Epistemologists of testimony have focused almost exclusively on the epistemic dynamics of simple testimony. We do sometimes testify by way of simple, single sentence assertions. But much of our testimony is narratively structured. I argue that narrative testimony gives rise to a form of epistemic dependence that is far richer and more far-reaching than the epistemic dependence characteristic of simple testimony.
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 2020. With Beau Madison Mount.
There is extensive debate among contemporary philosophers about the possibility of absolutely unrestricted quantification; thus far, the debate been almost entirely logically and metaphysically focused. We argue for a third axis of evaluation: the epistemological. We defend absolutism on epistemological grounds, by showing that one prominent and attractive alternative to absolutism---schematism---is epistemologically unacceptable.
The Ethics of Metaphor.
Ethics 128 (4): 728-755 (2018).
Often, we speak figuratively. Some figurative language exploits what is ethically laden and politically contested. We speak of factory farming as 'a holocaust', of cultures as 'schizophrenic', and of invaded cities as 'raped'. Such metaphors often come in for strenuous political critique. Jewish groups condemn Holocaust imagery, mental health organisations, the metaphorical exploitation of psychosis, and feminists, 'rape metaphors'. In this paper, I develop a novel model for making sense of suchdistinctively political critiques of metaphorical speech.
Stakes Sensitivity and Transformative Experience.
Analysis 78 (1): 34-39.
I trace the relationship between the view that knowledge is stakes sensitive and Laurie Paul’s (2014) account of the epistemology of transformative experience. The view that knowledge is stakes sensitive comes in different flavours: one can go for subjective or objective conceptions of stakes, where subjective views of stakes take stakes to be a function of an agent’s non-factive mental states, and objective views of stakes do not. I argue that there is a tension between subjective accounts of stakes sensitivity and Paul’s epistemology of transformative experience.
Despite their substantial appeal, closure principles have fallen on hard times. Both anti-luck conditions on knowledge and the defeasibility of knowledge look to be in tension with natural ways of articulating single-premise closure principles (Lasonen-Aarnio, 2008, Schechter, 2013). The project of this paper is to show that plausible theses in the epistemology of testimony ('transmission theses') face problems structurally identical to those faced by closure principles. First I show how Lasonen-Aarnio's claim that there is a tension between single premise closure and anti-luck constraints on knowledge can be extended to make trouble for transmission theses. Second, I show how Schechter's claim that there is a tension between single premise closure and the thought that knowledge is defeasible can be extended to make trouble for transmission theses. I end the paper by sketching the consequences of this trouble for the dialectic in the epistemology of testimony.
Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1): 163 - 178 (2015). With John Hawthorne.
We explore a series of puzzles related to closure principles and self-reference.
papers in edited collections
Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Essays in Religious Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp 203-227 (2018).
Recent epistemological history has inclined towards ‘testimonial optimism’, keen to stress the division of epistemic labour and how ubiquitously we depend upon the words of others. Its counterpart, ‘testimonial pessimism’, marks out a cluster of gloomier views, which stress -- in different ways -- testimony’s' epistemic shortcomings. My project in this paper is to establish a robust connection between pessimist readings of testimony, and two different commitments one might have in the philosophy of language: 'emotionism', and what I call ‘strong’ readings of the de re. I do not aim to say, in this paper, what I think we ought to do with these connections; that is, I aim to remain agnostic on whether we should take the connections I sketch to give us a way of vindicating pessimism, or whether they are better read as part of an error theoretic project.
The Epistemology of (Compulsory) Heterosexuality. The Bloomsbury Companion to Analytic Feminism. London: Bloomsbury. pp 329 -354.
I explore the epistemic structures associated with the system of compulsory heterosexuality, in particular, the ways in which compulsory heterosexuality structures both our mental lives and our access to it, and the epistemic costs, for women, associated with entering into heterosexual relationships. My starting point will be with a paper of Charles Mills, in which he considers the ethics - and in doing so, charts the epistemological dynamics - of sexual and romantic relationships between black men and white women. I will show that Mills’ arguments can be used as a map, or scaffold, which we can use to construct structurally similar arguments against (certain) heterosexual relationships. Doing so will allow us to pick out and diagnose important epistemic structures embedded in the institution of compulsory heterosexuality. This project can be thought of as an attempt to integrate into analytic feminism some important insights associated with queer feminism and queer theory.
Lorna Finlayson, An Introduction to Feminism. Mind. 126 (504) 1251 - 1259.