Plausibly, epistemic discourse is normative. This is not, however, simply because we use ‘ought’ and ‘reason’ when making epistemic claims. This is not, however, simply because we use ‘ought’ and ‘reason’ when making epistemic claims. The sort of normativity entailed by that (if any) is too thin to support expressivism. The sort of normativity entailed by that (if any) is too thin to support expressivism.

13 Interlude on context- sensitivity Etiquette and the law are, in my view, not plausible candidates for an expressivist treatment. Etiquette and the law are, in my view, not plausible candidates for an expressivist treatment. Yet we do talk of what one ‘legally ought to do’, or ‘ought to do as a matter of etiquette’. Yet we do talk of what one ‘legally ought to do’, or ‘ought to do as a matter of etiquette’. Those terms – ‘ought’ and ‘reason’, are in my view context- sensitive. Those terms – ‘ought’ and ‘reason’, are in my view context- sensitive. More specifically, they allude to sorts of standards, where the sort in play is fixed by a context of utterance. More specifically, they allude to sorts of standards, where the sort in play is fixed by a context of utterance. They are used to make robustly normative claims only in certain sorts of contexts: Those in which the standards invoked are those compatible with wisdom. They are used to make robustly normative claims only in certain sorts of contexts: Those in which the standards invoked are those compatible with wisdom. [I argue for all of this at length elsewhere] [I argue for all of this at length elsewhere]

14 Why be an epistemic expressivist? (2) The appeal to wisdom is my own conception of normative thought and discourse. The appeal to wisdom is my own conception of normative thought and discourse. I offer the following more abstract shared concept of the normative: I offer the following more abstract shared concept of the normative: I propose (and elsewhere argue) that the relevant contexts are ones in which the claims express judgments which function to fix our “judgment sensitive attitudes” on pain of irrationality. I propose (and elsewhere argue) that the relevant contexts are ones in which the claims express judgments which function to fix our “judgment sensitive attitudes” on pain of irrationality. They in this sense settle the “thing to do,” the “thing to think,” and the “thing to feel.” They in this sense settle the “thing to do,” the “thing to think,” and the “thing to feel.”

15 Why be an epistemic expressivist? (3) Epistemic discourse, though, does seem to play a distinctive role in settling an agent’s “judgment sensitive attitudes” on pain of irrationality. Epistemic discourse, though, does seem to play a distinctive role in settling an agent’s “judgment sensitive attitudes” on pain of irrationality. So it does look like the hunch that the normative has some underlying semantic unity would support expressivism about the epistemic, conditional on expressivism about the ethical. So it does look like the hunch that the normative has some underlying semantic unity would support expressivism about the epistemic, conditional on expressivism about the ethical. This consideration provides only prima facie support for epistemic expressivism, though. This consideration provides only prima facie support for epistemic expressivism, though. Does this prima facie case withstand scrutiny? Does this prima facie case withstand scrutiny? In particular, do the arguments from the moral case carry over smoothly to the epistemic case? In particular, do the arguments from the moral case carry over smoothly to the epistemic case?

16 A problem with carrying over the “Open Question Argument.” (1) An asymmetry: An asymmetry: In the moral/practical case, even the most plausible candidate reasons for action can intelligibly be challenged. In the moral/practical case, even the most plausible candidate reasons for action can intelligibly be challenged. Even the normative relevance of physical pain can without conceptual confusion be challenged. Even the normative relevance of physical pain can without conceptual confusion be challenged. Examples of intelligible views which do this: Examples of intelligible views which do this: A. Certain forms of Stoicism. B. Certain religious moral outlooks. C. First-Order Nihilism. D. Holists about reasons. So even asking a question like, “Granted, it would cause great physical pain, but is that any reason at all not to do it?” does not betray conceptual confusion.

