Reasons, Justification, and Defeat

ISBN : 9780198847205

Jessica Brown; Mona Simion
304 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Apr 2021
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Traditionally, the notion of defeat has been central to epistemology, practical reasoning, and ethics. Within epistemology, it is standardly assumed that a subject who knows that p, or justifiably believes that p, can lose this knowledge or justified belief by acquiring a so-called 'defeater', whether that is evidence that not-p, evidence that the process that produced her belief is unreliable, or evidence that she has likely misevaluated her own evidence. Within ethics and practical reasoning, it is widely accepted that a subject may initially have a reason to do something although this reason is later defeated by her acquisition of further information. However, the traditional conception of defeat has recently come under attack. Some have argued that the notion of defeat is problematically motivated; others that defeat is hard to accommodate within externalist or naturalistic accounts of knowledge or justification; and still others that the intuitions that support defeat can be explained in other ways. This volume presents new work re-examining the very notion of defeat, and its place in epistemology and in normativity theory at large.


1 Jessica Brown and Mona Simion: Introduction
2 Sanford C. Goldberg: The Normativity of Knowledge and the Scope and Sources of Defeat
3 Peter Graham and Jack Lyons: The Structure of Defeat: Pollock's Evidentialism, Lackey's Framework, and Prospects for Reliabilism
4 Jennifer Nagel: Losing Knowledge by Thinking about Thinking
5 Maria Lasonen-Aarnio: Dispositional Evaluations and Defeat
6 Errol Lord and Kurt Sylvan: Suspension, Higher-Order Evidence, and Defeat
7 Bob Beddor: Reasons for Reliabilism
8 Carlotta Pavese: Knowledge, Action, and Defeasibility
9 Matthew McGrath: Undercutting Defeat: When it Happens and Some Implications for Epistemology
10 Julien Dutant and Clayton Littlejohn: Defeaters as Indicators of Ignorance
11 Justin Snedegar: Competing Reasons
12 Mark Schroeder: Perceptual Reasons and Defeat

About the author: 

Jessica Brown is Professor of Philosophy in the Arche Research Centre at the University of St Andrews. She has worked on a wide range of topics within philosophy of mind, epistemology, moral responsibility, and the methodology of philosophy, and has published two monographs : Anti-Individualism and Knowledge (MIT Press, 2004) and and Fallibilism (OUP, 2018). In addition, she is the co-editor of the OUP volumes Knowledge Ascriptions (with Mikkel Gerken, 2012) and Assertion (with Herman Cappelen, 2011). She is also Editor of the Philosophical Quarterly, Associate Editor of the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.; Mona Simion is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, where she is Deputy Director of the COGITO Epistemology Research Centre. Her research is in the fields of epistemology, philosophy of language, ethics, and feminist philosophy. Her work has been published in major philosophy journals including Nous, Journal of Philosophy, and Philosophical Studies, and she has been awarded several prestigious grants including a Mind Fellowship and a Leverhulme Research Grant.

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