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Elgin, Catherine Z., , . Considered Judgment
1996, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Publisher’s Note: Philosophy long sought to set knowledge on a firm foundation, through derivation of indubitable truths by infallible rules. For want of such truths and rules, the enterprise foundered. Nevertheless, foundationalism’s heirs continue their forbears’ quest, seeking security against epistemic misfortune, while their detractors typically espouse unbridled coherentism or facile relativism. Maintaining that neither stance is tenable, Catherine Elgin devises a via media between the absolute and the arbitrary, reconceiving the nature, goals, and methods of epistemology. In Considered Judgment, she argues for a reconception that takes reflective equilibrium as the standard of rational acceptability. A system of thought is in reflective equilibrium when its components are reasonable in light of one another, and the account they comprise is reasonable in light of our antecedent convictions about the subject it concerns.

Many epistemologists now concede that certainty is a chimerical goal. But they continue to accept the traditional conception of epistemology’s problematic. Elgin suggests that in abandoning the quest for certainty we gain opportunities for a broader epistemological purview – one that comprehends the arts and does justice to the sciences. She contends that metaphor, fiction, emotion, and exemplification often advance understanding in science as well as in art. The range of epistemology is broader and more variegated than is usually recognized. Tenable systems of thought are neither absolute nor arbitrary. Although they afford no guarantees, they are good in the way of belief.

Comment: In this book, the author puts forward an original epistemological approach, one which does not focus on seeking certainty, yet it takes reflective equilibrium as the standard for rationality. It could work as specilised reading or secondary reading for a postgraduate course in epistemology. It requires knowledge of the main topics in epistemology (e.g., on the debate between foundationalists vs coherentists).

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Gendler, Tamar Szabó, , . Philosophical thought experiments, intuitions, and cognitive equilibrium
2007, French, Peter A. & Wettstein, Howard K. (eds). Philosophy and Empirical. Oxford: Blackwell. 68-89.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Summary: Drawing on literature from the dual-processing tradition in psychology, this paper tries to explain why contemplation of an imaginary particular may have cognitive and motivational effects that differ from those evoked by an abstract description of the same content, and hence, why thought experiments may be effective devices for conceptual reconfiguration. It suggests that by presenting content in a suitably concrete way, thought experiments recruit representational schemas that were otherwise inactive, thereby evoking responses that may run counter to those evoked by alternative presentations of relevantly similar content.

Comment: In this interesting paper, Gendler elucidates the role and nature of intuition in the light of current philosophical practice. It is a good material for teaching on philosophical intuitions and experimental philosophy.

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Tiberius, Valerie, , . Constructivism and Wise Judgment
2012, in Lenman, J. and Shemmer, Y. (eds.) Constructivism in Practical Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 195-212.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper I introduce a version of constructivism that relies on a theory of practical wisdom. Wise judgment constructivism is a type of constructivism because it takes correct judgments about what we have “all-in” reason to do to be the result of a process we can follow, where our interest in the results of this process stems from our practical concerns. To fully defend the theory would require a comprehensive account of wisdom, which is not available. Instead, I describe a constructivist methodology for defending an account of wisdom and outline its main features. This gives us enough to see what wise judgment constructivism would look like, why it might be an attractive theory, and how it is different from other versions of constructivism.

Comment: Original and illuminating approach to constructivism. Particularly suited to further or specialised reading.

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