Some key aspects of contemporary epistemology deserve to be challenged, and _How to Know_ does just that. This book argues that several long-standing presumptions at the heart of the standard analytic conception of knowledge are false, and defends an alternative, a practicalist conception of knowledge. Presents a philosophically original conception of knowledge, at odds with some central tenets of analytic epistemology Offers a dissolution of epistemology’s infamous Gettier problem — explaining why the supposed problem was never really a problem in (...) the first place. Defends an unorthodox conception of the relationship between knowledge-that and knowledge-how, understanding knowledge-that as a _kind_ of knowledge-how. (shrink)
How might epistemology build upon its past and present, so as to be better in the future? Epistemology Futures takes bold steps towards answering that question. What methods will best serve epistemology? Which phenomena and concepts deserve more attention from it? Are there approaches and assumptions that have impeded its progress until now? This volume contains provocative essays by prominent epistemologists, presenting many new ideas for possible improvements in how to do epistemology. Contributors: Paul M. Churchland, Catherine Z. Elgin, Richard (...) Feldman, A. C. Grayling, Stephen Hetherington, Christopher Hookway, Hilary Kornblith, Mark Kaplan, William G. Lycan, Adam Morton, Jonathan M. Weinberg, Linda Zagzebski. (shrink)
What is knowledge? How hard is it for a person to have knowledge? Good Knowledge, Bad Knowledge confronts contemporary philosophical attempts to answer those classic questions, offering a theory of knowledge that is unique in conceiving of knowledge in a non-absolutist way.
Could the standard interpretation of Gettier cases reflect a fundamental confusion? Indeed so. How well can epistemologists argue for the truth of that standard interpretation? Not so well. A methodological mistake is allowing them not to notice how they are simply (and inappropriately) being infallibilists when regarding Gettiered beliefs as failing to be knowledge. There is no Gettier problem that we have not merely created for ourselves by unwittingly being infallibilists about knowledge.
Might there be extended cognition and thereby extended minds? Rightly, that possibility is being investigated at present by philosophers of mind. Should epistemologists share that spirit, by inquiring into the possibility of extended knowing and thereby of extended knowers? Indeed so, I argue. The key to this shift of emphasis will be an epistemologically improved understanding of the implications of epistemic externalism.
Since the 1940s, Western epistemology has discussed Gilbert Ryle’s distinction between knowledge-that and knowledge-how. Ryle argued that intelligent actions – manifestations of knowledge-how – are not constituted as intelligent by the guiding intervention of knowledge-that: knowledge-how is not a kind of knowledge-that; we must understand knowledge-how in independent terms. Yet which independent terms are needed? In this chapter, we consider whether an understanding of intelligent action must include talk of knowledge-to. This is the knowledge to do this or that now, (...) not then or in general. Our argument is refined and buttressed by consideration of a text in Chinese philosophy, the Lüshi Chunqiu. This 3rd century BCE text, a compendium on good government, focuses on different types of knowledge that an effective ruler or a capable official should possess. A significant number of those discussions concern examples of knowing-how being manifested in particular situations. The text is explicitly aware of the importance of timeliness and awareness of context in manifesting know-how. Some might say that these are merely manifestations of knowing-how. But we see these examples as revealing characteristics of know-how that Ryle did not anticipate. Might knowing-to be an essential and irreducible aspect of intelligent action? (shrink)
This paper outlines how we may understand knowing-that as a kind of knowing-how-to, and thereby as an ability. (Contrast this form of analysis with the more commonly attempted reduction, of knowing-how-to to knowing-that.) The sort of ability in question has much potential complexity. In general, questioning can, but need not, be part of this complexity. However, questioning is always an element in the complexity that is philosophical knowing. The paper comments on the nature of this particular form of knowing.
