What and How We Know
John Greco (Cambridge University Press: April 2010), 216 pages.
When we affirm (or deny) that someone knows something, we are making a value judgment of sorts — we are claiming that there is something superior (or inferior) about that person's opinion, or their evidence, or perhaps about them. A central task of the theory of knowledge is to investigate the sort of evaluation at issue. This is the first book to make 'epistemic normativity,' or the normative dimension of knowledge and knowledge ascriptions, its central focus. John Greco argues that knowledge is a kind of achievement, as opposed to mere lucky success. This locates knowledge within a broader, familiar normative domain. By reflecting on our thinking and practices in this domain, it is argued, we gain insight into what knowledge is and what kind of value it has for us.
Deane-Peter Baker, ed. (Cambridge University Press: Jul 2007), 248 pages.
Few thinkers have had as much impact on contemporary philosophy as has Alvin Plantinga. The work of this quintessential analytic philosopher has in many respects set the tone for the debate in the fields of modal metaphysics and epistemology and he is arguably the most important philosopher of religion of our time. In this volume, a distinguished team of today's leading philosophers address the central aspects of Plantinga's philosophy - his views on natural theology; his responses to the problem of evil; his contributions to the field of modal metaphysics; the controversial evolutionary argument against naturalism; his model of epistemic warrant and his view of epistemic defeat; and his recent work on mind-body dualism. Also included is an appendix containing Plantinga's often referred to, but previously unpublished, lecture notes entitled 'Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments', with a substantial preface to the appendix written by Plantinga specifically for this volume. ~ Product Description
Christine McKinnon (Broadview Press: August 1999), 261 pages.
This book argues that the question posed by virtue theories, namely, "what kind of person should I be?" provides a more promising approach to moral questions than do either deontological or consequentialist moral theories where the concern is with what actions are morally required or permissible. It does so both by arguing that there are firmer theoretical foundations for virtue theories, and by persuasively suggesting the superiority of virtue theories over deontological and consquentialist theories on the question of explaining morally bad behavior. Virtue theories can give a richer account by appealing to the kinds of dispositions that make certain bad choices appear attractive. This richer account also exposes a further advantage of virtue theories: they provide the best kinds of motivations for agents to become better persons. ~ Product Description
Robert Audi in the Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy (Routledge: 1998)
A state-of-the-art introduction to epistemology by one of the leading figures in the field. Audi makes full use of his mastery both of epistemology and of related areas like philosophical psychology....It would be difficult to imagine a better way to introduce students to epistemology. ~ William P. Alston, Syracuse University
Eugene Thomas Long and Patrick Horn, eds. (Springer-Verlag New York: February 2008), 156 pages.
This volume is presented as a tribute to D.Z. Phillips and the introduction by Eugene Long includes a brief discussion of Phillips' life and work. The first six articles were originally written at the invitation of Phillips for a conference on the ethics of belief held at Claremont Graduate University. Unfortunately Phillips died unexpectedly July 25, 2006 and was unable to participate in the conference. Two additional essays were invited by the editors to help add Phillips' voice to the discussion. Essays by Allen Wood, Richard Amesbury and Van Harvey discuss the question of the ethics of belief in the context of the evidentialist principle most frequently associated with W. K. Clifford. Essays by Ronney Mourad, Jennifer Faust and Robert Audi are concerned with the voluntariness of belief, the persuasive power of arguments and differing conceptions of faith, belief and acceptance. The final two essays by John Whittaker and Anselm Min focus on Phillips' understanding of the logic and rationality of religious belief. The book concludes with a tribute to Phillips written by Patrick Horn. ~ Product Description
Trent Dougherty, ed. (Oxford University Press: Sep 15, 2011), 320 pages.
Few concepts have been considered as essential to the theory of knowledge and rational belief as that of evidence. The simplest theory which accounts for this is evidentialism, the view that epistemic justification for belief--the kind of justification typically taken to be required for knowledge — is determined solely by considerations pertaining to one's evidence. In this ground-breaking book, leading epistemologists from across the spectrum challenge and refine evidentialism, sometimes suggesting that it needs to be expanded in quite surprising directions. Following this, the twin pillars of contemporary evidentialism — Earl Conee and Richard Feldman--respond to each essay. This engaging debate covers a vast number of issues, and will illuminate and inform.
Paul C. Vitz (Spence: October 15, 1999), 200 pages.
