Jeremy Randel Koons

Jeremy Randel Koons
Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar · Department of Philosophy

About

57
Publications
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Introduction

Publications

Publications (57)
Article
Full-text available
The divine purpose theory (DPT)—according to which that human life is meaningful to the extent that it fulfills some purpose or plan to which God has directed us—encounters well-known Euthyphro problems. Some theists attempt to avoid these problems by appealing to God’s essential goodness, à la the modified divine command theory (DCT) of Adams and...
Article
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No contemporary compatibilist account of free will can be complete unless it engages with the consequence argument. I will argue that Wilfrid Sellars offered an ingenious version of compatibilism that can be used to refute the consequence argument. Unfortunately, owing to the opacity of Sellars’s writings on free will, his solution has been neglect...
Article
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While social epistemology is a diverse field, much of it still understands knowledge as an individual status—albeit an individual status that crucially depends on various social factors (such as testimony). Further, the literature on group knowledge until now has primarily focused on limited, specialized groups that may be said to know this or that...
Chapter
Sellars inherits the Kantian idea that “to say that man is a rational animal, is to say that man is a creature not of habits, but of rules” (“Language, Rules and Behavior,” p. 298). For familiar Wittgensteinian reasons, conceptual activity cannot be rule-following activity. Sellars therefore articulates a via media between rule-following activity a...
Article
The free will theodicy (a standard theistic response to the problem of evil) places significant value on free will: free will is of such substantial value, that God’s gift of free will to humans was justified, even though this gift foreseeably (and regularly) results in the most monstrous of evils. I will argue that when a state criminalizes sin (b...
Article
Many contextualist accounts in epistemology appeal to ordinary language and everyday practice as grounds for positing a low-standards knowledge (knowledgeL) that contrasts with high-standards prevalent in epistemology (knowledgeH). We compare these arguments to arguments from the height of "ordinary language" philosophy in the mid 20th century and...
Article
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One important strand of Sellars’s attack on classical foundationalism from Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind is his thesis about the priority of is-talk over looks-talk. This thesis has been criticized extensively in recent years, and classical foundationalism has found several contemporary defenders. I revisit Sellars’s thesis and argue that i...
Chapter
One of the great difficulties in deciding how to reconcile our fairly robust views on normativity with naturalism is that there are about as many forms of naturalism as there are naturalists. The label has been adopted by or ascribed to philosophers as disparate in their views as John Dewey, Frank Ramsey, Roy Wood Sellars, Wilfrid Sellars, Ernest N...
Chapter
We are willing to grant that science has a place of authority when it comes to causal-explanatory projects. However, we share an equally strong commitment to the claim that human endeavor within this world cannot be understood without making room for the normative. Let us examine some of the reasons why we think the normative is ineliminable from o...
Chapter
In Chap. 2, we argued that no form of naturalism could do away with normativity altogether. In this chapter, we address a large swath of the naturalist literature that attempts to place properties of normative discourse within the terrain of entities posited by the natural sciences. There are numerous strategies to place them indirectly in the natu...
Chapter
Thus far, we have made three central claims. First, we have argued that some form of naturalism, or at least allegiance to versions of some tenets associated with it, is a preferred methodological starting point for philosophy. Second, we have argued that efforts to solve the placement problem for normative discourse via reduction or non-reductive...
Chapter
Given that we admit that there are distinct causal-explanatory and normative discourse regions, we owe a story about the interrelations among these discourse regions. We have already denied that that normative discourse receives vertical contributions from a lower-level non-normative discourse, or that normative things are somehow composed of non-n...
Chapter
A major feature of our account can now return to the fore again. Part of our strategy in reconciling normativity with the naturalist themes described in our first two chapters will be to follow philosophers, such as Brandom and Price, in rejecting what we have called representationalism about meaning and content. On such a view, thoughts and descri...
Chapter
In the preceding chapters, we have staked out an anti-reductionist account of normative discourse, albeit a less-than-conventional one. While we eschewed ontological commitments (not just to normative entities, but even to substantive normative properties), we defended an account of action-guiding content on which normative sentences could be true...
Chapter
We have already discussed a number of arguments for the view that normativity cannot be reduced or otherwise placed in the natural world, as many naturalists would insist it must be to remain legitimate. However, we have also argued that we should not thereby move to a form of non-naturalism that places the sources of authority for our claims outsi...
Chapter
In this chapter, we will offer an expressivist account of declarative sentences that appear in normative discourse. “Normative discourse,” in the present sense may stretch to include large numbers of linguistic forms, and we will not attempt to catalog and explain them all. Instead, we will offer expressivist characterizations of those employed in...
Book
Drawing on a rich pragmatist tradition, this book offers an account of the different kinds of 'oughts', or varieties of normativity, that we are subject to contends that there is no conflict between normativity and the world as science describes it. The authors argue that normative claims aim to evaluate, to urge us to do or not do something, and t...
Article
Direct realist versions of foundationalism (hereafter, DRF) have recently been advocated by (among others) Pryor, Huemer, Alston, and Plantinga. DRF can hold either that our foundational observation beliefs are about the simple perceptible qualities of objects (like color, shape, etc.), or that our foundational observation beliefs are more complex...
Article
