Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Over onsFaculteit WijsbegeerteNieuwsAgenda

Workshop on epistemic jusitification

Workshop on the occasion of the defence of the PhD dissertation 'Circularity and arbitrariness - Responses to the epistemic regress problem' by Coos Engelsma.

Programme (abstracts below)

Wednesday, 28 June 2017, in room Beta of the Faculty of Philosophy, Oude Boteringestraat 52

13:00-13:15 Opening and welcome
13:15-14:00 Rik Peels (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam): Blameworthy Belief and Another Regress Problem
14:00-14:45 Jeroen de Ridder (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam): Fake news epistemology
14:45-15:15 Coffee-break
15:15-16:00 Harmen Ghijsen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen): Foundationalism about perception: Should we go beyond mere experience and reliability?
16:00-16:45 René van Woudenberg (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam): Arbitrary Belief, Lucky Belief, and Responsible Belief

Attendance is free but space is limited so please register before June 27 by contacting Herman Veluwenkamp ( )
Everyone is cordially invited to attend the workshop.

Rik Peels, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: Blameworthy Belief and Another Regress Problem

In this lecture, I address another regress problem for belief, namely one concerning blameworthy belief. Imagine somebody is blameworthy for a belief that she holds at some time t. It seems that if she is truly blameworthy for that belief, then she is blameworthy in virtue of something. She should have gathered evidence but failed to do so, she should have paid more attention, she should have been more open-minded, and so on. But take the earlier time t* at which she failed to gather evidence, pay attention, or be more open-minded. It seems she is blameworthy for the ensuing belief only if she is blameworthy for failing to gather that evidence, pay attention, or be more open-minded. This, however, raises the question in virtue of what she was blameworthy for that. Of course, she may have acted from weak-will and against her beliefs on what she should do. Then, it would be a case of akrasia. Many philosophers, though, have argued that such akrasia is rare. If, on the other hand, we say she acted in accordance with her beliefs, then, it seems, she is to be blamed only if those beliefs were blameworthy. Hence, the regress gets started. In my talk, I formalize the regress, argue against a few solutions, and propose a new solution.

Jeroen de Ridder, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: Fake News Epistemology

Fake news is all the rage these days. If we are to believe Donald Trump, there’s a lot of it going around, much of it in unexpected places. While there is plenty of agreement that fake news is a bad thing, it hasn’t been explored in much depth why and how this is so. In this paper, I draw on resources from contemporary epistemology to explain what’s so bad about fake news, at least from an epistemic perspective, i.e., from the perspective of knowledge acquisition, retention, and distribution.
I first explain what people mean when they call something ‘fake news’ and compare fake news to lies and bullshit. Next, I show that we can usefully distinguish between direct and indirect bad effects of fake news and I look at each category in turn. Among the direct bad effects of fake news are obvious things like inducement of false beliefs, true but misleading beliefs, or significantly incomplete beliefs. Less obviously, fake news can give people misleading defeaters, defeater-defeaters, etc., it can decrease the reliability of one’s sources, and it can affect the modal environment of our beliefs, hence undermining knowledge that would have been perfectly fine otherwise. To explore the indirect bad effects of fake news, I draw on Duncan Pritchard’s notion of ‘epistemic dependence’: the phenomenon that our possibilities for acquiring knowledge depend not only on our cognitive agency, but also on the epistemic friendliness of our environments. I describe a number of features that a well-functioning and friendly epistemic environment ought to have and then show how fake news alters and detracts from these features.
While this paper makes no attempts at formulating measures or policies to counteract the bad effects of fake news, it contributes to a better understanding of what’s bad about fake news, thus laying the groundwork for future ameliorative projects.

Harmen Ghijsen, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen: Foundationalism about perception: Should we go beyond mere experience and reliability?

Popular versions of foundationalism take either perceptual experience (on internalist versions) or the reliability of the perceptual process (on externalist versions) as what grounds our epistemically basic beliefs. I will explore whether this stopping point to the regress of justification should be considered as arbitrary when seen from current cognitive scientific perspectives on perceptual processing. Specifically, one might consider the account of predictive processing, which stresses the importance of background knowledge and prediction for perception, as one that undercuts the idea that there is a genuine foundation to our structure of justification. I sketch several foundationalist responses to this worry and argue that an externalist foundationalist response is most plausible.

René van Woudenberg, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: Arbitrary Belief, Lucky Belief, and Responsible Belief

Abstract TBA

Last modified:26 June 2017 09.53 a.m.