Strict moderate invariantism and knowledge-denials
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Strict moderate invariantism is the ho-hum, ‘obvious’ view about knowledge attributions. It says knowledge attributions are often true and that only traditional epistemic factors like belief, truth, and justification make them true. As commonsensical as strict moderate invariantism is, it is equally natural to withdraw a knowledge attribution when error possibilities are made salient. If strict moderate invariantism is true, these knowledge-denials are often false because the subject does in fact know the proposition. I argue that strict moderate invariantism needs an explanation of this phenomenon, but it does not have one. That is significant, for if strict moderate invariantism does not square with ordinary intuition, then it cannot rely on ordinary intuition for support. Section 1 introduces the concept of epistemic relevance blindness, which says ordinary subjects are generally insensitive to whether or not error possibilities are relevant to knowledge attributions. Section 2 focuses on Patrick Rysiew’s influential strict moderate invariantist pragmatic explanation of knowledge-denials and argues that such pragmatic explanations of knowledge-denials depend on attributors being epistemic relevance blind. Section 3 targets psychological explanations of epistemic relevance blindness offered separately by Jennifer Nagel and Mikkel Gerken. I argue that strict moderate invariantists lack a plausible explanation of epistemic relevance blindness.
KeywordsSemantics of knowledge attributions Invariantism Knowledge-denials
I thank Mikkel Gerken, Richard Fumerton, Ting Lau, Heather Stoutenburg, Landon Elkind, Emily Waddle, John Komdat, Ryan Cobb, and an anonymous referee for helpful comments on a draft of this paper. I also thank the audience of the Northwestern/Notre Dame Epistemology Conference for fruitful discussion.
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