JUSTIFICATION AND THE KNOWLEDGE-CONNECTION (forthcoming in Philosophical Studies, open access)
I will present a novel account of justification in terms of knowledge on which one is justified in believing p just in case one could know that p. My main aim is to unravel some of the formal properties that justification has in virtue of its connection to knowledge. Assuming that safety is at least a necessary condition for knowledge, I show that justification (1) doesn’t iterate trivially; (2) isn’t a luminous condition; (3) is closed under a certain kind of multi-premise closure principle, but; (4) surprisingly one can nevertheless believe with justification a set of claims that’s jointly inconsistent. This last feature allows for a rather satisfying solution to the preface paradox. Finally, I contrast my account with other knowledge-first accounts of justification.
A VIRTUE RELIABILIST ERROR-THEORY OF DEFEAT (forthcoming in Erkenntnis, open access)
Knowledge defeat occurs when a subject knows that p, gains a defeater for her belief, and thereby loses her knowledge without necessarily losing her belief. It’s far from obvious that externalists can accommodate putative cases of knowledge defeat since a belief that satisfies the externalist conditions for knowledge can satisfy those conditions even if the subject later gains a defeater for her belief. I’ll argue that virtue reliabilists can accommodate defeat intuitions via a new kind of error theory. I argue that in cases where the subject holds dogmatically onto her belief in the face of an apparent defeater, her belief never qualified as knowledge, since the belief was not gained via an exercise of her epistemic virtues. In cases where the subject suspends her judgment upon receiving the putative defeater her original belief might have qualified as knowledge, but crucially, in such cases knowledge is lost due to loss of belief, rather than due to the epistemic force of the defeater. Therefore, knowledge defeat isn’t a genuine phenomenon even though there are no cases where a subject knows what she originally believed after receiving the putative defeater.
THE CAKE THEORY OF CREDIT (forthcoming in Philosophical Topics, with Maria Lasonen-Aarnio)
The notion of credit plays a central role in virtue epistemology and in the literature on moral worth. While virtue epistemologists and ethicists have devoted a significant amount of work to providing an account of creditable success, a unified theory of credit applicable to both epistemology and ethics, as well as a discussion of the general form it should take, are largely missing from the literature. Our goal is to lay out a theory of credit that seems to underlie much of the discussion in virtue epistemology, which we dub the Cake Theory. We argue that given the goals that virtue epistemologists and ethicists who discuss moral worth have, this theory is problematic, for it makes credit depend on the wrong facts.
NEED KNOWING AND ACTING BE SSS-SAFE? (open access) (2021 Thought, with Niall Paterson)
Throughout the years Sosa has taken different views on the safety condition on knowledge. In his early work he endorsed the safety condition, but later retracted this view when first developing his much discussed virtue epistemology. Recently, Sosa has further developed his virtue theory with the notion of competence, and has developed an accompanying, modified safety condition that he maintains is entailed by that theory: the SSS-safety condition. Sosa’s view is that this condition holds on both knowledge and action, because both knowledge and action are the manifestations of competence. The SSS-safety condition, roughly, says that if S were to make an attempt at φ-ing under certain specified shape-situation pairs, holding fixed their seat, then S would φ. The argument of this paper is that this new SSS-safety condition does not hold on either knowledge or action. We argue for this conclusion by providing a principled way to generate counterexamples to the condition for both knowledge and action. The reasoning is that the there can exist a non-empty symmetric difference between the sets of shape-situation pairs under which distinct agents can manifest their epistemic and pragmatic competences, and if there can exist such a symmetric difference then the SSS-safety condition fails to hold.
KNOWING WITHOUT HAVING THE COMPETENCE TO DO SO (2020 Thought)
According to all varieties of virtue reliabilism knowledge is always gained through the exercise of epistemic competences. These competences can be conceived as competences to form true beliefs, or as competences to know. I will present a short but decisive argument against the idea that knowledge is always gained through the exercise of competences to know. The competence to know isn’t necessary for gaining knowledge.