17 A problem with carrying over the “Open Question Argument.” (2) However, the analogous hypothesis does not seem to hold up in the case of reasons for belief. However, the analogous hypothesis does not seem to hold up in the case of reasons for belief. For the following actually does seem to betray conceptual confusion: For the following actually does seem to betray conceptual confusion: “Granted, the fact that he has chocolate all over his face makes it very probable (given the context), that my son has been into the cookies, but is that any reason at all to believe he has been into the cookies?” “Granted, the fact that he has chocolate all over his face makes it very probable (given the context), that my son has been into the cookies, but is that any reason at all to believe he has been into the cookies?”

18 A problem with carrying over the “Open Question Argument.” (3) This may reflect a deeper difference between the moral and the epistemic. This may reflect a deeper difference between the moral and the epistemic. For the arguments for expressivism in the moral/practical case suggest that neither intention nor action have any interesting telos. For the arguments for expressivism in the moral/practical case suggest that neither intention nor action have any interesting telos. Perhaps intention has its own fulfilment as its intention, but that does not look to provide the basis for a plausible theory of the very concept of a reason for action. Perhaps intention has its own fulfilment as its intention, but that does not look to provide the basis for a plausible theory of the very concept of a reason for action. [Aside: This is why constitutivism as a fully freestanding meta-normative view in the practical realm is implausible. The norms constitutive of agency are too thin to capture everything we can at least intelligibly think about what we ought to do] [Aside: This is why constitutivism as a fully freestanding meta-normative view in the practical realm is implausible. The norms constitutive of agency are too thin to capture everything we can at least intelligibly think about what we ought to do]

19 A problem with carrying over the “Open Question Argument.” (4) Whereas belief does plausibly have truth as a kind of telos. Whereas belief does plausibly have truth as a kind of telos. Belief in some sense aims at truth. This is how we distinguish believing that p from imagining that p, supposing that p for the sake of argument, etc. Belief in some sense aims at truth. This is how we distinguish believing that p from imagining that p, supposing that p for the sake of argument, etc. Moreover, the idea that reasons for belief can be understood somehow in terms of truth conduciveness is not so implausible. Moreover, the idea that reasons for belief can be understood somehow in terms of truth conduciveness is not so implausible.

20 A problem with carrying over the practical argument (1) The basic problem: Judgments about our reasons for belief do not seem to directly motivate action. The basic problem: Judgments about our reasons for belief do not seem to directly motivate action. At most, such judgments seem to directly influence one’s beliefs. At most, such judgments seem to directly influence one’s beliefs. This, however, is no argument for non-cognitivism or expressivism. This, however, is no argument for non-cognitivism or expressivism. For beliefs in general can directly and rationally influence one’s beliefs. That is just rational inference. For beliefs in general can directly and rationally influence one’s beliefs. That is just rational inference. For example: My belief that the cup is blue can directly and rationally lead me to believe that the cup is not red. For example: My belief that the cup is blue can directly and rationally lead me to believe that the cup is not red. Not all inference is mediated by normative judgments about what one ought to believe. Not all inference is mediated by normative judgments about what one ought to believe.

21 A problem with carrying over the practical argument (2) This objection is too swift, though. This objection is too swift, though. For perhaps our epistemic judgments do directly influence our actions (and not just our other beliefs) after all. For perhaps our epistemic judgments do directly influence our actions (and not just our other beliefs) after all. In particular, our epistemic judgments may directly influence both our mental actions and our external actions. In particular, our epistemic judgments may directly influence both our mental actions and our external actions.

22 A problem with carrying over the practical argument (3) On the first count, an epistemic judgment that one has sufficient reason to believe that p might motivate one to stop thinking about whether p is the case. On the first count, an epistemic judgment that one has sufficient reason to believe that p might motivate one to stop thinking about whether p is the case. Thinking about whether p is the case is a mental act one can choose to perform. Thinking about whether p is the case is a mental act one can choose to perform. This is unlike believing that p. This is unlike believing that p. On the second count, an epistemic judgment that one has sufficient reason to believe that p might motivate one to stop seeking further evidence – which is clearly an action. On the second count, an epistemic judgment that one has sufficient reason to believe that p might motivate one to stop seeking further evidence – which is clearly an action.

23 A problem with carrying over the practical argument (4) A first objection to this modified practical argument: A first objection to this modified practical argument: Perhaps belief alone, even in a robustly representational sense, can directly motivate action in these specific senses. Perhaps belief alone, even in a robustly representational sense, can directly motivate action in these specific senses. Perhaps on a classical functionalist story, this is part of why beliefs count as having a representational direction of fit with a given content. Perhaps on a classical functionalist story, this is part of why beliefs count as having a representational direction of fit with a given content. However we explain this fact about belief, though, its truth undermines the idea that the practicality of epistemic judgments in this specific sense somehow undermines their status as robust beliefs. However we explain this fact about belief, though, its truth undermines the idea that the practicality of epistemic judgments in this specific sense somehow undermines their status as robust beliefs.

24 A problem with carrying over the practical argument (5) A reply to this first objection: A reply to this first objection: Plausibly, when we think about p or seek evidence regarding the truth of p, it is because we want to know whether p is the case. Plausibly, when we think about p or seek evidence regarding the truth of p, it is because we want to know whether p is the case. If we believe that we already know that p then we will thereby take that desire to be satisfied. If we believe that we already know that p then we will thereby take that desire to be satisfied. Someone who does not want to know whether p, after all, will not seek evidence, etc. Someone who does not want to know whether p, after all, will not seek evidence, etc. So belief, even in these cases, does not directly and rationally influence action. At least, there is a plausible Humean story which does not require us to concede this. So belief, even in these cases, does not directly and rationally influence action. At least, there is a plausible Humean story which does not require us to concede this.

25 A problem with carrying over the practical argument (6) What about a case in which one believes without taking oneself to know? What about a case in which one believes without taking oneself to know? In that case, one might well still be motivated (e.g. by a desire to know) to seek more evidence or think more about p. So in that case, the belief does not block such epistemic activities. In that case, one might well still be motivated (e.g. by a desire to know) to seek more evidence or think more about p. So in that case, the belief does not block such epistemic activities. It is still a desire to know that does provides Humean motivational oomph though. It is still a desire to know that does provides Humean motivational oomph though. So this objection fails. So this objection fails. So perhaps the practical argument does carry over after all? So perhaps the practical argument does carry over after all? Not so fast! Not so fast!

26 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (1) There is a better objection to the proposed account of the distinctive motivating power of epistemic judgment, one which I adapt from David Owens’ work. There is a better objection to the proposed account of the distinctive motivating power of epistemic judgment, one which I adapt from David Owens’ work. Stage One of the objection: Stage One of the objection: Pragmatic Encroachment: The judgment that one has sufficient reason to believe that p is informed by pragmatic considerations. Pragmatic Encroachment: The judgment that one has sufficient reason to believe that p is informed by pragmatic considerations. How important it is to form a belief about p at all, how much time one has to gather more evidence, how important it is to get it right are all relevant to whether one’s reasons are sufficient. How important it is to form a belief about p at all, how much time one has to gather more evidence, how important it is to get it right are all relevant to whether one’s reasons are sufficient.

27 [Quick and dirty argument for pragmatic encroachment] Without some pragmatic component, it is hard to see how to fix the level of justification required for knowledge unless we fix that level at “certainty” – at least, it is hard to see a non-pragmatic alternative which is not implausibly arbitrary. Without some pragmatic component, it is hard to see how to fix the level of justification required for knowledge unless we fix that level at “certainty” – at least, it is hard to see a non-pragmatic alternative which is not implausibly arbitrary. But such high standards lead very quickly to global or nearly global scepticism. But such high standards lead very quickly to global or nearly global scepticism. The purely theoretical high standard sense might be one sense of ‘knows’ and cognate terms. The purely theoretical high standard sense might be one sense of ‘knows’ and cognate terms. However, it had better not be the only one, on pain of ‘knows’ not being a very useful concept in our cognitive economy. However, it had better not be the only one, on pain of ‘knows’ not being a very useful concept in our cognitive economy.

