Knowledge and normality

Synthese 198 (12):11673-11694 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this paper, we propose a general constraint on theories of knowledge that we call ‘normalism’. Normalism is a view about the epistemic threshold that separates knowledge from mere true belief; its basic claim is that one knows only if one has at least a normal amount of epistemic support for one’s belief. We argue that something like normalism is required to do full justice to the normative role of knowledge in many key everyday practices, such as assertion, inquiry, and testimony. The view of normality we employ to flesh out this claim is inspired by experimental work on the folk notion of normality, which suggests that folk judgments of what is ‘normal’ are based upon both statistical averages as well as normative ideals within the relevant target domain. Adopting this notion of normality to set the threshold for knowledge results in a view upon which knowledge is routinely available on an everyday basis without being a merely trivial achievement. We explore several interesting consequences of this view, including the implication that the threshold for knowing may change as, e.g., the ease of availability of information in an epistemic community changes over time. The result is a ‘shifty’ view of knowledge which nonetheless retains more stability than standard contextualist or pragmatic encroachment approaches.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,122

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The normality of error.Sam Carter & Simon Goldstein - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (8):2509-2533.
Justification, knowledge, and normality.Clayton Littlejohn & Julien Dutant - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1593-1609.
Higher order ignorance inside the margins.Sam Carter - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1789-1806.
Know How to Transmit Knowledge?Ted Poston - 2015 - Noûs 50 (4):865-878.
Being in a position to know.Juhani Yli-Vakkuri & John Hawthorne - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (4):1323-1339.
Dispositional knowledge-how vs. propositional knowledge-that.Gregor Damschen - 2011 - Universitas Philosophica 28 (57):189-212.
Pluralism about Knowledge.Robin McKenna - 2017 - In Coliva Annalisa & Pedersen Nikolaj Jang Lee Linding (eds.), Epistemic Pluralism. Londra, Regno Unito: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 171-198.
Normality as a biological concept.Robert Wachbroit - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (4):579-591.
Practical knowledge of language.Cheng-Hung Tsai - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (2):331-341.


Added to PP

35 (#414,587)

6 months
13 (#138,161)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Joachim Horvath
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Jennifer Nado
University of Hong Kong

References found in this work

Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Elusive knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):105-116.
Between Probability and Certainty: What Justifies Belief.Martin Smith - 2016 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.

View all 41 references / Add more references