Work in Progress
Intellectual Humility: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Science (with Peter L. Samuelson). New with Bloomsbury Academic.
ABSTRACT: Two intellectual vices seem to always tempt us: arrogance and diffidence. Regarding the former, the world is permeated by dogmatism and table-thumping close-mindedness. From politics, to religion, to simple matters of taste, zealots and ideologues all too often define our disagreements, often making debate and dialogue completely intractable. But to the other extreme, given a world with so much pluralism and heated disagreement, intellectual apathy and a prevailing agnosticism can be simply all too alluring. So the need for intellectual humility, open-mindedness, and a careful, humble commitment to the truth are apparent. In this book, Dr Church and Dr Samuelson explicate a robust and vibrant account of the philosophy and science of this most valuable virtue, and they highlight how it can be best applied and personally developed.
Knowledge as Virtue, under review
ABSTRACT: Knowledge as Virtue centers on two dominant trends within contemporary epistemology: (i) the growing dissatisfaction with the reductive analysis of knowledge, the project of explicating knowledge in terms of a list of necessary and jointly sufficient conditions, and (ii) the surging popularity of virtue-theoretic epistemologies. The ultimate goal is to endorse both trends, to endorse non-reductive virtue epistemology. Given that all prominent renditions of virtue epistemology assume the reductive model, however, such a move is not straightforward – work needs to be done to elucidate just what is wrong with the reductive analysis model, in general, and why the reductive accounts of virtue epistemology, in particular, are lacking.
The first part of the book involves diagnosing what is wrong with the reductive model and defending such a diagnosis against objections. No doubt, the problem with the reductive analysis project has to be the Gettier Problem. In her 1994 paper, “The Inescapability of Gettier Problems,” Linda Zagzebski argues that the only way for an analysis of knowledge to avoid Gettier counterexamples is to assume that either warrant is divorced from truth or inviolably connected to it – the problem being that neither of these options seem to be feasible. In Chapter 1, I lend credence to Zagzebski’s diagnosis of Gettier problems (and the trend to abandon the reductive analysis project) by examining the nature of luck, the key component of Gettier problems. And in Chapter 2, I vindicate this diagnosis against a range of critiques that find expression in the contemporary literature.
The second part of the book involves applying this diagnosis to prominent versions of virtue epistemology – arguing that, despite the merits of virtue-theoretic accounts of knowledge, virtue epistemology offers no new cures against Gettier counterexamples. In Chapter 3, I consider the virtue epistemology of Alvin Plantinga as found in his warrant trilogy, Warrant: The Current Debate (1993a), Warrant and Proper Function (1993b), and Warranted Christian Belief (2000). And in Chapter 4, I consider the virtue epistemology of Ernest Sosa as found in A Virtue Epistemology (2007) and Reflective Knowledge (2009). Both virtue epistemologies are respectively seminal and iconic; nevertheless, I argue, in accord with the proposed diagnosis offered in Chapter 1, that neither of them are able to viably surmount the Gettier Problem – being either susceptible to Gettier counterexamples or unfeasible, leading to radical skepticism.
Having paved the way by diagnosing what is wrong with the reductive analysis project and applying this diagnosis to two prominent versions of (reductive) virtue epistemology, the third and final part of this book involves the exploration of what non-reductive virtue epistemology should look like. In Chapter 5, I argue that there are three general strategies that can be used to develop non-reductive virtue epistemologies, which preserve our favorite virtue-theoretic concepts without committing to the analyzability of knowledge. What is more, all of these strategies, I argue, are perfectly compatible with seminal non-reductive accounts of knowledge already on offer in the contemporary literature. Finally, in Chapter 6, I work from broad epistemic, moral, and empirical constraints to fully develop and defend a non-reductive virtue epistemology where knowledge is virtue. Through this research I establish a non-reductive virtue epistemology that is able not only to endure what I see as inevitable developments in 21st century epistemology but also to contribute positively to a number of debates and discussions across the discipline and beyond.
Routledge Handbook on Theories of Luck, under contract with Routledge
ABSTRACT: Academic literature has recently seen a tremendous, ongoing surge of interdisciplinary interest in luck. From the problem of moral luck, to anti-luck epistemology, to the relationship between luck attributions and cognitive biases, to meta-questions regarding the nature of luck itself, ethicists, epistemologists, and psychologists are investing significant time and energy on theoretical and empirical questions surrounding luck. This proposed Handbook aims to bring together this interdisciplinary body of research into a single volume that will serve as both a touchstone for understanding the relevant issues and a first port of call for future philosophical and psychological research on luck.
The volume will be broadly broken down into six parts: (i) The History of Luck and Its Importance, (ii) The Nature of Luck; (iii) Moral Luck; (iv) Epistemic Luck; (v) The Psychology and Cognitive Science of Luck; and (vi) Areas of Future Research.
