You are hereLuca Zanetti on 'The Desire for Certainty'

Luca Zanetti on 'The Desire for Certainty'

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8 Nov 2018 15:00
8 Nov 2018 17:00
Europe/Rome

Luca Zanetti (University of Bologna) will give a talk on a his paper 'The Desire for Certainty'.

Abstract.
This paper argues that when we inquire we aim at possessing absolute certainty, the kind of certainty that Descartes was looking for in his Meditations. The argument relies on the nature of doubt. To doubt whether p is true is possible in so far as one doesn't take oneself to be certain that p. When we doubt whether p is true we are aiming to be certain that p is the case. I can't judge that p if I am doubting whether p is the case. Thus, a judgment will be hostage to doubt in so far as one doesn't take oneself to possess absolute certainty for the content to be judged. Doubt has unconditional authority, in that any content can be endorsed through judgment only if it passes the test of doubt. No judgment can downplay the authority of doubt, for any judgment is hostage to a doubt unless the judgment is shown to be certain – that is, unless it is shown to pass the test of doubt. Therefore, the dynamic of cognition displays a constitutive desire for absolute certainty. This discovery has profound consequences for epistemology, and the theory of normativity more generally. Externalist and fallibilist epistemologies can't be the whole story about epistemic appraisals, for they fail to capture the fundamental dimension of epistemic evaluation that corresponds to the constitutive norms that cognition sets upon itself. Moreover, if certainty is the constitutive aim of cognition, then there is no plausible story that could downplay the importance of a quest for certainty. The quest for certainty is not a result of faulty theorizing, nor is it a product of a particular Zeitgeist: it is the attempt to satisfy the unavoidable desire for certainty that is constitutive of cognition.

Venue: Sala Rossa, via Azzo Gardino 23, Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies.
This is a pre-read seminar. The paper will be available one week before the day of the seminar. For the paper, please write an email to luca.zanetti10@unibo.it

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