Knowledge and the regularity theory of information

Synthese 82 (3):375-398 (1990)
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Abstract

Fred Dretske's "Knowledge and the Flow of Information" is an extended attempt to develop a philosophically useful theory of information. Dretske adapts central ideas from Shannon and Weaver's mathematical theory of communication, and applies them to some traditional problems in epistemology. In doing so, he succeeds in building for philosophers a much-needed bridge to important work in cognitive science. The pay-off for epistemologists is that Dretske promises a way out of a long-standing impasse -- the Gettier problem. He offers an alternative model of knowledge as information-based belief, which purports to avoid the problems justificatory accounts face. This essay looks closely at Dretske's theory. I argue that while the information-theoretic framework is attractive, it does not provide an adequate account of knowledge. And there seems to be no way of tightening the theory without introducing some version of a theory of justification -- the very notion Dretske's theory was designed to avoid

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