Where Sensitivity Don't Work

Suri 6 (2):110-123 (2017)
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Robert Nozick (1981, 172) offers the following analysis of knowledge (where S stands for subject and p for proposition): D1 S knows that p =df (1) S believes p, (2) p is true, (3) if p weren’t true, S wouldn’t believe that p (variation condition), and (4) If p were true, S would believe it (adherence condition). Jointly, Nozick refers to conditions 3 and 4 as the sensitivity condition: for they require that the belief be sensitive to the truth-value of the proposition—such that if the proposition were false, the subject would not have believed it, and if the proposition remains true in a slightly different situation, the subject would have still believed it. In other words, they ask us to consider the status of the belief in close possible situations (those that obtain in close possible worlds); specifically, in situations that would obtain if the proposition is false, and in those in which it remains true. Condition 3 specifies how belief should vary with the truth of what is believed, while condition 4 specifies how belief shouldn’t vary when the truth of the belief does not vary. I will discuss some notable problem cases for Nozick’s analysis and then look at why the sensitivity condition he proposes fails in these cases.

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Mark Anthony Dacela
De La Salle University


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