By Matthias Steup, Ernest Sosa
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Additional resources for Contemporary Debates in Epistemology (Contemporary Debates in Philosophy)
Thus, you can know of a red barn you see that it is a red barn but not that it is a barn. This result is an embarrassment even for someone (like Nozick) who denies closure. The example, however, is not effective against a “conclusive reason” (or information-theoretic) style analysis since these theories are formulated in terms not of a belief tracking a condition, but of one’s reasons or evidence (the condition causing you to believe) tracking the condition. S knows it is a barn if that feature of the evidence causing S to believe it is a barn would not exist if it were not a barn.
So if I utter “I know I have a hand” then I can only be reckoned a cooperative conversant by my interlocutors on the assumption that there was a real question as to whether I have a hand. If there is no real question, my utterance misleadingly suggests there is such a question – hence the infelicity in most contexts. But what sort of mechanism could explain why “He knew P and deduced Q from P but didn’t know Q” is true but conversationally infelicitous? No analogous Gricean narrative seems to be available here.
Though I haven’t performed a scientific study, my impression is that most philosophers (who bother thinking about it) believe that this is preposterous. ” Fumerton (1987) thinks the failure of closure is a “devastating objection” and BonJour (1987) a reductio ad absurdum to any theory that implies or embraces it. Most philosophers, of course, are eager to reject skepticism. Rejecting closure as a way around skepticism, though, is quite another matter. As these reactions indicate, many philosophers are unwilling to do it.