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Between the Species

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Research Workshop on "What is Justified Certainty?"

Arnel Blake Batoon (UCSB Grad Student)

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

For questions please contact:
Ken Brown
Department Chair 

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