May 12, 2006

Three Papers

I've posted three new papers on my site. The big one is The (Mostly Harmless) Inconsistency of Knowledge Attributions, which I've been working on for a while but which only now is ready to go public, with references and everything. In it I present a fourth alternative to invariantism, contextualism, and relativism about the word 'knows'. The idea is that our knowledge-talk is governed by a set of mutually inconsistent Knowledge Principles concerning the circumstances under which knowledge-ascriptions are true. Nevertheless, knowledge-talk rarely leads to any practical problems, because our practice of knowledge-ascription is such that we rarely encounter situations where the Principles would lead us to contradict ourselves. If the Principles are taken as inference rules, then usually only certain rules are deployed in certain kinds of situations, keeping us out of trouble.

I've also posted Does Knowledge Matter?, which I'd rather call "Practical Reasoning and the Concept of Knowledge," which is the paper I'll be giving at the Epistemic Value Conference in Stirling in August; and a revised version of Gaps in Semantics for 'Knows'.

The first paper argues that we cannot motivate the importance of knowledge in itself in terms of its role in practical reasoning (as we might think if we adopt a Hawthorne/Stanley view of the importance of the practical environment for determining the standards for knowledge). There is no single standpoint from which knowledge appears to be the key concept for practical reasoning, such that one should use p as a premise in practical reasoning if and only if one knows that p. Rather, from various standpoints on practical reasoning various other concepts (such as truth and justification) are the key concept, and knowledge gains its importance because it more or less combines these concepts which are important in themselves.

The Gaps paper discusses DeRose's views about what happens when different participants in a conversation use different standards for knowledge. DeRose argues that in such cases knowledge ascriptions are truth-valueless. I argue that on this view there will be a wide variety of cases with gappy knowledge-ascriptions. This paper goes along with the inconsistency paper, because the cases in which knowledge ascriptions are truth-valueless (on this view) are the cases in which our inconsistent knowledge-talk can lead us into contradiction (on the inconsistency view).

I'll probably be intermittently on the web for a little while, so enjoy! (Links in post are to pdfs; Word versions can be found at the main paper site.)

Posted by Matt Weiner at May 12, 2006 03:56 PM

You made me cerebrate - and I'm more in the libate and celebrate mode at the moment. I'll bookmark you though.

cheers. temple

Posted by: Temple Stark at May 17, 2006 10:28 PM

Yesterday I was in a (non-law school) class called "Writing for Lawyers." In the exercise on using concise sentences, we were asked to revise this one "§ 1.7704-1(h)(1) states that interests in a partnership are not readily tradable on a secondary makret if the partnership does not have more than 100 partners."

The person teaching us then claimed that the following would be an especially good revision, because besides making it more concise it switches from stating the claim in the negative to stating it in the positive. The revision was "Under the regulations, interests in a partnership are readily tradable on a secondary market if the partnership has more than 100 partners. See 7 C.F.R. § 1.7704-1(h)(1)."

I demand that this be used to illustrate one reason why people should learn basic logic (which is all I know), namely that the truth of a conditional does not imply the truth of its inverse.

[HTML fixed -- mw]

Posted by: washerdreyer at May 18, 2006 03:46 PM

I forgot the "t" in the html for the section symbol.

Posted by: washerdreyer at May 18, 2006 03:46 PM

Looks like you've stirred up a bunch of dust, then found out you cant see...

Posted by: Lee at May 23, 2006 07:47 PM

What about this logic?
A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo, and  when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that  are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole is maintained by the regular culling of the weakest members. In much the same way, the  human brain can operate only as fast as the slowest brain cells through which  the electrical signals pass. Recent epidemiological studies have shown that while alcohol kills off brain cells, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. Thus, regular consumption of beer Helps eliminate  the weaker cells, constantly making the brain a faster more efficient  machine. The result of this in depth study verifies and validates the causal  link between all weekend parties and job related performance. It also  explains why, after a few short years of leaving a university and getting  married, most professionals cannot keep up with the performance of the new  graduates. Only those few that stick to the strict regimen of voracious alcoholic consumption can maintain the intellectual levels that they achieve  during their college years.  This is a call to arms. As our country is losing its technological  edge, We must not shudder in our homes. Get back into the bars. Quaff that pint.  Your company and country need you to be at your peak, and you shouldn't deny yourself the career that you could have. Take life by the bottle and be  all that you can be.

Posted by: Casey at May 26, 2006 03:32 PM

I try to not make emprical predictions regarding emergent phenomena.

Posted by: Lee at May 29, 2006 04:14 PM