Foundations of Science

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 599–610 | Cite as

Contemporary Epistemic Logic and the Lockean Thesis

  • Lorenz DemeyEmail author


This paper studies the Lockean thesis from the perspective of contemporary epistemic logic. The Lockean thesis states that belief can be defined as ‘sufficiently high degree of belief’. Its main problem is that it gives rise to a notion of belief which is not closed under conjunction. This problem is typical for classical epistemic logic: it is single-agent and static. I argue that from the perspective of contemporary epistemic logic, the Lockean thesis fares much better. I briefly mention that it can successfully be extended from single-agent to multi-agent settings. More importantly, I show that accepting the Lockean thesis (and a more sophisticated version for conditional beliefs) leads to a significant and unexpected unification in the dynamic behavior of (conditional) belief and high (conditional) probability with respect to public announcements. This constitutes a methodological argument in favor of the Lockean thesis. Furthermore, if one accepts Baltag’s Erlangen program for epistemology, this technical observation has even stronger philosophical implications: because belief and high probability display the same dynamic behavior, it is plausible that they are indeed one and the same epistemic notion.


Belief Degree of belief Epistemic logic Lockean thesis Public announcement logic 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Logic and Analytic PhilosophyKU Leuven, University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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