HOW TO STAY SAFE WHILE EXTENDING THE MIND (2020 Synthese)
According to the extended mind thesis, cognitive processes are not confined to the nervous system but can extend beyond skin and skull to notebooks, iPhones, computers and such. The extended mind thesis is a metaphysical thesis about the material basis of our cognition. As such, whether the thesis is true can have implications for epistemological issues. Carter has recently argued that safety-based theories of knowledge are in tension with the extended mind hypothesis, since the safety condition implies that there is an epistemic difference between subjects who form their beliefs via their biological capacities and between subjects who have extended their cognition. Kelp, on the other hand, has argued that a safety-based theory of knowledge can be correct only if the extended mind thesis is true. While these claims are not logically inconsistent, they do leave the safety theorist in an uncomfortable position. I will argue that safety-based theories of knowledge are not hostage to the truth of the extended mind thesis, and that once the safety condition is properly understood it is not in tension with the extended mind thesis.
NO SAFE HAVEN FOR THE VIRTUOUS (2018, Episteme)
Abstract: In order to deal with the problem caused by environmental luck some proponents of robust virtue epistemology have attempted to argue that in virtue of satisfying the ability condition one will satisfy the safety condition. Call this idea the entailment thesis. In this paper it will be argued that the arguments that have been laid down for the entailment thesis entail a wrong kind of safety condition, one that we do not have in mind when we require our beliefs to be safe from error in order for them to be knowledge.
GLOBAL SAFETY: HOW TO DEAL WITH NECESSARY TRUTHS (2019, Synthese)
Abstract: According to the safety condition, a subject knows that p only if she would believe that p only if p was true. The safety condition has been a very popular necessary condition for knowledge of late. However, it is well documented that the safety condition is trivially satisﬁed in cases where the subject believes in a necessary truth. This is for the simple reason that a necessary truth is true in all possible worlds, and therefore it is true in all possible worlds where it is believed. But clearly, all beliefs concerning necessary truths do not amount to knowledge. The safety theorists have attempted to deal with the problem caused by necessary truths by restricting the safety condition to purely contingent truths and by globalizing the safety condition to a set of propositions. Both of these solutions are problematic. The principal aim of this paper is to develop a version of the safety condition that is able to deal with cases featuring necessary truths.
IS IT SAFE TO DISAGREE? (2017, Ratio)
Abstract: This paper offers a new account of the epistemic significance of disagreement which is grounded in two assumptions; (i) that knowledge is the norm of belief and, (ii) that the safety condition is a necessary condition for knowledge. These assumptions motivate a modal definition of epistemic peerhood, which is much easier to operate on than the more traditional definitions of epistemic peerhood. The modal account of the epistemic significance of disagreement yields plausible results regarding cases of disagreement. Furthermore, it is able to tap into the intuitions that have motivated the conformist and the nonconformist positions and it locates a fruitful middle-ground between these two conflicting positions. It will be shown that the conformist is correct in that cases of real peer disagreement force us to suspend our judgment. The reason for this is that in cases of real peer disagreement our beliefs fail to be safe. The nonconformist, on the other hand, is right in that disagreement in itself does not have any epistemic power. It is only by the grace of nature that we gain knowledge. The fact that someone disagrees with you does not mean that you do not have knowledge.
ON VIRTUE, CREDIT AND SAFETY (2018, Grazer Philosophische Studien)
Abstract: According to robust virtue epistemology, the difference between knowledge and mere true belief is that in cases of knowledge, the subject’s cognitive success is attributable to her cognitive agency. But what does it take for a subject’s cognitive success to be attributable to her cognitive agency? A promising answer is that the subject’s cognitive abilities have to contribute to the safety of her epistemic standing with respect to her inquiry, in order for her cognitive success to be attributable to her cognitive agency. Call this idea the contribution thesis. The author will argue that the contribution thesis follows naturally from virtue epistemological accounts of knowledge, and that it is precisely the contribution thesis that allows the virtue epistemologist to deal with a wide variety of objections. Nevertheless, the principal aim of this paper is to argue that virtue epistemological theories of knowledge that are committed to the contribution thesis are ultimately untenable. There are cases of knowledge where the subject’s cognitive abilities do not improve the safety of the subject’s belief.