Starting with Freud's "projection theory" of religion-that belief in God is merely a product of man's desire for security. Vitz argues that psychoanalysis actually provides a more satisfying explanation for atheism. Disappointment in one's earthly father, whether through death, absence, or mistreatment, frequently leads to a rejection of God. A biographical survey of influential atheists of the past four centuries shows that this "defective father hypothesis" provides a consistent explanation of the "intense atheism" of these thinkers. A survey of the leading intellectual defenders of Christianity over the same period confirms the hypothesis, finding few defective fathers. Professor Vitz concludes with an intriguing comparison of male and female atheists and a consideration of other psychological factors that can contribute to atheism. Professor Vitz does not argue that atheism is psychologically determined. Each man, whatever his experiences, ultimately chooses to accept God or reject him. Yet the cavalier attribution of religious faith to irrational, psychological needs is so prevalent that an exposition of the psychological factors predisposing one to atheism is necessary. ~ Book Description
Darrell Huff (Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc: Oct 28, 1993; orig. 1954), 142 pages.
There is terror in numbers," writes Darrell Huff in How to Lie with Statistics. And nowhere does this terror translate to blind acceptance of authority more than in the slippery world of averages, correlations, graphs, and trends. Huff sought to break through "the daze that follows the collision of statistics with the human mind" with this slim volume, first published in 1954. The book remains relevant as a wake-up call for people unaccustomed to examining the endless flow of numbers pouring from Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and everywhere else someone has an axe to grind, a point to prove, or a product to sell. "The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify," warns Huff. Although many of the examples used in the book are charmingly dated, the cautions are timeless. Statistics are rife with opportunities for misuse, from "gee-whiz graphs" that add nonexistent drama to trends, to "results" detached from their method and meaning, to statistics' ultimate bugaboo — faulty cause-and-effect reasoning. Huff's tone is tolerant and amused, but no-nonsense. Like a lecturing father, he expects you to learn something useful from the book, and start applying it every day. Never be a sucker again, he cries! "Even if you can't find a source of demonstrable bias, allow yourself some degree of skepticism about the results as long as there is a possibility of bias somewhere. There always is." Read How to Lie with Statistics. Whether you encounter statistics at work, at school, or in advertising, you'll remember its simple lessons. Don't be terrorized by numbers, Huff implores. "The fact is that, despite its mathematical base, statistics is as much an art as it is a science." ~ Therese Littleton
Thomas Gilovich (Free Press: Mar 5, 1993), 224 pages.
When can we trust what we believe - that "teams and players have winning streaks", that "flattery works", or that "the more people who agree, the more likely they are to be right" - and when are such beliefs suspect? Thomas Gilovich offers a guide to the fallacy of the obvious in everyday life. Illustrating his points with examples, and supporting them with the latest research findings, he documents the cognitive, social and motivational processes that distort our thoughts, beliefs, judgements and decisions. In a rapidly changing world, the biases and stereotypes that help us process an overload of complex information inevitably distort what we would like to believe is reality. Awareness of our propensity to make these systematic errors, Gilovich argues, is the first step to more effective analysis and action. ~ Book Description
Paul K. Moser and Arnold Vander Nat, eds. (Oxford university Press: August 2002), 592 pages.
Offering a unique and wide-ranging examination of the theory of knowledge, the new edition of this comprehensive collection deftly blends readings from the foremost classical sources with the work of important contemporary philosophical thinkers. Human Knowledge: Classical and Contemporary Approaches offers philosophical examinations of epistemology from ancient Greek and Roman philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Sextus Empiricus); medieval philosophy (Augustine, Aquinas); early modern philosophy (Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, Kant); classical pragmatism and Anglo-American empiricism (James, Russell, Ayer, Lewis, Carnap, Quine, Rorty); and other influential Anglo-American philosophers (Chisholm, Kripke, Moore, Wittgenstein, Strawson, Putnam). Organized chronologically and thematically, Human Knowledge features exceptionally broad coverage and nontechnical selections that are easily accessible to students. An ideal text for both undergraduate and graduate courses in epistemology, it is enhanced by the editors' substantial general introduction, section overviews, and up-to-date bibliographies. The third edition offers expanded selections on contemporary epistemology and adds selections by Thomas Reid, Richard Rorty, David B. Annis, Richard Feldman and Earl Conee, Ernest Sosa, Barry Stroud, and Louise M. Antony. Human Knowledge offers an unparalleled introduction to our ancient struggle to understand our own intellectual experience. ~ Product Description