博客帖子 - DISCOVERING TRUTHS and ANNOUNCING THEM
 

I'm after a recommendation for a good piece of citation manager software. My ideal citation manager would have the following characteristics:

(i) It would run on a PC, and be compatible with Microsoft Word.

(ii) It would be able to deal with reprint information smoothly (no "Hume 1984").

(iii) It would also act as a PDF organiser, keeping track of my PDFs and notes.

(iv) It would be cheap, or free.

(v) Most importantly, it would be "future proof" - I don't want to find that my big file of citations goes out of date in 10 years and I have to start all over again.

Perhaps there is no piece of software with all these properties - if so, I'll have to be content with something less.

So, what citation managers are we using?

 
The only truth I have to announce is that I'm puzzled by something. Here is a familiar case.

Smith buys a ticket in a lottery with an enormous payoff. The odds are vanishingly small that Smith's ticket is a winner. Smith knows both the odds and that the payoff is enormous. If her ticket is a loser, it's a piece of trash. Smith realizes this, so she's considering recycling it. As a matter of fact, the ticket *is* a loser, and Smith believes that it is. Smith's only evidence that it's a loser, however, is her knowledge of the odds.

One of the following must be true, but which one? (In case it isn't obvious that one of these must be true, see "PROOF" below.)

(1) Smith doesn't know that the odds are vanishingly small that the ticket is a winner.

(2) She does know that the odds are vanishingly small that the ticket is a winner, yet she's not justified in proportioning her confidence to the odds.

(3) She's justified in proportioning her confidence to the odds (and thus being virtually certain) that the ticket won't win, yet she's not justified in believing that the ticket won't win.

(4) She's justified in believing that the ticket won't win, yet she doesn’t know that the ticket won't win.

(5) She does know that the ticket won't win, yet it's not acceptable for her to reason that, since the ticket won't win, she should recycle it.

(6) It's acceptable for her to reason that, since the ticket won't win, she should recycle it, yet it's not the case that she should recycle it.

(7) She should recycle it. 

As I noted above, one of (1) through (7) must be true. But they are all hard to stomach. Very quickly, (1) through (7) have (at least) the following problems.

The scenario stipulates that (1) isn't the case, so, without reason to think the scenario is incoherent, we can't accept (1). Given that Smith wants to win the lottery, given that she paid good money for the ticket, and given that it's very little trouble for her to keep the ticket, it seems clear that (7) is false. If Smith had overriding reasons for not recycling the ticket, then (6) would seem true. But we can stipulate that she doesn't, in which case (6) looks false. And the same considerations apply to (5). It looks true if additional factors prevent Smith from reasoning that way, but we can just stipulate that they don't. Of course, Hawthorne and others would accept (4). But (4) seems unstable. Ex hypothesi, the ticket won't win and Smith isn't Gettiered with respect to her belief that it won't win. Thus, our grounds for denying that Smith knows seem to equal our grounds for denying that Smith is justified. (And speaking for myself, insofar as it's intuitive that Smith doesn't know, it's also intuitive that she's not justified.) So, it looks like anyone who wants to deny that Smith knows is pushed toward (2) or (3). But (2) seems false. Why on earth shouldn't Smith proportion her confidence to the odds? After all, ex hypothesi, she knows the odds and the odds exhaust her evidence. This leaves us with (3), which is also hard to swallow. Perhaps justified belief equals justified certainty. But then, which of our beliefs *is* justified? If we accept (3) and maintain that justified belief equals justified certainty, it will be a trick to avoid skepticism. Perhaps justified belief equals justified confidence above some threshold *below* certainty. But then, how can (3) be true while we have a significant stock of justified beliefs? Again, given that we accept (3), it will be tricky to avoid skepticism. Perhaps justified belief cannot be identified with any level of justified confidence, then. In this case, what does belief amount to, how is it related to confidence, and what explains how Smith could be justified in being virtually certain that the ticket won't win, yet not justified in *believing* that the ticket won't win?  

I'm not sure what to say about these options, except that none of them looks particularly good. What do people think? If forced to pick among them, which should we pick?

Blake

PROOF: Here’s the proof I promised above.
 
Let 'p' through 'u' name the propositions in (1) through (7) as follows.

p = Smith knows that the odds are vanishingly small that the ticket is a winner.
q = Smith is justified in proportioning her confidence to the odds.
r = Smith is justified in believing that the ticket won't win.
s = Smith knows that the ticket won't win.
t = It's acceptable for Smith to reason that, since the ticket won't win, she should recycle it.
u = Smith should recycle the ticket.

Now consider the following presentation of (1) through (7).

(1) ~p
(2) p & ~q
(3) q & ~r
(4) r & ~s
(5) s & ~t
(6) t & ~u
(7) u

Either p is true or it's false. Suppose the latter. Then (1) is true. Suppose the former. Then either (2) is true or q is. Suppose q is. Then either (3) is true or r is. Suppose r is. Then either (4) is true or s is. So suppose s is true. Then either (5) is true or t is true. Suppose it’s t. Then either (6) is true or u is. But if u is true, then so is (7). So, one of (1) through (7) must be true.

 
I think that knowledge matters, but there are doubters. To paraphrase Tim Maudlin at a recent talk here: ‘if I know that the guy has a true belief, and I know that he’s done everything right [i.e., he’s epistemic ally justified], why do I care whether or not he knows?’  That someone has a true justified belief (JTB) is enough information for  us to judge the epistemic worthiness of his actions.  Furthermore, formal epistemologists seem to have a pretty good decision theory that doesn’t rely on knowledge at all.  So, why is knowledge important?

Timothy Williamson (in Knowledge and its Limits, 2000, p. 62) argues that knowledge ascriptions are vital to explanations of behavior.  Not everyone buys this argument.  I don’t want to convince those people; rather, I think that the value of knowledge stretches beyond its usefulness in predicting behavior.  When we find out that someone knows something, we get more information than we do when we find out that they JTB the proposition in question.  It seems to me that this isn’t just more information: it’s more useful information.



 
My title will be 'James Explained'.


I'll be talking about James's later work, particularly Pragmatism and the Essays in Radical Empiricism, and I'll concentrate on James's philosophy of perception, his metaphysics and his theory of truth. I'll also have a few things to say about the historical origins of Quine's pragmatism (yes, Quine's pragmatism). 


Tom
 
I’ve been saying for a while that we (grad students in philosophy at Rutgers) should have a blog. So here it is. You should all by now have had an email giving you the username and password (ask me if not) so you can start posting at once!

Here’s what I think the blog might be used for:

  • People might want to blog about half-formed philosophical ideas, which they want comments on.
  • People giving grad talks might want to post abstracts in advance, to get everyone interested.
  • We could use the blog to have follow-up discussions on grad talks, colloquia etc..
  • People could post questions (“Which logic textbook is best?”, “Where can I find this paper?” and so on).
  • Social events could be announced on the blog, as well as details of the successes of the departmental sports teams.
  • People who run reading groups could post reminders and links to readings on the blog.
Tom