Article

Modal Epistemology

Kelly Becker

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online November 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0139
Modal Epistemology

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Modal epistemologies aim to explicate the necessary link between belief and truth that constitutes knowledge. This strain of epistemological theorizing is typically externalist; hence, it does not require that the agent know or understand the nature of the knowledge-constituting link. A central concern of modal epistemology is to articulate conditions on knowing such that no merely lucky true belief—very roughly, a belief that might easily have been false—counts as knowledge. In the effort to eliminate luck, epistemic principles are often cast modally, requiring that an agent’s belief is true not only in the actual world but also in relevant possible worlds, indicating that the link between truth and belief is more than an actual world lucky coincidence. (Note, then, that this entry is not about the epistemology of modals—statements involving modal operators such as “necessarily,” “possibly,” and the like—but about the use of modal principles in characterizing the nature of knowledge in general.) Modal epistemologies typically have antiskeptical consequences, but the strength of the antiskeptical result varies significantly, especially between the two best-known modal principles, sensitivity and safety.

Article.  5325 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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