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Duncan Pritchard: Epistemic Luck
Oxford: Clarendon, 2005. 290 Pages – Pritchard ContentsPritchard LinksPritchard Literature
Knowledge in quotidian discourse seems to exclude luck. Most epistemologists would agree. This intuition creates a problem in most, if not all, knowledge claims. Luck creeps in the more we think about a putative knowledge situation or simply by raising some sceptical scenarios or hypotheses. Usually I know: "My car is parked in front of the house." I don't know that a thief just considered to steal it but, luckily for me, didn't like the color (or, to honor Fred Dretske, refrained from stealing because the fuel gauge indicated: empty) and chose the car of my neighbour. So I my belief about my car only luckily is true. Is scepticism true after all? Or does lucky guessing count for knowledge?
In the first part of this excellent book Duncan Pritchard examines scepticism, closure for knowledge and contextualism. He discusses in detail three major anti-sceptical strategies, where the externalist versus internalist position is crucial. One major result is: our fallibilist everyday knowledge is consistent with sceptical alternatives not being known to be false.
In the second part Pritchard distinguishes two varieties of epistemic luck. He concludes that most anti-sceptical answers only exclude the "veritic" kind of epistemic luck. Very illuminating for me was the part on Ludwig Wittgenstein and the 'hinge' propositions.
Although the main focus of the book is on knowledge and its compatibility with luck it also covers internalist and externalist theories, contextualist theories, virtue epistemology, and Agrippa's Trilemma.
On the editorial part the book is very carefully written and arranged.
Two minor remarks
– For some references to numbered theses I missed the page number (or at least the chapter). Although—very helpfully—twice the author repeated two arguments in full: closure-based radical sceptical argument, p.203, and underdetermination-based sceptical argument, p. 205.
Barry Stroud slipped out of the bibliography. I assume it to be:
Stroud, B. (1984). The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Stroud, B. (1996). 'Epistemological Reflection on Knowledge of the External World', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56: 345-358.
Epistemic Luck is highly recommended for everybody with already a basic knowledge of the theory of knowledge.
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I. Scepticism
1 Scepticism in Contemporary Debate
2 Closure and Context
3 Neo-Mooreanism
4 The Source of scepticism
II. Epistemic Luck
5 Luck
6 Two Varieties of Epistemic Luck
7 Cognitive Responsibility and the Epistemic Virtues
8 Scepticism and Epistemic Luck
9 Epistemic Angst
10 Postscript: Moral luck
PritchardDuncan Pritchard, Department of Philosophy, University of Stirling
PritchardDuncan Pritchard: Epistemic Luck. Oxford University Press
Pritchard Sven Bernecker, Duncan Pritchard, Hg.: The Routledge Companion to Epistemology
PritchardMaria Lasonen-Aarnio: "Review Essay of Epistemic Luck" (pdf)
PritchardAdam Leite, Indiana University: Duncan Pritchard: Epistemic Luck (NDPR)
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Pritchard, Duncan 2003: “Virtue Epistemology and Epistemic Luck”. Metaphilosophy 34, 106-130. Pritchard, Duncan 2005: “Scepticism, Epistemic Luck, and Epistemic Angst”. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83.2, 185-205.
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Pritchard PritchardDuncan Pritchard: Epistemic Luck. Oxford: Clarendon, 2005. Gebunden, 290 Seiten
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© by Herbert Huber, Am Fröschlanger 15, 83512 Wasserburg, Germany, 28.4.2006