Folk intuitions and the no-luck-thesis

Episteme 13 (3):343-358 (2016)
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According to the No-Luck-Thesis knowledge possession is incompatible with luck – one cannot know that p if the truth of one’s belief that p is a matter of luck. Recently, this widespread opinion was challenged by Peter Baumann, who argues that in certain situations agents do possess knowledge even though their beliefs are true by luck. This paper aims at providing empirical data for evaluating Baumann’s hypothesis. The experiment was designed to compare non-philosophers’ judgments concerning knowledge and luck in one case that Baumann takes to be in favor of his claim and other cases where, according to him, absence of knowledge coincides with luck. The results show that the cases do not differ in a significant way between each other with respect to verdicts regarding knowledge and luck. In all cases subjects were more reluctant to judge that the ‘Gettierized’ belief is knowledge and more likely to judge that it is true by luck in comparison to a belief that is an uncontroversial instance of knowledge. However, the negative relationship between knowledge and luck ascriptions predicted by the No-Luck-Thesis was almost absent. The data raise some doubts about the No-Luck-Thesis, but the reasons for doubt are different than what Baumann expected.

Author's Profile

Adrian Ziółkowski
University of Warsaw


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