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Safety and Sensitivity

Edited by Julien Dutant (University of Geneva, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
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  1. Fred Adams & Murray Clarke (2005). Resurrecting the Tracking Theories. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):207 – 221.
    Much of contemporary epistemology proceeds on the assumption that tracking theories of knowledge, such as those of Dretske and Nozick, are dead. The word on the street is that Kripke and others killed these theories with their counterexamples, and that epistemology must move in a new direction as a result. In this paper we defend the tracking theories against purportedly deadly objections. We detect life in the tracking theories, despite what we perceive to be a premature burial.
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  2. Mark Alfano (2009). Sensitivity Theory and the Individuation of Belief-Formation Methods. Erkenntnis 70 (2):271 - 281.
    In this paper it is argued that sensitivity theory suffers from a fatal defect. Sensitivity theory is often glossed as: (1) S knows that p only if S would not believe that p if p were false. As Nozick showed in his pioneering work on sensitivity theory, this formulation needs to be supplemented by a further counterfactual condition: (2) S knows that p only if S would believe p if p were true. Nozick further showed that the theory needs a (...)
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  3. Marc Alspector-Kelly (2011). Why Safety Doesn't Save Closure. Synthese 183 (2):127-142.
    Knowledge closure is, roughly, the following claim: For every agent S and propositions P and Q, if S knows P, knows that P implies Q, and believes Q because it is so implied, then S knows Q. Almost every epistemologist believes that closure is true. Indeed, they often believe that it so obviously true that any theory implying its denial is thereby refuted. Some prominent epistemologists have nevertheless denied it, most famously Fred Dretske and Robert Nozick. There are closure advocates (...)
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  4. Andrew Bacon (2014). Giving Your Knowledge Half a Chance. Philosophical Studies (2):1-25.
    One thousand fair causally isolated coins will be independently flipped tomorrow morning and you know this fact. I argue that the probability, conditional on your knowledge, that any coin will land tails is almost 1 if that coin in fact lands tails, and almost 0 if it in fact lands heads. I also show that the coin flips are not probabilistically independent given your knowledge. These results are uncomfortable for those, like Timothy Williamson, who take these probabilities to play a (...)
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  5. Kelly Becker (2009). Margins for Error and Sensitivity: What Nozick Might Have Said. [REVIEW] Acta Analytica 24 (1):17-31.
    Timothy Williamson has provided damaging counterexamples to Robert Nozick’s sensitivity principle. The examples are based on Williamson’s anti-luminosity arguments, and they show how knowledge requires a margin for error that appears to be incompatible with sensitivity. I explain how Nozick can rescue sensitivity from Williamson’s counterexamples by appeal to a specific conception of the methods by which an agent forms a belief. I also defend the proposed conception of methods against Williamson’s criticisms.
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  6. Kelly Becker (2007). Epistemology Modalized. Routledge.
    Introduction: externalism and modalism -- Externalism -- Modalism -- What should the theory do? -- What's missing? -- Process reliabilism -- Goldman's causal theory -- Goldman's discrimination requirement and relevant alternatives -- Process reliabilism and why it is not enough -- Implications for skepticism -- Sensitivity -- Nozick's subjunctive conditional theory of knowledge -- Methods : an important refinement -- Objections to nozicks theory -- Safety -- Motivating safety -- Weak and strong safety : luck and induction -- Is safety (...)
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  7. Selim Berker (2008). Luminosity Regained. Philosophers' Imprint 8 (2):1-22.
    The linchpin of Williamson (2000)'s radically externalist epistemological program is an argument for the claim that no non-trivial condition is luminous—that no non-trivial condition is such that whenever it obtains, one is in a position to know that it obtains. I argue that Williamson's anti-luminosity argument succeeds only if one assumes that, even in the limit of ideal reflection, the obtaining of the condition in question and one's beliefs about that condition can be radically disjoint from one another. However, no (...)
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  8. Sven Bernecker (2012). Sensitivity, Safety, and Closure. Acta Analytica 27 (4):367-381.
