Kornblith versus Sosa on grades of knowledge

Synthese 196 (12):4989-5007 (2019)
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In a series of works Sosa (in: Knowledge in perspective, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991; A virtue epistemology: apt belief and reflective knowledge, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007; Reflective knowledge: apt belief and reflective knowledge, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009; ‘How Competence Matters in Epistemology’, Philos Perspect 24(1):465–475, 2010; Knowing full well, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2011; Judgment and agency, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2015; Epistemology, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2017) has defended the view that there are two kinds or ‘grades’ of knowledge, animal and reflective. One of the most persistent critics of Sosa’s attempts to bifurcate knowledge is Kornblith (in: Greco (ed) Ernest sosa and his critics, Wiley, Hoboken, 2004; ‘Sosa in Perspective’, Philos Stud 144(1):127–136, 2009; On reflection, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012). Our aim in this paper is to outline and evaluate Kornblith’s criticisms. We will argue that, while they raise a range of difficult (exegetical and substantive) questions about Sosa’s ‘bi-level’ epistemology, Sosa has the resources to adequately respond to all of them. Thus, this paper is a (qualified) defence of Sosa’s bi-level epistemology.

Author Profiles

Robin McKenna
University of Liverpool
J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow


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