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Philosophia

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 885–903 | Cite as

A Pluralist Account of Knowledge as a Natural Kind

  • Andreas StephensEmail author
Article
  • 409 Downloads

Abstract

In an attempt to address some long-standing issues of epistemology, Hilary Kornblith proposes that knowledge is a natural kind the identification of which is the unique responsibility of one particular science: cognitive ethology. As Kornblith sees it, the natural kind thus picked out is knowledge as construed by reliabilism. Yet the claim that cognitive ethology has this special role has not convinced all critics. The present article argues that knowledge plays a causal and explanatory role within many of our more fruitful current theories, diverging from the reliabilist conception even in disciplines that are closely related to cognitive ethology, and thus still dealing with knowledge as a natural as opposed to a social phenomenon, where special attention will be given to cognitive neuroscience. However, rather than discarding the natural kind approach altogether, it is argued that many of Kornblith’s insights can in fact be preserved within a framework that is both naturalist and pluralist.

Keywords

Hilary Kornblith Knowledge Naturalistic epistemology Cognitive neuroscience Cognitive ethology Pluralism Natural kind 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am very grateful to Erik J. Olsson for his guidance, helpful comments and for him being extremely charitable with his knowledge and time. Thanks to Johannes Persson, Shira Singer and my anonymous referees for comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lund UniversityLundSweden

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