28 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (2) Note that this is not a crude pragmatism which holds that reasons for belief just are reasons of the desirability of one’s so believing. Note that this is not a crude pragmatism which holds that reasons for belief just are reasons of the desirability of one’s so believing. Owens correctly notes that these sorts of considerations are not reasons to believe, but perhaps reasons to get oneself to believe. Owens correctly notes that these sorts of considerations are not reasons to believe, but perhaps reasons to get oneself to believe. Instead the idea is that whether one’s reasons for belief, where reasons for belief must be recognizably epistemic, are sufficient can depend on practical considerations. Instead the idea is that whether one’s reasons for belief, where reasons for belief must be recognizably epistemic, are sufficient can depend on practical considerations.

29 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (3) Owens on pragmatic encroachment: Owens on pragmatic encroachment: “However abstruse the issues…each of us must strike a balance between believing truths and avoiding falsehoods (James 1956: 17-19). How much risk of error are we willing to run in order to relieve ourselves of the burdens of agnosticism? The curiosity of the amateur astronomer about the origins of the universe will not be satisfied until he has a view on that question…while to a professional astronomer, the frustration of curiosity may be less important than the risk of making a mistake.” (Reason Without Freedom, p. 26) “However abstruse the issues…each of us must strike a balance between believing truths and avoiding falsehoods (James 1956: 17-19). How much risk of error are we willing to run in order to relieve ourselves of the burdens of agnosticism? The curiosity of the amateur astronomer about the origins of the universe will not be satisfied until he has a view on that question…while to a professional astronomer, the frustration of curiosity may be less important than the risk of making a mistake.” (Reason Without Freedom, p. 26)

30 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (4) This is compatible with the balance of evidence determining whether to believe p or not-p if you believe either: This is compatible with the balance of evidence determining whether to believe p or not-p if you believe either: “The evidentialist may be right to insist that whether I believe p rather than not-p is something that should be fixed purely by the balance of evidence for and against p. But where and when I form a view as to whether p is true will be determined by my sense of how important the issue is, what the consequences of having a certain belief on the matter would be, and how much of my limited cognitive resources I ought to devote to it before reaching a conclusion.” (pp ) “The evidentialist may be right to insist that whether I believe p rather than not-p is something that should be fixed purely by the balance of evidence for and against p. But where and when I form a view as to whether p is true will be determined by my sense of how important the issue is, what the consequences of having a certain belief on the matter would be, and how much of my limited cognitive resources I ought to devote to it before reaching a conclusion.” (pp )

31 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (5) So certain sorts of practical considerations are relevant to whether one’s reasons for believing that p are sufficient. So certain sorts of practical considerations are relevant to whether one’s reasons for believing that p are sufficient. Prima facie, this might seem to support the idea that the arguments for expressivism carry over to the epistemic case. Prima facie, this might seem to support the idea that the arguments for expressivism carry over to the epistemic case. For now we have precisely the same kinds of reasons (practical reasons) in the epistemic case that we found in the moral/practical case. For now we have precisely the same kinds of reasons (practical reasons) in the epistemic case that we found in the moral/practical case. We can learn something relevant here from considering how Owens uses the idea of pragmatic encroachment to undermine the thesis that our epistemic judgments are directly motivating. We can learn something relevant here from considering how Owens uses the idea of pragmatic encroachment to undermine the thesis that our epistemic judgments are directly motivating.

