N. Ángel Pinillos

I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy in Philosophy at the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Arizona State University (Tempe Campus). I have a PhD in philosophy from Rutgers University and a BS in Mathematics from Tufts University. I grew up in Northern New England where I immigrated from Peru at a young age. 
I have written on a variety of topics but mostly in Epistemology, Philosophy of Language and Experimental Philosophy. I am very much interested in traditional philosophical questions like how we can know about and refer to things in the world. A good portion of my work has an empirical tilt. Some of it involves experiments which I carry out myself or in collaboration with others. I am a co-principal investigator at the 
Cognition Computation and Development Laboratory also at ASU. I was co-chair of the program committee for the Society of Philosophy and Psychology conference which will took place in San Diego in the summer of 2019.

I am currently writing a book on how humans come to make skeptical judgments (judgments of the form 'I don't know x'). In my view, these judgments are produced by a special purpose meta-cognitive "skeptical" mechanism which monitors our reasoning for hasty or overly risky assumptions. The mechanism is by and large "rational" in the sense that it implements a bit of Bayesian reasoning. I also argue that this mechanism is modular and shaped by natural selection. (I believe that the key to understanding the cognitive and evolutionary role of these knowledge denials is appreciating the tight connection between knowledge and action--an insight that comes from recent research in epistemology known as "pragmatic encroachment"). I also think that sometimes the beliefs produced by this skeptical mechanism are unjustified in interesting ways. If I am right about this, we may be able to make progress on some old philosophical problems including the skeptical paradox as well as some related contemporary issues in law and jury behavior (for example, the topic of how people think of statistical evidence). 

Here is my CVYou can contact me via email at 'pinillos' followed by @asu.edu

Work in Progress

(a) 'Mind and Doubt' book manuscript

(b) Bayesian Sensitivity Proposals for Evidence Dependent Knowledge I propose and defend a suite of necessary conditions on evidence-based knowledge which bear resemblance to sensitivity principles defended in the philosophical literature. An important difference is that these new principles are restricted to cases in which one’s confidence in the proposition you may know cannot be too high prior to acquiring the evidence. Another important difference is that these new principles do not just concern subjunctive conditionals, but extend to conditionals with indicative and material forms. Finally, they respect single premise closure. [under review]

(c) Experimental paper on sensitivity, knowledge and the Wells Effect [under review] with Zach Horne and Sara Jaramillo

Published Experimental Papers

22.  Asymmetric Belief Sensitivity and Justification Explain the Wells Effect. COGSCI 2019 (with Sara Jaramillo and Zach Horne)

21.  A Counterfactual Explanation for the Action Effect in Causal Judgment With Paul Henne, Laura Niemi, Josh Knobe and Felipe De Brigard. Forthcoming Cognition

20. Skepticism and the Acquisition of 'Knowledge'(Utilizing A Bayesian Model of Lexical Acquisition) with Shaun Nichols  (presented at the University of Pittsburgh, ASU) Mind and Language (2018)

17. Cause By Omission and Norm  with Paul Henne and Felipe De Brigard. 2017 Australasian Journal of Philosophy. We provide experimental evidence that ordinary attributions of causation involving omissions are sensitive to norms in a specific way.

16 "A Bayesian Framework for Knowledge Attribution:Evidence from Semantic Integration" in Cognition 2015 (with Derek PowellZachary Horne and Keith Holyoak)
 (Parts presented at University of Arizona, SPP in Brown University, APA in San Francisco and CogSci In Berlin) 


15. 'Experiments on Contextualism and Interest Relative Invariantism" in Blackwell Companion to Experimental Philosophy (2016) W. Buckwalter and J. Sytsma

13 'Ambiguous Reference . (with Shaun Nichols and Ron Mallon). in Mind (2016). We argue that natural kind terms are ambiguous between descriptive and causal-historical readings. This goes against most work on the topic which assumes a univocal theory. We report on a series of original experiments. (invited at the University of Barcelona, October 2012; UC Davis, October 2013)

12 "Ambiguity and Referential Machinery"in Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Language, 2015 Ed. Jussi Suikkanen Bloombsury

