Merely partial definition and the analysis of knowledge

Synthese 198 (Suppl 7):1481-1505 (2018)
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Two families of positions dominate debates over a metaphysically reductive analysis of knowledge. Traditionalism holds that knowledge has a complete, uniquely identifying analysis, while knowledge-first epistemology contends that knowledge is primitive—admitting of no reductive analysis whatsoever. Drawing on recent work in metaphysics, I argue that these alternatives fail to exhaust the available possibilities. Knowledge may have a merely partial analysis: a real definition that distinguishes it from some, but not all other things. I demonstrate that this position is attractive; it evades concerns that its rivals face.



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Samuel Elgin
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Metaphysical Constraints, Primitivism, and Reduction.Michael Bertrand - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (4):503-521.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Nature of Necessity.Alvin Plantinga - 1974 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.

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