Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 8, pp 1935–1957 | Cite as

A defense of parrying responses to the generality problem

  • Jeffrey TollyEmail author


The generality problem is commonly seen as one of the most pressing issues for process reliabilism. The generality problem starts with the following question: of all the process types exemplified by a given process token, which type is the relevant one for measuring reliability? Defenders of the generality problem claim that process reliabilists have a burden to produce an informative account of process type relevance. As they argue, without such a successful account, the reasonability of process reliabilism is significantly undermined. One way for the reliabilist to respond is to attempt to construct such a theory of type relevance. But another way of responding is to argue that, if finding an account of type relevance is a burden for the reliabilist, then it is also a burden for everyone (or, mostly everyone) else. Thus, the generality problem doesn’t present some unique reason to reject process reliabilism. I call this latter strategy a parrying response. In this essay, I examine the contemporary parrying responses of Michael Bishop and Juan Comesaña, which have both faced recent criticism. I respond to these critics, and argue that parrying responses are far stronger than defenders of the generality problem have appreciated.


Process reliabilism Epistemology Externalism Generality problem Justification Warrant 



Much thanks to Ted Warfield, Daniel Immerman, Mike DePaul, Blake Roeber, and Tom Senor for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this essay.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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