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Jessica Brown

Arché role: Management Committee

Current Projects: Epistemology: Current Themes (Member)

Past Projects: Evidence, Justification and Knowledge (Principal Investigator)

Phone: 01334 462477

Office: Edgecliffe 207

Email: jab30@st-andrews.ac.uk

Epistemology including social epistemology, responsibility, philosophical methodology


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My main areas of research are epistemology, responsibility, and philosophical methodology.

Within epistemology, I work on our knowledge of our own minds and our ability to reason, as well as the closure and transmission of knowledge and warrant, scepticism, fallibiism versus infallibilism, evidence, the debate between contextualists and invariantists, the epistemic norms of assertion and practical reasoning, blameworthy belief, epistemic blame, group belief and action

Within responsibility, I'm interested in both epistemic and moral responsibility, blame for beliefs and actions, as well as the moral responsibility of groups and how it relates to the moral responsibility of group members.

Wtihin philosophical methodology, I'm interested in a range of methodological issues including the nature of philosophy (its subject matter and evidence); the role of ordinary language, linguistics and conceptual analysis in philosophy; thought experiments; intuitions; and, sources of scepticism about philosophy (disagreement, evolutionary debunking worries, experimental philosophy).

See also the PURE research profile.

Academic qualifications

1995: D.Phil. in Philosophy (Wolfson College, Oxford). Thesis title: Thought, the Environment and Privileged Access. 1992: B.Phil. Degree in Philosophy (Corpus Christi College, Oxford). 1990: BA Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Distinction in prelims; first class degree. (St. Hilda's College, Oxford.)

Selected publications


Fallibilism: evidence and knowledge. Oxford University Press 2018.

Anti-Individualism and Knowledge, MIT Press 2004.

The book examines the epistemological consequences of a view which dominates contemporary philosophy of mind—anti-individualism. According to this view, a subject’s thought contents are partly individuated by her environment. By contrast, individualists deny this and argue that a subject’s thought contents are wholly fixed by her ‘internal’ states, such as her brain states. Many have taken anti-individualism to have radical consequences for our knowledge of our minds, our ability to reason, and our knowledge of the world. By contrast, I argue that anti-individualism does not have such radical consequences in a discussion which links central issues in the philosophy of mind, such as rationality, psychological explanation and the nature of thought, with the epistemological literature on knowledge, warrant, justification and reliability.

Brown and Cappelen (eds.). Assertion.  OUP: Oxford 2011. Contributors include Brown, Cappelen, Goldberg, Greenough, Kölbel, Kvanvig, Lackey, MacFarlane, Maitra, Pagin, Stalnaker.

Brown and Gerken (eds).  2012.  Knowledge Ascriptions.  OUP: Oxford. Contributors include Beebe, Blome-Tillman, Brown, Gerken, Fantl and McGrath, Glick, Lackey, Nagel, Pinillos, Weatherson.


Forthcoming. “What is epistemic blame?” Nous.

Forthcoming. “Ignorance, excuse and pragmatic encroachment.” Invited contribution to Towards an Expansive Epistemology: Norms, Action, and the Social Sphere (ed. Floweree and Reed), Routledge.

Forthcoming. “Blame and the norm of assertion”. Invited contribution to the Oxford Handbook of Assertion (ed. Goldberg).

2018. “Pragmatic approaches to belief”. In McHugh, Way and Whiting (eds.), Normativity: Epistemic and Practical. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 26-46.

2017. “Gettier and Philosophical Methodology”. In Borges, de Almeida, Klein(eds.), Explaining Knowledge: New Essays on the Gettier problem, OUP: Oxford, 191-212.

2017. “Blame and wrongdoing”. Episteme, 14, 3: 2-22. DOI: 10.1017/epi.2017.23.

2017. “Anti-intellectualism and ignorance”. In Blaauw and Peels, (eds.), The Epistemic Dimensions of Ignorance, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 96-113.

2015. “Contextualism about evidential support”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92, 2: 329-354.  

2015. “Evidence and epistemic evaluation”. Oxford Studies in Epistemology, V: 39-60.

2014. “Shifty talk: knowledge and causation”. Philosophical Studies 167: 183-99. Online early, 10.1007/s11098-012-0054-x, 28th November 2012.

2014.  "Impurism, practical reasoning, and the threshold problem."  Nous 48, 1: 179-92. Online early, DOI: 10.1111/nous.12008, 27th December 2012.

2013. “Cognitive diversity and epistemic norms”. Philosophical Issues, 23,1: 326-42.

2013. “Infallibilism, evidence and pragmatics.” Analysis DOI: 10.1093/analys/ant071 (4500 words).

2013.  “Immediate justification, perception and intuition”. In Tucker (ed.), Seemings and Justification, OUP: Oxford, 71-88.

