Titles and abstracts

 

“Group Knowledge and Virtuous Consensus”

Shane Ryan and Chienkuo Mi

Soochow University

 

ABSTRACT: Traditional accounts of knowledge tend to be concerned with knowledge in a restricted set of cases. They are cases of solitary individuals having knowledge of a proposition. Non-propositional knowledge has received attention in recent years; know-how, for example, has received much attention from epistemologists in the last few years. Knowledge held by groups has also begun to receive more attention in recent years, which marks a move away from knowledge held by a single knower. In this paper we examine multi-propositional knowledge held by groups. Our approach is in line with a scientists use of “knowledge” whereby it pertains to a group of propositions that together make up some body that may or may not be classed as knowledge. Our account also bypasses the issue of the metaphysical status of truth and in doing so is also in line with how scientists tend to use “knowledge”. We bypass this issue by adopting what may be seen as a virtue contractarian approach to knowledge, according to which knowledge is socially constituted by the satisfaction of certain conditions. While developing our account within a virtue epistemological framework, we argue that consensus is an epistemic condition necessary for knowledge held by groups. In other words, it is consensus that allows for the social constituting of knowledge by groups.

 

"Doubt and Faith"

Rik Peels

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

 

The aim of this lecture is to provide an account of the relation between doubt and faith. In order to illustrate that a rigorous analysis of doubt is needed, I first argue that four analyses of doubt that we find in the literature are unsatisfying: those of Bertrand Russell, Charles Peirce, Nathan Salmon, and Paul Thagard. Next, I show that ‘doubt’ is used in four different ways: as a verb with an accusative noun, as a verb with a subordinate clause, as a mass noun in the expression ‘in doubt’, and as an accusative count noun. Subsequently, I provide and defend an account of doubt that p and doubt whether p, being in doubt, and having doubts. I argue that there is no single phenomenon involved when it comes to doubt: these varieties of doubt are all conceptually distinct, even though doubt that p and doubt whether p are conceptually very close. Finally, I show how my analysis of doubt is relevant by applying it to the relation between religious faith and doubt.

 

 

“Trusting mathematics: on the epistemology of mathematical foundations”

Nikolaj J.L.L. Pedersen

Yonsei University 

 

Abstract: Scientific statements are paradigmatically taken to be warranted on the basis of evidence. This paper critically examines this idea in the context of pure mathematics. I focus on consistency statements, i.e. statements that for a given mathematical theory T says that T is consistent. ("Con(T)" in short.) Transposing sceptical arguments well-known from mainstream epistemology, I argue that consistency statements cannot be warranted on the basis of evidence. I further argue that, due to the foundational nature of consistency statements, a general kind of mathematical scepticism follows if they are not warranted. I explore a concessive anti-sceptical strategy as a response to mathematical scepticism. The strategy is to say that consistency statements are warranted non-evidentially. This is a concessive anti-sceptical strategy because it concedes that the sceptical argument points to a genuine constraint on warrant for consistency statements. They cannot be warranted evidentially. At the same time the strategy is anti-sceptical because, contrary to the sceptic, it suggests that consistency statements can be warranted. I introduce Crispin Wright's notion entitlement of cognitive project as one way to cash out the concessive anti-sceptical strategy. However, as several critics have argued, Wright's notion of entitlement faces a major worry. Given its non-evidential nature it is not clear that it is an epistemic species of warrant. This would be bad result for the entitlement theorist, as it would seem misguided to invoke a non-epistemic species of warrant to respond to scepticism, an epistemic challenge. I develop a consequentialist story to respond to this worry. Interestingly, rather than help the entitlement theorist, the consequentialist story turns out to undermine it. If the consequentialist story can be sustained, there is no need for entitlement of cognitive project. 

