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Summary

Reliabilism is a general approach to questions about knowledge and justification. It focuses on different ways of measuring and employing the property of truth-conduciveness. This general approach comes in four main varieties, each with alternative formulations. Process Reliabilism focuses on the truth-conduciveness of the type-process producing a certain belief. Anti-Luck Reliabilism focuses on the truth-conduciveness of the token-process producing a certain belief (these accounts make use of the modal notions of sensitivity and safety). Virtue Reliabilism focuses on the truth-conduciveness of an agent’s intellectual character traits, or of an agent's believing performance. And Proper Function Reliabilism adds to truth-conduciveness (in whichever guise) the requirement for a purposeful fit between mind and world. The main objections to Reliabilism come from the difficulties attending its proper formulation (counterexamples) and from four much-discussed problems: the Generality Problem, the New Evil Demon Problem, the Problem of Easy Knowledge (Bootstrapping), and the Swamping Problem.

Key works

Contemporary discussions of Reliabilism begin with Goldman 1967, Unger 1968, and Armstrong 1973. Process Reliabilism is developed in Goldman 1975, 1976, 1979, 1986, Kornblith 2002, 2008, and Lyons 2009. Anti-Luck Reliabilism is developed in Dretske 1971, Nozick 1981, Sosa 1999, Williamson 2000, and Pritchard 2005. Virtue Reliabilism is developed in Sosa 1980, 1991, 2009, and Greco 1999, 2000, 2003. And Proper Function Reliabilism is developed in Plantinga 1993 and Bergmann 2006. Influential counterexamples appear in Bonjour 1980, Lehrer 1990, and Plantinga 1993 (see Lyons 2009 for replies). The classic statement of the Generality Problem appears in E. Conee & Feldman 1998 (see Beebe 2004 and Comesaña 2006 for replies). Early statements of the Problem of Easy Knowledge appear in Vogel 2000 and Cohen 2002 (see Kornblith 2009 for a reply). An early statement of the New Evil Demon Problem appears in Cohen 1984 (see Goldman 1988, Majors & Sawyer 2005, and Comesaña 2002 for replies). And detailed discussions of the Swamping Problem appear in Zagzebski 2003 and Kvanvig 2003 (see Goldman & Olsson 2009 for replies). Recently, Berker 2013, 2013 sparked a renewed critical interest on the consequentialist structure of Reliabilism (see Goldman 2015 and Ahlstrom-Vij & Dunn 2014 for replies).

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  1. Abilism, Ableism, and Reliabilism’s Achievement Gap: A Normative Argument for A New Paradigm in Epistemology.John Turri - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-7.
    Reliabilism says that knowledge must be produced by reliable abilities. Abilism disagrees and allows that knowledge is produced by unreliable abilities. Previous research strongly supports the conclusion that abilism better describes how knowledge is actually defined in commonsense and science. In this paper, I provide a novel argument that abilism is ethically superior to reliabilism. Whereas reliabilism unethically discriminates against agents by excluding them from knowing, abilism virtuously includes them.
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  2. Reliabilism Defended.Jeffrey Tolly - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    Reliabilism about knowledge states that a belief-forming process generates knowledge only if its likelihood of generating true belief exceeds 50 percent. Despite the prominence of reliabilism today, there are very few if any explicit arguments for reliabilism in the literature. In this essay, I address this lacuna by formulating a new independent argument for reliabilism. As I explain, reliabilism can be derived from certain key knowledge-closure principles. Furthermore, I show how this argument can withstand John Turri’s two recent objections to (...)
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  3. Adaptivity and Truth. A Critique of Plantinga’s Reasoning Against Evolutionary Reliabilism.Andrea Fábiková - 2021 - Filosoficky Casopis 69 (Special issue 3):62-74.
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  4. Hume and Reliabilism.Qu Hsueh - 2021 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 1 (34):27-51.
    Hume's epistemological legacy is often perceived as a predominantly negative sceptical one. His infamous problem of induction continues to perplex philosophers to this day, and many of his sceptical worries maintain their interest in contemporary eyes (e.g. with regard to reason, the senses, substance, causation). Yet Hume's positive epistemological contributions also hold significance for philosophy in this day and age. In this paper, I aim to situate Hume's epistemology in a more contemporary context, particularly with regard to the theme of (...)
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  5. Reason, Reflection, and Reliabilism: Kant and the Grounds of Rational and Empirical Knowledge.James Hebbeler - 2021 - In Camilla Serck-Hanssen & Beatrix Himmelmann (eds.), The Court of Reason: Proceedings of the 13th International Kant Congress. De Gruyter. pp. 735-742.