    It is widely thought that if knowledge requires sensitivity, knowledge is not closed because sensitivity is not closed. This paper argues that there is no valid argument from sensitivity failure to non-closure of knowledge. Sensitivity does not imply non-closure of knowledge. Closure considerations cannot be used to adjudicate between safety and sensitivity accounts of knowledge.
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  9. Tim Black (2008). Defending a Sensitive Neo-Moorean Invariantism. In Vincent Hendricks & Duncan Pritchard (eds.), New Waves in Epistemology. Palgrave Macmillan. 8--27.
    I defend a sensitive neo-Moorean invariantism, an epistemological account with the following characteristic features: (a) it reserves a place for a sensitivity condition on knowledge, according to which, very roughly, S’s belief that p counts as knowledge only if S wouldn’t believe that p if p were false; (b) it maintains that the standards for knowledge are comparatively low; and (c) it maintains that the standards for knowledge are invariant (i.e., that they vary neither with the linguistic context of the (...)
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  10. Michael Blome-Tillmann (2009). Contextualism, Safety and Epistemic Relevance. Philosophical Studies 143 (3):383-394.
    The paper discusses approaches to Epistemic Contextualism that model the satisfaction of the predicate ‘know’ in a given context C in terms of the notion of belief/fact-matching throughout a contextually specified similarity sphere of worlds that is centred on actuality. The paper offers three counterexamples to approaches of this type and argues that they lead to insurmountable difficulties. I conclude that what contextualists (and Subject-Sensitive Invariantists) have traditionally called the ‘epistemic standards’ of a given context C cannot be explicated in (...)
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  11. Christopher Bobier (2014). Anti-Luck Virtue Epistemology and Divine Revelation. Philosophia 42 (2):309-320.
    Anti-Luck Virtue Epistemology (ALVE) states that for S to have knowledge, S must have a virtuously formed safe true belief. S’s belief that p is safe if, in most near-by possible worlds where S’s belief is formed in the same manner as in the actual world, S’s belief is true. S’s safe belief that p is virtuously formed if S’s safe belief is formed using reliable and well-integrated cognitive processes and it is to S’s credit that she formed the belief. (...)
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  12. Tomas Bogardus (2013). Knowledge Under Threat. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (1):289-313.
    Many contemporary epistemologists hold that a subject S’s true belief that p counts as knowledge only if S’s belief that p is also, in some important sense, safe. I describe accounts of this safety condition from John Hawthorne, Duncan Pritchard, and Ernest Sosa. There have been three counterexamples to safety proposed in the recent literature, from Comesaña, Neta and Rohrbaugh, and Kelp. I explain why all three proposals fail: each moves fallaciously from the fact that S was at epistemic risk (...)
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  13. Tomas Bogardus (2013). The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief. Faith and Philosophy 30 (4):371-392.
  14. Rachael Briggs & Daniel Nolan (2012). Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know. Analysis 72 (2):314-316.
    Tracking accounts of knowledge formulated in terms of counterfactuals suffer from well known problems. Examples are provided, and it is shown that moving to a dispositional tracking theory of knowledge avoids three of these problems.
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  15. Rachel Briggs & Daniel Nolan, Epistemic Dispositions. Reply to Turri and Bronner.
    We reply to recent papers by John Turri and Ben Bronner, who criticise the dispositionalised Nozickian tracking account we discuss in “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know.” We argue that the account we suggested can handle the problems raised by Turri and Bronner. In the course of responding to Turri and Bronner’s objections, we draw three general lessons for theories of epistemic dispositions: that epistemic dispositions are to some extent extrinsic, that epistemic dispositions can have manifestation conditions concerning circumstances where (...)
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  16. Fernando Broncano-Berrocal (2013). Is Safety In Danger? Philosophia 42 (1):1-19.