10. Justified True Belief (in a Gettier case) Triggers False Recall of 'Knew'.(with Derek Powell, Zachary Horne and Keith Holyoak) (CogSci 2013)
Philosophers traditionally held that knowledge is justified true belief. Gettier (1963) challenged this view with thought experiments in which someone has a justified and true belief, but an element of luck is involved that disqualifies the belief from counting as knowledge. We examined laypeople’s concept of knowledge using a semantic integration paradigm modeled after that of Gentner (1981). Participants read stories in which a character ‘thought’ something was true. On a subsequent recall task, readers sometimes falsely recalled the verb ‘thought’ as ‘knew,’ implicitly indicating that the reader had attributed knowledge to the character. False recall of ‘knew’ occurred more frequently when the story described a justified true belief than an unjustified belief. Justified true belief triggered these recall errors even in a so-called “Gettier case”. The present findings suggest that semantic integration provides an empirical paradigm suitable for investigating lay notions about knowledge.
Keywords: belief; knowledge; semantic integration; false memory; experimental philosophy. To be presented at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (Providence, June 2013) and at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 
  (Berlin, August 2013).

9. "Semantic Integration as a Method for Investigating Conceptsco-authored with Powell and Horne.  2014 Advances in Experimental Epistemology

7. Pinillos, N.A., Simpson, Shawn. 'Experimental Evidence in Support of Anti-Intellectualism About Knowledge' 2014 See this for a discussion on some of our results. (In Advances in  Experimental Epistemology Ed. J Beebe) This paper contains a response (involving new experiments) to substantive criticisms to Pinillos (Knowledge, Experiments and Practical Interests) raised by Wesley Buckwalter and Jonathan Schaffer (in Nous)--see below for links to their papers.

6. Pinillos, N. Ángel. 'Knowledge, Experiments and Practical Interests, 2012 New Essays On Knowledge Ascriptions (Eds. Jessica Brown and MIkkel Gerken) Oxford University Press.
(Parts of this paper were presented at an invited conference "Can Experimental Philosophy Contribute to Traditional Epistemology?", San Diego CA 2011; also at Group Session on Experimental Philosophy (invited), Boston, MA December 2010; and also at an invited conference at the University of Arizona (January 2011)). Please see discussion of this paper hereherehere and here. There is also some discussion of the general topic here
For more published responses to this paper, see W. Buckwalter and J. Schaffer here (forthcoming in Nous) and W. Buckwalter (here) (Forthcoming in Advances in Experimental Epistemology) and  this paper by Chandra Sripada and Jason Stanley (in Episteme).
SYNOPSIS Recently, we have seen a surge of fascinating experimental work on moral concepts. In contrast, there has been a lot less experimental research on epistemic notions, including the concept of knowledge. This is unfortunate since many philosophers have argued that the concept plays a central guiding role in our lives. In this paper, I describe some new experimental techniques and results that aim to shed light on knowledge and epistemology. The results presented here can be elegantly explained by adopting an interest relative notion of knowledge, a new idea that has been gaining currency in philosophy. [These are the first experimental studies to date which (perhaps) give some direct evidence that the human concept "knowledge" is sensitive to practical interests (this goes against prior research which has not detected sensitivity to practical interests)].

5. Pinillos, N. Ángel. Recent Work in Experimental Epistemology 
Philosophy Compass.Volume 6, Issue 10, pages 675–688, October 2011 
SYNOPSIS: I survey some recent experimental work  relevant to assessing contextualism in epistemology as well as Interest Relative Invariantism and contrastivism. I discuss some difficulties with drawing strong conclusions from these studies. 

3. Pinillos, N. Ángel., Nick Smith, G. Shyam Nair, Cecilea Mun, Peter Marchetto, . 'Philosophy's New Challenge: Experiments and Intentional Action.Mind and Language (February 2011) 26:1 (115-139). Please see discussion of this article here.To see what this research is about, see this New York Times article, this article in Slate, or this one in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Parts of this paper were presented at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (2009) and also at an invited talk at the University of Arizona (2010). SYNOPSIS: We propose three experimental designs for determining whether certain experimental philosophy results really give evidence that cast doubt on the current practice of using intuitions in traditional philosophy. We carry out these experiments on the Knobe Effect and conclude that the pessimism about traditional methods is bunwarranted. [One of the experiments involved a novel use of the CRT (Cognitive Reflection Test). An example of this use can be found in this forthcoming paper 'Reflection and Reasoning in Moral Judgment' by Paxton, Ungar and Greene.]

