Peter Murphy


I am an assistant professor of philosophy at University of Indianapolis.



Epistemology Papers

"Rewriting the A Priori/A Posteriori Distinction," forthcoming in Journal of Philosophical Research PDF

The traditional way of drawing the distinction between a priori and a posteriori justification, which traces back to Kant, leads to overestimating the role that experience plays in justifiying our beliefs. I offer a better way of drawing the distinction.

"A Strategy for Asssessing Closure," Erkenntnis 65 (2006): 365-383 PDF

I defend a particular strategy for assessing the epistemic closure principle, one that looks to the individual conditions on knowledge to see if they are closed. I defend the strategy by defending the claim that knowledge is closed if, and only if, all the conditions on knowledge are closed. I then go on to look at what this means for the contemporary debate over whether knowledge is closed.

"In Defense of Sensitivity" (with Tim Black), Synthese 154 (2007): 53-71 PDF

Difficulties for the sensitivity condition on knowledge are now well documented. We argue that there are decisive objections to Keith DeRose's recently revised sensitivity condition. Rather than abandoning his proposed condition, we uncover a rationale for its adoption, a rationale which suggests a further revision that avoids our objections as well as others. Along the way, we draw lessons about the epistemic significance of certain explanatory relations, about how we ought to envisage epistemic closure principles, and about the epistemic significance of methods of belief formation.

"Coherentism," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, posted October 2006, link here

This encyclopedia entry has six sections. Section 1 briefly reviews coherentism’s recent history, and makes some preliminary points. Section 2 takes up the regress argument, and the main coherentist response to the regress argument. Section 3 provides a taxonomy of the varieties of coherentism. Sections 4 and 5 constitute the bulk of the entry: Section 4 covers some of the main arguments for coherentism; Section 5 covers some of the main arguments against coherentism. Section 6 considers coherentism’s future prospects.

"Reliability Connections Between Conceivability and Inconceivability," Dialectica 60 (2006): 195-205 PDF

Conceivability is an important source of our beliefs about what is possible; inconceivability is an important source of our beliefs about what is impossible. What are the connections between the reliability of these sources? If one is reliable, does it follow that the other is also reliable? The central contention of this paper is that suitably qualified the reliability of inconceivability implies the reliability of conceivability, but the reliability of conceivability fails to imply the reliability of inconceivability.

"Closure Failures for Safety," Philosophia 33 (2005): 331-334 PDF

Ernest Sosa, Timothy Williamson, and others have proposed a safety condition on knowledge: If S knows p, then in the nearest (non-actual) worlds in which S believes p, p is true. I argue that like Robert Nozick’s sensitivity condition, safety leads, in certain cases, to the unacceptable result that knowledge is not closed under known implication.

"A Sceptical Rejoinder to Sensitivity-Contextualism," Dialogue 44 (2005): 693-706 PDF

This paper offer a novel sceptical argument, which the sensitivity-contextualist must say is sound; more notably, the sensitivity-contextualist must say that the conclusion of this argument is true at ordinary standards. I identify the underlying reason for the sceptical result and argue that it makes sensitivity-contextualism irremediably flawed. Contextualists, I conclude, should abandon sensitivity for some other piece of epistemic machinery.

"Avoiding the Dogmatic Commitments of Contextualism" (with Tim Black), Grazer Philosophische Studien 69 (2005): 165-182 PDF

Epistemological Contextualists maintain that the truth-conditions of sentences of the form 'S knows that P' vary according to the context in which they are uttered, where this variation is due to the semantics of 'knows'. Among the linguistic data that have been offered in support of contextualism are several everyday cases like the Bank Case and the Airport Case. We argue that these cases fail to support contextualism and that they instead support epistemological invariantism - the thesis that the truth-conditions of 'S knows that P' do not vary according to the context of their utterance.


Ethics Papers

"Are Patients’ Decisions to Refuse Treatment Binding on Health Care Professionals?", Bioethics 19 (2005): 189-201 PDF

When patients refuse to receive medical treatment, the consequences of honouring their decisions can be tragic. This is no less true of patients who autonomously decide to refuse treatment. I distinguish three possible implications of these autonomous decisions. One possible implication is that these decisions are binding on health care professionals. I give two arguments to show that this is, in fact, not an implication - and, indeed, that it is false. One argument draws a comparison with cases in which patients autonomously choose perilous positive treatments. The other is a soft paternalism argument that appeals to considered judgments about cases in which disincentives are used to deter patients from refusing sound treatments.


Book Reviews

Review of Michael Bergmann, Justification Without Awareness, forthcoming in Philosophy in Review (coming soon)

Review of Cass Sunstein, Laws of Fear, forthcoming in Journal of Value Inquiry (coming soon)

Review of Scott Soames, Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century Volumes 1 and 2, forthcoming online at Essays in Philosophy (2006) (coming soon)

Review of Richard Fumerton, Epistemology, in Philosophy in Review 27 (2007): 121-123 PDF

Review of Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge, online at Essays in Philosophy 7 (2005) PDF

Review of John Collins, Ned Hall, and L.A. Paul (ed.s), Causation and Counterfactuals, online at Metapsychology Online (posted May 15, 2005) PDF

Review of Janet Broughton, Descartes's Method of Doubt, online at Essays in Philosophy 6 (2005) PDF

Review of David B. Resnik, Owning the Genome: A Moral Analysis of DNA Patenting, in Politics and the Life Sciences 23 (2004): 75-77 PDF


Favorite Music PDF


Contact Me murphyp - AT- uindy - DOT - edu