32 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (4) Owens argues that one cannot rationally decide to form a belief on the basis of needing to come to a view. Owens argues that one cannot rationally decide to form a belief on the basis of needing to come to a view. Indeed, one can no more form a belief on the basis of a view about the urgency of coming to a view than one can form a belief on the basis of the practical desirability of so believing more generally. Indeed, one can no more form a belief on the basis of a view about the urgency of coming to a view than one can form a belief on the basis of the practical desirability of so believing more generally. The reason would be ‘of the wrong kind’ to rationally determine one’s belief. The reason would be ‘of the wrong kind’ to rationally determine one’s belief. In coming to a view about p, our focus is on the world – specifically on that part of the world that seems relevant to whether p is the case. In coming to a view about p, our focus is on the world – specifically on that part of the world that seems relevant to whether p is the case.

33 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (5) I want to see whether this argument might also be relevant to the debate over epistemic expressivism. I want to see whether this argument might also be relevant to the debate over epistemic expressivism. To be clear, this was not Owens’ own topic. He was interested in whether this point undermined theories of epistemic responsibility based on some form of robust epistemic freedom. To be clear, this was not Owens’ own topic. He was interested in whether this point undermined theories of epistemic responsibility based on some form of robust epistemic freedom.

34 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (6) Owens develops his argument in the context of the work of John Locke. Owens develops his argument in the context of the work of John Locke. He argues that our epistemic judgments might rationally influence what seems salient to us, and thereby influence our deliberation. He argues that our epistemic judgments might rationally influence what seems salient to us, and thereby influence our deliberation. However, this would at best allow for a kind of indirect control over our mental life. However, this would at best allow for a kind of indirect control over our mental life. Such indirect control seems insufficient for a pragmatic argument for epistemic expressivism. Such indirect control seems insufficient for a pragmatic argument for epistemic expressivism. After all, cognitivists can, should, and typically do allow that our moral judgments can indirectly motivate us. After all, cognitivists can, should, and typically do allow that our moral judgments can indirectly motivate us.

35 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (7) In that context, Owens considers the following rejoinder to his argument: In that context, Owens considers the following rejoinder to his argument: “A Lockean might reply that while only reasons for Φ-ing can get me to Φ, the desire to deliberate about whether to Φ can prevent me from Φ-ing. Equally a strong desire to be right about whether p can ensure that I continue to worry about whether p and fail to form the belief that p, even if only evidence for p can convince me of p. Now these desires directly motivate the person whose desires they are.” “A Lockean might reply that while only reasons for Φ-ing can get me to Φ, the desire to deliberate about whether to Φ can prevent me from Φ-ing. Equally a strong desire to be right about whether p can ensure that I continue to worry about whether p and fail to form the belief that p, even if only evidence for p can convince me of p. Now these desires directly motivate the person whose desires they are.”

36 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (8) Owens’ reply is instructive: Owens’ reply is instructive: “I have direct control over my belief if my judgment about whether I ought to believe that p helps determine whether I acquire that conviction. But there is nothing in what Locke says to indicate why these higher-order judgments should have any direct influence over what happens. On Locke’s model, what determines whether I form a belief or not is whether I desire to deliberate further, not whether I judge that I ought to.” (p. 98) “I have direct control over my belief if my judgment about whether I ought to believe that p helps determine whether I acquire that conviction. But there is nothing in what Locke says to indicate why these higher-order judgments should have any direct influence over what happens. On Locke’s model, what determines whether I form a belief or not is whether I desire to deliberate further, not whether I judge that I ought to.” (p. 98) The argument allows that desires can directly guide one’s mental actions (whether one deliberates, say) but denies that this is of any help to the Lockean. The argument allows that desires can directly guide one’s mental actions (whether one deliberates, say) but denies that this is of any help to the Lockean.

