Knowing Full Well

Knowing Full Well

Ernest Sosa
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Knowing Full Well
    Book Description:

    In this book, Ernest Sosa explains the nature of knowledge through an approach originated by him years ago, known as virtue epistemology. Here he provides the first comprehensive account of his views on epistemic normativity as a form of performance normativity on two levels. On a first level is found the normativity of the apt performance, whose success manifests the performer's competence. On a higher level is found the normativity of the meta-apt performance, which manifests not necessarily first-order skill or competence but rather the reflective good judgment required for proper risk assessment. Sosa develops this bi-level account in multiple ways, by applying it to issues much disputed in recent epistemology: epistemic agency, how knowledge is normatively related to action, the knowledge norm of assertion, and theMenoproblem as to how knowledge exceeds merely true belief. A full chapter is devoted to how experience should be understood if it is to figure in the epistemic competence that must be manifest in the truth of any belief apt enough to constitute knowledge. Another takes up the epistemology of testimony from the performance-theoretic perspective. Two other chapters are dedicated to comparisons with ostensibly rival views, such as classical internalist foundationalism, a knowledge-first view, and attributor contextualism. The book concludes with a defense of the epistemic circularity inherent in meta-aptness and thereby in the full aptness of knowing full well.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3691-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Knowing Full Well
    (pp. 1-13)

    Belief is a kind of performance, which attains one level of success if it is true (or accurate), a second level if it is competent (or adroit), and a third if its truth manifests the believer’s competence (i.e., if it is apt). Knowledge on one level (the animal level) is apt belief. The epistemic normativity constitutive of such knowledge is thus a kind of performance normativity. A problem is posed for this account, however, by the fact that suspension of belief admits the same epistemic normativity as does belief itself, even though to suspend is of course preciselynotto...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Epistemic Agency
    (pp. 14-34)

    Some performances are consciously aimed at a certain outcome, as when an archer aims his shot at a target. Some have an aim in a broader sense, as when a heartbeat aims to help the blood circulate. Performances may be said to be “endeavors” when they have a certain aim, even if the aim is not conscious. Such a performance is assessable as correct or incorrect, in terms of whether it attains its “aim.”

    An endeavor thus has its essential aim, an aim inherent in it. Of course an endeavor can be in pursuit of somefurtheraim, one external...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Value Matters in Epistemology
    (pp. 35-66)

    In what way is knowledge better than merely true belief? That is a problem posed in Plato’sMeno. A belief that falls short of knowledge seems thereby inferior. It is better to know than to get it wrong, of course, and also better than to get it right by luck rather than competence. But how can that be so, if a true belief will provide the same benefits? In order to get to Larissa you don’t need to know the way. A true belief will get you there just as well.

    Is itreallyalways better to know the answer...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Three Views of Human Knowledge
    (pp. 67-95)

    On a familiar approach, the concept of knowledge is analyzed by adding some fourth condition to justification, truth, and belief. A principled objection has been raised against any such approach: that none such could accommodate important roles of our concept of knowledge. First of all, we’re supposed to be able toclinchan answer to a question, and thereby conclude inquiry, when we attain knowledge of that answer. Secondly, we can properlyvouchfor something only when we attain knowledge of it, and vouch for it on that basis. Only then can we properly serve as credible informants in an...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Contextualism
    (pp. 96-107)

    Contextualism has gained center stage in epistemology mainly through its way with the skeptic, from the early days of “relevant alternatives” to more recent incarnations. While myself accepting elements of contextualism, I’d like to enter some doubts about its implications for epistemology proper. The upshot will be that it is not to be viewed as a fourth rival view along with the three considered in the preceding chapter.

    Through metalinguistic ascent, contextualism replaces a given question with a related but different question. About words that formulate one’s original question, the contextualist asks when those words are correctly applicable. Whether the...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Propositional Experience
    (pp. 108-127)

    The account of perceptual knowledge in earlier chapters requires experiential states with propositional content, states to which the AAA structure (accuracy, adroitness, aptness) is applicable. This chapter presents an account of such experiential states.

    Let us distinguish between fictions, whether useful (the average Democrat) or entertaining (Superman, Pinocchio), or of some other sort; dependent entities, more generally, including not only fictions, but also shadows, smiles, and most of the things we ordinarily attend to in our daily lives; and independent or fundamental entities, atoms perhaps.

    As a further preliminary, let us stipulate that an object of experience is ontologically private...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Knowledge: Instrumental and Testimonial
    (pp. 128-139)

    How do we derive knowledge from reading our instruments or listening to our interlocutors? This chapter offers an account in line with the performance-based epistemology of earlier chapters.

    If a belief held on authority turns out to be correct, what most saliently explains this fact must surely involve the discovery and transmission of the relevant information. Relatively little of the credit belongs to the ultimate believer, by comparison, if all he did was to trust the authoritative source without question.

    In order to constitute knowledge, a testimony-derived belief must be accurate, and must thereby manifest competence, which should not be...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Epistemic Circularity
    (pp. 140-158)

    Our topic is circularity in epistemology, which we take up in four sections:

    Section 1.Blatant Bootstrapping. Two forms of bootstrapping are explained, two forms of circular reasoning that seem vicious. One is the inference from the perceptual belief that a seen surface is red to the conclusion that in so believing we are not misled by a white surface in bad light. A second questionable form of reasoning is the inductive inference from the track record of a gauge, assembled by repeatedly trusting its readings, to the conclusion that it is a reliable gauge. Each is formally valid, yet...

    (pp. 159-160)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 161-163)