    In “Knowledge Under Threat” (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 2012), Tomas Bogardus proposes a counterexample to the safety condition for knowledge. Bogardus argues that the case demonstrates that unsafe knowledge is possible. I argue that the case just corroborates the well-known requirement that modal conditions like safety must be relativized to methods of belief formation. I explore several ways of relativizing safety to belief-forming methods and I argue that none is adequate: if methods were individuated in those ways, safety would fail (...)
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  17. Ben Bronner (2012). Problems with the Dispositional Tracking Theory of Knowledge. Logos and Episteme 3 (3):505-507.
    Rachael Briggs and Daniel Nolan attempt to improve on Nozick’s tracking theory of knowledge by providing a modified, dispositional tracking theory. The dispositional theory, however, faces more problems than those previously noted by John Turri. First, it is not simply that satisfaction of the theory’s conditions is unnecessary for knowledge – it is insufficient as well. Second, in one important respect, the dispositional theory is a step backwards relative to the original tracking theory: the original but not the dispositional theory (...)
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  18. J. Adam Carter (2013). Extended Cognition and Epistemic Luck. Synthese 190 (18):4201-4214.
    When extended cognition is extended into mainstream epistemology, an awkward tension arises when considering cases of environmental epistemic luck. Surprisingly, it is not at all clear how the mainstream verdict that agents lack knowledge in cases of environmental luck can be reconciled with principles central to extended cognition.
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  19. J. Adam Carter (2011). Radical Skepticism, Closure, and Robust Knowledge. Journal of Philosophical Research 36:115-133.
    The Neo-Moorean response to the radical skeptical challenge boldly maintains that we can know we’re not the victims of radical skeptical hypotheses; accordingly, our everyday knowledge that would otherwise be threatened by our inability to rule out such hypotheses stands unthreatened. Given the leverage such an approach has against the skeptic from the very start, the Neo-Moorean line is an especially popular one; as we shall see, though, it faces several commonly overlooked problems. An initial problem is that this particular (...)
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  20. J. Adam Carter & Duncan Pritchard (2013). Knowledge‐How and Epistemic Luck. Noûs 47 (4).
    Reductive intellectualists (e.g., Stanley & Williamson ; Stanley ; ; Brogaard ; ; ) hold that knowledge-how is a kind of knowledge-that. For this thesis to hold water, it is obviously important that knowledge-how and knowledge-that have the same epistemic properties. In particular, knowledge-how ought to be compatible with epistemic luck to the same extent as knowledge-that. It is argued, contra reductive intellectualism, that knowledge-how is compatible with a species of epistemic luck which is not compatible with knowledge-that, and thus (...)
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  21. Joseph Adam Carter (2009). Anti-Luck Epistemology and Safety's (Recent) Discontents. Philosophia 38 (3):517-532.
    Anti-luck epistemology is an approach to analyzing knowledge that takes as a starting point the widely-held assumption that knowledge must exclude luck. Call this the anti-luck platitude. As Duncan Pritchard (2005) has suggested, there are three stages constituent of anti-luck epistemology, each which specifies a different philosophical requirement: these stages call for us to first give an account of luck; second, specify the sense in which knowledge is incompatible with luck; and finally, show what conditions must be satisfied in order (...)
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  22. Justin Clarke-Doane (forthcoming). What is the Benacerraf Problem? In Fabrice Pataut (ed.), New Perspectives on the Philosophy of Paul Benacerraf: Truth, Objects, Infinity.
    In "Mathematical Truth", Paul Benacerraf articulated an epistemological problem for mathematical realism. His formulation of the problem relied on a causal theory of knowledge which is now widely rejected. But it is generally agreed that Benacerraf was onto a genuine problem for mathematical realism nevertheless. Hartry Field describes it as the problem of explaining the reliability of our mathematical beliefs, realistically construed. In this paper, I argue that the Benacerraf Problem cannot be made out. There simply is no intelligible problem (...)
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  23. Juan Comesaña (2007). Knowledge and Subjunctive Conditionals. Philosophy Compass 2 (6):781-791.
    What relation must hold between a fact p and the corresponding belief that p for the belief to amount to knowledge? Many authors have recently proposed that the relation can be captured by subjunctive conditionals. In this paper I critically evaluate the main proposals along those lines.
