Results of the 2019 Essay Prize of the Royal Institute of Philosophy

Thank you!

The version on my website (link above) is a slightly older version. The next version includes a new section:

“6. In search of a unified explanation of paradoxes”

The new section deals with moral encroachment and meta-philosophy. The moral encroachment debate is moving quite quickly and I know a lot of people are interested.

Here is a link to the version that includes section 6.… / Gardiner_Profiling% 20and…

And here is a summary of the topic of Section 6. As a stand-alone summary, it might not be fully intelligible to people without the necessary knowledge. The essay itself goes into the subject in more depth.
“I looked at the epistemic characteristics of five pairs of stickers: lottery, prisoner, taxi, and iPhone, with its variant of sexual assault. This discussion raises two questions. First, is the verdict justified in each of the vignettes? The received wisdom holds that the verdict described in case one in each pair – the verdict based on simple statistical evidence – is unwarranted, or is at least less justified than the corresponding verdict in case two. This article remains agnostic on the first question, and instead traces the neglected epistemic outlines of the vignettes. The second question asks whether a unified explanation of vignette epistemology is tenable or even desirable. Can the same epistemological tools explain whether the verdicts are justified or not in each vignette?

Orthodoxy maintains that if a single epistemological postulate explains the intuitive judgments on all the vignettes, this qualifies as a virtue of the narrative …

A recent wave of epistemological theories argues, however, that there is something deeply flawed about treating cases the same. Moral encroachment argues that the moral characteristics of a judgment can affect its epistemic justification. Advocates of moral encroachment demand that we treat the different vignettes as epistemologically heterogeneous …

Such views of moral encroachment apply heterogeneous epistemological explanations to the various cases. They argue that treating cases in the same way overlooks important aspects of epistemic and moral normativity.

From Pritchard’s point of view – indeed, according to orthodoxy – it is a virtue of his narrative if his postulate of security explains the epistemological contours of all cases. Moral Encroachment, on the other hand, argues that it is wrong to treat the crime vignettes as epistemologically close to the lottery vignettes and Galton’s charts; epistemic normativity must be sensitive to moral traits.

From this point of view, the paradoxes constituted by the morally charged vignettes illustrate epistemological phenomena very different from those constituted by the morally neutral vignettes. A unified explanation of these paradoxes is neither tenable nor desirable.

And moral encroachment shows another deviation from orthodoxy…. Moral encroachment thus reverses their respective classification of epistemic justification, compared to orthodox viewpoints. “Report

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