Archive for the ‘Epistemology’ Category


DAY-O-WIPs 3.0

June 16, 2014

“Scales of Motion, Atmospheric Dynamics and Clouds” Marina Baldissera Pacchetti

“William Henry Bragg and the Nature of X-Rays” Haixin Dang


After Psychiatric Kinds: Diagnosis Specificity and Progress in Psychiatric Research

April 10, 2014

Kathryn Tabb

Abstract: The failure of psychiatry to validate its diagnostic constructs is often attributed to the prioritizing of reliability of psychiatric constructs over validity, and the attendant use of operational rather than etiological criteria in psychiatric diagnostics.  Recently, however, the National Institute of Mental Health has proposed a new diagnosis: psychiatry’s problem is its focus on the validation of psychiatric kinds rather than of the domains of functioning implicated in psychopathology.  Advocates of the NIMH’s new initiative, the Research Domain Criteria framework, have defended their viewpoint through a critique of the reification of psychiatric kinds.  I argue that in fact what is behind psychiatry’s failure to validate its nosology is not a metaphysical problem but an epistemological one, which I call diagnosis specificity:  the assumption that when a clinician makes a diagnosis, they identify the patient’s condition as belonging to a homogeneous type and thus can make further inferences about the case.


Which causes of moral beliefs matter?

January 31, 2014
Elizabeth O’Neill
Abstract: I argue that the distal causes of moral beliefs, such as evolution, are only relevant for assessing the epistemic status of moral beliefs in cases where we cannot determine whether a given proximal cause is reliable just by looking at the properties of that cause. This means that the influence of evolution will be relevant in some cases, but that any investigation into the epistemic status of moral beliefs given their causes should start with proximal causes. I provide two cases where information about the properties of a proximal cause is sufficient to conclude that in at least some contexts the cause pushes off track the moral beliefs it influences. I look at the influence of disgust and sympathy on moral judgments and show that these cases demonstrate two general strategies for drawing epistemic conclusions from information about the causes of beliefs while minimizing normative commitments.