Recent defenders of the divine command theory like Adams and Alston have confronted the Euthyphro dilemma by arguing that although God’s commands make right actions right, God is morally perfect and hence would never issue unjust or immoral commandments. On their view, God’s nature is the standard of moral goodness, and God’s commands are the sourc...
Article
Plantinga famously argues against evidentialism that belief in God can be properly basic. But the epistemology of cognitive faculties such as perception and memory which produce psychologically non‐inferential beliefs shows that various inferentially justified theoretical beliefs are epistemically prior to our memory and perceptual beliefs, prevent...
Chapter
Wilfrid Sellars (b. 1912–d. 1989) did some of the most interesting and challenging work in Western philosophy in the 20th century. At a time when most philosophers were moving toward increasingly narrow specialization in their scholarship, he produced a large corpus that was both systematic and extensive in scope. Sellars is also a difficult philos...
Article
Full-text available
This paper critically examines what I call the ‘testing theodicy,’ the widely held idea that natural evil exists in order to test our faith in God. This theodicy appears numerous times in the scriptures of all three Abrahamic faiths. After examining some of these scriptural passages, we will argue that in light of these texts, the notion of faith i...
Chapter
The term ‘epistemology’ refers to two rather different practices.’ Construed broadly, it is our actual epistemic practice. That is, it is the practice common in every field from chemistry to philosophy, of evaluating beliefs as justified or unjustified, scientific methods as rational or irrational, etc., and of evaluating and revising not only thos...
Chapter
An account of the justification of morality presupposes a defense of the existence of free will and the viability of our practice of holding people morally responsible for their actions.1 Most meta-ethicists are content merely to justify morality, and leave the task of defending a viable account of free will to the metaphysicists.
Chapter
The conclusion of Chapter 3 is that morality is justified directly by instrumental rationality, and that it is rational to be moral. Questions of whether it is rational to be moral have often been cast in terms of the relation between morality and prudence, where ‘prudence’ is taken to be synonymous with ‘self-interest’. But we have many interests,...
Chapter
As I noted in Chapter 2, the terms ‘morality’ and ‘epistemology’ can each be construed in two different ways: broadly and narrowly.’ Epistemology, construed broadly, it is our actual epistemic practice. That is, it is the practice common in every field, from chemistry to philosophy, of evaluating beliefs as justified or unjustified, scientific meth...
Chapter
So far, I have conceded (in Chapter 2) that normative utterances do not describe an independent moral reality. Instead, morality (and epistemology) consists of a set of cooperative strategies for promoting our mutual interests. I have also asserted, though, an aversion to the relativism that is typically associated with pragmatism. But aren’t these...
Chapter
In Chapter 2 I argued that as moral and epistemic facts do not figure in causal explanations, we must turn to pragmatic reasons to justify continued participation in these practices. What I hope to demonstrate in this chapter is that it is prudentially rational to submit to moral and epistemological constraints. Certainly this has been argued befor...
Chapter
When a debate drags on interminably, and when both sides have the force of appealing intuitions and plausible arguments on their respective sides, one begins to think that perhaps both sides are latching onto some truth of the matter, and that neither position can be rejected as entirely false. The task, then, is to locate the truth in each positio...
Article
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Recent critics of Sellars's argument against the Given attack Sellars's (purported) conclusion that sensations cannot play a role in the justification of observation beliefs. I maintain that Sellars can concede that sensations play a role in justifying observation reports without being forced to concede that they have the foundational status of an...
Article
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Discussions of conservatism in epistemology often fail to demonstrate that the principle of conservatism is supported by epistemic considerations. In this paper, I hope to show two things. First, there is a defensible version of the principle of conservatism, a version that applies only to what I will call our basic beliefs. Those who deny that con...
Article
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To avoid Moore’s open question objection and similar arguments, reductionist philosophers argue that normative (e.g. moral and epistemic) and natural terms are only coextensive, but not synonymous. These reductionists argue that the normative content of normative terms is not a feature of their extension, but is accounted for in some other way (e.g...
Article
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In his book Mind and World, John McDowell grapples with the problem that the world must and yet seem-ingly cannot constrain our empirical thought. I first argue that McDowell's proposed solution to the problem throws him onto the horns of his own, intractable dilemma, and thus fails to solve the problem of rational constraint by the world. Next, I...
Article
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Many response-dependence theorists equate moral truth with the generation of some affective psychological response: what makes this action wrong, as opposed to right, is that it would cause (or merit) affective response of type R (perhaps under ideal conditions). Since our affective nature is purely contingent, and not necessarily shared by all rat...
Article
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It is plausible to suppose that the normativity of evaluative (e.g., moral and epistemic) judgments arises out of and is, in some sense, dependent on our actual evalu- ative practice. At the same time, though, it seems likely that the correctness of evaluative judgments is not merely a mat- ter of what the underlying practice endorses and condemns;...
Article
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Many authors have argued that emotions serve an epistemic role in our moral practice. Some argue that this epistemic connection is so strong that creatures who do not share our affective nature will be unable to grasp our moral concepts. I argue that even if this sort of incommensurability does result from the role of affect in morality, incommensu...
Article
Full-text available
Much moral skepticism stems from the charge that moral facts do not figure in causal explanations. However, philosophers committed to normative epistemological discourse (by which I mean our practice of evaluating beliefs as justified or unjustified, and so forth) are in no position to demand that normative facts serve such a role, since epistemic...