Epistemic Closure in Folk Epistemology

In Tania Lombrozo, Joshua Knobe & Shaun Nichols (eds.), Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume Two. Oxford University Press. pp. 38-70 (2018)
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Abstract

We report the results of four empirical studies designed to investigate the extent to which an epistemic closure principle for knowledge is reflected in folk epistemology. Previous work by Turri (2015a) suggested that our shared epistemic practices may only include a source-relative closure principle—one that applies to perceptual beliefs but not to inferential beliefs. We argue that the results of our studies provide reason for thinking that individuals are making a performance error when their knowledge attributions and denials conflict with the closure principle. When we used research materials that overcome what we think are difficulties with Turri’s original materials, we found that participants did not reject closure. Furthermore, when we presented Turri’s original materials to non-philosophers with expertise in deductive reasoning (viz., professional mathematicians), they endorsed closure for both perceptual and inferential beliefs. Our results suggest that an unrestricted closure principle—one that applies to all beliefs, regardless of their source—provides a better model of folk patterns of knowledge attribution than a source-relative closure principle.

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Author Profiles

Jake Monaghan
Chapman University
James R. Beebe
University at Buffalo

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Philosophical explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
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Epistemic operators.Fred I. Dretske - 1970 - Journal of Philosophy 67 (24):1007-1023.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (219):353-356.

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