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Rules, the value problem for knowledge and Relativism; Hinges and the structure of reason

Grant number: 14/07354-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2014
Effective date (End): September 30, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Epistemology
Cooperation agreement: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal researcher:Arley Ramos Moreno
Grantee:Nicola Claudio Salvatore
Home Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


In my research, I aim to show that Wittgenstein's epistemological remarks, and especially his conception of 'hinges' can help us to face two hotly debated epistemological problems, namely the problem of Radical skepticism and the so called 'value problem for knowledge.In my doctoral thesis and in my other published works I propose an anti-skeptical account loosely inspired by Wittgenstein's On Certainty; roughly, I defend a conception of the structure of reason for which our epistemic practices rest on non-propositional rules of grammar or 'hinges'.An implication of this account is that statements such as "I have a body" or "There are external objects", which following skeptical arguments are both doubtable and unknowable, are on the contrary the basic 'rules' of our epistemic practices. Accordingly, skeptical arguments are the result of a logical error; a proponent of Radical skepticism treats 'hinges' as propositional beliefs while they express non-propositional rules which are subject to an epistemic standing at odds with propositional knowledge, namely understanding or 'mastery of techniques'.In the first year of my research, I plan to defend this account as the most plausible interpretation of Wittgenstein's thought and as a viable anti-skeptical strategy, following the work already started in my recent publications ('Skepticism, Rules and Grammar', forthcoming in Polish Journal of Philosophy;' Hinge Propositions and Radical Skepticism', in Padilla Galvez-Maffal, Doubtful Certainties, 2012; 'Wittgensteinian Contextualism and Cartesian Skepticism', Proceedings of the 34th International Wittgenstein Symposium, 2011).I will then explore the implication of my proposal on an hotly debated epistemological issue, namely the 'value problem for knowledge'. Much of the debate regarding epistemic value has focused on the value of knowledge, that is why knowledge should be more valuable than, say, true beliefs; while many leading epistemologists (such as Greco, Zagzbesky and Hawthorne) still try to defend our pre-theoretical intuitions about the nature of knowledge, according to a more recent line of research, (proposed, among the others, by Kvanvig and Pritchard) the real valuable epistemic standing is not knowledge but rather understanding.The debate on understanding and its epistemic status is at an early stage, and the same question of whether understanding should be considered a form of knowledge (as in the works of Grimm and Brogaard) or an independent epistemic standing (as proposed by Kvanvig and Pritchard) is still controversial. Drawing on my previous work on Cartesian skepticism, I aim to defend and develop the revisionist approach to the value problem proposed by Kvanvig and Pritchard; having argued that Cartesian skepticism is based on a misunderstanding of our ways of inquiry, I propose an account of understanding as 'cognitive ability' which is at the same time independent from propositional knowledge and can address more satisfactory the nature and value of our epistemic practices. REFERENCESBrogaard, B. (2007). 'I Know. Therefore, I Understand', typescript. Greco, J.(2007). 'The Nature of Ability and the Purpose of Knowledge', typescript.(2007b). 'The Value Problem', The Value of Knowledge, (eds.) A. Haddock, A. Millar, & D. H. Pritchard, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Grimm, S. (2006). 'Is Understanding a Species of Knowledge?' British Journal for thePhilosophy of Science 57, 1-21; Pritchard, D.H., (2008)'Knowing the Answer, Understanding and Epistemic Value', Grazer Philosophische Studien (special issue on Knowledge and Questions) 77 (2008), 325-39; (2009)'The Value of Knowledge', The Harvard Review of Philosophy 16,2-19 Wittgenstein, L.,(1969) On Certainty, ed. G.E.M Anscombe and G.H. von Wright, Blackwell, Oxford;Zagzbesky, L. (1996), Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (AU)

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