Real knowledge

Synthese 55 (2):143 - 164 (1983)
Abstract
Philosophers have sought to characterize a type of knowledge — what I call real knowledge — which is significantly different from the ordinary concept of knowledge. The concept of knowledge as true, justified belief — what I call knowledge simpliciter — failed to depict the sought after real knowledge because the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions of knowledge simpliciter can be felicitously but accidentally fulfilled. Real knowledge is knowledge simpliciter plus a set of requirements which guarantee that the truth, belief and justification conditions are not accidentally conjoined. Two of those requirements have received considerable attention in recent literature by the defeasibility theorists and the causal theorists. I argue that a third requirement is needed to block the merely coincidental cosatisfaction of the belief and justification conditions and to capture our intuitions about the epistemic agent who possesses real knowledge. That condition ascribes a disposition to the real knower to believe all and only justified propositions in virtue of his/her belief that the propositions are justified. Two consequences of that requirement are discussed: (1) if S really knows that p, then S knows simpliciter that S knows simpliciter that p and (2) the iterative feature of real knowledge mentioned in (1) provides a basis for the rejection of a particularly pernicious form of scepticism.
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