What and How We Know
Michael Huemer (Rowman & Littlefield: Jul 17, 2001), 232 pages.
Since Descartes, one of the central questions of Western philosophy has been that of how we know that the objects we seem to perceive are real. Philosophical skeptics claim that we know no such thing. Representationalists claim that we can gain such knowledge only by inference, by showing that the hypothesis of a real world is the best explanation for the kind of sensations and mental images we experience. Both accept the doctrine of a 'veil of perception': that perception can only give us direct awareness of images or representations of objects, not the external objects themselves. In contrast, Huemer develops a theory of perceptual awareness in which perception gives us direct awareness of real objects, not mental representations, and we have non-inferential knowledge of the properties of these objects. Further, Huemer confronts the four main arguments for philosophical skepticism, showing that they are powerless against this kind of theory of perceptual knowledge.
Abrol Fairweather and Linda T. Zagzebski, eds. (Oxford University Press: May 2001), 272 pages.
Virtue epistemology is an exciting, new movement receiving an enormous amount of attention from top epistemologists and ethicists; this pioneering volume reflects the best work in that vein. Featuring superb writing from contemporary American philosophers, it includes thirteen never before published essays that focus on the place of the concept of virtue in epistemology. In recent years, philosophers have been debating how this concept functions in definitions of knowledge. They question the extent to which knowledge is both normative (i.e., with a moral component) and non-normative, and many of them dispute the focus on justification, which has proven to be too restrictive. Epistemologists are searching for a way to combine the traditional concepts of ethical theory with epistemic concepts; the result is a new approach called virtue epistemology — one that has established itself as a particularly favorable alternative. Containing the fruits of recent study on virtue epistemology, this volume offers a superb selection of contributors — including Robert Audi, Simon Blackburn, Richard Foley, Alvin Goldman, Hilary Kornblith, Keith Lehrer, Ernest Sosa, and Linda Zagzebski — whose work brings epistemology into dialogue with everyday issues. ~ Product Description
Matthias Steup, ed. (Oxford University Press: March 2001), 272 pages.
This volume gathers eleven new and three previously unpublished essays that take on questions of epistemic justification, responsibility, and virtue. It contains the best recent work in this area by major figures such as Ernest Sosa, Robert Audi, Alvin Goldman, and Susan Haak.Topics in this book include: 1. Whether we have voluntary control over what we believe. 2. Whether the issue of voluntary control is relevant to epistemic justification. 3. And the relationship between issues 1 and 2 to the analysis of knowledge. ~ Product Description
Guy Axtell, ed. (Rowman & Littlefield: January 2000), 256 pages.
There have been many books over the past decade, including outstanding collections of essays, on the topic of the ethical virtues and virtue-theoretic approaches in ethics. But the professional journals of philosophy have only recently seen a strong and growing interest in the "intellectual" virtues and in the development of virtue-theoretic approaches in "epistemology". There have been four single-authored book length treatments of issues of virtue epistemology over the last seven years, beginning with Ernest Sosa's Knowledge in Perspective ("Cambridge", 1991), and extending to Linda Zabzebski's Virtue of the Mind ("Cambridge", 1996). Weighing in with Jonathan Kvanvig's The Intellectual Virtues and the Life of the Mind (1992), and James Montmarquet's Epistemic Virtue and Doxastic Responsibility (1993), Rowman & Littlefield has had a particularly strong interest in the direction and growth of the field. To date, there has been no collection of articles directly devoted to the growing debate over the possibility and potential of a virtue epistemology. This volume exists in the belief that there is now a timely opportunity to gather together the best contributions of the influential authors working in this growing area of epistemological research, and to create a collection of essays as a useful course text and research source. Several of the articles included in the volume are previously unpublished. Several essays discuss the range and general approach of "virtue theory" in comparison with other general accounts. What advantages are supposed to accrue from a virtue-based account in epistemology, in handling well-known problems such as "Gettier," and "Evil-Genie"-type problems? Can reliabilist virtue epistemology handle skeptical challenges more satisfactorily than non-virtue-centered forms of epistemic reliabilism? Others provide a needed discussion of relevant analogies and disanalogies between ethical and epistemic evaluation. The readings all contribute to our understanding of the relative importance, for a theory of justified belief, of the reliability of our cognitive faculties and of the individual's responsibility in gathering and weighing evidence. Highlights of the readings include direct exchanges between leading exponents of this approach and their critics. In addition, the volume includes contributions from feminist writers who offer a reassessment of the intellectual virtues from witin their own research paradigm. ~ Product Description
Daniel Taylor (IVP Books: January 2000), 158 pages.
Do you resent the smugness of closed-minded skepticism on the one hand but feel equally uncomfortable with the smugness of closed-minded Christianity on the other? If so, then The Myth of Certainty is for you. Daniel Taylor suggests a path to committed faith that is both consistent with the tradition of Christian orthodoxy and sensitive to the pluralism, complexity and relativism of our age. The case for the questioning Christian is made with both incisive analysis and lively storytelling. Brief fictional interludes provide an alternate way of exploring topics at hand and vividly depict the real-life dilemmas reflective Christians often face. Taylor affirms a call to throw off the paralysis of uncertainty and to risk commitment to God without forfeiting the God-given gift of an inquiring mind. Throughout he demonstrates clearly how much the world and the church need question askers. ~ Product Description
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
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
Michael R. Depaul and William Ramsey, eds. (Rowman & Littlefield: January 1999), .
Ancients and moderns alike have constructed arguments and assessed theories on the basis of common sense and intuitive judgments. Yet, despite the important role intuitions play in philosophy, there has been little reflection on fundamental questions concerning the sort of data intuitions provide, how they are supposed to lead us to the truth, and why we should treat them as important. In addition, recent psychological research seems to pose serious challenges to traditional intuition-driven philosophical inquiry. Rethinking Intuition brings together a distinguished group of philosophers and psychologists to discuss these important issues. Students and scholars in both fields will find this book to be of great value. ~ Book Description
Curtis L. Hancock and Brendan Sweetman (Sharpe, M.E. Inc.: March 1998), 245 pages.
This book contains a thorough and balanced series of dialogues introducing key topics in philosophy of religion, such as: the existence and nature of God, the problem of evil, religious pluralism, the nature of religious experience, immortality, and the meaning of life. A realistic cast of characters in a natural setting engages in a series of thought-provoking conversations; the dialogue format of these conversations captures typical student attitudes and questions concerning religious belief; allows comparison of important themes throughout the dialogues; encourages the interjection of insights, observations, questions, and objections; and introduces related points when they would naturally arise, instead of relegating them to a later chapter. As well as presenting a detailed and probing discussion, each dialogue includes a list of key terms, a set of study questions, and a bibliography - all of which make this an excellent text for courses in philosophy of religion and introductory philosophy classes. ~ 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