Epistemic analysis and the Possibility of Good Informants


  • James MacBain Kansas State University




Edward Craig has proposed that epistemology should eschew traditional conceptual analysis in favor of what he calls “conceptual synthesis.” He proposes we start not from the finding of necessary and sufficient conditions that match our intuitions; rather we start from considerations on what the
concept of knowledge does for us. In this paper I will explore one aspect of Craig’s proposal – the good informant. It is this aspect that is central to Craig’s epistemic method and perhaps most problematic. I will evaluate this concept by first articulating three initial worries that some have had about the concept and then show how each of the initial worries can be quelled by looking deeper into the features of what Craig’s proposal is. I then assess Craig’s proposal on its own terms by looking at the concept of a good informant in light of the criteria for an adequate explication. What I will show is that while there is much to be sympathetic with in Craig’s proposal, there are some open questions that need to be solved in order to say that an adequate explication has been reached.