37 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (9) Indeed, the parallel with a debate in metaethics is quite striking. Indeed, the parallel with a debate in metaethics is quite striking. For against the background of an assumed cognitivism, he effectively offers a kind of Michael Smith-style fetishism objection to certain strategies for explaining the alleged motivating power of the relevant judgments: For against the background of an assumed cognitivism, he effectively offers a kind of Michael Smith-style fetishism objection to certain strategies for explaining the alleged motivating power of the relevant judgments: “Should Locke restore reflective control by postulating a desire to believe and act in accordance with these higher-order judgments? Such a desire seems strange: why should I desire to believe what I think I ought to believe (rather than what the evidence supports)?” (p. 98) “Should Locke restore reflective control by postulating a desire to believe and act in accordance with these higher-order judgments? Such a desire seems strange: why should I desire to believe what I think I ought to believe (rather than what the evidence supports)?” (p. 98) This is similar to Michael Smith’s suggestion that being motivated by a desire to do what is right, where this desire is de dicto, would be a kind of ‘fetishism’. This is similar to Michael Smith’s suggestion that being motivated by a desire to do what is right, where this desire is de dicto, would be a kind of ‘fetishism’. The biggest difference is that Smith is arguing against one model of motivation to make way for another; Owens is arguing against the idea that our epistemic judgments are directly motivational tout court. The biggest difference is that Smith is arguing against one model of motivation to make way for another; Owens is arguing against the idea that our epistemic judgments are directly motivational tout court.

38 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (10) Owens’ argument simply assumes that normative judgments are not themselves a species of desire; otherwise his argument is a non-sequitur. Owens’ argument simply assumes that normative judgments are not themselves a species of desire; otherwise his argument is a non-sequitur. The crucial space opened up here is for the non- cognitivist to hold that the relevant normative judgments just are desires. Or just states of mind at least partially constituted by desires. The crucial space opened up here is for the non- cognitivist to hold that the relevant normative judgments just are desires. Or just states of mind at least partially constituted by desires. Insofar as the idea that we have some rational control over our beliefs has antecedent plausibility, this seems like an equally good reply to Owens’ argument: Epistemic Expressivism allows us to hold onto “Reflective Motivation.” Insofar as the idea that we have some rational control over our beliefs has antecedent plausibility, this seems like an equally good reply to Owens’ argument: Epistemic Expressivism allows us to hold onto “Reflective Motivation.”

39 An objection from pragmatic encroachment (11) Note, though, that this argument works only for judgments about what one ought to believe all things considered. Note, though, that this argument works only for judgments about what one ought to believe all things considered. Pragmatic Encroachment itself comes into play only when deciding whether one’s evidence is strong enough to warrant coming to a view, after all. Pragmatic Encroachment itself comes into play only when deciding whether one’s evidence is strong enough to warrant coming to a view, after all. All things considered epistemic judgments seem to be directly motivating – they plausibly directly influence deliberation (a mental act) and evidence gathering and discussion with others (external actions). All things considered epistemic judgments seem to be directly motivating – they plausibly directly influence deliberation (a mental act) and evidence gathering and discussion with others (external actions). Judgments of mere pro-tanto reasons for belief do not seem to involve direct motivation in this way. Judgments of mere pro-tanto reasons for belief do not seem to involve direct motivation in this way.

40 A surprising upshot It seems that both (1) the OQA/Twin Earth and the (2) practical argument carry over smoothly to the epistemic case if, but only if, we focus on all things considered judgments. It seems that both (1) the OQA/Twin Earth and the (2) practical argument carry over smoothly to the epistemic case if, but only if, we focus on all things considered judgments. Neither argument looks so good if we focus on judgments of pro tanto reasons for belief. Neither argument looks so good if we focus on judgments of pro tanto reasons for belief. This marks out a difference from the moral/practical case. This marks out a difference from the moral/practical case.

