Advice for fallibilists: Put knowledge to work

Philosophical Studies 142 (1):55 - 66 (2009)
We begin by asking what fallibilism about knowledge is, distinguishing several conceptions of fallibilism and giving reason to accept what we call strong epistemic fallibilism, the view that one can know that something is the case even if there remains an epistemic chance, for one, that it is not the case. The task of the paper, then, concerns how best to defend this sort of fallibilism from the objection that it is “mad,” that it licenses absurd claims such as “I know that p but there’s a chance that not p ” and “ p but it there’s a chance that not p .” We argue that the best defense of fallibilism against this objection—a “pragmatist” defense—makes the following claims. First, while knowledge that p is compatible with an epistemic chance that not- p , it is compatible only with an insignificant such chance. Second, the insignificance of the chance that not- p is plausibly understood in terms of the irrelevance of that chance to p ’s serving as a ‘justifier’, for action as well as belief. In other words, if you know that p , then any chance for you that not p doesn’t stand in the way of p ’s being properly put to work as a basis for action and belief.
Keywords Epistemology  Knowledge  Justification  Fallibilism  Pragmatism
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References found in this work BETA
David Lewis (1996). Elusive Knowledge. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
Richard Feldman (2006). Epistemology. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 68 (2):429-429.
Stewart Cohen (1988). How to Be a Fallibilist. Philosophical Perspectives 2:91-123.

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Citations of this work BETA
Aaron Rizzieri (2011). Pragmatic Encroachment, Stakes, and Religious Knowledge. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (3):217-229.

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