Epistemic closure - Wikipedia
Epistemic closure (eC) is the thesis that knowledge is closed under known entailment. belief is not closed under entailment, but fails to provide any examples. The Many Faces of Closure and pugliablog.infok Allo Epistemic Closure, Skepticism and Defeasibility. Closure, Defeasibility and Conclusive Reasons. Epistemic Closure Principles. Steven D. lated closure principles are false as well; or at least they seem to be false plication if we define knowledge this way. Clearly .. I have nothing to say here about the relationship between the failure.
See also Contextualism in Epistemology, Chapter 3, on Dretske and the denial of closure. Dretske's account of knowledge has been much discussed in the philosophical literature. This seems to point to the extreme plausibility of some form or another of the closure principle. Dretske a, agrees that such statements sound absurd, but maintains that they are true. They may violate conventional conversational expectations and they may be met with incomprehension, but they are not self-contradictory.
It sounds a bit strange to say that the warehouse is empty, but has lots of dust, gas molecules, and empty crates in it. The utterance may violate conversational rules, but the utterance might, despite all that, be true, if the concepts of emptiness and flatness are as described. So too with the abominable conjunctions if the attendant conception of knowledge is correct. Philosophers may always appeal to Gricean conversational implicatures to blunt the objection that their view entails absurd claims.
Truth and conversational propriety are not one and the same. Paul Grice is the philosopher most closely associated with the view that communication is guided by various conversational maxims and that some utterances are conversationally inappropriate, even if true, because they invite misunderstanding.
For more on this, see Grice First, he says, it is unclear what sort of Gricean mechanism could make it true but conversationally inappropriate to utter "S knew that p and correctly deduced q from p, but did not know that q. But the conversational mechanism at play here could hardly be an explanation for why he believed that his wife was not his best friend even though she was.
Why, if the denial of closure is true but conversationally infelicitous, do so many not only not deny closure in conversations but in fact believe that the closure principle is true? One might reply that many people, even philosophers, are apt in some situations to mistake what is conversationally appropriate for what is true as with conditional claims that have false antecedentsso an explanation of why a true claim violates conversational norms might well explain why people believe the negation of the claim.
Alternative Anti-Skeptical Strategies Need Not Reject Closure There are alternative strategies for refuting skepticism that seem to have many of the virtues of the tracking account of knowledge, but do not entail the falsity of closure principles. Contextualismfor example, says that knowledge attributions are sensitive to context, in that a subject S might know a proposition p relative to one context, but simultaneously fail to know that p relative to another context.
The contextual factors to which knowledge attributions are taken to be sensitive include things like whether a particular doubt has been raised or acknowledged and the importance of the belief being correct. In an ordinary context, where skeptical scenarios have not been raised, the standards for knowledge are quite low, but, in contexts in which skeptical doubts have been raised, such as an epistemology class, standards for knowledge have been raised to levels that typically cannot be met.
Or a true belief with a certain level of justification might count as knowledge as long as it is not terribly important that the belief be correct, but would no longer be knowledge if the stakes were raised. One might know that the bank will be open on Saturday after confirming that the bank has Saturday hours, even if one has not checked whether the bank has changed its hours in the past two weeks, as long as no great harm will befall one if it turns out one is wrong.
The contextualist then can reconcile the intuitions that it is sometimes correct to attribute to someone knowledge of everyday common sense propositions, despite her inability to rule out skeptical propositions, and that we are sometimes correct in refusing to attribute knowledge of the falsity of a skeptical scenario when the subject is unable to rule out such scenarios. But the contextualist can do this while accepting at least some version of closure. The contextualist says that epistemic closure holds within an epistemic context, but fails inter-contextually.
For instance, in the everyday, low epistemic standards context, one knows that one has hands and anything that one can correctly deduce from this claim, such as that one is not a handless being deceived into thinking that one has hands. In the context with much higher epistemic standards, one knows neither that one is not a handless, artificially stimulated brain in a vat, nor by an application of the closure of knowledge under known entailment that one has hands.
Closure will fail only when it extends across contexts. If a theory of knowledge is independently plausible and can answer the skeptic without denying closure, then, everything else being equal, we ought to be reluctant to reject closure just so that we can accept the tracking account of knowledge. Contextualism, of course, is plagued with problems of its own. One such problem is as follows: The plausibility of the denial of closure may well depend not only on whether it is a way to avoid skepticism, but on whether it is the only way to do so.