 

 

“Pacifism, Benevolence and Self-Defense”

Christina Chuang

Nanyang Technological University

 

Abstract: Most literature on the topic of self-defense are concerned with explaining the permissibility of killing.  The answer is usually explained in terms of the aggressor’s status:  whether it is okay to kill in self-defense depends on the aggressor’s culpability or responsibility.  The purpose of my paper is to examine self-defense from the perspective of the victim and ask what reasons one should have to prohibit any form of self-preservation that requires physical force.  The absolute pacifist’s biggest challenge is to justify not retaliating or defending himself or others (innocent or not) in the face of aggression.  I hope to show that there is a way to defend pacifism without appealing to any religious doctrines.  Learning the techniques of fighting (namely those commonly practiced in martial arts) can help a person justify pacifism from a purely secular background.  Instead of positing a division between the after-life and this life, or a disjunction between the mind and the body, the pacifist who is trained in martial arts experiences himself as a transformation of ki-energy.   This gives the pacifist a humble understanding of the self and motivates him to die for the right reasons.  Lastly, I want to draw a connection between benevolence and pacifism—and give an account of virtue-pacifism that has benevolence at its core. I will refer to Francis Hutcheson’s construction of benevolence both as an emotion and a virtue.  Hutcheson argues that human nature is motivated by two different two principles:  self-love and benevolence.  These two principles do not necessarily oppose each other since a mixture of both motivates some of our actions. The martial arts expert, I will show, is in a better position to introspect the different types of self-love because martial arts is one of the most effective ways to strengthen benevolence. 

 

 

 

 

“Curing Epistemic Vertigo by Epistemic Gradualism and Intellectual Humility”

Changsheng Lai

University of Edinburgh

 

Abstract: When dealing with the problem of radical scepticism, epistemologists usually encounter a notable while underexplored phenomenon: it is common that even having been given objections to sceptical arguments (whatever those objections are like), people usually still feel unsatisfied, as the anxiety induced by scepticism is not eliminated completely – people may still be haunted by epistemic vertigo afterwards. Epistemic vertigo is a sort of “epistemic phobia”, coming along with a sense of “epistemic ascent”. I suggest that a complete solution to the sceptical problem should include a diagnosis and a corresponding treatment for epistemic vertigo. Here, it will be proposed that by combining intellectual humility with epistemic gradualism, i.e., a view in epistemology that holds that knowledge is gradable, we can, at least, have epistemic vertigo alleviated. I will first explain what epistemic vertigo is, and then introduce the idea of epistemic gradualism. It will be argued that knowledge can come in degrees, and that our epistemic vertigo is rooted in our unrealistic irrational expectation of an over-perfect degree of knowledge. By embracing the intellectual humility and realising the limitation of our rationality, it is promising that epistemic vertigo could be overcome.

 

 

"A Zhuangzi-style Critical Response to John Hick's Soul-making Theodicy"

Leo Cheung

The Chinese University of Hong Kong 

 

 

Abstract. This paper aims to offer a Zhuangzi-style critical response to John Hick’s soul-making theodicy, including the modified free will defense employed in it. The key is to show that creating an evil-free world in which human beings are amorally free and capable of achieving evil-independent aesthetic and existential values is an alternative available to God—the omnipotent (and omniscient) and benevolent creator. It is also argued that the ideal world pursued and described by the author of the book Zhuangzi is such alternative, and that such an ideal world, admittedly not the actual world, is a logically possible world. It is then further argued that since, given such an alternative, it is difficult to see how God’s having employed the evil-dependent soul-making process, and thus not having prevented the existence of evil, can still be morally justified. It follows that the soul-making theodicy is not successful.

 

 

 

“Wandering with Zhuangzi in search of the Nietzschean free spirit”

Tsz Fung Lau

University of Edinburgh

 

Considering their distinct historical and cultural context, the similarity between Nietzsche and the Daoist Zhuangzi is striking. For one thing, both thinkers seem to share a peculiarly interesting goal for human to become free spirits. Nietzsche placed high importance in becoming free spirits—more specifically, we need to challenge and overcome existing values so that we are free to create new ones, to sail once again to the unknown ‘open sea’. On the other hand, in Chapter 1 of Zhuangzi (逍遙遊, which literally means ‘carefree wanders’), Zhuangzi depicts the freedom of one who aligns with the Dao and wanders boundlessly among the cosmos. I suggest that their views on the freedom of the spirits come apart essentially from their underpinning metaphysical grounds. Nietzsche, on the one hand, criticised the project of metaphysics as a whole as it attempts to pursue objective, unchanging truths. Zhuangzi, on the other, actually has a metaphysical thesis in support of his free wanders. In Chapter 2 (齊物論, ‘the thesis of the identity of everything’), Zhuangzi suggests that it is a mistake for humanity to have divided things in species and categories, and the ultimate reality resides in the truth that everything ‘unites in one within Dao’. Realising such truth is what grants one the ability to wander among everything freely. I argue that their distinctive views in metaphysics contribute to the scopes and characteristics of the freedom they had in mind. In addition, I shall explore some interesting consequences when Zhuangzi’s metaphysical thesis is applied to Nietzsche’s becoming of a free spirit (and the extent to which it could be done). 

