Some Thoughts on the JK-Rule1

Noûs 46 (4):791-802 (2012)
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In ‘The normative role of knowledge’ (2012), Declan Smithies defends a ‘JK-rule’ for belief: One has justification to believe that P iff one has justification to believe that one is in a position to know that P. Similar claims have been defended by others (Huemer, 2007, Reynolds, forthcoming). In this paper, I shall argue that the JK-rule is false. The standard and familiar way of arguing against putative rules for belief or assertion is, of course, to describe putative counterexamples. My argument, though, won’t be like this – indeed I doubt that there are any intuitively compelling counterexamples to the JK-rule. Nevertheless, the claim that there are counterexamples to the JK-rule can, I think, be given something approaching a formal proof. My primary aim here is to sketch this proof. I will briefly consider some broader implications for how we ought to think about the epistemic standards governing belief and assertion.

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Martin Smith
University of Edinburgh


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