A minimalist approach to epistemology

Abstract
This thesis addresses the problem of the analysis of knowledge. The persistent failure of analyses of knowledge in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions is used to motivate exploring alternative approaches to the analytical problem. In parallel to a similar development in the theory of truth, in which the persistent failure to provide a satisfactory answer to the question as to what the nature of truth is has led to the exploration of deflationary and minimalist approaches to the theory of truth, the prospects for deflationary and minimalist approaches to the theory of knowledge are investigated. While it is argued that deflationary approaches are ultimately unsatisfactory, a minimalist approach to epistemology, which characterises the concept of knowledge by a set of platitudes about knowledge, is defended. The first version of a minimalist framework for the theory of knowledge is developed. Two more substantive developments of the minimalist framework are discussed. In the first development a safety condition on knowledge is derived from the minimalist framework. Problems for this development are discussed and solved. In the second development, an ability condition is derived from the minimalist framework. Reason is provided to believe that, arguably, the ability condition can avoid the problems that beset traditional analyses of knowledge. It is also shown that even if this argument fails, minimalist approaches to epistemology may serve to provide a functional definition of knowledge. Reason is thus provided to believe that minimalist approaches to epistemology can make progress towards addressing the problem of the analysis of knowledge
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