The Problem of Rational Knowledge

Erkenntnis 79 (Suppl 6):1151-1168 (2014)

Authors
Mark Jago
Nottingham University
Abstract
Real-world agents do not know all consequences of what they know. But we are reluctant to say that a rational agent can fail to know some trivial consequence of what she knows. Since every consequence of what she knows can be reached via chains of trivial cot be dismissed easily, as some have attempted to do. Rather, a solution must give adequate weight to the normative requirements on rational agents’ epistemic states, without treating those agents as mathematically ideal reasoners. I’ll argue that agents can fail to know trivial consequences of what they know, but never determinately. Such cases are epistemic oversights on behalf of the agent in question, and the facts about epistemic oversights are always indeterminate facts. As a result, we are never in a position to assert that such-and-such constitutes an epistemic oversight for agent i. I then develop formal epistemic models according to which epistemic accessibility relations are vague. Given these models, we can show that epistemic oversights always concern indeterminate cases of knowledge.
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-013-9545-1
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