Epistemic Luck and the Extended Mind

In Ian M. Church (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Theories of Luck. London: Routledge (2017)
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Contemporary debates about epistemic luck and its relation to knowledge have traditionally proceeded against a tacit background commitment to cognitive internalism, the thesis that cognitive processes play out inside the head. In particular, safety-based approaches (e.g., Pritchard 2005; 2007; Luper-Foy 1984; Sainsbury 1997; Sosa 1999; Williamson 2000) reveal this commitment by taking for granted a traditional internalist construal of what I call the cognitive fixedness thesis—viz., the thesis that the cognitive process that is being employed in the actual world is always ‘held fixed’ when we go out to nearby possible worlds to assess whether the target belief is lucky in a way that is incompatible with knowledge. However, for those inclined to replace cognitive internalism with the extended mind thesis (e.g., Clark and Chalmers 1998), a very different, ‘active externalist’ version of the cognitive fixedness thesis becomes the relevant one for the purposes of assessing a belief’s safety. The aim here will be to develop this point in a way that draws out some of the important ramifications it has for how we think about safety, luck and knowledge.

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J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow


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