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  6. Structural Reliabilism: Inductive Logic as a Theory of Justification.Paweł Kawalec - 2002 - Dordrecht and Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    Kawalec's monograph is a novel defence of the programme of inductive logic, developed initially by Rudolf Carnap in the 1950s and Jaakko Hintikka in the 1960s. It revives inductive logic by bringing out the underlying epistemology. The main strength of the work is its link between inductive logic and contemporary discussions of epistemology. Through this perspective the author succeeds to shed new light on the significance of inductive logic. The resulting structural reliabilist theory propounds the view that justification supervenes on (...)
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  7. Racial Injustice and Information Flow.Eric Bayruns García - 2021 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 7 (4):1-18.
    I submit that the critical epistemology of race and standpoint literature has not explicitly focused on the properties of information about, say, racial or gender injustice in a way similar to how epistemologists have focused on propositions and information when they describe propositional justification. I describe information in the racial-injustice-information domain in a way similar to how epistemologists describe propositional justification. To this end, I argue (C1) that if subjects in racially unjust societies tend to violate norms that promote a (...)
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  8. A Virtue-Theoretic Approach to Religious Epistemology: Faith as an Act of Epistemic Virtue.Benjamin McCraw - 2012 - Dissertation, University of Georgia
    This work lies at the juncture between religious epistemology and virtue epistemology. Currently, both fields in epistemology are burgeoning with interest and novel theories, arguments, and applications. However, there is no systematic or sustained overlap between the two. I aim to provide such a systematic connection. Virtue epistemology holds that epistemology should turn away from analyzing person-neutral concepts like evidence, reliability, etc. as the primary locus of analysis in favor of person-based properties like intellectual character traits. I develop and defend (...)
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  9. Epistemic Feedback Loops (Or: How Not to Get Evidence).Nick Hughes - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Epistemologists spend a great deal of time thinking about how we should respond to our evidence. They spend far less time thinking about the ways that evidence can be acquired in the first place. This is an oversight. Some ways of acquiring evidence are better than others. Many normative epistemologies struggle to accommodate this fact. In this article I develop one that can and does. I identify a phenomenon – epistemic feedback loops – in which evidence acquisition has gone awry, (...)
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  10. A Virtue Reliabilist Error-Theory of Defeat.Jaakko Hirvelä - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    Knowledge defeat occurs when a subject knows that p, gains a defeater for her belief, and thereby loses her knowledge without necessarily losing her belief. It’s far from obvious that externalists can accommodate putative cases of knowledge defeat since a belief that satisfies the externalist conditions for knowledge can satisfy those conditions even if the subject later gains a defeater for her belief. I’ll argue that virtue reliabilists can accommodate defeat intuitions via a new kind of error theory. I argue (...)
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  11. The Problem with Impure Infinitism.Husein Inusah - 2021 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 21 (2):339-351.
    It is generally believed that pure versions of infinitism face two problems, namely: 1) they are unable to distinguish between potential and actual series of justified reasons because they are defined strictly in terms of relations between beliefs in the series so that every succeeding belief is justified by the belief before it and so on ad infinitum and, 2) they are unable to mark the difference between a set of justified reasons that are connected to truth and one that (...)
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  12. Deslimitando a Sosa. Diacronía y Colectividad del Juicio Doxástico.Jesus Navarro & Dani Pino - 2021 - In Modesto Gómez-Alonso & David Perez Chico (eds.), Ernesto Sosa. Conocimiento y Virtud. Zaragoza, España: Prensas de la Universidad de Zaragoza. pp. 211-244.
    Ernesto Sosa tiene el mérito de haber sido pionero en lo que podría describirse, quizás sin demasiada exageración, como un cambio de paradigma en la epistemología contemporánea: el que supuso el tránsito desde una epistemología centrada en el problema de la estructura de la justificación hasta una nueva concepción del conocimiento enfocada en la naturaleza del agente epistémico. Un aspecto de este cambio que conviene no tratar con negligencia es el cambio de las analogías fundamentales, que pasaron de ser arquitectónicas (...)
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  13. On Sosa’s Telic Epistemology.Breno Ricardo Guimarães Santos - 2021 - TRANS/FORM/AÇÃO: REVISTA DE FILOSOFIA 44 (Special):25-28.
    Comments to: SOSA, Ernest. Representations, judgments, and the swamping problem for reliabilism: why the problem applies to process reliabilism, but not to virtue reliabilism. Trans/Form/Ação: Unesp journal of philosophy, vol. 44, Special issue in honor of Ernest Sosa, p. 19-24, 2021.
