Nature and value of knowledge : epistemic environmentalism
Ryan, Shane Gavin
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My thesis examines the nature and value of knowledge and normative implications of its value. With this in mind I examine Greco’s account of knowledge in detail and consider whether it convinces. I argue against the account on a number of fronts; in particular I argue against Greco’s treatment of the Barney and Jenny cases. In doing so I draw on the dialectic in the literature and go beyond it by showing how his treatment of those cases is such as to raise problems for his treatment of other cases. More specifically I argue that Greco’s treatment of the Barney case is such as to threaten his treatment of standard Gettier cases and his treatment of the Jenny case threatens his treatment of the Careless Math Student case. I also consider an alternative virtue epistemic approach offered by Pritchard which I reject. In attempting to overcome the challenges that the Barney and Jenny cases pose I articulate an alternative account according to which what I call “epistemic grace” is a requirement of knowledge. It is via this epistemic grace requirement that I also account for the value of knowledge. Recognition of the value of knowledge serves as the basis for the articulation of the notion of epistemic environmentalism. With epistemic environmentalism in view, trust is analysed and its significance to the gaining of knowledge, albeit knowledge of a certain kind, is considered. Finally, the normative implications of epistemic environmentalism are laid out in a framework to show how findings in epistemic value theory relate to approaches that can provide a basis for justifying intervention or non-intervention in the assisting of the attaining or holding of epistemic goods of value.