Sensitivity Actually

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (3):606-625 (2017)
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Abstract

A number of prominent epistemologists claim that the principle of sensitivity “play[s] a starring role in the solution to some important epistemological problems”. I argue that traditional sensitivity accounts fail to explain even the most basic data that are usually considered to constitute their primary motivation. To establish this result I develop Gettier and lottery cases involving necessary truths. Since beliefs in necessary truths are sensitive by default, the resulting cases give rise to a serious explanatory problem for the defenders of sensitivity accounts. It is furthermore argued that attempts to modally strengthen traditional sensitivity accounts to avoid the problem must appeal to a notion of safety—the primary competitor of sensitivity in the literature. The paper concludes that the explanatory virtues of sensitivity accounts are largely illusory. In the framework of modal epistemology, it is safety rather than sensitivity that does the heavy explanatory lifting with respect to Gettier cases, lottery examples, and other pertinent cases.

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Michael Blome-Tillmann
McGill University

Citations of this work

Sensitivity, safety, and impossible worlds.Guido Melchior - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (3):713-729.
Epistemic Closure, Necessary Truths, and Safety.Bin Zhao - 2022 - American Philosophical Quarterly 59 (4):391-401.
A Dilemma for Globalized Safety.Bin Zhao - 2021 - Acta Analytica 37 (2):249-261.
Sensitivity, Safety, and Epistemic Closure.Bin Zhao - 2022 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 30 (1):56-71.
Saving Sensitivity.Brett Topey - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):177-196.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Harvard University Press.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2003 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.

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