Read Any Good Epistemology Papers this Past Year?

What good epistemology papers were published in 2004? Any suggestions? If so, they can be left in the comments.

I’m hoping to find time during the early months of 2005 to take a look at many papers in epistemology published during 2004. I’m on the Nominating Board for the Philosophers Annual, and I’ll be doing this to determine which papers to nominate. I’ll nominate what seem to me the three best papers [though I’m not promising to make all my nominations from the area of epistemology: I could possibly also nominate papers from other areas I’m familiar with], but in deciding where to look for candidates, I’m especially interested in papers that are by authors not among the “usual suspects” for such distinctions. (But suggestions of papers by some of the usual suspects are also welcome.) I should add that my only small role here is in the nominating process: The final decisions are made by the PA editors.


Read Any Good Epistemology Papers this Past Year? — 14 Comments

  1. Well, an obvious favorite is Tim Williamson, for example with his
    Happy New Year!

  2. I think John MacFarlane’s paper “The Assessment Sensitivity of Knowledge Attributions” is an obvious choice, but maybe that’s a 2005 publication? I’m not sure what the rules are here.

  3. The rule is: published in 2004. Where there’s a significant difference between the date on the cover (when it was supposed to be out) & when an issue actually came out, go with when it actually came out.

  4. I may not be a relativist, but I know a good paper when I see one. And, I thought “good papers” was the standard Keith was presupposing here. Am I to infer from the sarcasm that the only good papers in this context are the ones with which we agree (i.e., agree with the main theses they advance)?

  5. I know MacFarlane’s paper well: I was the commentator for it at a conference here at Yale. While I’m very far indeed from agreeing with it, I do think it’s an excellent paper and is worth considering for the PA. At this point, having done little investigation into the competition yet, I can’t even say whether any paper is a good choice for ’04. Since MacFarlane’s paper would be eligible for ’05, not ’04, I’m at even more of a loss wrt it, since I really have close to zero idea what the competition will be like. But it’s certainly on my list of papers to look at.

    As I recall, John himself admits in the paper (at least in the version I saw back at the conference; he may have revised it since) that his conclusion is a radical one that should be adopted only under significant pressure. (But I am going by memory there.) Where John & I parted company in my view was not mainly that I thought that his conclusion was so much more to-be-avoided than John thought (perhaps this is where Jason & John part), though that might be some part of the story, but rather that I didn’t think there was the pressure to have to adopt it that John thought there was.

  6. I think John’s line about a radical conclusion, only to be adopted unless there’s no alternative, is meant to apply to eliminativism about knowledge–the doctrine that our use of the word “knowledge” is confused and so the rational course is to stop using it and use unconfused terms. (See p. 24 of the paper at http [colon slash slash] [dot] pdf.) John thinks we have to accept relativist semantics for many other expressions, so extending relativist semantics to knowledge as well isn’t such a radical move for him.

  7. I only remember the paper MacFarlane gave at Yale, but as I recall, much of the pressure to accept relativism hinged on how seriously we take intuitions about appropriate retractions of knowledge claims when we “raise the stakes”. (Similarly, for MacFarlane’s relativist semantics for epistemic modals, much hinges on appropriate retraction of previously asserted modal claims). I think Keith pointed out that speakers differ enough so as to raise doubt about the force of MacF’s intuition. I think Jason has raised doubts about the intuitions in the modal cases.

    I think the most admirable thing about MacF’s papers on relative truth is not their originality of provacativeness, but the variety of related issues that are important on which he takes a stand. Norms of assertion and retraction play a major role in MacF’s work on relativism and the ways in which MacF ties them to our semantic intuitions is very thoughtful.

  8. Branden, I wasn’t being sarcastic, I was just making a joke. I think it’s a good paper. If you want a lit review, I guess I don’t think it’s a *better* paper than other papers John has written promoting relativism about this or that. I think it’s a less plausible application than his application of his framework to epistemic modals or even to future contingents (and considerably less plausible than Lasersohn’s application of the framework to predicates of personal taste). I’d also like to see more clarity about the exact semantics in this particular paper of John’s — there are several different positions he could be advocating (a big virtue of Lasersohn’s paper is that he’s very clear about the semantics). But I think it’s a very good paper nonetheless, and I’d be happy to see it in PA, because it’s a good paper developing John’s general project, which I’ve followed with great interest. I was actually assuming that much was common ground to readers of this blog…

  9. Thanks guys. I agree with most of these remarks. I just wanted to make sure that it’s QUALITY we’re after here, and not “pushing an agenda”. I wasn’t sure from Jason’s remark which kinds of purposes he had in mind for the PA. But, Keith’s clarification is helpful and on the right track, I’d say.

  10. Hi Keith. Has Schaffer’s paper ‘Contrastive Knowledge’ appeared yet (it seems to have been doing the rounds for some time now)? If so, then that would be one that I’d vote for. Cheers, Duncan.

  11. Thanks for the mention, Duncan. But my paper is due out in 2005, in the same volume (Oxford Studies in Epistemology v1) as MacFarlane’s. So hopefully the volume will draw some interest!

  12. Thanks for the above suggestions.
    I’m a bit surprised there weren’t more. Just two ’04 papers (plus a few advance warnings about upcoming papers). So many epistemologists, so few epistemology papers even worth mentioning in this context? Maybe ’04 was a bad year.
    On the bright side, this may mean I don’t have to set aside much time at all to take a look at the good ’04 epistemology papers.

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