41 Where do we go from here? Several theoretical options to consider: Several theoretical options to consider: (1) Use epistemic expressivism as a reductio for moral/practical expressivism. The idea: Following the arguments where they lead generates an incoherent sort of divide between the pro tanto and the all things considered. So the arguments must go wrong somehow. The conclusion: cognitivism is true in both realms. (1) Use epistemic expressivism as a reductio for moral/practical expressivism. The idea: Following the arguments where they lead generates an incoherent sort of divide between the pro tanto and the all things considered. So the arguments must go wrong somehow. The conclusion: cognitivism is true in both realms. (2) Go for a more fully general form of epistemic expressivism and either patch up the old arguments or find new arguments for epistemic expressivism about pro tanto reasons for belief. (2) Go for a more fully general form of epistemic expressivism and either patch up the old arguments or find new arguments for epistemic expressivism about pro tanto reasons for belief. (3) Follow the argument where it leads, and endorse a sort of bifurcated view in the epistemic case: Expressivism about all things considered epistemic judgments, but cognitivism about judgments about pro tanto reasons. (3) Follow the argument where it leads, and endorse a sort of bifurcated view in the epistemic case: Expressivism about all things considered epistemic judgments, but cognitivism about judgments about pro tanto reasons.

42 Throwing out the baby with the bath water? The first option – the “reductio of expressivism line” - rests on the premise that this sort of bifurcated view is incoherent. The first option – the “reductio of expressivism line” - rests on the premise that this sort of bifurcated view is incoherent. It is just not obvious that this is so, though, and it would be interesting to see how one might argue for it. [discussion?] It is just not obvious that this is so, though, and it would be interesting to see how one might argue for it. [discussion?]

43 A weaker reductio and how to meet it. One might instead argue that while such a bifurcated view is not literally incoherent, it looks somewhat ad hoc and disjointed, and that this casts the burden of proof onto its defenders. One might instead argue that while such a bifurcated view is not literally incoherent, it looks somewhat ad hoc and disjointed, and that this casts the burden of proof onto its defenders. Fair enough: But perhaps we can tell a suitable ‘just so story’ to explain this asymmetry between the pro tanto and the all things considered. Fair enough: But perhaps we can tell a suitable ‘just so story’ to explain this asymmetry between the pro tanto and the all things considered. The common thread might be the element of practical decision- making. Since judging whether the evidence if sufficient for making a judgment always involves a practical element, but not so judgments of pro tanto reasons for belief, this looks promising. The common thread might be the element of practical decision- making. Since judging whether the evidence if sufficient for making a judgment always involves a practical element, but not so judgments of pro tanto reasons for belief, this looks promising. The idea would be that practical reasoning has no telos which as a matter of conceptual necessity fixes what counts as a reason (much less a sufficient reason), whereas what counts as at least a pro tanto reason for belief is fixed by the telos of belief. The idea would be that practical reasoning has no telos which as a matter of conceptual necessity fixes what counts as a reason (much less a sufficient reason), whereas what counts as at least a pro tanto reason for belief is fixed by the telos of belief.

44 Fully general epistemic expressivism? (1) Another option would be to argue that either the arguments do somehow carry over to the pro tanto or… Another option would be to argue that either the arguments do somehow carry over to the pro tanto or… That anyway other arguments are forthcoming. [discussion] That anyway other arguments are forthcoming. [discussion] Not sure how to patch up the practical argument, though. [discussion] Not sure how to patch up the practical argument, though. [discussion]

45 Fully general epistemic expressivism? (2) Perhaps the OQA can be patched for pro tanto reasons. Perhaps the OQA can be patched for pro tanto reasons. My argument at most showed that there are certain criteria (being linked in the right way to the truth of p), such that any fact which meets that criteria is thereby conceptually guaranteed to be a reason for believing that p. My argument at most showed that there are certain criteria (being linked in the right way to the truth of p), such that any fact which meets that criteria is thereby conceptually guaranteed to be a reason for believing that p. Perhaps, though, there are other sorts of reasons for belief where the criteria are more “up for grabs.” Perhaps, though, there are other sorts of reasons for belief where the criteria are more “up for grabs.” For example, the simplicity of a hypothesis might be understood as a reason for believing it independently of whether simplicity increases the likelihood of truth. For example, the simplicity of a hypothesis might be understood as a reason for believing it independently of whether simplicity increases the likelihood of truth. Whether and in what sense simplicity provides a reason for belief looks like something about which people can disagree without thereby betraying conceptual confusion. Whether and in what sense simplicity provides a reason for belief looks like something about which people can disagree without thereby betraying conceptual confusion.

