By David Owens
Cause with no Freedom argues that the main difficulties of epistemology have their roots in issues approximately our keep watch over over and accountability for trust. Owens specializes in the arguments of Descartes, Locke and Hume--the founders of epistemology--and provides a severe dialogue of the present developments in modern epistemology.
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Additional resources for Reason Without Freedom: The Problem of Epistemic Normativity (International Library of Philosophy)
But why can’t reflection on the pragmatic sufficiency of a certain quantity of inconclusive evidence move us to belief by virtue of our rationality? Is this just a brute fact or is there something about the nature of belief which explains why this should be so? To see a way forward here, we must acknowledge a link between belief and knowledge—to think yourself justified in believing that p is to think you know that p. Now suppose that knowing p involves more than having inconclusive evidence for p (and p’s being true).
To have a veridical hallucination as of p is not to perceive that p; to hear some lie which is coincidentally true is not to learn that p: one perceives and learns of p only if one thereby acquires knowledge of p. e. 1 Internalist worries Many will feel that a verbal trick is being played on them here. Such conclusive grounds are reasons only in the extended (externalist) sense of the word in which the fact that it is raining can be my ‘reason’ for believing that it is raining. Surely the rain must register with me before I feel entitled to believe anything: my belief is motivated by a state of mine which registers the rain, not by the rain itself.
It can be rational to act in a certain way only if the beliefs on which we act are themselves rational, and so the rationality of action needs to be explained in terms of the rationality of belief. But the pragmatist could simply bite the bullet and insist that the rationality of these background beliefs is itself to be assessed by practical criteria. True, one could then ask how we know that these background beliefs are prudent if not by means of further beliefs, but the pragmatist might reply that his hypothesis creates no difficulties for theoretical reasoning which theoretical reasoning does not face already.