Dretske does insist that the only plausible way to refute skepticism is by denying closure. See his a and b for a defense of this claim, trenchant criticisms of the contextualist theory, and responses to criticisms of the tracking theory. Some Skeptical Arguments do not Employ Closure One of the strengths claimed for the tracking account of knowledge is that it blocks the standard skeptical argument, since it involves the rejection of closure.
Not all skeptical arguments employ closure principles, however, so it is unclear how much anti-skeptical value would accrue from denying closure. Underdetermination arguments might be the best skeptical arguments and they do not depend at least explicitly on closure.
Underdetermination is a relation that holds between two or more theories, when the theories are incompatible, but empirically equivalent. Underdetermination skeptical arguments rely crucially on the premise that if two theories are incompatible but compatible with all the available and perhaps possible data, we cannot know that one is true and the other false.
Compare, for example, the thesis that I have hands, which I perceive through sense perception, and the thesis that I am a handless brain in a vat, artificially stimulated so as to have misleading sense perceptions. These theses are incompatible, but they are empirically equivalent. Whichever thesis were true, I would have the same sort of experiences. Suppose we adopt the following principle: With this principle and the premise that the two theses are incompatible but observationally equivalent, we can deduce that our apparent perception of our hands does not justify us in believing that we have hands.
The argument is greatly oversimplified, but the outline of the skeptical argument from underdetermination now ought to be clear. The argument does not explicitly employ any closure premise, so the rejection of closure would seem not to undermine the argument in any straightforward way. One could always argue that the appeal of the argument from underdetermination implicitly relies on the closure principle or that the argument from underdetermination is objectionable on other grounds.
Skeptical arguments from underdetermination, however, seem as plausible as other skeptical arguments and their plausibility seems not to depend on the plausibility of any of the closure principles.
Infinite regress arguments for skepticism also do not straightforwardly appeal to closure. A regress argument that no belief is epistemically justified and hence than no belief counts as knowledge runs as follows.
We assume that all justification is inferential. That is, every justified belief is justified by appeal to some other justified belief. The basis for this claim might be the nature of argumentation. One is justified in believing a conclusion if one is justified in believing the premises that support the conclusion.
If the conclusion is one of the premises, then the argument is question-begging, or circular, and not rationally persuasive. But if every justified belief can be justified only be inferring it from some further justified belief and there cannot be an infinite regress of justified beliefs, then it must be that no beliefs are justified. A foundationalist about justification, on the other hand, while agreeing that an infinite regress of justified beliefs is impossible, insists that there are justified beliefs, and hence that some beliefs are justified non-inferentially, or in other words, that some justified beliefs are basic or foundational.
The claim that no justified belief is self-justifying does not entail any closure principle of justification or knowledge, so the argument seems to be independent of closure and thus not vulnerable to arguments against closure principles.
See also Ancient Skepticism.
Epistemic Closure Challenge #5
The proponent of the tracking account of knowledge need not answer all forms of the skeptical argument with the same tools, so even if some skeptical arguments do not depend on the closure principle, the tracking analysis might provide the resources for countering the skeptical arguments from underdetermination or regress.
Dogmatism and the Rejection of Closure At least one philosopher Audi;has claimed that the justification of dogmatism, adapted from Harman see section 2 of this articleis a reductio ad absurdum of the epistemic closure principle. If closure allows one to infer, and thus know, that any evidence against something one knows must be misleading and may be ignored, then closure must be rejected.
If the man knows that the sum is n, and knows that his wife says the sum is not n, then by closure he knows that his wife is wrong. Since he knows his wife is wrong, there is no need to recalculate the sum. Similar examples appear in Dretske and Thalberg If one believes something only when one takes oneself to know it, as is plausible, then by this reasoning one has reason to dismiss any evidence against something that one believes. Denying the closure principle to avoid the odd dogmatic conclusion has some initial appeal, but there are alternative solutions that do not require us to reject such a compelling principle.
And, as Feldman says, there is a general reason not to resolve the paradox by denying closure. For instance, one could take the dogmatism argument to be a reductio ad absurdum of the anti-skeptical position.
This is the tack taken by Peter Unger If we deny that one could know that p say, that the sum of the numbers is nthen even if we accept closure, we have no reason to suppose that one could know that all evidence against p was misleading. Some conditionals are known to be true on the basis of the extreme unlikelihood of the antecedent, but are such that if one acquired evidence that supports the antecedent, one would not be justified in inferring the consequent because the probability of the antecedent is inversely proportional to the probability of the conditional.
