The redundancy problem: From knowledge-infallibilism to knowledge-minimalism

Synthese:1-20 (forthcoming)
Stephen Hetherington
University of New South Wales
Among the epistemological ideas commonly associated with the Descartes of the Meditations, at any rate, is a knowledge-infallibilism. Such an idea was seemingly a vital element in Descartes’s search for truth within that investigative setting: only a true belief gained infallibly could be knowledge, as the Meditations conceived of this. Contemporary epistemologists are less likely than Descartes was to advocate our ever seeking knowledge-infallibility, if only because most are doubtful as to its ever being available. Still, they would agree—in a seemingly Cartesian spirit—that if infallible knowledge was available then it would be a stronger link to truth than fallible knowledge ever manages to be. But this paper argues that infallible knowledge lacks that supposed advantage over fallible knowledge. Indeed, we will see why we should move even further away from the epistemological model at the heart of the Meditations: we should adopt knowledge-minimalism, by conceiving of a belief’s being true as always sufficient for its being knowledge—this, for any belief
Keywords Knowledge  True belief  Knowledge-fallibilism  Knowledge-infallibilism  Knowledge-minimalism  Redundancy problem  Descartes  Sartwell
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1091-3
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