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  24. Juan Comesaña (2005). Unsafe Knowledge. Synthese 146 (3):395 - 404.
    Ernest Sosa has argued that if someone knows that p, then his belief that p is “safe”. and Timothy Williamson has agreed. In this paper I argue that safety, as defined by Sosa, is not a necessary condition on knowledge – that we can have unsafe knowledge. I present Sosa’s definition of safety and a counterexample to it as a necessary condition on knowledge. I also argue that Sosa’s most recent refinements to the notion of safety don’t help him to (...)
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  25. Cédric Dégremont & Nina Gierasimczuk (2011). Finite Identification From the Viewpoint of Epistemic Update. Information And Computation 209 (3):383-396.
    Formal learning theory constitutes an attempt to describe and explain the phenomenon of learning, in particular of language acquisition. The considerations in this domain are also applicable in philosophy of science, where it can be interpreted as a description of the process of scientific inquiry. The theory focuses on various properties of the process of hypothesis change over time. Treating conjectures as informational states, we link the process of conjecture-change to epistemic update. We reconstruct and analyze the temporal aspect of (...)
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  26. Keith DeRose (2004). Sosa, Safety, Sensitivity, and Skeptical Hypotheses. In J. Greco (ed.), Ernest Sosa and His Critics. Blackwell. 22--41.
    Fortunately for those of us who work on the topic, Ernie Sosa has devoted much of his (seemingly inexhaustible) intellectual energy to the problem of philosophical skepticism. And to great effect. With the three exceptions of Peter Unger, whose 1975 Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism is a grossly under-appreciated classic of epistemology; Timothy Williamson, whose 2000 Knowledge and its Limits is, I hope, on its way to being a less underappreciated classic; and Thomas Reid, I have benefitted more from Sosa’s (...)
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  27. Fred I. Dretske (1971). Reasons, Knowledge, and Probability. Philosophy of Science 38 (2):216-220.
    Though one believes that P is true, one can have reasons for thinking it false. Yet, it seems that one cannot know that P is true and (still) have reasons for thinking it false. Why is this so? What feature of knowledge (or of reasons) precludes having reasons or evidence to believe (true) what you know to be false? If the connection between reasons (evidence) and what one believes is expressible as a probability relation, it would seem that the only (...)
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  28. Wolfgang Freitag (2014). Safety, Sensitivity and “Distant” Epistemic Luck. Theoria 80 (1):44-61.
    Prominent instances of anti-luck epistemology, in particular sensitivity and safety accounts of knowledge, introduce a modal condition on the pertinent belief in terms of closeness or similarity of possible worlds. Very roughly speaking, a belief must continue to be true in close possibilities in order to qualify as knowledge. Such closeness-accounts derive much support from their (alleged) ability to eliminate standard instances of epistemic luck as they appear in prominent Gettier-type examples. The article argues that there are new Gettier-type examples (...)
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  29. Mario G'Omez-Torrente (2002). Vagueness and Margin for Error Principles. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64 (1):107-125.
    Timothy Williamson’s potentially most important contribution to epistemicism about vagueness lies in his arguments for the basic epistemicist claim that the alleged cut-off points of vague predicates are not knowable. His arguments for this are based on so-called ‘margin for error principles’. This paper argues that these principles fail to provide a good argument for the basic claim. Williamson has offered at least two kinds of margin for error principles applicable to vague predicates. A certain fallacy of equivocation (on the (...)
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  30. Jerome Gellman (2010). A New Gettier-Type Refutation of Nozick´s Analysis of Knowledge. Principia 8 (2):279-283.
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  31. Sandy Goldberg (2014). Epistemic Entitlement and Luck. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (3):n/a-n/a.
    The aim of this paper is to defend a novel characterization of epistemic luck. Helping myself to the notions of epistemic entitlement and adequate explanation, I propose that a true belief suffers from epistemic luck iff an adequate explanation of the fact that the belief acquired is true must appeal to propositions to which the subject herself is not epistemically entitled (in a sense to be made clear below). The burden of the argument is to show that there is a (...)
