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(2016) Readings in formal epistemology, Dordrecht, Springer.

Probable knowledge

Richard C. Jeffrey

pp. 47-65

The central problem of epistemology is often taken to be that of explaining how we can know what we do, but the content of this problem changes from age to age with the scope of what we take ourselves to know; and philosophers who are impressed with this flux sometimes set themselves the problem of explaining how we can get along, knowing as little as we do. For knowledge is sure, and there seems to be little we can be sure of outside logic and mathematics and truths related immediately to experience. It is as if there were some propositions – that this paper is white, that two and two are four – on which we have a firm grip, while the rest, including most of the theses of science, are slippery or insubstantial or somehow inaccessible to us. Outside the realm of what we are sure of lies the puzzling region of probable knowledge – puzzling in part because the sense of the noun seems to be cancelled by that of the adjective. The obvious move is to deny that the notion of knowledge has the importance generally attributed to it, and to try to make the concept of belief do the work that philosophers have generally assigned the grander concept. I shall argue that this is the right move.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-20451-2_4

Full citation:

Jeffrey, R. C. (2016)., Probable knowledge, in H. Arló-Costa, V. F. Hendricks & J. Van Benthem (eds.), Readings in formal epistemology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 47-65.

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