Do Safety Failures Preclude Knowledge?




The safety condition on knowledge, in the spirit of anti-luck epistemology, has become one of the most popular approaches to the Gettier problem. In the first part of this essay, I intend to show one of the reasons the anti-luck epistemologist presents for thinking that the safety theory, and not the sensitivity theory, offers the proper anti-luck condition on knowledge. In the second part of this essay, I intend to show that the anti-luck epistemologist does not succeed, because the safety theory fails to capture a necessary requirement for the possession of knowledge. I will attack safety on two fronts. First, I will raise doubts about whether there is any principled safety condition capable of handling a kind of case, involving inductive knowledge, that it was designed to handle. Second, I will consider two cases in which the safety condition is not met but the protagonist seems to have knowledge nonetheless, and I will vindicate my intuitions for thinking that those are in fact cases of knowledge by contrasting them with traditional, well-known Gettier cases. I want to conclude, finally, that safety failures do not necessarily prevent one from acquiring knowledge.

Author Biography

J. R. Fett, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul [PUCRS]

Department of Philosophy