Anderson, Elizabeth, and . Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science

2015, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Abstract: Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science studies the ways in which gender does and ought to influence our conceptions of knowledge, the knowing subject, and practices of inquiry and justification. It identifies ways in which dominant conceptions and practices of knowledge attribution, acquisition, and justification systematically disadvantage women and other subordinated groups, and strives to reform these conceptions and practices so that they serve the interests of these groups. Various practitioners of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science argue that dominant knowledge practices disadvantage women by (1) excluding them from inquiry, (2) denying them epistemic authority, (3) denigrating their ‘feminine’ cognitive styles and modes of knowledge, (4) producing theories of women that represent them as inferior, deviant, or significant only in the ways they serve male interests, (5) producing theories of social phenomena that render women’s activities and interests, or gendered power relations, invisible, and (6) producing knowledge (science and technology) that is not useful for people in subordinate positions, or that reinforces gender and other social hierarchies. Feminist epistemologists trace these failures to flawed conceptions of knowledge, knowers, objectivity, and scientific methodology. They offer diverse accounts of how to overcome these failures. They also aim to (1) explain why the entry of women and feminist scholars into different academic disciplines, especially in biology and the social sciences, has generated new questions, theories, and methods, (2) show how gender and feminist values and perspectives have played a causal role in these transformations, (3) promote theories that aid egalitarian and liberation movements, and (4) defend these developments as cognitive, not just social, advances.

Comment: A very detailed primer on feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Covers a wide range of topics and issues, its length is such that it would probably be best to assign specific sections that are of interest rather than reading the whole thing. Useful as a preliminary introduction to the topics covered, and also offers a good summary of objections to the views presented.

Battaly, Heather, and . Virtue Epistemology

2008, Philosophy Compass 3(4): 639-663.

Abstract: What are the qualities of an excellent thinker? A growing new field, virtue epistemology, answers this question. Section I distinguishes virtue epistemology from belief-based epistemology. Section II explains the two primary accounts of intellectual virtue: virtue-reliabilism and virtue-responsibilism. Virtue-reliabilists claim that the virtues are stable reliable faculties, like vision. Virtue-responsibilists claim that they are acquired character traits, like open-mindedness. Section III evaluates progress and problems with respect to three key projects: explaining low-grade knowledge, high-grade knowledge, and the individual intellectual virtues.

Comment: This is a very helpful survey article on virtue epistemology covering works published between 1990 to early 2000s. This paper is most appropriate for beginners, offering an overview of the main problems and helping understand different positions of virtue epistemology.

Battaly, Heather, and . Epistemic Self-Indulgence

2010, Metaphilosophy 41(1): 214-234.

Abstract: I argue in this essay that there is an epistemic analogue of moral self-indulgence. Section 1 analyzes Aristotle’s notion of moral temperance, and its corresponding vices of self-indulgence and insensibility. Section 2 uses Aristotle’s notion of moral self-indulgence as a model for epistemic self-indulgence. I argue that one is epistemically self-indulgent only if one either: (ESI1) desires, consumes, and enjoys appropriate and inappropriate epistemic objects; or (ESI2) desires, consumes, and enjoys epistemic objects at appropriate and inappropriate times; or (ESI3) desires and enjoys epistemic objects too frequently, or to an inappropriately high degree, or consumes too much of them. We need not look far to locate the epistemically self-indulgent: philosophers, especially skeptics, are likely candidates.

Comment: This is an interesting article offering an analysis on the concept of an intellectual vice: epistemic self-indulgence. It will give the students an overview of the concept of intellectual self-indulgence, and an initial idea of how we could understand and work on individual vices. By providing concrete examples, this paper would make it easier for students to understand what virtue epistemology aims to achieve.

Brown, Jessica, and . Experimental Philosophy, Contextualism and SSI

2013, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: 86 (2): 233-261.

Abstract: I will ask the conditional question: if folk attributions of “know” are not sensitive to the stakes and/or the salience of error, does this cast doubt on contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism (SSI)? I argue that if it should turn out that folk attributions of knowledge are insensitive to such factors, then this undermines contextualism, but not SSI. That is not to say that SSI is invulnerable to empirical work of any kind. Rather, I defend the more modest claim that leading versions of SSI are not undermined by one particular kind of experimental result, namely the recent suggestion that knowledge attributions are insensitive to the stakes.

Comment: Suitable for an upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology for multiple purposes. It is good as a further reading for sessions on contextualism, pragmatic encroachment, philosophical methodology, and the use of experimental philosophy in epistemological theorizing.

Brown, Jessica, and . Contextualism and warranted assertibility manoeuvres

2006, Philosophical Studies 130 (3): 407-435.

Abstract: Contextualists such as Cohen and DeRose claim that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions vary contextually, in particular that the strength of epistemic position required for one to be truly ascribed knowledge depends on features of the attributor’s context. Contextualists support their view by appeal to our intuitions about when it’s correct (or incorrect) to ascribe knowledge. Someone might argue that some of these intuitions merely reflect when it is conversationally appropriate to ascribe knowledge, not when knowledge is truly ascribed, and so try to accommodate these intuitions even on an invariantist view. DeRose (Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, 1998; Philosophical Review, 2002) argues that any such ‘warranted assertibility manoeuvre’, or ‘WAM’, against contextualism is unlikely to succeed. Here, I argue that his objections to a WAM against contextualism are not persuasive and offer a pragmatic account of the data about ascriptions of knowledge.

