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knowledge and belief

steven luper-foy

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


According to most epistemologists, knowledge entails belief, so that I cannot know that such and such is the case unless I believe that such and such is the case. Others think this entailment thesis can be rendered more accurately if we substitute for belief some closely related attitude. For instance, several philosophers would prefer to say that knowledge entails psychological certainty ( Prichard, 1950 ; Ayer, 1956 ) or conviction ( Lehrer, 1974 ) or acceptance ( Lehrer, 1989 ). None the less, there are arguments against all versions of the thesis that knowledge requires having a belief-like attitude toward the known. These arguments are given by philosophers who think that knowledge and belief (or a facsimile) are mutually incompatible (the incompatibility thesis ), or by ones who say that knowledge does not entail belief, or vice versa, so that each may exist without the other, but the two may also coexist (the separability thesis ). The incompatibility thesis is sometimes traced to P lato in view of his claim that knowledge is infallible while belief or opinion is fallible ( Republic 476–9). But this claim would not support the thesis. Belief might be a component of an infallible form of knowledge in spite of the fallibility of belief. Perhaps knowledge involves some factor that compensates for the fallibility of belief. A. Duncan-Jones (1938; cf. also Vendler, 1978 ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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