2013. “Knowing-how: linguistics and cognitive science”. Analysis 73,2: 220-27; doi: 10.1093/analys/ant003

2013. “Experimental-philosophy, contextualism and subject-sensitive invariantism”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86,2: 233-494. Article first published online 12 JAN 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2010.00461.x

2013.  "Intuitions, evidence and hopefulness".  Synthese 190, 12: 2021-2046. Online first, DOI: 10.1007/s11229-011-9952-2, 1st May 2011.

2012. “Shifty talk: knowledge and causation”. Philosophical Studies. Online early, 10.1007/s11098-012-0054-x, 28th November 2012.

2012.  "Impurism, practical reasoning, and the threshold problem."  Nous. Online early, DOI: 10.1111/nous.12008, 27th December 2012 |

2012.  “Words, concepts, and epistemology”. In Brown and Gerken (eds.), Knowledge Ascriptions, OUP: Oxford, 32-54.

2012. "Knowledge ascriptions: their semantics, cognitive bases, and social functions". Introduction (with Gerken) to Brown and Gerken (eds),  Knowledge Ascriptions,  OUP: Oxford, 1-30.

2012. “Assertion and practical reasoning: common or divergent epistemic standards”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84, 1:123-157. Article first published online: 11 JAN 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2010.00432.x

2011. “Practical reasoning, decision theory and anti-intellectualism”.  In Lackey (ed.), Episteme special volume on pragmatic encroachment 9, 1:1-20.

2011.  “Thought experiments and philosophical evidence”. Dialectica special issue on justification, 65, 4: 493-516.

2011. "Introduction " (co-author Cappelen), in Brown and Cappelen (eds), Assertion, OUP: 1-17.

2011. "Fallibilism and the Knowledge Norm for Assertion and Practical Reasoning". In Brown and Cappelen (eds.). Assertion.  OUP: Oxford.

2011. "The knowledge norm of practical reasoning and impurism".  Proceedings of the 34th International Wittgenstein Symposium.

2010.  "Knowledge and Assertion".  Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81, 3,: 549-566.

2008. ‘The Knowledge Norm for Assertion'. Philosophical Issues 18:89-103

2008.  "Subject-Sensitive Invariantism and the Knowledge Norm for Practical Reasoning". Nous 42, 2: 167-189.

2008. ‘Knowledge and Practical Reason.' Philosophy Compass.  

2008. ‘Internalism and Externalism’ in Internalism and Externalism: Mind and Epistemology, ed. S. Goldberg,, OUP.

2008. ‘Anti-Individualism and Self-Knowledge’, entry for the Oxford Handbook in the Philosophy of Mind, eds. Beckermann and McLaughlin, OUP.

2006. 'Contextualism and warranted assertibility manoeuvres', Philosophical Studies 130:407-435.

2005. 'Doubt, Circularity, and the Moorean Response to the Sceptic'. Philosophical Perspectives.

2005. 'Comparing Contextualism and Invariantism on the Correctness of Contextualist Intuitions'. Grazer Philosophische Studien

2005. ‘Adapt or Die: the Death of Invariantism?' Philosophical Quarterly Special Issue on Contextualism. 263-286.

2005. ‘Williamson on Luminosity and Contextualism.' Philosophical Quarterly Special Issue on Contextualism.319-327.

'Noninferential justification and epistemic circularity', Analysis (2004).

'Wright on Transmission Failure', Analysis (2004).

2003. "The  Reductio Argument and Transmission of  Warrant", in Nuccetelli, ed., New Essays on Semantic Externalism, Scepticism, and Self-Knowledge, MIT.

2003: “Externalism and the Neo-Fregean Tradition”, in A.Barber, Epistemology of Language, OUP.

'Anti-Individualism and Agnosticism', Analysis (2001), pp.213-224.

'Critical Reasoning, Understanding, and Self-Knowledge', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2000), pp 659-77.

2000: “Against Temporal Externalism”, Analysis, pp.178-88.

2000: “Reliabilism, Knowledge and Mental Content”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, pp.115-135.

1999: “Boghossian and Privileged Access”, Analysis, pp.52-58.

1998: “Recognitional Capacities and Natural Kind Terms”, Mind, pp.275-303.

1995: “The Incompatibility of Anti-Individualism and Privileged Access”, Analysis, pp.149-56. Reprinted in P.Ludlow and N.Martin, (eds.) Externalism and Self-Knowledge, CSLI Publications, Stanford, 1998.

Research interests

Research grants

2017-18: Mind Senior Research Fellowship (£50,000)

2015-16: Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham (Jan-March).

2010-2013: Leverhulme Institutional Network Grant, "Intuitions and Philosophical Methodology"; £58k

2008-2012: Major 4-year AHRC grant 'Intuitions and Philosophical Methodology' (co-investigator Herman Cappelen); circa £970K

2007: AHRC Research Leave Award

2001-2003: Philip Leverhulme Prize (£50,000)

2000-2001: Bristol University Research Fellowship

2000: Faculty of Arts Research Award.

1999-2000: AHRB Research Leave Award.

1994-6: Junior Research Fellowship, Wolfson College, Oxford.