Author(s)Das, Nilanjan, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
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I argue that knowledge and rational belief are subject to stability conditions. A belief that amounts to knowledge couldn't easily have been lost due to the impact of misleading evidence. A belief that is rational couldn't easily have been withdrawn upon reflection on its epistemic credentials. In Chapter 1, I support a picture of epistemic rationality on which a belief, in order to be rational, must be stable under reflection, i.e., it must be capable of surviving reflective scrutiny. To make room for this condition, I defend the possibility of higher-order defeat, where a belief's rationally undermined by misleading higher order evidence, i.e., by evidence about what one's evidence supports. I sketch an account of-higher-order defeat on which higher-order evidence makes an agent's total body of evidence fragmented: even though a piece of evidence is available within the agent's cognitive system, the agent is unable to rationally bring it to bear upon certain questions. In Chapter 2, I explore an analogy between knowledge and moral worth. Just as knowledge requires the agent to non-accidentally believe the truth, so too does morally worthy action require the agent to non-accidentally perform the right action. I argue that the analogy lends support to an explanation-based account of knowledge: a belief amounts to knowledge only if the manner in which the agent forms the belief explains both why the agent holds the belief (rather than losing it) and why she forms a true belief (rather than a false one). I call this view explanationism. In Chapter 3, 1 discuss a consequence of explanationism: a belief that amounts to knowledge couldn't easily be rationally defeated by misleading evidence. This condition-safety from from defeat explains a range of different epistemic phenomena. It accounts for the explanatory role of knowledge in relation to certain kinds of behaviour, like rational perseverance. It obviates certain demanding "internalist" conditions on knowledge. It also illuminates the connection between knowledge and practical interests.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, 2016."September 2016." Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 119-134).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistics and Philosophy.