Gettier problems or cases are named in honor of the American philosopher Edmund Gettier, who discovered them in 1963. They function as challenges to the philosophical tradition of defining knowledge of a proposition as justified true belief in that proposition. The problems are actual or possible situations in which someone has a belief that is both true and well supported by evidence, yet which — according to almost all epistemologists — fails to be knowledge. Gettier’s original article had a dramatic (...) impact, as epistemologists began trying to ascertain afresh what knowledge is, with almost all agreeing that Gettier had refuted the traditional definition of knowledge. They have made many attempts to repair or replace that traditional definition of knowledge, resulting in several new conceptions of knowledge and of justificatory support. In this respect, Gettier sparked a period of pronounced epistemological energy and innovation — all with a single two-and-a-half page article. There is no consensus, however, that any one of the attempts to solve the Gettier challenge has succeeded in fully defining what it is to have knowledge of a truth or fact. So, the force of that challenge continues to be felt in various ways, and to various extents, within epistemology. Sometimes, the challenge is ignored in frustration at the existence of so many possibly failed efforts to solve it. Often, the assumption is made that somehow it can — and will, one of these days — be solved. Usually, it is agreed to show something about knowledge, even if not all epistemologists concur as to exactly what it shows. (shrink)
When philosophers try to understand the nature of knowledge, they have to confront the Gettier problem. This problem, set out in Edmund Gettier's famous paper of 1963, has yet to be solved, and has challenged our best attempts to define what knowledge is. This volume offers an organised sequence of accessible and distinctive chapters explaining the history of debate surrounding Gettier's challenge, and where that debate should take us next. The chapters describe and evaluate a wide range of ideas about (...) knowledge that have been sparked by philosophical engagements with the Gettier problem, including such phenomena as fallibility, reasoning, evidence, reliability, truth-tracking, context, luck, intellectual virtue, wisdom, conceptual analysis, intuition, experimental philosophy, and explication. The result is an authoritative survey of fifty-plus years of epistemological research - along with provocative ideas for future research – into the nature of knowledge. (shrink)
Despite the problems students often have with the theory of knowledge, it remains, necessarily, at the core of the philosophical enterprise. As experienced teachers know, teaching epistemology requires a text that is not only clear and accessible, but also capable of successfully motivating the abstract problems that arise.In Knowledge Puzzles, Stephen Hetherington presents an informal survey of epistemology based on the use of puzzles to illuminate problems of knowledge. Each topic is introduced through a puzzle, and readers are invited to (...) work their own ways toward a solution. Hetherington’s light and undogmatic style encourages class discussion and independent thought rather than the memorization of “book” answers.Covering all of the most important epistemological issues, informed by classical and contemporary literature, and rich in probing questions and suggestions for further readings, Knowledge Puzzles is a pedagogical breakthrough. Whether it is used as a main text or supplement, this lucid and engaging text will be welcomed by both teachers and students. (shrink)
Fallibilism is the epistemological thesis that no belief (theory, view, thesis, and so on) can ever be rationally supported or justified in a conclusive way. Always, there remains a possible doubt as to the truth of the belief. Fallibilism applies that assessment even to science’s best-entrenched claims and to people’s best-loved commonsense views. Some epistemologists have taken fallibilism to imply skepticism, according to which none of those claims or views are ever well justified or knowledge. In fact, though, it is (...) fallibilist epistemologists (which is to say, the majority of epistemologists) who tend not to be skeptics about the existence of knowledge or justified belief. Generally, those epistemologists see themselves as thinking about knowledge and justification in a comparatively realistic way — by recognizing the fallibilist realities of human cognitive capacities, even while accommodating those fallibilities within a theory that allows perpetually fallible people to have knowledge and justified beliefs. Still, although that is the aim of most epistemologists, the question arises of whether it is a coherent aim. Are they pursuing a coherent way of thinking about knowledge and justification? Much current philosophical debate is centered upon that question. Epistemologists generally seek to understand knowledge and justification in a way that permits fallibilism to be describing a benign truth about how we can gain knowledge and justified beliefs. One way of encapsulating that project is by asking whether it is possible for a person ever to have fallible knowledge and justification. (shrink)
Any knowledge-fallibilist needs to solve the conceptual problem posed by concessive knowledge-attributions (such as ‘I know that p, but possibly not-p’). These seem to challenge the coherence of knowledge-fallibilism. This paper defuses that challenge via a gradualist refinement of what Fantl and McGrath (2009) call weak epistemic fallibilism.