HYVETIETOTEORIAT JA TIEDON ARVO (VIRTUE EPISTEMOLOGY AND THE VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE) (2015, Ajatus)
Abstrakti: Tässä artikkelissa tarkastellaan hyvetietoteorian mahdollisuuksia vastata tiedon arvon ongelmaan. Ensisilmäyksellä vaikuttaisi siltä, että hyvetietoteoreetikot pystyvät vastaamaan tähän ongelmaan varsin tyydyttävästi. Kriittisen tarkastelun jälkeen on kuitenkin selvää, etteivät hyvetietoteoreetikot kykene antamaan parasta mahdollista vastausta tiedon arvon ongelmaan. Aloitan työni taustoittamalla tiedon arvon ongelmaa, sekä esittämällä tyydyttävän ratkaisun kriteerin. Tämän jälkeen siirryn tarkastelemaan Ernest Sosan ja John Grecon hyvetietoteorioita. Näille tietoteorioille esitetään vastaesimerkki, joka ajaa hyvetietoteorian dilemmaan. Seurauksena hyvetietoteoreetikot joutuvat myöntämään, ettei tieto aina ole arvokkaampaa kuin todet uskomukset, joita ei lasketa tiedoksi.
ESSAYS ON MODALIZED EPISTEMOLOGY (2018, PhD Thesis)
Abstract: Knowledge requires more than a true belief. In order to know something one must not only believe the truth, rather one’s belief has to be related to its truth in a certain way. One of the principal aims of epistemology, the study of knowledge, is to explain what that ‘certain way’ is. This dissertation examines the idea that knowledge requires a certain modal connection to truth. Such a connection is expressed with a condition that includes modal notions, like ‘would’, ‘must’, ‘could’, ‘might’ etc. Modal notions refer not to how things are, but to how things could have been, should be, must be, or would be. Modalized epistemology is epistemology that seeks to solve epistemological problems with the help of modal notions. The motivation for modalized epistemology stems from the fact that many concepts that have a central place in epistemology seem to be modal in nature. ‘Reliability’, ‘luck’, ‘ability’ and ‘certainty’ are perhaps best explicated with the help of modalities. This thesis develops further an existing modal condition known as the safety condition and applies it to several epistemological problems. According to the safety condition in order to know it must be the case that one could not easily have erred. In Essay 1 a novel way of understanding the safety condition is offered and used to solve two perennial problems in epistemology. In Essay 2 modalized epistemology is applied to the problem of peer disagreement. In Essay 3 it is argued that virtue-theoretic analyses of knowledge that are committed to the idea that in order to know one’s cognitive abilities have to contribute to one’s cognitive success are ultimately unsatisfactory, since the modal relation that they claim to hold between belief and its truth is too strong. The thesis contains also an introductory chapter that offers a brief historical background of the development of modalized epistemology and lays out the current debate as well as some problems that are left unanswered in the essays.
WORK IN PROGRESS
THE STRUCTURE OF RISK
NON-FACTIVE JUSTIFICATION AND MORALLY LOADED CASES IN EPISTEMOLOGY
NEVER MIND THE PROBABILITY
MODALITY AND DEBUNKING
A THEORY OF CREDIT (with Maria Lasonen-Aarnio)
DEFEAT OF THE VIRTUES
ON VERITIC AND REFLECTIVE LUCK OF OUR PERCEPTUAL BELIEFS (with Tuukka Tanninen)