University of Oklahoma Graduate Conference

University of Oklahoma Graduate Conference. 


Keynote speaker: Branden Fitelson (Rugers)


March 30, 2013, 

Department of Philosophy, 455 W. Lindsey, Room 605 | Norman, OK, USA



Kevin Dupree, Tufts University
Commentator: John Cheek, University of Oklahoma

"Goldman's Dilemma: Epistemic Folkways and Externalism"
Reliabilism is a view according to which a belief is justified just in case that belief was formed by a reliable process. Goldman’s particular brand of reliabilism is externalist, which means that a belief can be justified even if the believer is unaware of the fact that her belief was produced by a reliable process. Several philosophers have pointed out what appear to be counter-examples to Goldman’s reliabilism, and Goldman has attempted to respond to these counter-examples in “Epistemic Folkways and Scientific Epistemology.” In this paper, I argue the response he offers forces Goldman to give up his own commitment externalism. Moreover, I argue that because his response to these counter-examples makes his own commitment to externalism problematic, he faces a dilemma: Goldman can either give up externalism or reject his own response to the aforementioned counter-examples and thereby leave his externalism vulnerable to refutation.

Amanda Silbernagel, Texas Tech University
Commentator: Luke Kallberg, University of Oklahoma

"On the Involuntariness of Religious Faith"
In his Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion, J.L. Schellenberg makes the provocative claim that religious faith entails non-belief. Schellenberg’s reason for making this claim is to preserve “our intuitions” about the voluntary nature of faith. On Schellenberg’s account, beliefs are involuntary; they are not, and cannot be, chosen or willed. If religious faith required belief, it could not be the case that religious faith is voluntary; consequently, it would not make sense to refer to faith as “admirable” or “meritorious”—as people often do in religious contexts. In this paper I will argue that, while Schellenberg’s definition of religious faith indeed entails non-belief, it does not necessarily preserve the intuition that faith is voluntary. This argument will be made in several moves. First, I will offer a counterexample to Schellenberg’s definition of religious “faith-in” or “operational faith.” This counterexample will reveal a discrepancy between Schellenberg’s account of religious faith and his account of religious skepticism. The only way to resolve this discrepancy, I will argue, is through the addition of an extra proposition, a “pro-attitude requirement,” to Schellenberg’s definition of operational faith. This addition, however, may have the consequence of rendering faith involuntary.


Christopher Shrock, Baylor University
Commentator: Kelly Epley, University of Oklahoma

"Thomas Reid, Doxastic Justification, and the Voluntarism Argument"
This paper illustrates the dialectic strength of Thomas Reid's morally deontological account of doxastic justification in response to the “Voluntarism Argument.” The Voluntarism Argument says that since (a) beliefs are involuntary and (b) voluntariness of beliefs is required for deontological accounts of justification, then (c) deontological accounts of justification must be false. In response, I argue on Reid's behalf, contra (b), that voluntariness of beliefs is required only for blame, not for deontology generally. Furthermore, according to Reid, there is a sense in which beliefs are, contra (a), voluntary, for we wield control over some of the mental operations that govern the formation of our beliefs, even if belief itself is involuntary. Finally, I discuss a few of these operations and Reid's take on their proper use. And, since the proper use of each operation is a moral matter, I conclude that Reid is a moral deontologist about doxastic justification, broadly speaking. That is, according to Reid, one is justified in believing unless one fails to fulfill one's moral duties with regard to that belief.


Martin Vacek, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia
Commentator: Andrew Russo, University of Oklahoma and Rob Byer, University of Oklahoma

"Extended Modal Realism"
The paper deals with such a modification of genuine modal realism as to accommodate impossible worlds into its ontology. First of all, the theory of modal realism is presented. Next, several motivations for the acceptance of impossible worlds are adduced. In particular, I point out that genuine modal realism suffers from the so-called granularity problem – distinct impossible as well as necessarily coextensive properties and propositions are (unintuitively) identified – and in order to avoid it, the world semantics should be extended by impossible worlds. Furthermore, Lewis’s argument against impossible worlds is presented. It is argued that the argument can be weakened by rejection one of its premises. Finally, I counter two objections against the proposal. Although my strategy accounts for the Opinion concerning the impossible, it allegedly violates another Opinion that reality is classical. But, as it seems, there is no no-question-begging reason to think that reality is classical. How can we know, after all, which logic appropriately describes reality? Without a definite answer to the question, the objection from incredibility then simply collapses into a statement of possibilist dogma.