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Knowledge and Modality

English title Knowledge and Modality
Applicant Dutant Julien
Number 125972
Funding scheme Fellowships for prospective researchers
Research institution University of Oxford Faculty of Philosophy
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.10.2009 - 30.09.2010
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Keywords (8)

knowledge; modality; context; methods; belief; contextualism; epistemic logic; knowledge attributions

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
The project defends and applies the idea that knowledge consists in some form of impossibility of error: to know something is to have formed one's opinion in such a way that one could not be mistaken.

My research topic is propositional knowledge, i.e. what it is for someone to know that something is the case. I study both knowledge itself and our use of the word "know". Many philosophers have recently endorsed the idea that knowledge is a matter of impossibility of error: to know something is to have formed one's opinion in such a way that one could not be mistaken. I defend a variant of this idea, namely that knowledge is infallibly based belief. I apply that account in epistemic logic (a formal representation of knowledge that is widely used in theoretical computer science and theoretical economy) and the semantics (theory of meaning) of "know".

The core of my work consists in a philosophical defense of the idea that knowledge is infallibly based belief. In particular, I argue that a contemporary version of the idea need not entail scepticism or intolerant dogmatism (as historical ones did) once it is recognised that knowledge is not transparent: one may fail to know without being able to know that they do not know.

The main defense and application of the core idea have been laid out in my doctoral thesis (june 2010). Several articles are submitted or in preparations. Some of the ideas also appear in an introductory book published in French: Qu'est-ce que la connaissance? (Vrin, 2010).

The project develops applications of the central idea to the theoretical branches of computer science and economy (epistemic logic) and to the study of natural language (semantics of "know"). The long-term aim is to legitimize and understand the use of the notion of knowledge in scientific, legal, professional and ordinary contexts.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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