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Synthese

pp 1–17 | Cite as

Knowledge, hope, and fallibilism

  • Matthew A. Benton
S.I.: Knowledge and Justification, New Perspectives

Abstract

Hope, in its propositional construction “I hope that p” is compatible with a stated chance for the speaker that \(\lnot \textit{p}\). On fallibilist construals of knowledge, knowledge is compatible with a chance of being wrong, such that one can know that p even though there is an epistemic chance for one that \(\lnot \textit{p}\). But self-ascriptions of propositional hope that p seem to be incompatible, in some sense, with self-ascriptions of knowing whether p. Data from conjoining hope self-ascription with outright assertions, with first- and third-person knowledge ascriptions, and with factive predicates suggest a problem: when combined with a plausible principle on the rationality of hope, they suggest that fallibilism is false. By contrast, the infallibilist about knowledge can straightforwardly explain why knowledge would be incompatible with hope, and can offer a simple and unified explanation of all the linguistic data introduced here. This suggests that fallibilists bear an explanatory burden which has been hitherto overlooked.

Keywords

Knowledge Hope Fallibilism Infallibilism Epistemic modals Factives 

Notes

Acknowledgements

For helpful comments, many thanks especially to John Hawthorne, Billy Dunaway, Dylan Dodd, and Blake Roeber, as well as Bob Beddor, Fabrizio Cariani, Andrew Chignell, Christina Dietz, Anne Jeffrey, Adrienne Martin, Sam Newlands, Baron Reed, Rebekah Rice, Paolo Santorio, John Turri, Peter van Elswyk, and to two helpful anonymous referees. Thanks also to audiences at Northwestern University and the University of Nottingham. This paper was supported in part by a Faculty Research and Scholarship grant (Seattle Pacific University, 2017), and by grants from the John Templeton Foundation (at the University of Oxford, and especially at the University of Notre Dame through the Hope and Optimism: Conceptual and Empirical Investigations project). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seattle Pacific UniversitySeattleUSA

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