Anti-Luck Epistemology and Safety's (Recent) Discontents

Philosophia 38 (3):517-532 (2009)
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 to block the kind of luck with which knowledge was argued to be incompatible. What I’ll show here is that the modal account of luck offers a plausible story at the first stage and leads naturally to equally plausible lines to take at the second and third stages, at which a safety condition on knowledge is squarely motivated. There are, however, recent challenges—advanced by Jonathan Kvanvig (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77: 272–281, 2008); Kelly Becker (2007); and Jennifer Lackey (Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86(2):255–267, 2008), among others—to the plausibility of the safety-based anti-luck project I’ve sketched here at each of its three stages of development. Once I’ve made precise the challenges, I’ll show why none implies that we abandon the commitments of the safety-based anti-luck project at any of its stages. What we should conclude, then, is that a safety-condition on knowledge is motivated by independently defensible accounts of (1) what luck is; and (2) just how knowledge should be thought incompatible with it
Keywords Knowledge  Epistemic luck  Gettier  Safety
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-009-9219-z
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Alvin Goldman (1976). Discrimination and Perceptual Knowledge. Journal of Philosophy 73 (November):771-791.
Wayne D. Riggs (2009). Epistemic Value. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jennifer Lackey (2008). What Luck is Not. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (2):255 – 267.

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