Epistemic Gradualism's Argument from Components

Studies in Dialectics of Nature 39 (5):40-46 (2023)
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Abstract

An epistemological orthodox view holds that knowing that p is an absolute ‘yes-or-no’ affair rather than something that comes in degrees. The rising epistemic gradualist theory challenges this orthodoxy by arguing that knowledge-that is a gradable concept. The predominant form of argument for gradualism in the current literature is the argument from component, according to which knowledge is gradable because its various components (e.g., justification, belief, truth) are gradable. I will show that the argument from components involves a non-sequitur: the alleged gradability of knowledge’s components cannot ensure the gradability of knowledge per se. The crux of this logical lacuna lies in that the argument neglects the external gradability of knowledge, viz, there is no clear-cut threshold between knowledge and lack thereof. The lacuna can be mended by seeing knowledge-that as a spectrum concept such that a more complete gradualist picture can be achieved.

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Changsheng Lai
Shanghai JiaoTong University

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