Analytic epistemologists reach regularly for favoured ‘intuitions’. And the anti-luck intuition (as Duncan Pritchard calls it) is possibly one of the best-entrenched epistemological intuitions at present, seemingly guiding standard reactions to Gettier situations. But why is that intuition true (if it is)? This paper argues that the anti-luck intuition (like the ability intuition) rests upon something even more deeply explanatory – the normality intuition. And to recognise this is to understand better what most epistemologists want from a concept of knowledge. (...) (It also helps to explain recent epistemological reactions to lottery cases.)1. (shrink)
Taking his conceptual cue from Ernest Sosa, John Turri has offered a putative conceptual solution to the Gettier problem: Knowledge is cognitively adept belief, and no Gettiered belief is cognitively adept. At the core of such adeptness is a relation of manifestation. Yet to require that relation within knowing is to reach for what amounts to an infallibilist conception of knowledge. And this clashes with the spirit behind the fallibilism articulated by Gettier when stating his challenge. So, Turri’s form of (...) response is irrelevant to that challenge, which was intended to pose a conceptual problem within fallibilist conceptions of knowledge. (And that failure on Turri’s part needs to be highlighted to remind epistemologists of the need to assess Gettier cases by a fallibilist standard. Although that need was described earlier by Robert Almeder, apparently his advice is being overlooked. This paper develops it anew, in a more general form.). (shrink)
Might epistemic justification be, to some substantive extent, a function of epistemic responsibility—a belief's being formed, or its being maintained, in an epistemically responsible way? I will call any analysis of epistemic justification endorsing that kind of idea epistemic responsibilism—or, for short, responsibilism. Many epistemic internalists are responsibilists, because they think that what makes a belief justified is its being appropriately related to one's good evidence for it, and because many of them regard this appropriate relation as somehow involving one's (...) being epistemically responsible. Alvin Goldman describes internalism as relying upon a guidance-deontological conception of epistemic justification, at the heart of which is a concept of epistemic responsibility. Alvin Plantinga, too, characterises internalism in deontological terms, epistemic responsibility being one of the most prominent such terms. And the concept of epistemic responsibility might feature in attempts to develop a virtue epistemology. Epistemic responsibility would be an epistemic virtue, and epistemic justification would be present partly due to one's being epistemically virtuous. (shrink)
One of contemporary epistemology's more important conceptual challenges is that of understanding the nature of fallibility. Part of why this matters is that it would contribute to our understanding the natures of fallible warrant and fallible knowledge. This article evaluates two candidates – and describes a shared form of failing. Each is concealedly infallibilist. This failing is all-too-representative of the difficulty of doing justice to the notion of fallibility within the notions of fallible warrant and fallible knowledge. The article ends (...) with a proposal for an improved form of conception of fallible warrant and fallible knowledge. (shrink)
Philosophers have said less than is needed about the nature of premature death, and about the badness or otherwise of that death for the one who dies. In this paper, premature death’s nature is clarified in Epicurean terms. And an accompanying argument denies that we need to think of such a death as bad in itself for the one who dies. Premature death’s nature is conceived of as a death that arrives before ataraxia does. (Ataraxia’s nature is also clarified. It (...) is a pervasive inner peace that is a kind of purity and completeness in how one is living.) Whatever harm we might attribute to a premature death is better attributed to a life’s being lived at that time without ataraxia. The paper ends by explaining how its Epicurean account, more so than comparativist or narrativist accounts, could allow a person to know that her death will not be premature. (shrink)
This paper highlights an aspect of Gettier situations, one standardly not accorded interpretive significance. A remark of Gettier’s suggests its potential importance. And once that aspect’s contribution is made explicit, an argument unfolds for the conclusion that it is fairly simple to have knowledge within Gettier situations. Indeed, that argument dissolves the traditional Gettier problem.
