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12/05/2017

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Aaron Lercher

Maddy uses a lot of current empirical psychology in a naturalistic reconstruction of epistemology in her big book, "Second Philosophy." Yet Jackson postures over footnotes, citing Jennifer Nagel, and complaining that Maddy's book under review does not explain how empirical psychology can be used in epistemology. Psychologists outnumber philosophers, and there are many ways one might try to use their work in philosophy.

Maybe Maddy could have said more in "What Do Philosophers Do?" about what she meant by "structurally impervious to evidence." Jackson has a point there. Explaining what she meant by that might have pulled Maddy out of her therapist stance.

Maddy denies that therapeutic philosophical methods must be quietistic, although that's a question about her work since the mid 1990s. Maddy's "plain inquirer" (="second philosopher") is very active, since the plain inquirer is prepared to take on any philosophical problem using a wide range of methods, without rejecting any methods out of hand. So I think her approach is meddlesome, not quietistic. Maddy's book on logic and Wittgenstein ("The Logical Must") suggests that Wittgenstein's quietism stems from his anti-scientific bias.

Most of Maddy's work is at a very (forbiddingly?) high level of technical mastery. The skepticism book is a departure from that technical work.

Aaron Lercher

Jackson's "How you know you are not a brain in a vat" is itself a piece of therapeutic philosophy. His review of Maddy isn't written from the same perspective. I didn't understand the last paragraph of Jackson's review, where he sketches his own view, without looking at Jackson's article.

Jackson's therapy is addressed to a "sensible epistemologist" who fully knows she isn't a BIV, yet to whom the thought she might be one occurs in passing.

Maddy's therapy is addressed to someone qua philosopher for whom such skeptical ideas are a chronic malady. Her project seems to require a broader account of how people are able to reason about the world. Both are providing therapies, but for different conditions.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.

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