The normality of error

Philosophical Studies 178 (8):2509-2533 (2021)
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Formal models of appearance and reality have proved fruitful for investigating structural properties of perceptual knowledge. This paper applies the same approach to epistemic justification. Our central goal is to give a simple account of The Preface, in which justified belief fails to agglomerate. Following recent work by a number of authors, we understand knowledge in terms of normality. An agent knows p iff p is true throughout all relevant normal worlds. To model The Preface, we appeal to the normality of error. Sometimes, it is more normal for reality and appearance to diverge than to match. We show that this simple idea has dramatic consequences for the theory of knowledge and justification. Among other things, we argue that a proper treatment of The Preface requires a departure from the internalist idea that epistemic justification supervenes on the appearances and the widespread idea that one knows most when free from error.

Author Profiles

Simon Goldstein
University of Hong Kong
Sam Carter
Rutgers - New Brunswick (PhD)


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