 

 

“Virtue Epistemology and Extended Cognition”

Rie Iizuka

University of Tokyo and University of Edinburgh

 

In virtue epistemology(VE), intellectual (epistemic) virtue, that is, our excellent cognitive character, plays the key role in our epistemological inquiry. Traditionally, our cognitive process is understood as residing in our brain, and this view is now widely criticized as not true to scientific findings and too individualistic. They say, that our cognitive process that make up our mind can reside outside of our brain. Virtue epistemologists implicitly commit to the traditional individualistic view, and if the extended cognition (EC) thesis is correct, individualistic virtue epistemology should be altered in such a way to incorporate EC, and thus, it should also be extended. It might first appear to be difficult to accommodate EC to VE, because EC appears to be conflicting with VE’s tacit policy, intellectual autonomy, however, the conclusion does not simply follow when we admit that the extended agent is an emergent system coupled with agent and artifacts. In this paper, I will investigate if extended virtue epistemology is feasible. I aim to show in principle, virtue epistemology can accommodate EC, though, some restriction are expected to be drawn from VE’s theoretical consideration over our intellectual virtue.

 

 

The Structure of Shamelessness: A View from Fukushima

Yasuo Deguchi

Kyoto University

 

   Shame (or humiliation or embarrassment) is a negative self-conscious emotion. But it can play the positive role of moral sentiment when it motivates moral reflections or conducts. It is also claimed that shame can foster virtues such as humility. This is particularly the case with so-called shame culture where shame rather than guilt provides emotional basis for social norms (Benedict 1946). On the other, it has been pointed out that, in some cases or societies, shame is often suppressed because, for instance, feeling shame is to be viewed as shame (Kaufman 1989). The same is true with collective shame, which one may feel about one’s own group, community or society. It can be a positive moral emotion in so far as it drives a humiliated person to engage oneself in social reform that aims to remove the cause of one’s shame, rather than victimizing other persons or distracting self-esteem as a member of the community. But, on the other hand, such a positive and moral collective shame is also sometimes suppressed on one or another reason and through one or another mechanism. Taking as an example an inside report from the community of skilled workers of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan (Tatsuta 2014), this talk will examine the mechanism or structure of suppression of positive collective shame, that is, I claim, salient in highly specialized communities such as those of scientists, engineers and industrialized craftsmen, and explore how to block the suppression mechanism so as to trigger the positive collective shame and effectively to enhance morally motivated reforms of the specialized communities.

 

 

On a Decompositional Analysis of ‘Game’

Kai-Yee Wong

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

 

Abstract: Wittgenstein has famously claimed that certain general terms, such as ‘game’, ‘number’, and ‘language’, can be shown to express a family resemblance concept, which is non-primitive yet lacking in (non-trivial) necessary conditions, thus not decomposable into parts that give necessary and sufficient conditions. It has also been argued that the family resemblance model applies to such concepts as art and religion, the analysis of which is a matter of significant interest, to philosophers and non-philosophers alike. Wittgenstein’s view has serious methodological and metaphilosophical implications because necessary conditions are building blocks of conceptual analysis. Without (non-trivial) necessary conditions, no philosophical analysis (understood in the traditional sense) is possible. Wittgenstein’s claim has been criticized by many but rarely did such criticisms try to argue by way of counterexamples, i.e., by actually producing a workable analysis showing that some representative candidate of “family resemblance concepts” is definable. Recently, in Truth by Analysis: Game, Name and Philosophy, Colin McGinn argues that, contrary to Wittgenstein’s claim, such general concepts as ‘game’ and ‘knowledge’ are indeed amenable to a priori conceptual analysis in non-circular terms. It is the case of game that McGinn discusses in most detail—on the basis of Bernard Suit’s definition—as a counterexample to Wittgenstein’s model. This paper will examine this definition and discuss also the lessons McGinn has tried to drawn from Suits’ analysis.