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  14. How Racial Injustice Undermines News Sources and News-Based Inferences.Eric Bayruns García - 2020 - Episteme 2020:1-22.
    I argue racial injustice undermines the reliability of news source reports in the information domain of racial injustice. I argue that this in turn undermines subjects’ doxastic justification in inferences they base on these news sources in the racial injustice information domain. I explain that racial injustice does this undermining through the effect of racial prejudice on news organizations’ members and the effect of society's racially unjust structure on non-dominant racial group-controlled news sources.
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  15. Historical Versus Current Time Slice Theories in Epistemology.Thomas Kelly - 2016 - In Goldman and His Critics. Blackwell. pp. 43-65.
    This chapter explores one theme that in the author judgment has not received as much sustained attention as it warrants: the distinction between historical and current time slice theories of epistemic justification. It devotes to the hermeneutical tasks of explicating and contextualizing the distinction between historical and current time slice theories. The chapter examines Goldman's longstanding claim that no current time slice theory can possibly do justice to the epistemic role of preservative memory. It argues that a principle governing preservative (...)
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  16. A Modal Theory of Discrimination.Guido Melchior - 2021 - Synthese 198 (11):10661-10684.
    Discrimination is a central epistemic capacity but typically, theories of discrimination only use discrimination as a vehicle for analyzing knowledge. This paper aims at developing a self-contained theory of discrimination. Internalist theories of discrimination fail since there is no compelling correlation between discriminatory capacities and experiences. Moreover, statistical reliabilist theories are also flawed. Only a modal theory of discrimination is promising. Versions of sensitivity and adherence that take particular alternatives into account provide necessary and sufficient conditions on discrimination. Safety in (...)
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  17. Reliability: An Introduction.Stefano Bonzio, Jürgen Landes & Barbara Osimani - 2020 - Synthese (Suppl 23):1-10.
    How we can reliably draw inferences from data, evidence and/or experience has been and continues to be a pressing question in everyday life, the sciences, politics and a number of branches in philosophy (traditional epistemology, social epistemology, formal epistemology, logic and philosophy of the sciences). In a world in which we can now longer fully rely on our experiences, interlocutors, measurement instruments, data collection and storage systems and even news outlets to draw reliable inferences, the issue becomes even more pressing. (...)
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  18. Critical Introduction to the Epistemology of Memory.Thomas D. Senor - 2019 - Bloomsbury.
    In this clear and up-to-date introduction, Thomas D. Senor lays the philosophical foundation needed to understand the justification of memory belief. This book explores traditional accounts of the justification of memory belief and examines the resources that prominent positions in contemporary epistemology have to offer theories of the memorial justification. Along the way, epistemic conservatism, evidentialism, foundationalism, phenomenal conservatism, reliabilism, and preservationism all feature. Study Questions and annotated Further Reading guides at the end of each chapter make this book ideal (...)
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  19. A (Different) Virtue Responsibilism: Epistemic Virtues Without Motivations.Benjamin W. McCraw - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (3):311-329.
    Debate rages in virtue epistemology between virtue reliabilists and responsibilists. Here, I develop and argue for a new kind of responsibilism that is more conciliar to reliabilism. First, I argue that competence-based virtue reliabilism cannot adequately ground epistemic credit. Then, with this problem in hand, I show how Aristotle’s virtue theory is motivated by analogous worries. Yet, incorporating too many details of Aristotelian moral theory leads to problems, notably the problem of unmotivated belief. As a result, I suggest a re-turn (...)
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  20. Review of Philip De Bary: Thomas Reid and Scepticism: His Reliabilist Response[REVIEW]Terence Cuneo - 2004 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 2 (2):194-199.
  21. Epistemology and Cognition. Alvin I. Goldman. [REVIEW]Bruce Freed - 1988 - Philosophy of Science 55 (3):479-480.
  22. Was Emily Brown American Empress in Korea?Jong-pil Yoon - 2018 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 12 (1):71-92.
    _ Source: _Page Count 22 This paper investigates the limits and meaning of historical inquiry in light of inferential contextualism that holds as its central tenet that the epistemic status of a proposition depends on the context of the subject. Historical inquiry, the discussion will show, is an epistemic practice that operates under the reliabilist presupposition that beliefs formed through the processes, whose pragmatic utility has been already proven in problem solving situations, may be taken to be rationally justified.As for (...)
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  23. On Constraints of Generality.Charles Travis - 19934 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 94 (1):165-188.
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  24. Thomas Reid and Scepticism: His Reliabilist Response.Roger Gallie - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):518-521.