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  32. Jeremy Goodman (2013). Inexact Knowledge Without Improbable Knowing. Inquiry 56 (1):30-53.
    In a series of recent papers, Timothy Williamson has argued for the surprising conclusion that there are cases in which you know a proposition in spite of its being overwhelmingly improbable given what you know that you know it. His argument relies on certain formal models of our imprecise knowledge of the values of perceptible and measurable magnitudes. This paper suggests an alternative class of models that do not predict this sort of improbable knowing. I show that such models are (...)
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  33. John Greco (2007). Worries About Pritchard's Safety. Synthese 158 (3):299 - 302.
    I take issue with two claims that Duncan Pritchard makes in his recent book, Epistemic Luck. The first concerns his safety-based response to the lottery problem; the second his account of the relationship between safety and intellectual virtue.
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  34. Patrick Greenough (2012). Discrimination and Self-Knowledge. In Declan Smithies & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), Introspection and Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
    In this paper I show that a variety of Cartesian Conceptions of the mental are unworkable. In particular, I offer a much weaker conception of limited discrimination than the one advanced by Williamson (2000) and show that this weaker conception, together with some plausible background assumptions, is not only able to undermine the claim that our core mental states are luminous (roughly: if one is in such a state then one is in a position to know that one is) but (...)
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  35. Patrick Greenough, Duncan Pritchard & Timothy Williamson (eds.) (2009). Williamson on Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
    16 leading philosophers offer critical assessments of Timothy Williamson's ground-breaking work on knowledge and its impact on philosophy today.
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  36. Lars Gundersen (2010). Tracking, Epistemic Dispositions and the Conditional Analysis. Erkenntnis 72 (3):353 - 364.
    According to Nozick’s tracking theory of knowledge, an agent a knows that p just in case her belief that p is true and also satisfies the two tracking conditionals that had p been false, she would not have believed that p , and had p been true under slightly different circumstances, she would still have believed that p . In this paper I wish to highlight an interesting but generally ignored feature of this theory: namely that it is reminiscent of (...)
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  37. Tim Henning (2013). Knowledge, Safety, and Practical Reasoning. In Tim Henning & David P. Schweikard (eds.), Knowledge, Virtue, and Action: Putting Epistemic Virtues to Work. Routledge.
  38. Avram Hiller & Ram Neta (2007). Safety and Epistemic Luck. Synthese 158 (3):303 - 313.
    There is some consensus that for S to know that p, it cannot be merely a matter of luck that S’s belief that p is true. This consideration has led Duncan Pritchard and others to propose a safety condition on knowledge. In this paper, we argue that the safety condition is not a proper formulation of the intuition that knowledge excludes luck. We suggest an alternative proposal in the same spirit as safety, and find it lacking as well.
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  39. Risto Hilpinen (1988). Knowledge and Conditionals. Philosophical Perspectives 2:157-182.
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  40. Wesley H. Holliday (forthcoming). Fallibilism and Multiple Paths to Knowledge. Oxford Studies in Epistemology 5.
  41. Wesley H. Holliday (forthcoming). Epistemic Closure and Epistemic Logic I: Relevant Alternatives and Subjunctivism. Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-62.
    Epistemic closure has been a central issue in epistemology over the last forty years. According to versions of the relevant alternatives and subjunctivist theories of knowledge, epistemic closure can fail: an agent who knows some propositions can fail to know a logical consequence of those propositions, even if the agent explicitly believes the consequence (having “competently deduced” it from the known propositions). In this sense, the claim that epistemic closure can fail must be distinguished from the fact that agents do (...)
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  42. Wesley H. Holliday (2012). Epistemic Logic, Relevant Alternatives, and the Dynamics of Context. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 7415:109-129.
