Epistemic Agency and the Generality Problem

Philosophical Topics 45 (1):107-120 (2017)
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I present and motivate a new solution to the generality problem for reliabilism. I suggest that we shift our focus from process-types that can be characterized independently of a subject’s epistemic concerns to process-types that play important roles in the life of the epistemic agent. Once we do so, a simple, promising solution suggests itself: the C-Typing Thesis. According to the C-Typing Thesis, how an epistemic agent forms her degree of confidence in a believed proposition determines the epistemically relevant type of belief-forming process for that belief. First I motivate this view generally, arguing that it satisfies important desiderata for a solution to the generality problem. Then I show that it makes the intuitively correct predictions for a wide range of cases. I also show how it can solve Brian Weatherson’s temporal generality problem, and, relatedly, Jonathan Vogel’s bootstrapping problem for reliabilism. The C-Typing Thesis is plausible not only because it makes correct predictions, but also because it does so in a way that responds to a common charge against reliabilism: that reliability is disconnected from our lives as epistemic inquirers. The C-Typing Thesis shows how epistemic agency can play a significant role in an externalist account of justification and knowledge.



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Lisa Miracchi
University of Pennsylvania

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Epistemology.Matthias Steup - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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