Wagering on Pragmatic Encroachment

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Lately, there has been an explosion of literature exploring the the relationship between one’s practical situation and one’s knowledge. Some involved in this discussion have suggested that facts about a person’s practical situation might affect whether or not a person knows in that situation, holding fixed all the things standardly associated with knowledge (like evidence, the reliability of one’s cognitive faculties, and so on). According to these “pragmatic encroachment” views, then, one’s practical situation encroaches on one’s knowledge. Though we won’t endorse pragmatic encroachment here, we find the view intriguing, and it’s popularity warrants carefully considering it’s implications. One potential avenue of exploration concerns religious epistemology, in particular, whether pragmatic encroachment has consequences concerning the epistemic requirements of atheism. We begin the journey down that avenue by connecting Pascal’s Wager to pragmatic encroachment in order to defend this conditional: If there is pragmatic encroachment, then it is ceteris paribus more difficult to know that atheism is true (if it is) than it is to know that God exists (if God does exist).
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Archival date: 2018-03-05
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