Tracking, epistemic dispositions and the conditional analysis

Erkenntnis 72 (3):353 - 364 (2010)
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 a dispositional account of knowledge: it invites us to think of knowledge as a manifestation of a cognitive disposition to form true beliefs. Indeed, given a general account of dispositions in terms of subjunctive conditionals, the two tracking conditionals are satisfied just in case the belief in question results from some cognitive disposition to form true beliefs. Recently, such a conditional account of dispositions has, however, been criticised for its vulnerability to so-called ‘masked’, ‘mimicked’ and ‘finkish’ counterexamples. I show how the classical counterexamples to Nozick’s theory divide smoothly into four corresponding categories of counterexamples from epistemic masking, mimicking and finkishness. This provides strong evidence for the thesis that satisfaction of the two tracking conditionals is symptomatic of knowledge and that knowledge is instead constituted by a dispositional capability to form true beliefs. The attempt to capture such a cognitive, dispositional capability in terms of the tracking conditionals, although providing a good approximation in a wide variety of cases, still comes apart from the real thing whenever the epistemic layout is characterised by masking-, mimicking- and finkish mechanisms. In the last part of the paper I explore the prospect of improving the tracking theory in the light of these findings.
Keywords Philosophy   Logic   Ethics   Ontology   Epistemology   Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 14,232
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Alexander Bird (1998). Dispositions and Antidotes. Philosophical Quarterly 48 (191):227-234.
Fred Dretske (1971). Conclusive Reasons. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 49 (1):1 – 22.

View all 22 references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

77 ( #27,711 of 1,699,706 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

11 ( #57,594 of 1,699,706 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.