Ph.D. New York University, Department of Philosophy
A.B. Princeton University, Department of Mathematics
|Internalism and Entitlement to Rules and Methods. 2019;|
Small Steps and Great Leaps in Thought: The Epistemology of Basic Deductive Rules.
|Explanatory Challenges in Metaethics. 2018; : 443-459.|
|Is There a Reliability Challenge for Logic?. Philosophical Issues. 2018;|
|Joshua Schechter Difficult Cases and the Epistemic Justification of Moral Belief. Oxford Studies in Metaethics. 2017; 12 : 27-50.|
|Joshua Schechter No Need for Excuses: Against Knowledge-First Epistemology and the Knowledge Norm of Assertion. 2017; : 132-159.|
|Joshua Schechter Could Evolution Explain Our Reliability about Logic?. Oxford Studies in Epistemology. 2013; 4 : 214-239.|
|Joshua Schechter Deductive Reasoning. 2013; 1 : 226-230.|
|Joshua Schechter Juxtaposition: A New Way to Combine Logics. The Review of Symbolic Logic. 2011; 4 (4) : 560-606.|
|Joshua Schechter Rational Self-Doubt and the Failure of Closure. Philosophical Studies. 2011; 163 (2) : 429-452.|
|Joshua Schechter Weakly Classical Theories of Identity. The Review of Symbolic Logic. 2011; 4 (04) : 607-644.|
|Joshua Schechter Review of Grounding Concepts: An Empirical Basis for Arithmetical Knowledge by C.S. Jenkins. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. 2010;|
|Joshua Schechter The Reliability Challenge and the Epistemology of Logic. Philosophical Perspectives. 2010; 24 (1) : 437-464.|
|David Enoch and Joshua Schechter How Are Basic Belief-Forming Methods Justified?. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. 2008; 76 (3) : 547-579.|
|Hill, Christopher S., Schechter, Joshua Hawthorne's Lottery Puzzle and the Nature of Belief. Philosophical Issues/Philosophical Issues. 2007; 17 (1) : 102-122.|
|Joshua Schechter and David Enoch Meaning and Justification: The Case of Modus Ponens. Nous. 2006; 40 (4) : 687-715.|
My current research focuses on the nature of a priori knowledge - for instance, knowledge of logical, mathematical, and moral truths. For each of these domains, we ordinarily accept two claims that are in tension. On the one hand, we believe that the relevant facts are objective in the sense that they do not depend on our language, thoughts, or social practices. On the other hand, we believe that we know many of these facts, and that this knowledge is independent of our experience of the world around us. That we have this knowledge requires explanation, but it is difficult to envision plausible explanations compatible with the objectivity of the domains. In particular, for each domain, there are two main facts that need to be explained. First, it must be explained how it is that we are, by and large, reliable in believing truths and disbelieving falsehoods. Second, it must be explained how it is that we are justified - or, rather, epistemically responsible - in holding many of the beliefs that we do. The goal of my research is to explicate these two explanatory challenges and show how they may be met.
In my work to date, I have primarily focused on our knowledge of logic. To meet the reliability challenge for logic, I distinguish two questions: How does our deductive cognitive machinery work such that we are reliable, and how is it that we have reliable deductive cognitive machinery? The first question is subject to a straightforward response: Our deductive machinery is reliable because we employ rules of inference that necessarily are truth-preserving. To answer the second question, I provide an evolutionary account, according to which possessing logical concepts and employing reliable deductive rules both conferred survival advantages on our ancestors. To meet the responsibility challenge, I offer and defend a novel account of epistemic responsibility. In broad outline, I argue that thinkers are epistemically responsible in employing rules of inference that are indispensable for successfully engaging in those cognitive projects in which thinkers are rationally required to engage. Our epistemic responsibility for believing logical truths thus derives from the important role deductive rules play in our thought.
I am currently extending this work by examining the prospects of applying my strategy for explaining our knowledge of logic to other domains of a priori knowledge. The natural cases to consider next are mathematical, moral, and modal truths. (Modal truths are truths that concern what is possible and what is necessary). For each of these domains, the task again can be divided into the task of explaining our reliability and the task of explaining our epistemic responsibility. However, each of these domains is significantly different from logic. The truth of mathematical claims involves the existence of abstract entities such as numbers and sets. The truth of moral claims involves normativity. The truth of modal claims depends on how the world might have been, and not just on how it is. Explanations of our reliability and responsibility must take these features into account.
I have several other research interests. I am broadly interested in epistemology. I take it that examining the epistemology of the a priori is useful for garnering insights about the nature of knowledge and epistemic responsibility in general. I am also interested in the nature of logic and logical concepts: What are logical concepts? What is the purpose of possessing logical concepts? What is the relationship between logic and reasoning? Additional interests include issues concerning explanation: For instance, when does a fact "call out" for explanation? Finally, I am also interested in the nature of content in general, and the prospects for a conceptual role-based semantics for mental content in particular, as well as the nature of belief.
George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship
External Faculty Fellowship, University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, 2015-2016
NEH Summer Stipend, Summer 2009
Visiting Fellow, New College, Oxford University, Hilary Term 2009
Henry Merritt Wriston Fellowship, 2008-2009
American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division
Association for Symbolic Logic
I regularly teach undergraduate courses in epistemology, logic (at all levels), paradoxes, the philosophy of mathematics, and the history of analytic philosophy in the early part of the twentieth century. I have led graduate seminars on Non-Causal Explanation, the A Priori, Recent Works in Epistemology, the Metaphysics and Epistemology of Modality, the Epistemology of Inference, the Epistemology of Logic, Moral Epistemology, and Inquiry. I also have teaching interests in metaphysics, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of science.
|PHIL 0990T - Paradox and Infinity|
|PHIL 1300 - Philosophy of Mathematics|
|PHIL 1630 - Mathematical Logic|
|PHIL 1880 - Advanced Deductive Logic|
|PHIL 2000B - Moral Epistemology|
|PHIL 2140G - The Epistemology of Logic|
|PHIL 2140H - Inquiry|
|PHIL 2800 - Dissertation Workshop|