Knowledge in an Uncertain World

Jeremy Fantl, Matthew McGrath

Research output: Book/ReportBook

370 Scopus citations


This book is an exploration of the relation between knowledge, reasons, and justification. According to the primary argument of the book, you can rely on what you know in action and belief, because what you know can be a reason you have and you can rely on the reasons you have. If knowledge doesn't allow for a chance of error - if it requires certainty - then this result is unsurprising. But if knowledge does allow for a chance of error - as seems required if we know much of anything at all - this result entails the denial of a received position in epistemology. Because any chance of error, if the stakes are high enough, can make a difference to what can be relied on, two subjects with the same evidence and generally the same strength of epistemic position for a proposition can differ with respect to whether they are in a position to know. This phenomenon has come to be known as 'pragmatic encroachment'. All of the points above, it is argued, apply equally well to justification for believing. The results, then, have ramifications for and are borne on by debates about epistemological externalism and contextualism, the value and importance of knowledge, Wittgensteinian hinge propositions, Bayesianism, and the nature of belief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages272
ISBN (Electronic)9780191722684
ISBN (Print)9780199550623
StatePublished - May 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Belief
  • Certainty
  • Chance
  • Contextualism
  • Epistemic position
  • Justification
  • Knowledge
  • Pragmatic encroachment
  • Reasons


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