Where is the justificatory boundary between a true belief's not being knowledge and its being knowledge? Even if we put to one side the Gettier problem, this remains a fundamental epistemological question, concerning as it does the matter of whether we can provide some significant defence of the usual epistemological assumption that a belief is knowledge only if it is well justified. But can that question be answered non-arbitrarily? BonJour believes that it cannot be -- and that epistemology should therefore (...) abandon the concept of knowledge. More optimistically, this paper does attempt to answer that question, by applying -- and thereby refining -- a non-absolutist theory of knowledge. (shrink)
Norström has argued that contemporary epistemological debates about the conceptual relations between knowledge-that and knowledge-how need to be supplemented by a concept of technological knowledge—with this being a further kind of knowledge. But this paper argues that Norström has not shown why technological knowledge-that is so distinctive because Norström has not shown that such knowledge cannot be reduced conceptually to a form of knowledge-how. The paper thus applies practicalism to the case of technological knowledge-that. Indeed, the paper shows why Norström’s (...) conception of technological knowledge unintentionally strengthens this proposed form of reduction. (shrink)
Edmund Gettier's 1963 verdict about what knowledge is not has become an item of philosophical orthodoxy, accepted by philosophers as a genuine epistemological result. It assures us that - contrary to what Plato and later philosophers have thought - knowledge is not merely a true belief well supported by epistemic justification. But that orthodoxy has generated the Gettier problem - epistemology's continuing struggle to understand how to accommodate Gettier's apparent result within an improved conception of knowledge. In this book, Stephen (...) Hetherington argues that none of epistemology's standard attempts to solve that problem have succeeded: he shows how subtle yet fundamental mistakes - regarding explication, methodology, properties, modality, and fallibility - have permeated those responses to Gettier's challenge. His fresh and original book outlines a new way of solving the problem, and an improved grasp of Gettier's challenge and its significance is the result. In a sense, Plato can now embrace Gettier. (shrink)
If any thesis is all-but-universally accepted by contemporary epistemologists, it is justificationism-the thesis that being an instance of knowledge has to include being epistemically justified in some appropriate way. If there is to be any epistemological knowledge about knowledge, a paradigm candidate would seem to be our knowledge that justificationism is true. This is a conception of a way in whichknowledge has to be robust. Nevertheless, this paper provides reason to doubt the truth of that conception. Even epistemology’s supposed conceptual (...) core is not as epistemically unchallengeable as we might have assumed to be the case. (shrink)
We may usefully distinguish between one’s having fallible knowledge and having a fallibilist stance on some of one’s knowledge. A fallibilist stance could include a concessive knowledge-attribution. But it might also include a questioning knowledge-attribution. Attending to the idea of a QKA leads to a distinction between what we may call closed knowledge that p and open knowledge that p. All of this moves us beyond Elgin’s classic tale of the epistemic capacities of Holmes and of Watson, and towards a (...) way of resolving Kripke’s puzzle about dogmatism and knowing. (shrink)
Of course, if infallibilism about such knowledge is true, then it is true that one can never know that one is not dreaming. But, of course, if infallibilism is true, then there is also no special difficulty posed for one’s having knowledge in general by one’s not knowing in particular that one is not dreaming: one would know either nothing or next to nothing anyway, regardless of one’s not knowing in particular that one is not dreaming. Yet epistemologists have generally (...) regarded the challenge of knowing that one is not dreaming as being at least somewhat pivotal or special. This suggests that, although they wish not to concede that no one can know that one is not dreaming, they wish to be fallibilists about knowledge. (shrink)
