Synthese:1-28 (forthcoming)

Jeffrey Tolly
University of Notre Dame
The generality problem is one of the most pressing challenges for reliabilism. The problem begins with this question: of all the process types exemplified by a given process token, which types are the relevant ones for determining whether the resultant belief counts as knowledge? As philosophers like Earl Conee and Richard Feldman have argued, extant responses to the generality problem have failed, and it looks as if no solution is forthcoming. In this paper, I present a new response to the generality problem that illuminates the nature of knowledge-enabling reliability. My response builds upon the insights of Juan Comesaña’s well-founded solution to the generality problem, according to which relevant types are content–evidence pairs, i.e., descriptions of both the target belief’s content and the evidence on which the belief was based. While most responses to the generality problem, including Comesaña’s, only posit one relevant type for any given process token, I argue that knowledge-enabling reliability requires a process token to be reliable with respect to multiple content–evidence pairs, each with varying degrees of descriptive specificity. I call this solution multi-type evidential reliabilism. After offering a clear formulation of MTE, I conclude by arguing that MTE is sufficiently informative to rebut Conee and Feldman’s generality problem objection to a reliability condition on knowledge.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02146-4
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