Research Workshop

Arnel Blake Batoon (UCSB Grad Student)

"What is Justified Certainty?"

Friday, April 19th from 12:10-2 PM in 22-210 (English bldg)


Abstract: Certainty is that species of belief which comes in degrees. For instance, if you have a thought whether Ginny is sad, you're either fully certain of it, fully uncertain of it, or somewhere in between. Since Kant, epistemologists and philosophers of science have wondered what it is for any species of belief to be justified, in the sense of being a proper attempt to think the truth. In this talk I'll carefully explain why it's unclear what that means for the case of certainty. Mainstream epistemology and philosophy of science equates justified certainties with coherent certainties, meaning that those certainties don't conflict with each other and they mutually support each other. This proposal is inspired by how certainties contribute to good decision making and scientific reasoning. But, as contemporary epistemology bears out, coherence based accounts face a seemingly decisive objection. Cases of delusions, mental illnesses, and conspiracy theories illustrate how any of your belief-like attitudes, including certainty, can be coherent but unjustified. In such cases, coherence "crowds out" any connection between your incoming evidence and the truth. In this paper, I'll explain, in plain English, why the popular solutions to this problem fail. I'll then sketch a novel problem to the problem.

The Cal Poly Philosophy department is continuing the Research Workshop series. At these Research Workshops, graduate students from the UC Santa Barbara philosophy department come to Cal Poly to discuss some of their current work over lunch with our students and faculty. The Philosophy Research Workshops provide an opportunity to encounter and explore areas of current graduate student research. If the topics seem puzzling, consider attending so you may learn more about areas of philosophy beyond the scope of your current experience. We have scheduled two Research Workshops in Fall, with more scheduled for Winter and Spring.

The Cal Poly Research Workshop is made possible by the generous support of our alumni and benefactors.

For questions please contact:
Ken Brown
Department Chair 

Related Content