Prefaces, Knowledge, and Questions

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10 (2023)
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The Preface Paradox is often discussed for its implications for rational belief. Much less discussed is a variant of the Preface Paradox for knowledge. In this paper, I argue that the most plausible closure-friendly resolution to the Preface Paradox for Knowledge is to say that in any given context, we do not know much. I call this view “Socraticism”. I argue that Socraticism is the most plausible view on two accounts—(1) this view is compatible with the claim that most of our knowledge ascriptions are true, and (2) provided that (1) is true, the costs of accepting Socraticism are much less than the costs of accepting any other resolution to the Paradox. I argue for (1) in Section 2 by developing a question-sensitive contextualist model for knowledge that shows how Socraticism is compatible with the claim that most of our knowledge ascriptions are true. I also argue how this contextualist model can achieve this result where other contextualist models fail. I then consider other closure-friendly solutions to the paradox in Section 3 and show how accepting those solutions forces us to give up a number of plausible epistemic principles.

Author's Profile

Frank Hong
University of Hong Kong


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