  25. Scepticism and Reliable Belief, Written by José L. Zalabardo. [REVIEW]Jack C. Lyons - 2016 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 6 (4):412-417.
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  26. Goldman’s Reliabilism and Virtue Epistemology.Ernest Sosa - 2001 - Philosophical Topics 29 (1/2):383-400.
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  27. A Dilemma For Causal Reliabilist Theories of Knowledge.Morris Lipson & Steven Savitt - 1993 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (1):55-74.
    In a ‘Letter from Washington’ in The New Yorker, Elizabeth Drew reported some speculation regarding the mental processes of Ronald Reagan. In Drew’s words:The curious process Drew describes is clearly important in many ways -historically, politically, and perhaps legally. We contend that there is even some epistemological significance to Reagan’s method for the fixation of belief. We shall argue, in particular, that some of those curiously insulated beliefs which Reagan possesses qualify as knowledge under at least one leading causal reliabilist (...)
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  28. Easy Knowledge.Peter J. Markie - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):406-416.
    Stewart Cohen has recently presented solutions to two forms of what he calls “The Problem of Easy Knowledge”. I offer alternative solutions. Like Cohen’s, my solutions allow for basic knowledge. Unlike his, they do not require that we distinguish between animal and reflective knowledge, restrict the applicability of closure under known entailments, or deny the ability of basic knowledge to combine with self-knowledge to provide inductive evidential support. My solution to the closure version of the problem covers a variation on (...)
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  29. Further Thoughts on Agent Reliabilism: Replies to Cohen, Geivett, Kvanvig, and Schmitt and Lahroodi.John Greco - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 66 (2):466-480.
    This paper replies to various concerns raised in a symposium on Putting Skeptics in Their Place: The Nature of Skeptical Arguments and Their Role in Philosophical Inquiry.
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  30. What’s Wrong With Reliabilism?Richard Foley - 1985 - The Monist 68 (2):188-202.
    An increasing number of epistmeologists claim that having beliefs which are reliable is a prerequisite of having epistemically rational beliefs. Alvin Goldman, for instance, defends a view he calls “historical reliabilism.” According to Goldman, a person S rationally believes a proposition p only if his belief is caused by a reliable cognitive process. Goldman adds that a proposition p is epistemically rational for 5, whether or not it is believed by him, only if there is available to S a reliable (...)
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  31. Reference and Generality.W. V. Quine - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (1):100.
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  32. Reliable Knowledge.H. R. Smart - 1946 - Philosophical Review 55 (4):490.
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  33. Greco on Reliabilism and Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 130 (1):35-45.
    I outline Greco’s response to the Pyrrhonian challenge to epistemic externalist theories of knowledge and offer two points of criticism. I also argue, however, that there is an account of epistemic luck available which can cast some light on the dispute that Greco is concerned with, and which could, in principle at least, be regarded as being in the spirit of the proposal that Greco sets out.
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  34. Reliabilism and the Abductive Defence of Scientific Realism.Valeriano Iranzo - 2008 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 39 (1):115-120.
    According to the “no-miracles argument” (NMA), truth is the best explanation of the predictive-instrumental success of scientific theories. A standard objection against NMA is that it is viciously circular. In Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth Stathis Psillos has claimed that the circularity objection can be met when NMA is supplemented with a reliabilist approach to justification. I will try to show, however, that scientific realists cannot take much comfort from this policy: if reliabilism makes no qualifications about the domain (...)
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  35. The Autonomy and Explanation of Mystical Perception.Christopher J. Eberle - 1998 - Religious Studies 34 (3):299-316.
    William Alston has articulated a powerful defence of the claim that mystical perception generates prima facie justified beliefs about God. At the heart of his defence is the claim that mystical perception is 'innocent until proven guilty'; that is, Alston claims that the practice of forming beliefs on the basis of putative perceptions of God should be accorded the same presumptive innocence we accord to other standard ways of forming beliefs like sense perception, memory and introspection. But Alston employs a (...)
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  36. The Reliability of the Cognitive Mechanism: A Mechanist Account of Empirical Justification.William J. Talbott - 1990 - Routledge.
    Originally published in 1990. Examining epistemic justification, truth and logic, this book works towards a holistic theory of knowledge. It discusses evidence, belief, reliability and many philosophical theories surrounding the nature of true knowledge. A thorough Preface updates the main work from when it was written in 1976 to include theories ascendant in the ‘80s.
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  37. The Medieval Roots of Reliabilist Epistemology: Albert of Saxony's View of Immediate Apprehension.Michael J. Fitzgerald - 2003 - Synthese 136 (3):409-434.
