Monday, September 11, 2006

Putting some things together on epistemic value.

So in two posts below I've asserted

(VI) Cognitive acts which are *guided by* ideals are more valuable than cognitive acts which merely go *according to* rules.

and tried to say something about what I mean.

The original context was to underwrite the following value judgement in epistemology:

(TD1) Consciously inferred beliefs are more intrinsically epistemically valuable than basic beliefs.

The premise which gets us from (VI) to (TD1) is something like

(L) Conscious inference is guided by ideals and basic beliefs are not.

The conclusion I'd like to draw is parallel to that others--especially Jon Kvanvig--have drawn about knowledge and other states: roughly, let's focus on what's really valuable. I'm saying that just as epistemic virtues are arguably more valuable than knowledge and so deserve a greater share of the attention of epistemologists, likewise inferentially justified beliefs are more valuable than basic justified beliefs and so deserve a greater share of the attention of epistemologists.

Foundationalists have spent waaaaaaaaay too much time in my opinion on trying to come up with theories of justification for perceptual beliefs. The dilemma is always the same: either you intellectualize justified belief by saying that it takes second-order thought to have justified perceptual beliefs and thus rule out lots of simple kinds of justified belief which is mostly "autonomic" or you let in any old autonomic belief and suddenly it looks like clairvoyants have justified beliefs. The literature is as thick as the Gettier literature from the 70's.

When an inference is justified is in fact enough trouble in its own right, as illustrated by "Carroll's Paradox" illustrated by Carroll's story--published in Mind--"What the Tortoise said to Achilles." This is a subject to which I hope to return with something useful to say.

0 Comment(s):