Really Knowing: An Essay on the Absolute Nature of Knowledge

Dissertation, Syracuse University (1989)

Rudy Garns
Northern Kentucky University
Several contemporary epistemologists have claimed that knowledge is a relative concept and that knowledge attributions are context-sensitive. Knowing, these relativists contend, demands on ability to discriminate the actual, state of affairs from relevant alternative states of affairs, where the relevance of these alternatives depends on what the knower, or the attributor of knowledge, considers likely, possible, or significant in some other way. Thus, with respect to non-inferential perceptual knowledge, if two individuals each base their true belief that p on qualitatively identical perceptual experiences and equal discriminative abilities, one could have knowledge and the other not, depending on the context in which knowledge is attributed or denied. ;In this dissertation I critically examine the claim that knowledge is a relative concept. Limiting my discussion to noninferential perceptual knowledge and accepting a discrimination account of knowing, I argue that knowledge is an absolute concept, that the standards for knowing do not vary from context to context. ;I contend that the notion of infallibility--the impossibility of error--lies at the root of these discrimination-relevant alternatives views. Relativity enters when context-sensitive contraints are placed on the notion of impossibility. While I accept the infallibility theme, I argue that the modality involved is best understood to be absolute, or context-insensitive. To emphasize the relative over the absolute, perhaps in order to capture the ordinary use of the term "knows" or the practical application of the concept of knowledge, is to present an account' of knowledge for all practical purposes rather than genuine knowledge itself
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 47,122
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Dispositional Knowledge-How Versus Propositional Knowledge-That.Gregor Damschen - 2009 - In Gregor Damschen, Robert Schnepf & Karsten Stueber (eds.), Debating Dispositions. Issues in Metaphysics, Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter. pp. 278-295.
Knowing‐Wh and Embedded Questions.Ted Parent - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (2):81-95.
Skepticism, Contextualism, and Discrimination.Jonathan Schaffer - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):138 - 155.
Knowing.Michael David Roth - 1970 - New York: Random House.
Knowing That, Knowing How, and Knowing to Do.Refeng Tang - 2011 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 6 (3):426-442.
Knowing‐How: Problems and Considerations.Ellen Fridland - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):703-727.
Knowing the Answer.Jonathan Schaffer - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):383-403.
The Semantics of Knowledge Attributions.Nikola Kompa - 2005 - Acta Analytica 20 (1):16-28.
Perceptual-Recognitional Abilities and Perceptual Knowledge.Alan Millar - 2008 - In Adrian Haddock & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge. Oxford University Press. pp. 330--47.
Knowledge and Truth.Francois Lepage - 1989 - Dialectica 43 (3):215-229.


Added to PP index

Total views
1 ( #1,392,696 of 2,289,296 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #842,814 of 2,289,296 )

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature