The normality of error

Philosophical Studies 178 (8):2509-2533 (2021)
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Abstract

Formal models of appearance and reality have proved fruitful for investigating structural properties of perceptual knowledge. This paper applies the same approach to epistemic justification. Our central goal is to give a simple account of The Preface, in which justified belief fails to agglomerate. Following recent work by a number of authors, we understand knowledge in terms of normality. An agent knows p iff p is true throughout all relevant normal worlds. To model The Preface, we appeal to the normality of error. Sometimes, it is more normal for reality and appearance to diverge than to match. We show that this simple idea has dramatic consequences for the theory of knowledge and justification. Among other things, we argue that a proper treatment of The Preface requires a departure from the internalist idea that epistemic justification supervenes on the appearances and the widespread idea that one knows most when free from error.

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Author Profiles

Simon Goldstein
University of Hong Kong
Sam Carter
Australian Catholic University

Citations of this work

Epistemology Normalized.Jeremy Goodman & Bernhard Salow - 2023 - Philosophical Review 132 (1):89-145.
Fragile Knowledge.Simon Goldstein - 2022 - Mind 131 (522):487-515.
Degrees of Assertability.Sam Carter - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (1):19-49.
Counterfactual Contamination.Simon Goldstein & John Hawthorne - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (2):262-278.
Knowledge from multiple experiences.Simon Goldstein & John Hawthorne - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (4):1341-1372.

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Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):105-116.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):452-458.
Between Probability and Certainty: What Justifies Belief.Martin Smith - 2016 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.

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