Naturalized Epistemology and the Genealogy of Knowledge

  • Martin KuschEmail author
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 29)


Hilary Kornblith’s naturalised epistemology centrally involves the thesis that knowledge is a natural kind like water or aluminium. In his most recent work, Kornblith seeks to defend this thesis by attacking what he perceives to be the central alternative: Edward Craig’s “genealogy of knowledge”. As Kornblith sees it, Craig is committed to the view that knowledge is an artificial or social kind. I argue, against Kornblith, (1) that Kornblith’s favoured account of natural kinds —the account developed by Richard Boyd—does not allow for a distinction between natural and social kinds: monarchy, liberalism, and even Napoleon are all natural kinds for Boyd; (2) that Kornblith misunderstands Craig’s genealogy: Craig is not committed to the view that knowledge is not a natural kind; Craig’s account of how the concept of knowledge has developed is compatible with the idea that we often use “knowledge” as a natural kind term; and (3) that Craig’s genealogy is in fact congenial to the general programme of naturalised epistemology.


True Belief Natural Kind Epistemic State Natural Kind Term Naturalize Epistemology 
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For discussions relating to the topic of this paper I am grateful to Miranda Fricker, Hilary Kornblith, Martin Lenz, Veli Mitova, Adela Roszkowski, the students of my class on Craig in the Winter term 2009–2010, and audiences in Amsterdam and Berlin.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy and EducationUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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