Comment: This paper defends the warranted assertibility manoeuvres, a prominent pragmatic criticism to epistemic contextualism. It is useful as a central or a further reading material for teachings on contextualism in an upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology.

Brown, Jessica, and . Subject­-Sensitive Invariantism and the Knowledge Norm for Practical Reasoning

2008, Nous 42(2): 167-189.

Introduction: It is increasingly popular to suggest that knowledge is the norm of practical reasoning, or reasoning about what to do (e.g. Hawthorne 2004, Stanley 2005). This idea is central to the defence of a new version of invariantism – ‘subject-sensitive invariantism’ – on which whether the true belief that p is knowledge not only depends on such factors as one’s evidence, and the reliability of the belief-producing process, but also the stakes or how important it is that p be true (the view is also known as ‘sensitive moderate invariantism’ (Hawthorne 2004) and ‘interest relative invariantism’ (Stanley 2005)). I will argue against the idea that knowledge is the norm of practical reasoning, whether that is understood as a necessity or sufficiency claim. Instead, I will argue that the epistemic standards for practical reasoning vary contextually.

Comment: This paper nicely elucidates the debates on pragmatic encroachment in epistemology and presents main objections to the knowledge norm of practical reasoning. It is useful for teachings on pragmatic encroachment and the knowledge norm of practical reasoning in an upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology.

Churchland, Patricia, and . Epistemology in The Age of Neuroscience

1987, Journal of Philosophy 84 (1987): 546-83.

Comment: Churchland argues that advances in neuroscience should should bring about reform in a number of central areas of philosophy. Formal logic does not model human reasoning, formal semantics cannot account for how human language is meaningful, there are no foundations of knowledge, there is no a priori knowledge, and true belief is not a goal of human nervous systems.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on epistemology (in particular, a section on naturalised epistemology), the philosophy of cognitive science, the philosophy of biology or metaphilosophy. Though the paper touches on foundational issues in philosophy, it is a relatively straightforward read and an excellent conversation starter. Suitable for undergraduates of all levels, but also appropriate for graduate-level courses.

Coliva, Annalisa, and . Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology

2015, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publisher’s Note: Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology provides a novel account of the structure of epistemic justification. Its central claim builds upon Wittgenstein’s idea in On Certainty that epistemic justifications hinge on some basic assumptions and that epistemic rationality extends to these very hinges. It exploits these ideas to address major problems in epistemology, such as the nature of perceptual justifications, external world skepticism, epistemic relativism, the epistemic status of basic logical laws, of the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature, of our belief in the existence of the past and of other minds, and the nature of testimonial justification. Along the way, further technical issues, such as the scope of the Principle of Closure of epistemic operators under known entailment, the notion of transmission failure, and the existence of entitlements are addressed in new and illuminating ways.

Comment: In this interesting book, Annalisa Coliva develops an account of the structure of justification inspired by Wittgenstein's epistemology (Ch.1-3), argues a constitutivism about epistemic rationality (Ch.4) and reveals its significance for many contemporary problems (Ch.5). Ch.1 involves a overview of three dominant views of perceptual warrants: liberalism, conservativism and moderatism, so it could be a useful reading material for teachings on epistemic justification and perceptual warrant. Ch.4 can be used as a further reading for topics on epistemic rationality, Wittgenstein's epistemology and external world skepticism.

Coliva, Annalisa, and . Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty, and Common Sense

2010, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publisher’s Note: Does scepticism threaten our common sense picture of the world? Does it really undermine our deep-rooted certainties? This book offers an answer to these questions through a comparative study of the epistemological work of two key figures in the history of analytic philosophy: G. E. Moore and Ludwig Wittgenstein. While historically accurate and engaging with scholarly work in this area, the book also puts forward novel interpretations of their works and brings out their relevance to present-day debates both in epistemology and philosophy of language.

Comment: This book is a useful and sustained examination of a variety of themes in Wittgenstein's On Certainty, the very late compilation of remarks inspired by G.E. Moore's engagement with scepticism and idealism in "A Defence of Common Sense," "Proof of an External World" and a few other papers. Among the topics considered are the strategies of Moore's arguments, ordinary and philosophical uses of language, differing interpretations of Moore, externalism, internalism and contextualism, Wittgenstein's objections to Moore, meaning and use, language games, Cartesian and Humean sceptical arguments, the epistemic and semantic status of so-called "hinge" propositions, epistemic relativism, and a comparison of Wittgenstein's and Moore's views with those of subsequent philosophers. It thus constitutes a very good reading or even central text for a course on Moore's epistemology, Wittgenstein's epistemology and external world skepticism.

Dalmiya, Vrinda, and . Why should a knower care?

2002, Hypatia 17(1): 34--52.

Abstract: This paper argues that the concept of care is significant not only for ethics, but for epistemology as well. After elucidating caring as a five-step dyadic relation, I go on to show its epistemic significance within the general framework of virtue epistemology as developed by Ernest Sosa, Alvin Goldman, and Linda Zagzebski. The notions of “care-knowing” and “care-based epistemology” emerge from construing caring (respectively) as a reliabilist and responsibilist virtue.

Comment: This text is best used in epistemology classes when discussing virtue reliablist and responsibilist approaches, and epistemic success in general. It will also be useful in philosophy of science classes: Dalmiya argues for radical changes in our approach to scientific research, including a redefinition of the epistemic and moral constraints which guide it.