Reasons, Causes, and Knowledge
Swain (Marshall)
Source: Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 75, No. 5 (May, 1978), pp. 229-249
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. In this paper I shall make a second attempt1 at providing a combined causal/defeasibility analysis of knowledge.
  2. According to the view that I want to suggest, a person has knowledge that h only if that person justifiably believes that h on the basis of reasons and only if the having of those reasons results from a nondefective causal ancestry.
  3. A causal ancestry is nondefective if and only if the belief is indefeasibly justified.
  4. In my previous attempt to provide such a theory, I concentrated on what I call primary knowledge. Primary knowledge is knowledge of noncompound propositions that designate occurrent, causally efficacious events or states of affairs; all other factual (or propositional) knowledge is secondary. An example of primary knowledge is my present knowledge that there is a typewriter in front of me. Examples of secondary knowledge would include my present knowledge that either there is a typewriter in front of me or Brown is in Barcelona, that all human beings are mortal, and that 2 plus 2 equals 4.
  5. In the present essay, I shall again concentrate on primary knowledge.
  6. In the final section, however, I sketch the way in which the expanded theory covers secondary knowledge, and provide a variety of illustrative examples.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: For the first attempt, see "Swain (Marshall) - Knowledge, Causality, and Justification".

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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