Safety's Swamp: Against The Value of Modal Stability

American Philosophical Quarterly 54 (2):119-129 (2017)
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An account of the nature of knowledge must explain the value of knowledge. I argue that modal conditions, such as safety and sensitivity, do not confer value on a belief and so any account of knowledge that posits a modal condition as a fundamental constituent cannot vindicate widely held claims about the value of knowledge. I explain the implications of this for epistemology: We must either eschew modal conditions as a fundamental constituent of knowledge, or retain the modal conditions but concede that knowledge is not more valuable than that which falls short of knowledge. This second horn—concluding that knowledge has no distinctive value—is unappealing since it renders puzzling why so much epistemological theorising focuses on knowledge, and why knowledge seems so important.
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