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infallibility

william p. alston


Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


Extract

In epistemology this term is most appropriately used for the epistemic position of a subject vis-à-vis a given subject-matter, more specifically for the impossibility of the subject's being mistaken about that subject matter. Thus it is often held, and as often denied, that a normal human being cannot be mistaken as to whether s/he is currently in a certain kind of conscious state – a thought, feeling or sensation. Those who reject infallibility here do not, of course, deny that people have a high degree of cognitive access to such matters; they only deny that it is impossible for mistake to occur. It is claimed, for example, that there is always the possibility of applying the wrong concept to an item. Infallibility will be differently conceived (as will incorrigibility , indubitability ) depending on the kind of impossibility involved ( Alston, 1989 , ch. 10), whether, for example, this is logical or causal impossibility. : Epistemic Justification ( Ithaca , NY : Cornell University Press , 1989 ). eds : Empirical Knowledge ( Englewood Cliffs : Prentice-Hall , 1973 ), pt IV . ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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