A Better Disjunctivist Response to the ‘New Evil Genius’ Challenge

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien
Kegan J. Shaw University of Edinburgh,

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This paper aims for a more robust epistemological disjunctivism (ed) by offering on its behalf a new and better response to the ‘new evil genius’ problem. The first section articulates the ‘new evil genius challenge’ (neg challenge) to ed, specifying its two components: the ‘first-order’ and ‘diagnostic’ problems for ed. The first-order problem challenges proponents of ed to offer some understanding of the intuition behind the thought that your radically deceived duplicate is no less justified than you are for adopting her perceptual beliefs. In the second section, the author argues that blamelessness explanations are inadequate to the task and offer better explanations in their place—that of ‘trait-level virtue’ and ‘reasonability’. The diagnostic problem challenges proponents of ed to explain why it is that classical internalists disagree with them about how to interpret new evil genius considerations. The proponent of ed owes some error theory. The author engages this problem in the third section, arguing that classical internalists are misled to overlook disjunctivist interpretations of new evil genius thinking owing to a mistaken commitment to a kind of ‘vindicatory’ explanation of proper perceptual belief.

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