Epistemology at the Eastern Division Meeting

RELEVANT INFO FOR THE UPCOMING APA MEETING:
(CD-er’s names in bold)
Wednesday Afternoon, December 28
I-D. Symposium: A Priori Knowledge and Justification 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Chair: Hilary Kornblith (University of Massachusetts–Amherst)
Speakers: George Bealer (Yale University)
Michael Devitt (City University of New York–Graduate Center)
Commentator: James Pryor (Princeton University)

Wednesday Evening, December 28
GVI-10. Society for Skeptical Studies 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Chair: William Larkin (Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville)
Speakers: Otávio Bueno (University of South Carolina)
“Pyrrhonism and the Empirical Stance”
Brien Ribeiro (University of Tennessee–Chattanooga)
“Clarke and Stroud on the Plane-Spotters”
William Larkin (Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville)
“Risk, Relevance, and Context”

Thursday Afternoon, December 29
III-I. Colloquium: Epistemology1:30-4:30 p.m.
Chair: Sharon Ryan (West Virginia University) 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Speaker: Jonathan Schaffer (University of Massachusetts–Amherst)
“Knowing the Answer”
Commentator: Jonathan Weinberg (Indiana University) 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Speaker: Elka Shortsleeve (University of Florida)
“Knowledge and Certainty: A Speech-Act Contextualist Account”
Commentator: Adam Leite (Indiana University) 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Speaker: Christopher Tillman (University of Rochester)
“Some Problems for Contextualism”
Commentator: Peter Ludlow (University of Michigan)

Friday Morning, December 30
IV-D. Symposium: Epistemic Permissiveness 9:00-11:00 a.m.
Chair: Bryan Frances (Fordham University)
Speaker: Roger Lewis White (New York University)
Commentator: Thomas Kelly (Princeton University)

V-C. Information Session: Epistemic Modals 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Chair: Andy Egan (Australian National University)
Speakers: Thony Gillies (University of Michigan)
Kai von Fintel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

V-F. Colloquium: Vagueness 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Sutton Parlor Center (Second Floor)
Chair: Ted Sider (Rutgers University)
12:15-1:15 p.m.
Speakers: Greg Ray and Ivana Simic (University of Florida)
“A Decisive Refutation of Epistemicism”
Commentator: Roy Sorensen (Dartmouth College)

Friday Afternoon, December 30
VI-C. Symposium: Confirmation Theory Old and New 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Chair: David Christensen (University of Vermont)
Speakers: James Joyce (University of Michigan)
Branden Fitelson (University of California–Berkeley)
Commentator: Patrick Maher (University of Illinois)

VI-I. Special Session Arranged by the APA Committee on Inclusiveness 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Topic: Philosophy and Disability: Reflections on Cognition, Ethics, and Epistemology
Chair: Mark Chekola (Minnesota State University–Moorhead)
Alexa Schriempf (Penn State University)
“An Epistemology of Disability: Deaf Knowing and Testimony’s Epistemic Role”

I’ll put the abstracts available below the fold.

A DECISIVE REFUTATION OF EPISTEMICISM (V-F)
GREG RAY AND IVANA SIMIC, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
We offer a decisive refutation of reliabilist-externalist epistemicism—the view
of vagueness held by Timothy Williamson—which is founded on three tenets:
1) reliability of belief is a necessary condition on knowledge, 2) social
externalism is true, and 3) vague predicates have precise, non-trivial
borderlines. From these, a margin for error doctrine follows: “Where
knowledge is inexact, a margin for error principle applies.” This in turn
yields the characteristic thesis of epistemicism, namely that the apparent
lack of borderlines for vague terms is unavoidable ignorance of real
borderlines. We give proof positive that the margin for error doctrine, and
hence reliabilist-externalist epistemicism, is false. Naturally, it also follows
that one of the three tenets is false. Finally, the fact that the epistemic view
has the particular weakness which our proof exploits can be seen to rob
Williamson’s (1994) argument for the borderline thesis, (3), of much of its
apparent force.

KNOWING THE ANSWER (III-I)
JONATHAN SCHAFFER, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS–AMHERST
How should one understand knowledge-wh ascriptions? That is, how should
one understand claims such as “I know where the car is parked,” in which
the complement clause is an indirect question? The received view is that to
know-wh is to know that p. I will argue that the received view is false, and
suggest that knowledge-wh includes irreducible reference to the question
Q—to know-wh is to know that p, as the answer to Q. Knowledge-wh is
question-relative. To know is to know the answer.

KNOWLEDGE AND CERTAINTY: A SPEECH-ACT CONTEXTUALIST ACCOUNT (III-I)
ELKA SHORTSLEEVE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Contextualists of David Lewis’s stripe endorse that “know” and its cognates
are context dependent so as to heed their infallibilist intuitions while avoiding
skepticism. I argue that the plausibility of infallibilism can be explained away
as arising from two other facts, i.e.:
(KA) For any speaker, A, and proposition, p, if A asserts that p, then A
incurs a commitment to know that p, and
(KKC) For any doxastic agent, A, and proposition, p, if A knows that
someone knows that p, then A’s evidence eliminates every possibility
in which not-p.
I propose that contextualist insights can be incorporated into a semantically
neutral theory of speech-act content according to which what speakers
typically do by uttering knowledge attributions is to offer their epistemic
authority as a guarantee that the putatively known proposition is true in
every possible world that is consistent with the proper presuppositions they
share with their interlocutors.

SOME PROBLEMS FOR CONTEXTUALISM (III-I)
CHRISTOPHER TILLMAN, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
This paper argues that epistemic contextualism is false. First, I briefly present
Kaplan’s (1989) account of indexical expressions and use this to give a
precise characterization of contextualism. I then argue that either “knows”
is an indexical expression or that sentences that contain “knows” also contain
an indexical element. I then present a recently popular objection to
contextualism based on the behavior of sentences that contain “knows”
within the scope of attitude verbs. A forthcoming reply by Peter Ludlow is
considered and rejected, and a more sophisticated version of contextualism
based on double-indexing of context is formulated. A reply is offered on
behalf of this view that should be successful iff a popular view about
propositions, eternalism, escapes a parallel objection. I conclude that this
response, though initially promising, is ultimately unsuccessful. I then turn
to considering whether contextualism can provide a fully general diagnosis
of the skeptical paradox. I employ Kaplan’s “dthat” device to argue that
they cannot. Finally, I consider a currently popular general reply to semantic
objections to contextualism. According to this reply, objections that appeal
to speakers’ intuitions about the content of “knows” fail since speakers lack
the requisite semantic self-knowledge to determine what is meant by their
utterance of a knowledge ascription. I conclude by arguing that this move is
in serious conflict with a plausible principle concerning the way in which an
expression acquires its linguistic meaning. I conclude that epistemic
contextualism is false.


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