Stanley on the Knowledge-Relation

SATS 9 (1):109-124 (2008)

Steffen Borge
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
The latest newcomer on the epistemology scene is Subject-Sensitive Invariantism (SSI), which is the view that even though the semantics of the verb “know” is invariant, the answer to the question of whether someone knows something is sensitive to factors about that person. Factors about the context of the purported knower are relevant to whether he knows some proposition p or not. In this paper I present Jason Stanley's version of SSI, a theory Stanley calls Interest-Relative Invariantism (IRI). The core epistemological claim of IRI is that knowledge is conceptually connected to practical interests. Stanley's defence of IRI is closely connected to practical reasoning, but unfortunately, I argue, IRI leads to bad practical reasoning. I furthermore show that Stanley's IRI cannot accommodate all of Stanley's five test cases for knowledge attribution, test cases that are supposed to (more or less) make or break theories of knowledge attribution. IRI also has some quite counterintuitive results and derives much of its appeal from one-sidedness of Stanley's examples. The net effect, I claim, is that IRI should be resisted.
Keywords knowledge  invariantism  action  uninterests  practical reasoning  Jason Stanley
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DOI 10.1515/SATS.2008.109
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