    In the essay I first argue that Albert of Saxony's defense of perceptual "direct realism" is in fact a forerunner of contemporary forms of "process reliabilist" epistemologies. Second, I argue that Albert's defense of perceptual direct realism has an interesting consequence for his philosophy of language. His semantic notion of 'natural signification' does not require any semantic intermediary entity called a 'concept' or 'description', to function as the direct significatum of written or spoken terms for them to designate perceptual objects. (...)
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  38. Scepticism and Reliable Belief, by Jose L. Zalabardo. [REVIEW]R. Mckenna - 2015 - Mind 124 (496):1402-1407.
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  39. The Generality Problem Naturalized.Erik J. Olsson - unknown
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  40. Alvin I. Goldman's Account of Justification.Jae-Kyung Kim - 1996 - Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara
    This is an attempt of a partial defence of Alvin I. Goldman's account of justification against the following kinds of criticism: a criticism on the sufficiency of Goldman's account; a criticism on the necessity of Goldman's account; a criticism on the capability of answering a certain kind of skepticism; and an expected criticism on the capability of determining the reliability of psychological processes without falling into circularity. While attempting to defend Goldman's account of justification, I tried to see what is (...)
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  41. Generality in Moral Reflection.Don Loeb - 1991 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    Demands of generality pervade contemporary moral philosophy. For example, both Samuel Scheffler and Shelly Kagan demand a general justification for certain agent-centered features of morality. I argue, however, that these demands are often unjustified. My aim is to level the playing field between our more specific and our more general moral convictions, allowing neither to win by default. ;I begin by distinguishing generality from universality and consistency, and go on to identify several common motivations for generality in ethics. For each (...)
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  42. The Contextual Basis of Rationality.William Douglas Evans - 1992 - Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
    Among recent naturalistic epistemologies, one class of theories, 'rough psychologistic' theories, is the most promising. These claim that for our belief-formation processes to yield knowledge is for them to be sufficiently reliable. The study of cognition, then, is best conducted by dividing labor between two groups: psychologists, who should describe what, and how reliable, the processes we use to form beliefs are; and philosophers, who should formulate normative standards of reliability. ;One promising version of rough psychologism is Alvin Goldman's nativistic (...)
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  43. Goldman, A., "Epistemology and Cognition". [REVIEW]G. Macdonald - 1987 - Mind 96:273.
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  44. Apistemology and Cognition by Alvin Goldman. [REVIEW]Fred Dretske - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (5):265-270.
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  45. Gettiering Goldman.Kenneth Stalkfleet - 2011 - Stance 4:69-78.
    This paper examines the causal theory of knowledge put forth by Alvin Goldman in his 1967 paper “A Causal Theory of Knowing.” Goldman contends that a justified, true belief is knowledge if and only if it is causally connected to the fact that makes it true. This paper provides examples, however, of justified, true beliefs with such causal connections that are clearly not knowledge. The paper further shows that attempts to salvage the causal theory are unsatisfactory.
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  46. No Easy Answers: Science and the Pursuit of Knowledge. [REVIEW]Kent Staley - 2007 - British Journal for the History of Science 40 (3):455-457.
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  47. No Easy Answers: Science and the Pursuit of Knowledge.Allan Franklin - 2005 - University of Pittsburgh Press.
    In _No Easy Answers_, Allan Franklin offers an accurate picture of science to both a general reader and to scholars in the humanities and social sciences who may not have any background in physics. Through the examination of nontechnical case studies, he illustrates the various roles that experiment plays in science. He uses examples of unquestioned success, such as the discoveries of the electron and of three types of neutrino, as well as studies that were dead ends, wrong turns, or (...)
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  48. How Reliabilism Saves the Apriori/Aposteriori Distinction.Thomas Grundmann - 2015 - Synthese 192 (9):2747-2768.
    Contemporary epistemologists typically define a priori justification as justification that is independent of sense experience. However, sense experience plays at least some role in the production of many paradigm cases of a priori justified belief. This raises the question of when experience is epistemically relevant to the justificatory status of the belief that is based on it. In this paper, I will outline the answers that can be given by the two currently dominant accounts of justification, i.e. evidentialism and reliabilism. (...)
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  49. Two Cheers for Process Reliabilism.Christopher S. Hill - 1994 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 75 (1):12-28.
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  50. Meaning, Mind, and Knowledge.Christopher S. Hill - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume presents a selection of essays by the leading philosopher Christopher S. Hill. Together, they address central philosophical issues related to four key concerns: the nature of truth; the relation between experiences and brain states; the relation between experiences and representational states; and problems concerning knowledge.
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