Methods in analytic epistemology

In Matthew C. Haug (ed.), Philosophical Methodology: The Armchair or the Laboratory? Routledge. pp. 217-239 (2013)
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In this chapter, I defend the program of conceptual analysis, broadly construed, and the method of thought experiments in epistemology, as a first-person enterprise, that is, as one which draws on the investigator's own competence in the relevant concepts. I do not suggest that epistemology is limited to conceptual analysis, that it does not have important a posteriori elements, that it should not draw on empirical work wherever relevant (and non-question begging), or that it is not a communal enterprise. Although discussion in the space available will necessarily be brief, and many points must be elided altogether, I aim to sketch salient features of the landscape, clarify issues, set aside some confusions, and outline responses to some recent challenges. In §2, I sketch a traditional account of concepts and conceptual truths. In §3, I review a broad conception of analysis as encompassing not just reduction but also articulation of conceptual connections. In §4, I address the charge that in studying epistemic concepts we turn away from our proper target of study, the actual phenomena of knowledge, justification, and so on. In §5, I give a brief overview of the method of thought experiments. In §6, I address objections to thought experiments that have their source in "experimental philosophy." In §7, I address the charge that pursuing conceptual analysis in epistemology is misplaced because 'knowledge', 'justification', 'evidence' and so on, are natural kind terms, and hence that we must engage in empirical research to discover the real essences of the kinds they pick out (if any).
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