The Ambiguity Theory of “Knows”

Acta Analytica 33 (1):69-83 (2018)
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The ambiguity theory of “knows” is the view that knows and its cognates have more than one propositional sense—i.e., more than one sense that can properly be used in “knows that” etc. constructions. The ambiguity theory of “know” has received relatively little attention as an account of the truth-conditions for knowledge ascriptions and denials—especially compared to views like classical, moderate invariantism and epistemic contextualism. In this paper, it is argued that the ambiguity theory of knows has an advantage over both classical, moderate invariantism and epistemic contextualism. This advantage is that it is the only one of these views that can account for “diverging knowledge responses without inconsistency” —i.e., cases in which, for the same subject S and proposition p, one and the same speaker says truly “S knows p” but instead could have truly said “S does not know p” and vice versa. This paper argues both for the existence of DRWI scenarios and the ability of the ambiguity theory of knows to best explain their existence.

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Mark Satta
Wayne State University

References found in this work

Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge in an uncertain world.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Matthew McGrath.
Elusive knowledge.David Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.
Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism.Peter K. Unger - 1975 - Oxford [Eng.]: Oxford University Press.

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