    According to the Relevant Alternatives (RA) Theory of knowledge, knowing that something is the case involves ruling out (only) the relevant alternatives. The conception of knowledge in epistemic logic also involves the elimination of possibilities, but without an explicit distinction, among the possibilities consistent with an agent’s information, between those relevant possibilities that an agent must rule out in order to know and those remote, far-fetched or otherwise irrelevant possibilities. In this article, I propose formalizations of two versions of the (...)
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  43. Joachim Horvath (2008). Testimony, Transmission, and Safety. Abstracta 4 (1):27-43.
    Most philosophers believe that testimony is not a fundamental source of knowledge, but merely a way to transmit already existing knowledge. However, Jennifer Lackey has presented some counterexamples which show that one can actually come to know something through testimony that no one ever knew before. Yet, the intuitive idea can be preserved by the weaker claim that someone in a knowledge-constituting testimonial chain has to have access to some non-testimonial source of knowledge with regard to what is testified. But (...)
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  44. Hud Hudson (2007). Safety. Analysis 67 (296):299–301.
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  45. Jonathan Ichikawa (2011). Quantifiers, Knowledge, and Counterfactuals. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (2):287 - 313.
    Many of the motivations in favor of contextualism about knowledge apply also to a contextualist approach to counterfactuals. I motivate and articulate such an approach, in terms of the context-sensitive 'all cases', in the spirit of David Lewis's contextualist view about knowledge. The resulting view explains intuitive data, resolves a puzzle parallel to the skeptical paradox, and renders safety and sensitivity, construed as counterfactuals, necessary conditions on knowledge.
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  46. Christoph Kelp (2009). Knowledge and Safety. Journal of Philosophical Research 34:21-31.
    This paper raises a problem for so-called safety-based conceptions of knowledge: It is argued that none of the versions of the safety condition that can be found in the literature succeeds in identifying a necessary condition on knowledge. Furthermore, reason is provided to believe that the argument generalises at least in the sense that there can be no version of the safety condition that does justice to the considerations motivating a safety condition whilst, at the same time, being requisite for (...)
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  47. Maria Lasonen-Aarnio (2010). Unreasonable Knowledge. Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):1-21.
    It is common orthodoxy among internalists and externalists alike that knowledge is lost or defeated in situations involving misleading evidence of a suitable kind. But making sense of defeat has seemed to present a particular challenge for those who reject an internalist justification condition on knowledge. My main aim here is to argue that externalists ought to take seriously a view on which knowledge can be retained even in the face of strong seemingly defeating evidence. As an instructive example, I (...)
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  48. Errol Lord (forthcoming). Epistemic Reasons, Evidence, and Defeaters. In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford University Press.
    The post-Gettier literature contained many views that tried to solve the Gettier problem by appealing to the notion of defeat. Unfortunately, all of these views are false. The failure of these views greatly contributed to a general distrust of reasons in epistemology. However, reasons are making a comeback in epistemology, both in general and in the context of the Gettier problem. There are two main aims of this paper. First, I will argue against a natural defeat based resolution of the (...)
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  49. S. Luper (2006). Restorative Rigging and the Safe Indication Account. Synthese 153 (1):161 - 170.
    Typical Gettieresque scenarios involve a subject, S, using a method, M, of believing something, p, where, normally, M is a reliable indicator of the truth of p, yet, in S’s circumstances, M is not reliable: M is deleteriously rigged. A different sort of scenario involves rigging that restores the reliability of a method M that is deleteriously rigged: M is restoratively rigged. Some theorists criticize (among others) the safe indication account of knowledge defended by Luper, Sosa, and Williamson on the (...)
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  50. B. J. C. Madison (2011). Combating Anti Anti-Luck Epistemology. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):47-58.
    One thing nearly all epistemologists agree upon is that Gettier cases are decisive counterexamples to the tripartite analysis of knowledge; whatever else is true of knowledge, it is not merely belief that is both justified and true. They now agree that knowledge is not justified true belief because this is consistent with there being too much luck present in the cases, and that knowledge excludes such luck. This is to endorse what has become known as the 'anti-luck platitude'. <br /><br (...)
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