A New Paradigm for Epistemology From Reliabilism to Abilism

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3 (2016)
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Abstract

Contemporary philosophers nearly unanimously endorse knowledge reliabilism, the view that knowledge must be reliably produced. Leading reliabilists have suggested that reliabilism draws support from patterns in ordinary judgments and intuitions about knowledge, luck, reliability, and counterfactuals. That is, they have suggested a proto-reliabilist hypothesis about “commonsense” or “folk” epistemology. This paper reports nine experimental studies (N = 1262) that test the proto-reliabilist hypothesis by testing four of its principal implications. The main findings are that (a) commonsense fully embraces the possibility of unreliable knowledge, (b) knowledge judgments are surprisingly insensitive to information about reliability, (c) “anti-luck” intuitions about knowledge have nothing to do with reliability specifically, and (d) reliabilists have mischaracterized the intuitive counterfactual properties of knowledge and their relation to reliability. When combined with the weakness of existing arguments for reliabilism and the recent emergence of well supported alternative views that predict the widespread existence of unreliable knowledge, the present findings are the final exhibit in a conclusive case for abandoning reliabilism in epistemology. I introduce an alternative theory of knowledge, abilism, which out-performs reliabilism and well explains all the available evidence.

Author's Profile

John Turri
University of Waterloo

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