That is, if one were to learn that the antecedent of the conditional was true, one would no longer have reason to accept and would no longer know the conditional. Rather, one should conclude that perhaps one did not know the conditional to be true after all, since one has evidence that its antecedent was true and its consequent false. Learning the truth of the antecedent — that there is strong evidence against r — may undermine the justification for believing the conditional itself, thus making the conditional resistant to modus ponens.
This blocking of the dogmatist argument does not involve denying closure, though. Another explanation that does not require the denial of closure is due to Michael Veber Veber We are frequently enough wrong in taking ourselves to know what we in fact do not know that following such a principle would lead one to disregard evidence that is not misleading.
There is nothing wrong with the principle, provided it is correctly applied; but due to the difficulty or impossibility of correctly applying it, adopting such a policy is contraindicated.
The McKinsey Paradox Michael McKinsey discovered a paradox about content externalism that has prompted some reconsideration of how knowledge is transmitted through deductive reasoning. Content externalism or anti-individualism is, to greatly oversimplify, the thesis that we are only able to have thoughts with certain contents because we inhabit environments of certain sorts. Putnam and Burge are the most notable defenses of this view.
Molecule-for-molecule duplicates could differ in their contents due to differences in their environments. This view is a repudiation of the Cartesian view of the mental, according to which the contents of our thoughts are what they are independent of the surrounding world. Externalism has been defended and criticized on many different grounds, but the debate about externalism has pivoted largely on its implications for the thesis that we have privileged access to the contents of our own thoughts.
How does one know that she is now thinking that some cans are made from aluminum, rather than the thought that some cans are made from twaluminum as we may call itwhich is what she would be thinking if she lived on Twin Earth?
Hence, this second-order mental state i. In short, one will believe that he believes cans are made of aluminum only if one in fact does believe that cans are made of aluminum, since both of these states bear a causal relation to aluminum, rather than twaluminum.
See Burge and Heil Whatever makes it the case that S thinks that p instead of q will also make it the case that S thinks I am thinking that p instead of I am thinking that q. Coupled with a reliabilist theory of knowledge, these second-order beliefs count as knowledge since they cannot go wrong and the thesis of privileged access is reconciled with externalism.
We assume that we know content externalism to be true and that it is compatible with a suitably robust thesis of privileged access to thought contents. We may now reason as follows: I know that I am in mental state M say, the state of believing that water is wet. Privileged Access I know that if I am in mental state M, then I meet external conditions E say, living in an environment that contains water.
Content Externalism, known through philosophical reflection If I know one thing and I know that it entails a second thing, then I know the second thing. Closure of knowledge under known entailment Thus, I know that I meet external conditions E.
That knowledge is not gained via empirical investigation of the external world. The conclusion follows by an application of the closure principle. Some reject externalism, some like McKinsey deny privileged access, and some compatibilists Brueckner argue that even if externalism is known to be true, nothing as specific as the second premise of the argument could be known a priori.
But perhaps the most influential attempt to solve the paradox is due to Martin Davies and Crispin Wright At first blush, it seems like Davies and Wright are rejecting closure, which is certainly one way to deal with the paradox.
Davies and Wright accept closure, though, and only reject a related but stronger epistemological principle that says that knowledge is transmitted over known entailment. Davies and Wright are distinguishing between the closure of knowledge under known entailment and what they take to be a common misreading of it. The principle of the transmission of knowledge under known entailment, however, states that if one knows that p, and knows that p entails q, then one knows q on that basis — what enables one to know that p and that p entails q also enables one to know that q.
Davies and Wright accept the closure principle but deny the transmission principle, arguing that it fails when the inference from p to q is, although valid, not cogent.
One way an argument could be valid but fail to be cogent is that the justification for the premises presupposes the truth of the conclusion. If I reason from the premise that I have a drivers license issued by the state of North Carolina based on visual inspection of my license and memory of having obtained it at the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to the conclusion that there exists an external world, including North Carolina, outside my mind, it is plausible that my justification for the premise taking sense experience and memory at face value presupposes the truth of the conclusion.
