Update: A few items from the archive added to the end.
Is there a clearer and stricter definition of ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ and what it means for something to be a mental state or a physical state?
Unfortunately, no. And there’s a reason too–it’s actually an extremely complicated topic, how the “physical” in “physicalism” should be defined (for those sleepless nights). Nonetheless, there is a sort of method to the madness here–at the end of the day, the theories are meant to illuminate basic and intuitive notions we already have. Those notions might need to be revised given a more rigorous analysis and empirical investigation, but they are the starting points. If we don’t already notice that some things have mind, or mental attributes, and others don’t, we won’t even be in this conversation at all. For our purposes, that more basic and intuitive understanding is thus all that we need to get the topic off the ground. It won’t stop there of course, if you are pursuing this more deeply.
Small edits made to the question. Ok, some of you seem to be getting lost in the story. I’ll put the below down to help you.
Scenario in Abe’s Statements
Lena is religious, privy to religious experiences, her experiences count as evidence for the existence of God, believes that God exists;
Will and Gene are not religious, not privy to religious experiences; Will believes that God doesn’t exist (while Gene believes that God exist);
Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–Epistemic Uniqueness is true in the disagreement between Lena vs Will over whether God exists, because the scenario shows that both Lena and Will can never have the same evidence, and if they can never have the same evidence, their opposite but equally justified beliefs can never be rationally based on the same evidence?
Scenario in Dave’s Statements:
The Scenario in Abe’s Statements, plus:
Lena’s testimony also count as good evidence for God’s existence; she told both Will and Gene about her experiences;
Will and Gene are equally smart and have thought equally hard about God’s existence;
Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–the Epistemic Permissivist who says that Will and Gene are equally justified in their own beliefs (on the same evidence) would be begging the question against both of them.
Scenario in Tess’ Statements:
Same set up as in Dave’s Statements.
Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–If someone agrees that the disagreement between Gene and Will (based on the same evidence) can never be resolved in such a way that both Gene and Will are equally justified, then this person cannot also consistently subscribe to Epistemic Permissivism?
Update: A couple more came in later and I’ve included them. Look for those with the “[Added]” marker.
Is epistemology descriptive with a prescriptive edge?
A big part of it is prescriptive. Like morality, rationality involves an evaluative dimension–just as there are such things as good or bad, right or wrong with it comes to action, there are also rational or irrational, justified or unjustified, true or false, etc., when it comes to beliefs.
I wrote the below back when the knowledge topic dealt with the regress argument for justification (the very first semester I took on teaching GET1029, by the way). It also touches on issues relating to how we respond to skepticism. Since a couple of you asked, I’ll make it available here for those interested.