46 Fully general epistemic expressivism? (3) Even if this is so, it would require a serious reworking of the OQA, which does not seem to allow for such a substantial or “core” range of paradigm cases. Even if this is so, it would require a serious reworking of the OQA, which does not seem to allow for such a substantial or “core” range of paradigm cases. It looks more amenable to a “cluster concept” account. It looks more amenable to a “cluster concept” account. Or perhaps a Cornell-style account. Or perhaps a Cornell-style account. Here recall my invocation of the OQA “and its sucessors.” Here recall my invocation of the OQA “and its sucessors.” I doubt that epistemic twin earth would be as convincing as the Horgan and Timmons “moral twin earth” examples. I doubt that epistemic twin earth would be as convincing as the Horgan and Timmons “moral twin earth” examples. Perhaps a community which gave no weight to considerations of simplicity in making judgments about reasons for belief really is just talking past us. Perhaps a community which gave no weight to considerations of simplicity in making judgments about reasons for belief really is just talking past us. Not sure how to resolve this dispute. Not sure how to resolve this dispute.

47 A Bifurcated Epistemic Expressivism? (1) The last option is surprising, but perhaps has a lot to be said in its favour. The last option is surprising, but perhaps has a lot to be said in its favour. It would preserve a broad continuity about practical normative judgments, since the epistemic all things considered involves ‘pragmatic encroachment’. It would preserve a broad continuity about practical normative judgments, since the epistemic all things considered involves ‘pragmatic encroachment’. This might also explain why our practice would have this shape. This might also explain why our practice would have this shape. Yet at the same time it would capture the sense of unease that many philosophers (Cuneo, Kvanvig, and Lynch, e.g.) have about epistemic expressivism, owing to the seeming objectivity of epistemic reasons. Yet at the same time it would capture the sense of unease that many philosophers (Cuneo, Kvanvig, and Lynch, e.g.) have about epistemic expressivism, owing to the seeming objectivity of epistemic reasons. The objectivity reflects the telos of belief, and the way in which that fixes our reasons for belief. The objectivity reflects the telos of belief, and the way in which that fixes our reasons for belief. Yet how strong our reasons must be before they are decisive is not objective in this same way. Yet how strong our reasons must be before they are decisive is not objective in this same way.

48 A Bifurcated Epistemic Expressivism? (2) Some challenges here: Some challenges here: (1) To meet further objections to the coherence of such a hybrid view. (1) To meet further objections to the coherence of such a hybrid view. (2) To work out a solution to the Frege-Geach puzzle which preserves the right sorts of inferential connections between pro tanto and all things considered epistemic judgments. (2) To work out a solution to the Frege-Geach puzzle which preserves the right sorts of inferential connections between pro tanto and all things considered epistemic judgments. E.g., ‘There is most reason to X’ entails that there is some reason to X. E.g., ‘There is most reason to X’ entails that there is some reason to X. One strategy here: Analyze the all things considered epistemic judgments as a kind of ‘thick evaluative judgment’ so that some suitable descriptive component is there to explain how you can in a sense derive an ‘is’ from an ‘ought’ in this case. One strategy here: Analyze the all things considered epistemic judgments as a kind of ‘thick evaluative judgment’ so that some suitable descriptive component is there to explain how you can in a sense derive an ‘is’ from an ‘ought’ in this case. My own hypothesis: A form of Ecumenical Expressivism will be especially well-suited to this last strategy. That, however, is a story for another day…! My own hypothesis: A form of Ecumenical Expressivism will be especially well-suited to this last strategy. That, however, is a story for another day…!

49 Thanks for your time and attention…


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