- The objective of the analysis of knowledge is to state conditions that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for propositional knowledge. Propositional knowledge should be distinguished from knowledge of “acquaintance”, as obtains when Susan knows Alyssa. The relation between propositional knowledge and the knowledge at issue in other “knowledge” locutions in English, such as knowledge-where (“Susan knows where she is”) and especially knowledge-how (“Susan knows how to ride a bicycle”) is subject to some debate. The propositional knowledge that is the analysandum of the analysis of knowledge literature is paradigmatically expressed in English by sentences of the form “S knows that p,” where “S” refers to the knowing subject, and “p” to the proposition that is known. A proposed analysis consists of a statement of the following form: S knows that p if and only if j, where j indicates the analysans: paradigmatically, a list of conditions that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for S to have knowledge that p.
- A correct analysis of knowledge would do more than pick out the actual extension of knowledge; even if, in actual fact, all cases of S knowing that p are cases of j, and all cases of the latter are cases of the former, j might fail as an analysis of knowledge. For example, it might be that there are possible cases of knowledge without j, or vice versa. A proper analysis of knowledge should at least be a necessary truth. Consequently, hypothetical thought experiments1 provide appropriate test cases for various analyses, as we shall see below.
- Even a necessary biconditional linking knowledge to some state j would probably not be sufficient for an analysis of knowledge, although just what more is required is a matter of some controversy. According to some theorists, to analyze knowledge is literally to identify the components that make up knowledge — compare a chemist who analyzes a sample for its chemical composition. On this interpretation of the project of analyzing knowledge, the defender of a successful analysis of knowledge will be committed to something like the metaphysical claim that what it is for S to know p is for some list of conditions involving S and p to obtain. Other theorists think of the analysis of knowledge as a distinctively conceptual analysis, attempting to limn the structure of the concept of knowledge. On one version of this way of thinking, the concept knowledge is literally composed of more basic concepts, linked together by something like Boolean operators; given this approach, an analysis is subject not only to extensional accuracy, but to facts about the cognitive representation of knowledge and other epistemic notions. In practice, many epistemologists engaging in the project of analyzing knowledge leave these metaphilosophical interpretive questions unresolved; attempted analyses, and counterexamples thereto, are often proposed without its being made explicit whether the claims are intended as metaphysical or conceptual ones. In many cases, this lack of specificity may be legitimate, since all parties tend to agree that an analysis of knowledge ought at least to be extensionally correct in all metaphysically possible worlds; as we shall see, many theories have been defended and, especially, refuted, on those terms.
- The attempt to analyze knowledge has received a considerable amount of attention from epistemologists, particularly in the late 20th Century, but no analysis has been widely accepted. Some contemporary epistemologists reject the assumption that knowledge is susceptible to analysis.
- Knowledge as Justified True Belief
1.1 The Truth Condition
1.2 The Belief Condition
1.3 The Justification Condition
- Lightweight Knowledge
- The Gettier Problem
- No False Lemmas
- Modal2 Conditions
5.3 Relevant Alternatives
- Doing Without Justification?
6.1 Reliabilist Theories of Knowledge
6.2 Causal Theories of Knowledge
- Is Knowledge Analyzable?
- Epistemic Luck
- Virtue-Theoretic Approaches
9.1 The ‘AAA’ Evaluations
9.2 Fake Barn Cases
- Knowledge First
- Pragmatic Encroachment
Other Internet Resources
Referenced in "Pritchard (Duncan) - What do you know? What is Knowledge? And Do We Have Any?"; for full text - Link.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)