If this is so, then it seems that the premise could not be my basis for knowing the conclusion. Anyone in doubt about the conclusion would not accept the premise, so although the premise entails the conclusion, the premise could not provide the basis for rational conviction that the conclusion is true. Such an argument is valid, but not cogent.
It would not be a counterexample to closure, for anyone who knows the premise and the entailment also must know the conclusion, but it is a counterexample to the transmission principle, since the conclusion would not be known on the basis of the knowledge of the premise.
Epistemic Closure Principles
Thus, it is a counterexample to transmission, but poses no threat to closure. Thus one may not reason from the non-empirical knowledge claimed in the premises to non-empirical knowledge of an empirical truth that enjoys presuppositional status with regard to the premises. Anyone who doubts the conclusion of the McKinsey argument in the first place would not or at least should not -- the presuppositions of our premises are not always recognized as such be moved to accept the premises that entail it.
Consider then the following principle about a priori knowledge: APK If a subject knows something a priori and correctly deduces a priori from it a second thing, then the subject knows a priori the second claim.
We can describe this principle in two equivalent ways. It is the principle of closure of a priori knowledge under correct a priori deduction and, alternatively, it is a specific instance of the principle of transmission of knowledge under known entailment, since it claims that the a priori basis for knowledge of the premise transmits to the conclusion, allowing it to be known a priori as well.
If Davies and Wright are correct, the principle is false because counterexamples may be found in deductions that are valid but not cogent. Davies and Wright apply this distinction between transmission and closure to Moore's anti-skeptical argument as well. Although it is true that the negation of the brain-in-a-vat hypothesis is entailed by an ordinary proposition, such as that I have hands, the existence of the external world is presupposed in the justification for that premise and, therefore, may not be justifiably inferred from that premise.
Moore's argument is not cogent, so it is a counterexample to transmission, which we have reason to reject anyhow, and not a counterexample to closure or so Davies and Wright argue. This is plausibly another sort of conditional that is not expandable by modus ponens.
Unlike the junk conditionals, which cannot be expanded because the conditional can be known to be true only when the antecedent of the conditional is not known to be true, conditionals in which the justification for the antecedent presupposes justification for the consequent — we may call them conditionals of presupposition — cannot be expanded because the relevant modus ponens inference would not be cogent.
The inference would be question-begging. The distinction that Davies and Wright argue for also applies to closure principles for justified belief. If they are correct, then justified belief could be closed under known entailment even if justification is not necessarily transmitted across known entailment.
The counterexamples to the transmission principle for knowledge would also function as counterexamples for the transmissibility of justified belief. Some have argued that the Davies-Wright line of argument fails to solve the McKinsey paradox.
Whether they are right is beyond the scope of this entry. But the distinction Davies and Wright have drawn between transmission and closure is an important one. Although quite often it can and will, in some instances knowledge of p cannot provide the basis for knowledge of q, even though p entails q, because the justification for p presupposes q.
One knows that q on some independent basisso there is no counterexample to closure, but q will not be known on the basis of p, so the transmission principle is false. Clarifying the closure principle as a principle about the distribution of knowledge across known entailment, rather than as a principle about the transmission or acquisition of knowledge, divorces the closure principle, to some extent, from the initial intuitive support for it, which is the idea that we can add to our store of knowledge or justified belief by accepting what we know to be entailed by propositions we know or justifiably believe.
Lottery propositions are those with a high likelihood of being true, but which we are ordinarily disinclined to say that we know. Suppose that one lives on a fixed income and struggles to make ends meet. It seems that one knows one will not be able to afford a mansion on the French Riviera this year. Most, however, are disinclined to say that one could know that one will not win the lottery.
This phenomenon is widespread. Ordinarily, one who keeps up with politics could be said to know that Dick Cheney is the U. That Cheney is the Vice-President entails that Cheney did not die of a heart attack thirty seconds ago. But it seems that one does not know that Cheney did not die of a heart attack in the last thirty seconds.
How could one know such a thing? The apparently inconsistent triad is i one knows the ordinary proposition, ii one fails to know the lottery proposition, and iii closure. One may eliminate the inconsistency by denying closure on the sort of grounds that Dretske and Nozick cite.
If Cheney were not Vice-President, one would not believe he was, but had Cheney died in the past thirty seconds, one still would believe he was Vice-President. One might bite the skeptical bullet and insist that one really does not know that Cheney is Vice-President. One of a more anti-skeptical bent might maintain that one can really know the lottery propositions, such as that Cheney did not die in the last thirty seconds.
