Knowledge as a (non-factive) mental state

Erkenntnis:1-22 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The thesis that knowledge is a factive mental state plays a central role in knowledge-first epistemology, but accepting this thesis requires also accepting an unusually severe version of externalism about the mind. On this strong attitude externalism, whether S is in the mental state of knowledge can and often will rapidly change in virtue of changes in external states of reality with which S has no causal contact. It is commonly thought that this externalism requirement originates in the factivity of knowledge. However, despite a number of recent defenses of non-factive accounts of knowledge, epistemology has yet to consider whether a non-factive approach might produce a version of the mental state thesis that can avoid strong externalism. Here I do just that, exploring how three different proposals for weakening factivity might be adapted to theories of knowledge as a non-factive mental state. Contrary to what we might expect, however, none of these proposals are compatible with anything close to attitude internalism about knowledge—or even a substantially weaker externalism. All told, the widespread view that wraps up the severe externalism required for knowledge to be a mental state in factivity is mistaken. Knowledge’s external-world connection runs far deeper than the factivity constraint.

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Adam Michael Bricker
University of Turku

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References found in this work

The meaning of 'meaning'.Hilary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.
Individualism and the mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Individualism and psychology.Tyler Burge - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (January):3-45.
The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans & John Mcdowell - 1986 - Philosophy 61 (238):534-538.

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