Special Issue of The Journal of Theology an Psychology on the theme, "Intellectual Humility and Religious Commitments
[ARTICLES UNDER REVIEW / R&R]
The need for and relevance of intellectual humility is perhaps most pressing when it comes to debates and disagreements surrounding religious commitments. All too often when faced with difficult religious questions people are all too prone to dismissing and marginalizing dissent. Around the world, religious debates are incredibly polarizing, and, in many parts of the world, extremely dangerous. And whether it’s Christian fundamentalism, Islamic extremism, or militant atheism, religious dialogue often remains tinted by a terrifying and dehumanizing arrogance, dogma, and ignorance.
This special issue of The Journal of Psychology and Theology will include articles that broadly address the theme of intellectual humility and religious commitments. Possible questions under consideration include: What is intellectual humility? Does intellectual humility preclude firm religious commitments? Does a commitment to intellectual humility lead to agnosticism? Is religious dogmatism ever permissible or even virtuous? What can various theological traditions teach us about intellectual humility? How can we promote intellectually humble religious dialogue?
“Giving Up on Gettier”
ABSTRACT: This paper aims to put a bookend on the Gettier Problem and take stock of what we’ve learned. I argue that we’ve learned that knowledge is not justified true belief. Indeed, I argue that the Gettier Problem cannot be solved. We can give up on knowledge for the sake of other epistemic goods. Or we can give up on pursing a reductive analysis of knowledge. But we simply cannot put Gettier problems on the shelf, and hope that a viable solution is forthcoming—that would be tantamount to failing to learn our lesson.
“Virtue Epistemology and the Gettier Dilemma”
ABSTRACT: Advocates of reductive analyses of knowledge face a difficult dilemma: either remain vulnerable to Gettier counterexamples or adopt a view that risks falling into radical skepticism. Despite this grim diagnosis, recent advocates of virtue epistemology seem surprisingly sanguine regarding the ability of virtue-theoretic analyses of knowledge to surmount the Gettier Problem. In this paper, I argue that the Gettier dilemma facing analyses of knowledge has not been properly appreciated by virtue epistemologist or even virtue epistemology’s most vocal critics—that the dilemma facing reductive accounts of knowledge is far more insidious and dire than most virtue epistemologists seem to acknowledge. In §1, we start by considering how recent critics of virtue epistemology understand the Gettier Problem facing virtue-theoretic accounts of knowledge. I suggest that the dilemma facing virtue-theoretic analyses of knowledge is more general than these critics seem to suggest. In §2, I elucidate the worry that the threat facing virtue epistemology is really a dilemma between Gettier counterexamples and radical skepticism. In §3, we will consider how some recent virtue epistemologists have tried to viably defuse the Gettier Problem. We will see (i) just how the critiques elucidated in §1 have (mis)shaped the dialectic between virtue epistemology and what is required in solving Gettier counterexamples and (ii) how this has lead to virtue epistemologists underestimating the widespread insidiousness of Gettier counterexamples.
“Non-Reductive Virtue Epistemology”
ABSTRACT: Consider the following two trends within contemporary epistemology: First, there is the surging popularity of virtue-theoretic epistemologies. Second, there is the growing dissatisfaction with the reductive analysis of knowledge. Unfortunately, with the majority of the prominent renditions of virtue epistemology working from the reductive model, these two trends have, thus far, been at odds with one another. The goal of this paper is to bring these two trends together by elucidating a general strategy for developing non-reductive virtue epistemology. Starting with Timothy Williamson’s seminal work, Knowledge and its Limits (2000), I develop a general strategy for incorporating virtue-theoretic conditions within a non-reductive model of knowledge. Then, in §2, I show how a specific account of epistemic virtue—in this case, Alvin Plantinga’s proper functionalism—might take advantage of that strategy to develop non-reductive proper functionalism. Finally, in §3, I explore two virtues that non-reductive virtue epistemology enjoys that contemporary reductive accounts arguably do not: (i) a viable solution to the Gettier Problem and (ii) a viable solution to not only the primary and secondary value problems but also the tertiary value problem.
"Luck and the Gettier Problem." A contribution to the Routledge Handbook on Theories of Luck (forthcoming with Routledge).
ABSTRACT: The Gettier Problem has been a perennial problem in epistemology for over 50 years, and it has been a driving force behind the growing body of research on epistemic luck. However, as more and more proposed solutions have been developed over the past 50 years in attempt to save the reductive analysis project, just as many Gettier-styled counterexamples or worries facing those solution have been noted. The goal of this chapter is to better understand what the Gettier Problem is and why it has proven to be so very problematic, why a viable reductive analysis of knowledge in terms of warranted true belief has been so elusive. I propose that the Gettier Problem is so problematic because it is inescapable. Any given reductive analysis of knowledge faces a dilemma: either assume that warrant is fallible and face Gettier counterexamples or assume that warrant must be infallible and risk falling into radical skepticism.
"Is Intellectual Humility Compatible with Dogmatism?" The Journal of Theology and Psychology.
"Virtuous Religious Dogmatism." The Journal of Theology and Psychology.
"Trenches, Evidence, and Intellectual Humility." The Journal of Theology and Psychology.
[Papers in Progress / Planned]
“Experimental Philosophy of Religion: A Hypothesis”
“Non-Reductive Proper Functionalism"