Such a resolution has considerable costs, but denying closure is not among them. Alternatively, one might argue for a contextualist handling of the problem that does not require the denial of closure or biting the skeptical or anti-skeptical bullet. References and Further Reading a. Argues against closure to avoid dogmatic conclusion. Solution to the McKinsey paradox that does not deny closure.
Reply to Warfield and Hales Brueckner, Anthony; Fiocco, M. Contains putative counterexample to Dretskean account of knowledge. Seminal defense of content externalism or anti-individualism.
Influential reconciliation of content externalism and the privileged access theses. Argues that McKinsey paradox is a counterexample to transmission, not closure. Seminal paper arguing against the closure of knowledge. Argues that denying closure is only way to avoid skepticism. Reply to Hawthorne University of Minnesota Press. Contains seminal Putnam article. Produces counterexamples to many different formulations of the closure principle, but points out that one cannot refute closure for knowledge by showing that some necessary condition for knowledge fails to be closed.
Harman, GilbertThought, Princeton: Employs closure principle in formulating dogmatic argument. Hawthorne, JohnKnowledge and Lotteries, Oxford: Argues for quasi-contextualist solution to problem of lottery propositions, and defends closure. Influential reconciliation of content externalism and privileged access theses.
Essays on Self-Knowledge, Oxford: Contains the Davies article. Formulation of the McKinsey paradox. George Allen and Unwin, Ltd. If only they had read You Are A Badass! Then they would know that loving themselves and refusing to put up with toxic people and saying affirmations would keep them from starving to death or being conscripted as child soldiers!
Like, a lot of the advice is not bad. I do not think this is a good financial advice. This book is stupidly slashy. A collection of weird places on Earth. I think this book is probably best read not the way I read it, which was straight through in one sitting. It is probably the sort of book that favors being kept in the bathroom so you can read an interesting fact about Russia while shitting. The firefighters will let you visit the bulb if you want, which I kind of want to do, but I am also uncertain what I would actually do while visiting the lightbulb.
This is because there are two alternate versions of the Egypt-Sudan border, and whomever admits to owning Bir Tawil would lose the right to significantly better land. In Sri Lanka, there is a sacred footprint on top of a mountain. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Israel, which is believed to be where Jesus died and was resurrected, is shared by six different Christian denominations, who regularly feud over what precise bits of the church belong to whom. When one monk moved his chair eight inches to find shade on a hot sunny day, this was interpreted as a hostile act, and 11 were hospitalized after the ensuing fight.
Sometime in the mids, an unknown person put up a ladder, and it has not been moved since for fear that it would incite violence. I found it mildly annoying a how few women were interviewed b how many of the interviewed women mostly had things to say about Women and Gender and Feminism.
Some people deeply underestimate fandom. A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis: This book was pitched to me as helping me understand and empathize with the Trump voter. It actually made me viscerally horrified by the Trump voter.
Everyone in this book has problems that are their own damn fault. I was a NEET because I kind of suck, and I have always been honest about this, and I feel like that kind of honesty is a bare minimum for me to have any sort of sympathy about your self-caused problems whatsoever.
If I can manage it, they can too. On the other hand, surely this is moral luck.
Epistemic Closure Challenge #5 | Thing of Things
From my earliest age, I had a lot of models of conflict-resolution strategies other than plate-throwing. While I might have impaired emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness skills, at least I had some concept that interpersonal effectiveness is a thing which exists and would be a nice thing to acquire and even a vague sense of how one does it.
And it seems to require an extraordinary amount of work to socialize someone raised in a terrible community into less awful norms. No, a properly fitting suit. One of the things I changed my mind about having read this book is the harm caused by communities with incredibly shitty norms. Look, people who caused all their own damn problems are still people.
I support ending the drug war and sensible harm-reduction measures that would reduce the toll of drug abuse in these communities. I intend to live peaceably with this community. A very nice book about an autistic man, Ove, who is trying to kill himself and then thwarted by an increasingly ludicrous series of events in which something is Wrong and needs to be set Right. I am uncertain if the author is aware that their protagonist is autistic— the narrative appears to believe that he is instead a curmudgeon— but he definitely is.
This book contains a strong anti-institutionalization plotline, which I always appreciate. In Sweden, can old people just be taken off to institutions even if their spouses want to take care of them? Is this a thing?