Epistemic gradualism and ordinary epistemic practice: Responce to Hetherington

Philosophia 34 (3):311-324 (2006)
Adam Leite
Indiana University, Bloomington
This paper responds to Stephen Hetherington's discussion of my ‘Is Fallibility an Epistemological Shortcoming?’ (2004). The Infallibilist skeptic holds that in order to know something, one must be able to rule out every possible alternative to the truth of one’s belief. This requirement is false. In this paper I first clarify this requirement’s relation to our ordinary practice. I then turn to a more fundamental issue. The Infallibilist holds – along with many non-skeptical epistemologists – that Infallibility is epistemically superior to the epistemic position attained when we have (what we ordinarily call) knowledge. This is false, too, as our ordinary practices show. Ordinary epistemic appraisal does not concern our standing on a scale of evaluation which has Infallibility at its apex. For this reason, even if gradualism is correct, it does not show how Infallibilist skepticism can arise out of our ordinary practice.
Keywords infallibility  epistemic gradualism  skepticism  knowledge  fallibilism
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-006-9030-z
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