Basic knowledge and the normativity of knowledge: The awareness‐first solution

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (3):564-586 (2022)
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[Significantly updated in Chapter 7 of Awareness and the Substructure of Knowledge] Many have found it plausible that knowledge is a constitutively normative state, i.e. a state that is grounded in the possession of reasons. Many have also found it plausible that certain cases of proprioceptive knowledge, memorial knowledge, and self-evident knowledge are cases of knowledge that are not grounded in the possession of reasons. I refer to these as cases of basic knowledge. The existence of basic knowledge forms a primary objection to the idea that knowledge is a constitutively normative state. In what follows I offer a way through the apparent dilemma of having to choose between either basic knowledge or the normativity of knowledge. The solution involves homing in on a state of awareness (≈non-accidental true representation) that is distinct from knowledge and which in turn grounds the normativity of knowledge in a way that is fully consistent with the existence of basic knowledge. An upshot of this is that externalist theories of knowledge turn out to be fully compatible with the thesis that knowledgeable beliefs are always beliefs that are justified by the reasons one possesses.

Author's Profile

Paul Silva Jr.
University of Cologne


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