SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Reliability for the Quasi-Realist
(Ethics, English)

In this talk, I__ll discuss the way in which Moral Quasi-Realists can understand how we evaluate each other as reliable moral judges. Since the notion of reliability is often thought to be an indispensable building-block of our best theories of knowledge (see e.g. Goldman 2012), this talk also goes some way to address the way in which Moral

Quasi-Realists should conceptualize moral knowledge.

Quasi-Realism, as it is coined by Blackburn (1984, 1993, 1998), is a bundle of theories claiming that moral judgments are conative mental states, according to which we can understand talk of moral facts, truths, beliefs, and so on, in __deflated__ terms. Morality is ultimately a __projection__ (Blackburn, 1984, p. 180) of our moral beliefs, which play a constitutive role in their etiology.

The reliability of some believer S is quite often (see e.g. Beebe 2006) characterized by a conditional probability of some form, e.g.:

__ pr(S believing that p _ p)


For this probability to be less than 1, there must be some possible cases where it__s the case that p, and S doesn__t believes that p. Since, under Quasi-Realism , whether or not p obtains is entirely constituted in virtue of S believing that p, it is far from obvious how Quasi-Realists can accept that this can be the case.

In my talk, I elaborate on this problem, and I__ll discuss a novel solution. The solution will revolve around the fact that, if some believer S__ disagrees with S on some belief that p, S__ can discern a case where it__s true that p and S doesn__t believe that p. Thus, S__ will be justified to ascribe to S a reliability less than 1, given their moral convictions. I will argue that this simple maneuver suffices to get the Quasi-Realist out of trouble, giving them a workable concept of moral reliability. But it will also bring with it some considerable epistemological commitments, which are already familiar from social theories of epistemology (e.g. Craig 1990; Haslanger 1999; Williams 2001). Discussing these implications will conclude my talk.


James R. Beebe. Reliabilism and deflationism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 84

(4):495__510, 2006.

Simon Blackburn. Spreading the Word. Groundings in the Philosophy of Language.

Clarendon Press, 1984.

Simon Blackburn. How to Be an Ethical Antirealist. In Essays in Quasi-Realism, pages

166__181. Oxford University Press, 1993.

Simon Blackburn. Ruling Passions: A Theory of Practical Reasoning. Oxford University

Press UK, 1998.

Edward Craig. Knowledge and the State of Nature: An Essay in Conceptual Synthesis.

Oxford University Press, 1990.

Alvin I. Goldman. Reliabilism and Contemporary Epistemology: Essays. Oup Usa, 2012.

Sally Haslanger. What Knowledge is and What It Ought to Be: Feminist Values and

Normative Epistemology. Philosophical Perspectives, 13:459__480, 1999.

Michael Williams. Problems of Knowledge: A Critical Introduction to Epistemology.

Oxford University Press, 2001.

Time: 10:00-10:30, 09. September 2022 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.005

Felix Danowski 
(Universität Wien, Österreich)

Testability and Meaning deco