Shutting Dretske's door

Erkenntnis 64 (3):393 - 401 (2006)
Dretske proposes a theory of knowledge in terms of a theory of information, but wishes to deny that empirical knowledge settles the large question of scepticism. This leads him to deny the closure of knowledge under known entailment. In a recent paper Jäger argues that Dretske’s theory of information entails closure for knowledge, ‘at least for the kind of propositions here at issue’ (Jäger 2004:194). If Jäger is right, Dretske is seriously embarrassed and must give something up. In this paper I show that there are two flaws in Jäger’s argument. The principle of informational closure considered by Jäger is incompatible with Dretske’s theory of information, and Jäger’s argument that Dretske is committed to a certain kind of substitution instance of that principle of informational closure is invalid. I propose adequacy conditions on signalled information and use them to motivate a formulation of a general closure principle for signalled information. I show that Dretske’s account of information satisfies the adequacy conditions, but in a way which commits him to an instance of the general closure principle. I argue that Dretske is consequently committed to closure for some cases of knowledge for which he wishes to deny closure. Finally, I sketch how, on the basis of the closure principle to which Dretske is committed, Jäger’s broader argument may yet go through.
Keywords knowledge  closure  information  closure for Dretske information  Dretske  Signalled Information  Principle of Informational Closure  signal that informs  available for signalling
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References found in this work BETA
Fred I. Dretske (1970). Epistemic Operators. Journal of Philosophy 67 (24):1007-1023.
Fred Dretske (2005). Reply to Hawthorne. In Steup Matthias & Sosa Ernest (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Blackwell 43--46.

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