Epistemic closure, assumptions and topics of inquiry

Synthese 191 (16):3977-4002 (2014)
Abstract
According to the principle of epistemic closure, knowledge is closed under known implication. The principle is intuitive but it is problematic in some cases. Suppose you know you have hands and you know that ‘I have hands’ implies ‘I am not a brain-in-a-vat’. Does it follow that you know you are not a brain-in-a-vat? It seems not; it should not be so easy to refute skepticism. In this and similar cases, we are confronted with a puzzle: epistemic closure is an intuitive principle, but at times, it does not seem that we know by implication. In response to this puzzle, the literature has been mostly polarized between those who are willing to do away with epistemic closure and those who think we cannot live without it. But there is a third way. Here I formulate a restricted version of the principle of epistemic closure. In the standard version, the principle can range over any proposition; in the restricted version, it can only range over those propositions that are within the limits of a given epistemic inquiry and that do not constitute the underlying assumptions of the inquiry. If we adopt the restricted version, I argue, we can preserve the advantages associated with closure, while at the same time avoiding the puzzle I’ve described. My discussion also yields an insight into the nature of knowledge. I argue that knowledge is best understood as a topic-restricted notion, and that such a conception is a natural one given our limited cognitive resources
Keywords Assumption  Bounded rationality  Contextualism  Epistemic closure  Knowledge  Topic of inquiry
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0522-2
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
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 University Press.
Epistemic Luck.Duncan Pritchard - 2005 - Oxford University Press UK.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
What We Can Learn From the Skeptical Puzzle.Tim Black - 2009 - Iris. European Journal of Philosophy and Public Debate 1 (2):439-447.
Living Without Closure.Krista Lawlor - 2005 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 69 (1):25-50.
When Does Epistemic Closure Fail?M. Yan - 2013 - Analysis 73 (2):260-264.
Problems for Contrastive Closure: Resolved and Regained.Michael Hughes - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (3):577-590.
Solving the Problem of Easy Knowledge.Tim Black - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (233):597-617.
Added to PP index
2014-07-23

Total downloads
135 ( #40,872 of 2,231,710 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
19 ( #23,702 of 2,231,710 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature