Are Gettier cases disturbing?

Philosophical Studies 178 (5):1503-1527 (2021)
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We examine a prominent naturalistic line on the method of cases, exemplified by Timothy Williamson and Edouard Machery: MoC is given a fallibilist and non-exceptionalist treatment, accommodating moderate modal skepticism. But Gettier cases are in dispute: Williamson takes them to induce substantive philosophical knowledge; Machery claims that the ambitious use of MoC should be abandoned entirely. We defend an intermediate position. We offer an internal critique of Macherian pessimism about Gettier cases. Most crucially, we argue that Gettier cases needn’t exhibit ‘disturbing characteristics’ that Machery posits to explain why philosophical cases induce dubious judgments. It follows, we show, that Machery’s central argument for the effective abandonment of MoC is undermined. Nevertheless, we engineer a restricted variant of the argument—in harmony with Williamsonian ideology–that survives our critique, potentially limiting philosophy’s scope for establishing especially ambitious modal theses, despite traditional MoC’s utility being partially preserved.
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