Published Non-Experimental Papers

Knowledge, Ignorance and Climate Change. New York Times (Nov 26, 2018) 

19. 'Skepticism and Evolution in Pragmatic Encroachment (eds Brian Kim and Matthew McGrath) 2018 Routledge (Presented at IJN Paris 2017  and at SUNY Buffalo 2017) I give an evolutionary explanation for our skeptical judgements. I end by sketching a possible solution to the skeptical paradox. 

18. Knowledge and the Permissibility of Action. Forthcoming Synthese. (Online 2017). I prove a principle connecting knowledge and action using some elementary tools from deontic and counterfactual logics.

14 "De Jure Anti-Coreference and Mental Files" In Singular Thoughts and Mental Files (forthcoming) Oxford University Press. [parts presented at UNAM (Mexico City April 2015), University of Houston (April 2015), and Istanbul (September 2015), UIC September 2016]

11. 'Millianism, Relationism and Attitude Ascriptions' On Reference, Ed. Andrea Bianchi, Oxford University Press) 2015
(at an invited conference on reference in Parma, Italy 
Synopsis In this paper, I discuss Kit Fineʼs “Relationist” solution to Fregeʼs puzzle. Although I endorse Relationism, I disagree with Fineʼs proposed solution. Fine thinks that two types of semantic relations are needed to solve the puzzle: intra and inter- discourse relations. I argue that (a), appealing to inter-discourse relations in the way Fine proposes leads to severe and perhaps insoluble problems; and (b), contrary to what Fine holds, it is plausible that appealing to intra-discourse semantic relations is enough to make headway into Fregeʼs puzzle.

8. Pinillos, N.A. "Attitudes, Supervaluations and Vagueness in the World2014 Vague Objects and Vague Identity (Verlag)
I consider two possible sources of vagueness. The first is indeterminacy about which intension is expressed by a word. The second is indeterminacy about which referent (extension) is determined by an intension. Focusing on a Fregean account of intensions, I argue that whichever account is right will matter to whether vagueness turns out to be a representational phenomenon (as opposed to being “in the world”). In addition, it will also matter to whether supervaluationism is a viable semantic framework. Based on these considerations, I end by developing an argument against supervaluational semantics that depends, instead, on anti-Fregean (Millian) assumptions.  

4. Pinillos, N. Ángel. 'Coreference and Meaning'  or here (Springer). Philosophical Studies (154, 2). 2011. Parts of this paper were presented at the Pacific APA (2008), ASU, Rutgers University, Southern Methodist University, UCLA, and Vassar College. 
For discussion on this paper please see  F. Récanati (pg. 19-25 ) here (and here June 2011) and K. Lawlor (pg. 27-54) here and (same pdf file) both at this 2010 conference on Mental Files (Paris, ENS). M. Murez here (pg. 47-78) at this 2009 conference on Relativism and Context Dependency (Paris, ENS). Also see Goodsell (phil studies paper)
SYNOPSIS: I argue that to fully capture certain cases of (co)reference, we must posit a new relational semantic primitive.

2. Pinillos, N. Ángel. 'Time Dilation, Context and Relative Truth. or here (Wiley-Blackwell).2011 Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. (January 2011) 82:1. 65-92. Parts of this paper were presented at the Mt. Plains Conference (2008). Parts of this paper will be presented at the 'Ordinary Language, Linguistics and Philosophy' Conference in June 2011 at The University of St. Andrews, Scotland. SYNOPSIS: I argue that truth is relative (in the sense recently defended by some prominent analytical philosophers) by focusing on some semantic issues raised by Einstein's theory of relativity together with our ordinary attributions of truth. I also argue that whether some linguistic expressions admit of a relativistic semantics is "external" in the sense of Putnam/Burge. [On the account I present here, the semantics of terms like 'duration', 'simultaneous', 'length' (for certain languages whose speakers are not aware of modern physics) are relativistic in the sense that their intensions are functions from frames of reference and perhaps other parameters to their customary extensions]

1. Pinillos, N. Ángel. 'Counting and Indeterminate IdentityMind (2003). Oxford Link.
(I wrote this towards the beginning of graduate school). Parts of this paper were presented at the Eastern APA (2002). Please see discussion of this article here (D. Hyde), here (D. Hyde) and here (R. Heck). SYNOPSIS: I argue that it can't be the case that identity statements (a=b) are indeterminate (neither true nor false), where the indeterminacy is due to the world and not just language.