Reflective Knowledge in the Best Circles

Ernest Sosa

in Knowledge, Truth, and Duty

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780195128925
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833764 | DOI:
Reflective Knowledge in the Best Circles

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In response to the well‐known circularity problems posed by Descartes and Moore, recommends externalist virtue epistemology, according to which a true belief amounts to knowledge if its truth is not an accident, i.e. if it was produced by apt faculties. Starting with the recognition of instances of perceptual knowledge produced by apt faculties, we can infer that our perceptual faculties must be reliable. Such reasoning invites the objection that in parallel fashion, the owner of a crystal ball can rely on his crystal ball itself to argue for its reliability. Replies that although things might be parallel as far as justification and internal coherence are concerned, a crucial difference arises when we consider the reliability of the sources in question: whereas our perceptual faculties are reliable and thus produce knowledge, the crystal ball is unreliable and thus fails to give its user knowledge. Acknowledges, however, that the exercise of apt faculties produces merely animal knowledge, and thus advocates what he calls “virtue perspectivism”: the view that reflective knowledge – a higher achievement than the acquisition of mere animal knowledge – arises only when we succeed in understanding how we know.

Keywords: animal knowledge; Cartesian circle; circularity; coherence; epistemic virtues; justification; knowledge; reflective knowledge; reliability

Chapter.  9275 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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