Attributing Knowledge

ISBN : 9780197508817

Jody Azzouni
775 ページ
156 x 235 mm

In Attributing Knowledge, Jody Azzouni challenges philosophical conventions about what it means to know something. He argues that the restrictive conditions philosophers place on knowers only hold in special cases; knowledge can be attributed to babies, sophisticated animals (great apes, orcas), unsophisticated animals (bees), and machinery (drones, driverless cars). Azzouni also gives a fresh defense of fallibilism. Relying on lexical semantics and ordinary usage, he shows that there are no knowledge norms for assertion or action. He examines everyday cases of knowledge challenge and attribution to show many recent and popular epistemological positions are wrong. By providing a long-sought intelligible characterization of knowledge attribution, Azzouni explains why the concept has puzzled philosophers so long, and he solves longstanding and recent puzzles that have perplexed epistemologists-including the dogmatism paradox, Gettier puzzles, and the surprise-exam paradox. "This is a terrific book, full of surprises. For instance, Chapter 9 is full of points that are original, insightful, and useful in helping to resolve stale debates. I especially liked the points that we don't ordinarily describe someone as losing knowledge by gaining defeating evidence, that "knows" is vague and tri-scoped, that vagueness needn't be explained by appeal to precise metasemantic machinery, and that Williamson's anti-luminosity argument founders on the fact that knowledge doesn't require confidence. Bravo!" -Ram Neta, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Praise for Jody Azzouni's Ontology without Borders: "Azzouni offers a very strong drink, proposing that we do without central elements of what almost anyone would call logic or ontology. His arguments are serious and wide-ranging. If he's right, the reader will have learned something very important. If he's wrong, then the reader who figures out how he went wrong will also have learned something very important. Not every book has this feature." -Michael Gorman, The Catholic University of America


1. Knowledge attributions to minimal epistemic agents
2. Knowledge and knowing that P
knowledge and knowing that P
3. The variability of know(s) that judgments
4. Assertion norms
5. Usage traps in the language of iterated knowledge attributions
6. Iterated and ground-floor knowledge, KK and KnK, arguments and empirical studies
7. Inferential justification
8. Representational justification and challenges to the given
9. Confidence, belief and knowledge
the vagueness of know(s)
10. Usage challenges to fallibilism
11. The (complex) structure of the meaning of know(s)
Appendix: The aesthetics of hangman knots
Detailed Contents
Part 1
i. Epistemology: What it is
ii. The importance of words
iii. Some of the distinctive epistemic claims I attempt in this book
iv. Brief synopses of the chapters in this book
Part 2
v. Insights from lexical semantics: Ambiguity and polysemy
vi. Insights from lexical semantics: Retraction and the factivity of know(s)
vii. Insights from lexical semantics: Literality and metaphoricality
viii. Insights from lexical semantics: Semantic entailments
ix. The lexical analysis of words versus the functional analysis of them
x. An example: true
xi. Xphilosophy and the threat of idiolectical scepticism
1. Knowledge attributions to minimal epistemic agents
1.1 First remarks
1.2 What animals know
1.3 Insects and non-biological things know a lot too
1.4 The flexibility of cognition attributions: F ing that p
1.5 Knowledge, belief, action and consciousness
1.6 Knowledge and belief (and consciousness too)
1.7 Mindless knowing
1.8 Final lesson from knowledge attributions to animals: Methods of knowing aren't modular
1.9 What's been done and a look ahead
2. Knowledge and knowing that A
knowledge and knowing that
2.1 First remarks
2.2 Knowledge
2.3 Knowing P and knowing that P
3. The variability of know(s)-that judgments
3.1 First remarks
3.2 Some thought experiments that are problematic for classic invariantists
3.3 Hawthorne's DSK principle
3.4 Comparing knowing and knowledge attributions across contexts
3.5 Comparing knowing and knowledge attributions across agents
3.6 Knowledge-relativism denied
3.7 What speaker-hearers can reasonably be taken to be confused about with respect to their own usage
3.8 Making progress? (Where we are and where we're going)
4. Assertion norms
4.1 Introduction
preliminaries about assertion
4.2 Semantic perceptions
4.3 Experiencing asserting, assertions, and their differences
4.4 The assertions of spokespersons and Moorean remarks
4.5 Assertions: Of journalists, in advertisements, by cartoon characters and flakes
4.6 Assertion norms
4.7 Burge's acceptance principle
4.8 Expectations in special cases
4.9 Concluding remarks
5. Usage traps in the language of iterated knowledge attributions
5.1 Introductory remarks about KK and KnK, and about metacognition
5.2 Exclamation and redundancy uses of know(s)
5.3 Redundancy usages for aware and the puzzling case of pain
5.4 Iterated knowledge and an agent's command of her concepts
5.5 Davidson, Dretske, Esken, and Malcolm on metacognition, cognition, belief and metabelief
5.6 Iterated knowledge and belief, and justification
5.7 Level-confusions in epistemology
5.8 Conclusion and transition to the next chapter
6. Iterated and ground-floor cognition, KK and KnK arguments and empirical studies
6.1 Introduction
6.2 The Cartesian perspective: Full metacognition about the self
6.3 A very minimal ground-floor epistemic agent who cognizes and knows without iterated knowledge or cognitions
6.4 The non-transparency of knowing state
6.5 Iterated knowledge about deduction
6.6 Nonhuman-animal studies in metacognition
6.7 A possible case of nonhuman-animal iterated cognition?
6.8 Conclusion
7. Inferential justification
7.1 First remarks
7.2 Justification and truth
7.3 Justifications based on truth-preserving deduction
7.4 Infinite chains of justifications
7.4.1 Infinite deductive sequences of justifications
7.4.2 Probabilistic infinite sequences of justifications
7.4.3 A failing grade for infinitism, nevertheless
7.5 Conclusion
8. Representational justification and challenges to the given
8.1 Representational justification characterized
8.2 Representation and deduction exhaust justification
8.3 The given-dilemma for nonpropositional justification
8.4 Why representational justifications needn't be experiential
8.5 There are justificational stopping points
8.6 Justificational stopping points in conversation
8.7 Metacognitive motivations for enriching justification
8.8 Concluding remarks
9. Confidence, belief and knowledge
the vagueness of know(s)
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Piecemeal knowledge and piecemeal iterated knowledge
9.3 Confidence, knowledge and iterated knowledge
9.4 The invisibility of epistemic standards
the invisibility of the vagueness of epistemic standards
9.5 Williamson on KK
9.6 Concluding remarks
10. Usage challenges to fallibilism
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Preliminaries: Characterizing fallibilism, infallibilism and parity reasoning
10.3 When factivity misleads
10.4 The factivity of know(s) and Kripke's dogmatism paradox
10.5 The factivity and fallibility of know(s), and lotteries
10.6 Going to extremes
10.7 Prefaces and lotteries
10.8 Fallibility implies the denial of knowledge closure
10.9 Rational belief and concluding remarks
11. The (complex) structure of the meaning of know(s)
11.1 Introduction
11.2 Necessary conditions and sufficient conditions for know(s)
the relation of these conditions to criterion transcendence
11.3 Why know(s) evades a definition
11.4 Conceptually engineering a successor notion to know(s)?
11.5 Social-role epistemology
11.6 Conclusion (to the whole book)
Appendix: The aesthetics of hangman knots


Jody Azzouni received his doctorate from The CUNY Graduate Center and is Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He writes broadly in philosophy of mathematics, science, logic and language, as well as in epistemology and metaphysics.