Knowing and Checking: An Epistemological Investigation

New York City, New York, USA: Routledge (2019)
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This book is primarily about checking and only derivatively about knowing. Checking is a very common concept for describing a subject’s epistemic goals and actions. Surprisingly, there has been no philosophical attention paid to the notion of checking. In Part I, I develop a sensitivity account of checking. To be more explicit, I analyze the internalist and externalist components of the epistemic action of checking which include the intentions of the checking subject and the necessary externalist features of the method used. Crucially, successfully checking whether p is true requires using a method that is sensitive with respect to p, i.e. a method that would not indicate that p, if p were false. In Part II, I use the distinction between knowing and checking to explain central puzzles about knowledge, particularly puzzles centering on knowledge closure, puzzles concerning bootstrapping and the skeptical puzzle. Moreover, the book clarifies a dispute about modal epistemology, concerning the application of the sensitivity principle. By arguing that sensitivity is necessary for checking but not knowing, I explain where our persisting intuitions about sensitivity have their place in epistemology.

Author's Profile

Guido Melchior
University of Graz


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