Some recent work in epistemology

Philosophical Quarterly 54 (217):604–613 (2004)
Abstract
xxiii + 293. Price £50.00 h/b). Thinking About Knowing. By JAY F. ROSENBERG. (Oxford UP, 2002. Pp. viii + 257. Price £30.00 h/b). Epistemology is currently enjoying a renaissance. To a large extent, this has been sparked by some exciting new proposals, such as the contextualist theories advanced by Stewart Cohen, Keith DeRose, David Lewis and Michael Williams, the modal conceptions of knowledge offered by Fred Dretske and Robert Nozick, and the virtue epistemologies put forward by John Greco, Ernest Sosa and Linda Zagzebski, to name but three currently popular views. Increasingly, however, this rebirth in epistemological theorising has been driven less by the production of new theories and more by the application of the latest batch of novel proposals to other areas of philosophy. A good illustration of this from the selection of books under review here is the contemporary debate regarding the vexed relationship between content externalism and self-knowledge that is the 2 focus of the volume of essays edited by Susana Nuccetelli. Here we have a controversy that has blended some of the most innovative aspects of recent epistemological theorising with issues in the philosophy of mind and language, with the emphasis being on the so-called ‘McKinsey paradox’ concerning the putative incompatibility of content externalism and privileged self-knowledge. Whilst early responses to this supposed paradox concentrated on the formulation of the content externalist thesis whilst treating the epistemic concepts at issue as, essentially, primitives, more recent work in this area has drawn-out some of the epistemological implications of this debate and looked at how these implications fit in with recent movements in epistemology. Many of the articles collected in this volume are instances of this ‘second phase’ of the debate. In particular, it is tremendously useful to have the new articles by Martin Davies and Crispin Wright which revisit a previous exchange between the pair where some of the epistemological morals of the McKinsey debate were first extracted..
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