The heterogeneity problem for sensitivity accounts

Episteme 12 (4):479-496 (2015)
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Abstract

Offering a solution to the skeptical puzzle is a central aim of Nozick's sensitivity account of knowledge. It is well-known that this account faces serious problems. However, because of its simplicity and its explanatory power, the sensitivity principle has remained attractive and has been subject to numerous modifications, leading to a of sensitivity accounts. I will object to these accounts, arguing that sensitivity accounts of knowledge face two problems. First, they deliver a far too heterogeneous picture of higher-level beliefs about the truth or falsity of one's own beliefs. Second, this problem carries over to bootstrapping and Moorean reasoning. Some beliefs formed via bootstrapping or Moorean reasoning are insensitive, but some closely related beliefs in even stronger propositions are sensitive. These heterogeneous results regarding sensitivity do not fit with our intuitions about bootstrapping and Moorean reasoning. Thus, neither Nozick's sensitivity account of knowledge nor any of its modified versions can provide the basis for an argument that bootstrapping and Moorean reasoning are flawed or for an explanation why they seem to be flawed

Author's Profile

Guido Melchior
University of Graz

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