Epistemology Brownbag: Matt Jope

Date: April 16th, 2019

Time/Location: 12:30-2:00 in Kresge 3438

Title: The Good, the Bad and the Controversial: Transmission Failure and the Externalist Challenge
Abstract: Deductive arguments sometimes put one in a position to acquire new knowledge. When this happens, justification is said to transmit from premise to conclusion. Recently however, some epistemologists have discussed interesting ways in which justification can fail to transmit across entailment. One challenge is to account for what exactly is going wrong in such cases. A popular sentiment in the literature is that traditional externalist accounts of justification have difficulty in addressing this challenge. In this paper, I consider what externalists ought to say about the phenomenon of transmission failure. Firstly, I discuss some cases of transmission and transmission failure and place them on a spectrum from very clearly transmissive to very clearly non-transmissive. I then suggest that a minimal desideratum for any theory ought to be that it capture intuitions in the most clear-cut peripheral cases, regardless of what it says about the less clear-cut cases. Next, I discuss one attempt to meet the externalist challenge due to José Zalabardo and show that it faces a variety of problems that preclude it from meeting even the minimal desideratum. Lastly, I argue that externalism in general need not be precluded from meeting the minimal desideratum and end by considering what externalists might say about the more controversial cases.

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