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Synthese

pp 1–25 | Cite as

Merely partial definition and the analysis of knowledge

  • Samuel Z. Elgin
S.I.: Knowledge and Justification, New Perspectives

Abstract

Two families of positions dominate debates over a metaphysically reductive analysis of knowledge. Traditionalism holds that knowledge has a complete, uniquely identifying analysis, while knowledge-first epistemology contends that knowledge is primitive—admitting of no reductive analysis whatsoever. Drawing on recent work in metaphysics, I argue that these alternatives fail to exhaust the available possibilities. Knowledge may have a merely partial analysis: a real definition that distinguishes it from some, but not all other things. I demonstrate that this position is attractive; it evades concerns that its rivals face.

Keywords

Knowledge Real definition Analysis Epistemology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Shamik Dasgupta, Michael Della Rocca, Catherine Elgin, Daniel Greco, Michael Hannon, Timothy Williamson, and the attendees of the Northern New England Philosophical Association, The Philosopher’s Cocoon Conference and the Bled Philosophical Conference for providing comments on earlier versions of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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