Philosophy Bites is a website with short interviews of philosophers on specific topics. The interviews are listed by topics here. One interview that caught my eye was Gideon Rosen on moral responsibility. Listen to this interview here.
Author Archives: Christopher Cloos
The Arché Research Center at the University of St. Andrews has a new blog. Currently, there are several interesting posts on the site. I enjoyed the previous incarnation of the Arché Blog,and I anticipate this incarnation of the blog will also be worth following.
This discussion was brought to my attention on Leiter Reports. It’s an interesting discussion with Joshua Cohen about Rawls’ theory of justice and how it relates to the Occupy Wall Street movement. A colleague of mine (Quentin Gee) notes the following quote by Rawls on his UCSB profile page.
“When politicians are beholden to their constituents for essential campaign funds, and a very unequal distribution of income and wealth obtains in the background culture, with the great wealth being in the control of corporate economic power, is it any wonder that congressional legislation is, in effect, written by lobbyists, and Congress becomes a bargaining chamber in which laws are bought and sold?” – John Rawls, The Law of Peoples
I find this quote apt in light of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I think the Occupy Wall Street movement could better theoretically frame its dialogue in light of Rawls’ political philosophy.
Over at the Philosophy TV website there’s a good discussion of the notion of belief. Jonathan Weisberg and Kenny Easwaran discuss partial belief versus full belief. The discussion provides a solid overview of the different positions one could take on the interplay between probabilistic belief and full belief.
Branden Fitelson (forthcoming) provides counterexamples to Richard Feldman’s principle that Evidence of Evidence is Evidence (EEE). Here’s the principle in its initial (naïve) form:
(EEE1) If E (non-conclusively) supports the claim that (some subject) S possesses evidence which supports p, then E supports p. (Fitelson forthcoming: 1).
Fitelson’s counterexamples to (EEE) work by presupposing the “positive relevance” (i.e., increase-in-probability) notion of evidential support. In footnote 6 he indicates a more substantive principle of evidential support might be wielded in defending (EEE). In this post I want to explore this possibility, specifically in relation to the notion of propositional justification. Consider the following principle of propositional justification:
S is justified in believing that p iff S’s total evidence sufficiently supports p (Neta 2007: 197).
Though there are many issues that could be raised with this formulation of propositional justification, let’s see if a less demanding iteration of the principle could be used to resist Fitelson’s counterexamples to (EEE). Neta’s principle suggests the following notion of evidential support:
(1) E (evidentially) supports p iff S’s total evidence includes E and S’s total evidence (necessarily) supports p.
The counterexample to (EEE1) involves drawing a card c at random from a deck. All the evidence we are given regarding c is as follows:
(E1) c is a black card.
(E2) c is the ace of spades.
(p) c is an ace.
Imagine a guy named John knows what card c is, and the evidence above constitutes all the facts about the case. This means the following is the case:
(2) E1 supports the claim that John possesses evidence (E2) which supports p.
Positive relevance creates a problem for (EEE1) because (E1) doesn’t raise the probability of (p). (E1) alone is probabilistically irrelevant to (p); so, even though (E1) supports (E2), the second conjunct in (EEE1) is false (i.e., E1 doesn’t support p).
How does the counterexample fare under principle (1) instead of positive relevance? John’s total evidence includes (E1), and John’s total evidence (E1 and E2) necessarily supports (p). (E1) alone doesn’t necessarily support (p), but it also doesn’t support (not-p), and when coupled with (E2) it does necessarily support (p). In fact, (E2) entails (p). John’s total evidence might not sufficiently support (p), but his total evidence does necessarily do so. The next iteration of (EEE) runs as follows:
(EEE2) If E1 supports the claim that S possesses evidence E2 which supports p, then the conjunction of E1 and E2 supports p (Fitelson forthcoming: 2).
This seems like the defense I just gave for (EEE1), assuming (1). Didn’t I just claim the conjunction of (E1) and (E2) supports (p)? If so, then, assuming evidential support principle (1), it looks like the next counterexample will sink (EEE2). However, I think (EEE2) and (1) escape unscathed. Fitelson’s counterexample to (EEE2) is about a guy named Joe:
(E1) Joe has a full head of white hair.
(E2) Joe is over 35 years of age.
(p) Joe is bald.