SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Insensitive Knowledge
(Epistemology, )

The sensitivity condition on knowledge, the "spirit" of which is that "one would notice if things were different" (Greco, 2012) is supposed to preserve the allure of scepticism without denying Moorean facts. While sensitivity has declined in influence, however, previous criticisms have failed to directly question its ability to carry out this goal. Supporters of sensitivity have thus been able to fine tune their account of methods of knowing in order to resist both scepticism and its Moorean denial, aware that competing analyses of knowledge aimed at different goals. Timothy Williamson (2002) reduced enthusiasm for sensitivity by showing that this leads to a gerrymandered account of methods, but failed to show conclusively that constraining sensitivity to particular methods leads to the denial of Moorean facts. I do this by constructing two cases, one of common-sense knowledge and one of foundational scientific knowledge, and show that in both cases the nearest world where things are different is a world where the subject fails to notice. In both cases I check all four of David Lewis's (1979) options for "nearest world" and both fine- and course-grained accounts of methods of knowing, and sensitivity fails to obtain on any of these ways of cashing out its modal condition. The far-off worlds where sensitivity fails for these foundational cases of knowledge do not behave in the way that partisans of sensitivity naively expect. Because both cases of knowledge are so foundational, however, denying them is a severely sceptical outcome. Sensitivity is thus not merely superfluous in a general account of knowledge, but actively contrary to its intention.

Chair: Santiago Vrech
Time: 16:00-16:30, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: HS E.002

Ryan Miller 
(University of Geneva, )

Testability and Meaning deco