An externalist decision theory for a pragmatic epistemology

In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. New York: Routledge (2018)
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In recent years, some epistemologists have argued that practical factors can make the difference between knowledge and mere true belief. While proponents of this pragmatic thesis have proposed necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge, it is striking that they have failed to address Gettier cases. As a result, the proposed analyses of knowledge are either lacking explanatory power or susceptible to counterexamples. Gettier cases are also worth reflecting on because they raise foundational questions for the pragmatist. Underlying these challenges is the fact that pragmatic epistemologies not only rely upon normative theories of rational choice but also require externalist standards to rule out epistemic luck. Unfortunately, we lack adequate externalist theories of rational choice. In response, I address these foundational challenges by offering the outlines of an externalist decision theory. While this task is an ambitious one that I cannot hope to complete, I survey the outlines of a decision-theoretic framework on which a richer pragmatic epistemology can be developed. My hope is that this framework opens up new avenues of exploration for the pragmatic epistemologist.

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Brian Kim
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona


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