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Blind Reasoning

Paul Boghossian is Silver professor of philosophy at New York University, where he was Chair of the Department for ten years (1994–2004) and responsible for building it into one of the very top philosophy programs in the world.[1] His research interests include epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. He is Director of the New York Institute of Philosophy.
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  Blind ReasoningAuthor(s): Paul Boghossian and Timothy WilliamsonSource: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 77 (2003), pp.225-293Published by: Blackwell Publishing  on behalf of The Aristotelian Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 18/10/2011 14:42 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  . is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact  Blackwell Publishing  and The Aristotelian Society  are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve andextend access to Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes.  BLIND REASONING by Paul Boghossian and Timothy WillI-Paul Boghossian ABSTRACT The paper asks under what conditions deductive rmits justification rom its premises o its conclusion. It argues thaexternalist and standard nternalist accounts of this phenomenon of this failure is taken to indicate the way forward: basic forreasoning must justify by being instances of 'blind but blameFinally, the paper explores the suggestion that an inferentialislogical constants can help explain how such reasoning s possibl I The Question. I'm in the mood for some music; whis on offer today in Carnegie Hall? A quick check of reveals that Martha Argerich is scheduled to play As a result, I come to believe that: (1) If today is the 20th, then Martha Argeritoday in Carnegie Hall. A glance at the calendar reveals that in fact: (2) Today is the 20th. With these two beliefs in place, I move immediatelclusion that: (3) Martha Argerich is playing today in CarnegAnd I pick up the phone. If, prior to making this modus ponens inferenbelieved (presumably with only a low level of conMartha Argerich was playing today in Carnegie Hinference ooks to have strengthened whatever ustiffor that belief. If, prior to making the inference, I about who was playing today in Carnegie Hall, the into have augmented my beliefs with a further ustified bever scenario obtained, how did my two premises  226 PAUL BOGHOSSIAN AND TIMOTHY WILLIAM Clearly, at the very least, the following two conbe satisfied. First, the thinker must be justified in premises. Second, his justification for believing the pnot depend on his being antecedently ustified in conclusion. Equally clearly, though, these conditions do not sinference to transfer ustification. In addition, the pbear an appropriate relation to the conclusion they my question is: What is that relation? In this paper, I am going to restrict myself to askition about deductive nference, leaving it an open what extent what is said here generalizes o other cacation- or warrant-transfer.' n a deductive nferenctakes his premises to justify his conclusion in partakes them to necessitate it.2 II Inferential Externalism. The simplest possible anquestion is this: (Simple Inferential Externalism): A deductive infere by S is warrant-transferring ust n case (a) S is justifits premises b) S's ustification or believing ts preindependent f his justification or believing he co(c) the implicated attern f inference s valid-neceto move S from ruth o truths.3 1. Even with this restriction n place, he paper covers a lot of grouI am aware hat many of its claims need more detailed upport han present imits. My aim is to offer a broad view of the terrain widistinguishing he dead ends from the promising athways. 2. It's a tricky question how this 'taking' s to be understood, but consider he matter here. In this paper, I shall use the terms justifiand 'entitlement' nterchangeably. 3. I shall soon be contrasting his externalist onception f inferenccally opposed internalist onception. The idea of converging ontcorrect view of inference y picking a course between hese wo tradextremes was first suggested n my 'How are Objective Epistemic Rreprinted n J. Bermudez nd A Millar (eds.): Reason and Nature University Press, 2002), pp. 1-47; see pp. 35-39. In his commenta'Basic Logical Knowledge: Reflections n Paul Boghossian's How astemic Reasons Possible?', lso reprinted n Bermudez nd Millarsuggested he labels simple nternalism' nd 'simple xternalism' or  BLIND REASONING This can't be a good answer: arge numbers of inferare in no intuitive way justified in performing satislated conditions. For example: it is easy for me to bbelieving any particular claim of the form: x, y, z, and n are whole numbers nd n is greater hIf I inferred from this proposition that: xn + yn is not equal o z I would have performed an inference that is, as we reliably truth-preserving. But it would be absurd to anyone making such an inference would be drawiconclusion, whether or not they knew anything abWiles's proof of Fermat's last theorem or had checkvidual inequality. Being valid (in conjunction with tconditions) clearly does not suffice for being warrring, even if it may be necessary.4 A number of philosophers seem to believe that tcan be easily met. All we need to do, they say, is tReliabilist claim to those inferences that are sufficieBut what could 'simple' possibly mean here if nolike: an inference whose validity it is easy to 'takisn't what 'simple' means, why should an inferencbe relevant to the question of justification? f that is means, then it's this presumed 'taking in' that's devant explanatory work, and not the assumed relisimple inference. In a moment, we will consider vieto which an inference s entitling ust in case the thinin' its validity, but this is not where such views beloThe counterexamples o Simple Inferential Exterbroader class of objections to Reliabilist accounts of more generally. Since many of these examples are so I will not discuss them here in detail except to say tso impressed with those counterexamples that rely ject's having a justified belief to the effect that sbelief-forming method of his is not reliable; I think 4. I shall come back to the uestionwhether t is necessar.
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