I argue that Goodman's puzzle of grue at least poses no real challenge about inductive inference. By drawing on Stove's characterisation of Hume's characterisation of inductive inference, we see that the premises in an inductive inference report experienced impressions; and Goodman can be interpreted as posing a real challenge about inductive inference only if we treat an epistemic subject's observations more as logical contents and less as experienced impressions. So, even though the grue puzzle was effective against its stated logicist (...) targets, it is not thereby an enduring difficulty regarding experience's ability to impart epistemic justification via inductive evidence. (shrink)
For a while now, there has been much conceptual discussion about the respective natures of knowledge-that and knowledge-how, along with the intellectualist idea that knowledge-how is really a kind of knowledge-that. Gilbert Ryle put in place most of the terms that have so far been distinctive of that debate, when he argued for knowledge-how's conceptual distinctness from knowledge-that. But maybe those terms should be supplemented, expanding the debate. In that spirit, the conceptual option of practicalism has recently entered the fray. (...) Practicalism conceives anew the nature of knowledge-that, as being a kind of knowledge-how. In this paper we enlarge upon this conceptual suggestion. We draw from an ancient Chinese text, the Analects of Confucius, explaining how it lends some support to practicalism. (shrink)
Scepticism about external world knowledge is frequently claimed to emerge from Descartes’s dreaming argument. That argument supposedly challenges one to have some further knowledge — the knowledge that one is not dreaming that p — if one is to have even one given piece of external world knowledge that p. The possession of that further knowledge can seem espe-cially important when the dreaming possibility is genuinely Cartesian. But this paper shows why that Cartesian use of that possi-bility is not at (...) all challenging. It is because that putative sceptical challenge reduces to a triviality which is incompatible with the sceptic’s having de-scribed some further piece of knowledge which is needed, if one is to have the knowledge that p. (shrink)
How should we understand both the nature, and the epistemic potential, of Descartes’s Cogito? Peter Slezak’s interpretation of the Cogito’s nature sees it strictly as a selfreferential kind of denial: Descartes cannot doubt that he is doubting. And what epistemic implications flow from this interpretation of the Cogito? We find that there is a consequent lack of knowledge being described by Descartes: on Cartesian grounds, indubitability is incompatible with knowing. Even as the Cogito halts doubt, therefore, it fails to be (...) knowledge. (shrink)
This paper contains a discussion of a theory of laws of nature formulated recently by Michael Tooley. He sees the truth-makers for laws of nature as consisting of particular sorts of contingent relations between universals. He is not alone in this idea; it has also been advanced by Fred Dretske and D.M. Armstrong. However, its most thorough and detailed presentation is by Tooley. Being a challenging and stimulating idea, it merits investigation.
Philosophers talk routinely of ‘Hume's problem of induction’. But the usual accompanying exegesis is mistaken in a way that has led epistemologists to conceive of ‘Hume's problem’ in needlessly narrow terms. They have overlooked a way of articulating the conceptual problem, along with a potential way of solving it. Indeed, they have overlooked Hume's own way. In explaining this, I will supplement Hume's insights by adapting Ryle's thinking on knowledge-how and knowledge-that. We will also see why Hume's ‘sceptical solution’ was (...) a perfectly appropriate response to his ‘sceptical argument’ — rather than a merely descriptive response patently missing the normative sceptical point so strikingly formulated by Hume. (shrink)
What does it take for some epistemological thinking to be epistemically justified? Indeed, is that outcome even possible? This paper argues that it is not possible: no epistemological thinking can ever be epistemically justified. A vicious infinite regress of epistemological reflection is the price that would have to be paid for having some such justification. Clearly, that price would be too high.
How can a person avoid being Gettiered? This paper provides the first answer to that question that is both fallibilist and purely internalist. It is an answer that allows the justified-true-belief analysis of knowledge to survive Gettier’s attack (albeit as a nonreductionist analysis of knowledge).