you can see my curriculum vitae (ctrl + click for a new tab) for a short blurb about my dissertation on page 1, and for a longer abstract on page 5.


Ontological Entanglement in the Normative Web

Terence Cuneo (2007) has argued that we have to be committed to the existence of epistemic facts insofar as they are indispensable to theorizing (a project that is likewise cognitively indispensable). Furthermore, he argues that the epistemic properties of these facts are inextricably ‘ontologically entangled’ with certain moral properties, such that there exist indispensable ‘moral-epistemic’ facts. Cuneo, therefore, concludes that insofar as epistemic realism is true, moral realism is likewise true. I argue that Cuneo’s appeal to the existence of indispensable moral-epistemic facts is problematic, even granting the existence of indispensable epistemic facts. I conclude, therefore, that Cuneo’s argument fails to justify moral realism.

In Progress

Neo-Expressivism and the Explanatory Relevance Requirement

It is sometimes thought that there is a difference between first-person authority, on the one hand, and privileged self-knowledge, on the other. The former, it is sometimes argued, concerns merely the presumptive truth of present-tense psychological self-ascriptions, while the latter concerns the distinctively secure, epistemically warranted second-order beliefs one has of the psychological states authoritatively self-ascribed. This paper examines a frequently—albeit often tacitly—accepted dialectical constraint on debates within the self-knowledge literature, which I dub the Explanatory Relevance Requirement (ERR). According to ERR, first-person authority and privileged self-knowledge bear essential explanatory relationships to one another. I argue that, if ERR is true, then a popular ‘neo-expressivist’ account of first-person authority is objectionable because it fails to abide ERR. The significance of this failure is assessed in light of a survey of possible grounds for ERR.

Constitutivist and Rational-Fundamentalist Privileged Self-Knowledge

Constitutivists about self-knowledge argue that rational agents frequently have self-knowledge of their own first-order propositional attitudes as a matter of necessity. For many constitutivists this thesis has a striking ontological implication, namely that one’s self-beliefs are not ontologically distinct from their first-order objects. This, in turn, could mean that (1) one’s self-beliefs have their first-order objects as a proper part, (2) one’s self-beliefs just are self-conscious first-order beliefs, or (3) one’s self-beliefs necessarily supervene on their first-order objects. Matthew Parrott (2017) has recently argued, however, that no account of privileged self-knowledge which hopes to easily explain self-ignorance and error should countenance necessary states of self-knowledge. Instead, to capture the privileged character of much of our self-knowledge, he argues for what I call ‘rational fundamentalism’, according to which privileged self-knowledge is brought about by the triggering of a fundamental disposition, enjoyed by rational agents endowed with the concepts of the propositional attitudes, to form higher-order beliefs about their first-order propositional attitudes. Since this disposition–like other dispositions–can be masked, the connections it generates between the relevant attitudes are not necessary connections. The implication is that constitutivism ought to be rejected in favour of rational fundamentalism. I deny this implication: constitutivism and rational fundamentalism, I argue, are equally explanatorily and theoretically virtuous on several fronts, while constitutivism may be less objectionable than rational fundamentalism on one crucial front.

Not all of my works in progress are listed here, as some are currently under review, and some are only in their inchoate stages. Please contact me if you wish to hear about my other works in progress.

Copyright © 2018 Ben Winokur