Peter J. Graham

Peter J. Graham

Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Professor, Department of Philosophy and Program in Linguistics, University of California, Riverside

Co-Director, UCR Epistemology and Philosophy of Psychology Workshop



Dean's Office: CHASS Student Academic Affairs, 900 University Avenue, HMNSS 3400, UCR, Riverside CA 92521-0132

Dean's Phone & FAX: (951) 827-3683 | (951) 827-5836

Philosophy Office: Department of Philosophy, 900 University Avenue, HMNSS 1604, UCR, Riverside CA 92521-0201

Philosophy Phone & FAX: (951) 827-5208 | (951) 827-5298

Send me an Email | Schedule an Appointment by Email


Stanford University Ph.D. in Philosophy 2000

University of Arizona M.A. in Philosophy 1995

University of California, Los Angeles B.A. in Philosophy 1991

Areas of Research

Epistemology: Testimonial Knowledge; Testimonial Entitlement; Perceptual Entitlement; Theory of Justification; Radical Skepticism

Philosophy of Psychology: The Nature and Function of Perception; Mental Representation; Evolutionary Psychology

Philosophy of Language & Linguistics: Pragmatics, Speech Acts, and Linguistic Communication; Reference; Language Evolution

Research & Publications

Epistemic Justification

I defend a "proper function reliabilist" account of epistemic warrant, where warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. The account connects the epistemology of a belief-forming process with its function. If the process works the way it's supposed to, then it results in warranted belief. And this is so even if the process is no longer in normal conditions, and so not reliably promoting true beliefs. My work in epistemology incorporates a good deal of philosophy of biology. To apply the account to perception, I've worked on empirical and conceptual issues in the philosophy and psychology of perception. And to apply the account to testimony, I've worked on conceptual and empirical issues in the philosophy, psychology, and evolution of linguistic communication, especially the evolutionary social sciences.

Epistemic Entitlement Nous 46 (2012): 449-482. Published online January 20, 2011.

Functions, Warrant, History Forthcoming in Naturalizing Epistemic Virtue, A. Fairweather & O. Flanagan, eds. (Cambridge University Press).

The Function of Perception Forthcoming in Virtue Scientia: Virtue Epistemology and Philosophy of Science A. Fairweather, ed., (Synthese Library).

Epistemic Normativity and Social Norms Forthcoming in Epistemic Evaluation: Point and Purpose in Epistemology, J. Greco and D. Henderson, eds. (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

Epistemic Justification Oxford Bibliographies Online.

Psychological Capacity and Positive Epistemic Status in The New Intuitionism, J. Hernandez, ed. (Continuum Press, 2012).

Intelligent Design and Selective History: Two Sources of Purpose and Plan Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Religion 3 (2011): 67-88.

Does Justification Aim at Truth? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (2011): 51-72.

Perceptual Entitlement and Basic Beliefs Philosophical Studies 153 (2011): 467-475.

Testimonial Entitlement and the Function of Comprehension Social Epistemology, D. Pritchard, A. Millar, A. Haddock, eds. (Oxford University Press, 2010): 148-174.

Theorizing Justification Knowledge and Skepticism: Contemporary Topics in Philosophy 5 (The MIT Press, 2010): 47-71

The Epistemology of Testimony: Knowledge Transmission

I find testimonial knowledge puzzling. If you see something and know something about it because of your perceptual experience, you know what you do partly because of your experience. Now when you tell me about it, I'm apt to come to know it too. I learn from your say-so. But I don't thereby acquire your perceptual experience. So how does your knowledge get to me? How do I learn from comprehending your testimony? How does testimonial knowledge work? And there are interesting cases of transmission failure. You might know something, honestly tell me so, but nonetheless your knowledge doesn't get to me. Why is that so? And I also think it's possible to learn from someone who doesn't know. You don't have knowledge to transmit, but nonetheless I acquire knowledge I didn't have before. How is that possible?

Can Testimony Generate Knowledge? Philosophica 78 (2006): 105-127.

Conveying Information Synthese 123 (2000): 365-392.

Transferring Knowledge Nous 34 (2000): 131-152.

I also edit the Testimony Area for PhilPapers.

The Epistemology of Testimony: Testimonial Justification

Testimonial warrant is puzzling too. Are we default entitled to take what we comprehend others to assert at face value? Is "testimony" like perception in this respect? Or do we have to build up the reliability of our interlocutors, the same way we might build up a scientific theory, from patient observations and possibly even experiments? Do we need to build up a theoretical explanation for why people say what they do before we can justifiably rely on what we take them to say? My gut tells me we're default entitled. But I know things are more complicated than that.

Testimony, Trust, and Social Norms Forthcoming in Abstracta.

Testimonial Entitlement and the Function of Comprehension Social Epistemology, D. Pritchard, A. Millar, A. Haddock, eds. (Oxford University Press, 2010): 148-174.

Testimonial Justification: Inferential or Non-Inferential The Philosophical Quarterly 56 (2006): 84-95.

Liberal Fundamentalism and its Rivals The Epistemology of Testimony, J. Lackey and E. Sosa, eds. (Oxford University Press, 2006): 93-115.

Metaphysical Libertarianism and the Epistemology of Testimony American Philosophical Quarterly 41 (2004): 37-50.

The Reliability of Testimony Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (2000): 695-708.

Radical Skepticism

I have a long standing interest in radical skepticism, the thesis that we not only do not know, but have no justification for, our beliefs about ordinary mundane matters, including beliefs about the future, the past, the external world, and perhaps even our own minds. To understanding radical skepticism, I took an reverse engineering approach: what theory of justification might arguments for radical skepticism presume?

The Relativist Response to Radical Skepticism The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism, J. Greco, ed. (Oxford University Press, 2008): 392-413.

The Theoretical Diagnosis of Skepticism Synthese 158 (2007): 19-39.

Philosophy of Language

Defending Millianism Mind 108 (1999): 555-561.

Brandom on Singular Terms Philosophical Studies 93 (1999): 247-264.

What is Testimony? The Philosophical Quarterly 47 (1997): 227-232.

Papers in Preparation

"The Reliability of Testimony and Social Norms"

"Intelligent Design Reliabilism"

"Two Conceptions of Warrant"

"Perceptual Entitlement and Natural Norms"

"Testimony as Speech Act, Testimony as Source"

"Epistemic Normativity as Performance Normativity"

Book Reviews

Review of Paul Faulkner, Knowledge on Trust (Oxford University Press, 2011) in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (May 2013).

Review of Walter Sinnot-Armstrong, Moral Skepticisms (Oxford University Press, 2006) in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (March 2007).

Review of Lars Bo Gunderson, Dispositional Theories of Knowledge (Ashgate Publishers 2003) in Sats: Nordic Journal of Philosophy 6 (2005).

Review of Gabor Forrai, Reference, Truth and Conceptual Schemes: A Defense of Internal Realism (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001) in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (February 2002).