Why Do Fallibilists and Nominalists Have Anything to Say At All?

or not

fallibilism

  1. The basic idea: we can know things which are not entailed or guaranteed to be true by our evidence / reasons.
  2. Fallibilism gives us a response to Unger-style certainty skepticism: fallibilists can say that knowledge is com- patible with some degree of uncertainty. Does fallibilism give a response to argument-from-ignorance skep- ticism? Not so clear: there the problem seems to be that you don’t know that you’re not a BIV (or whatever), and it’s not obvious how the fallibilist can help with that.
  3. Cohen’s definition of fallibilism: fallibilists reject the claim that S knows that P on the basis of reason R only if R entails Q.

lottery problems

  1. Fallibilists say you can know that P on the basis of reason R, even though R does not entail that P. Still, we want to say that you can only know P on the basis of R when R somehow supports belief in P. What’s the nature of that support?
  2. First idea: R makes P probable. There is a problem here with lotteries. I know that the chances of winning the PowerBall are 1 in 300 million; this knowledge makes it very probable that your ticket has lost. Still, it doesn’t seem that I can know that your ticket lost simply by knowing the odds.
  3. Interestingly, though, the problem here can’t be identified just as the fact that R doesn’t imply that there no chance I’m wrong about P. I read the winning number in the paper, and see that it’s not yours, and now I know: you lost. But we’ll all acknowledge that there’s a chance that the paper has a misprint.

    excerpted from: Why Skeptical Arguments Matter & How To Be A Fallibilist Philosophy 311: Problems of Knowledge, Professor Geoff Pynn, Northern Illinois University

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