Infallibilism or Pragmatic Encroachment?

Jeremy Fantl and Matthew McGrath

in Knowledge in an Uncertain World

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199550623
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722684 | DOI:
Infallibilism or Pragmatic Encroachment?

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If the arguments of previous chapters are sound, then fallibilist purism about knowledge is false. This raises the question of which to retain, fallibilism or purism? The first part of the chapter considers the merits of infallibilism (including arguments for infallibilism suggested by Timothy Williamson). The key question is just how strong its skeptical consequences are. The second part considers the costs of denying purism and affirming pragmatic encroachment (with special attention paid to a challenge leveled by Ram Neta). In this section, these costs are shown not to be unique to pragmatic encroachment. Those accepting a robust form of cognitive decision theory (viz. the view that understands justified belief in terms of maximizing expected cognitive values) are committed to similar costs, as are those, like Peter Klein, who claim that knowledge-level justification is not determined by probability. Both sorts of theorists are committed to the common truth of ‘I know/am justified in believing p, p is less likely to be true than q, but I don't know/am not justified in believing q’. The chapter concludes by making a case that the costs of pragmatic encroachment do not outweigh the costs of denying the book's fundamental principles: if fallibilism must stay, then on balance the best way to keep it is by endorsing pragmatic encroachment.

Keywords: infallibilism; cognitive decision theory; Peter Klein; Timothy Williamson; Ram Neta; pragmatic encroachment

Chapter.  12800 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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