Subtle syntactic cues affect intuitions about knowledge: Methodological and theoretical implications for epistemology

Zachary Horne, Andrei Cimpian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

To investigate the nature and limits of knowledge, epistemologists often consult intuitions about whether people can be said to have knowledge or, alternatively, to know particular propositions. This chapter identifies a problem with this method. Although the intuitions elicited via statements about “knowledge” and “knowing” are treated as interchangeable sources of evidence, these intuitions actually differ. Building on prior psychological evidence, the chapter hypothesizes that the epistemic state denoted by the noun “knowledge” is viewed as stronger (e.g. more certain, more reliable) than the epistemic state denoted by the verb “know.” This hypothesis was supported by the results of six studies that used a variety of methodologies and data sources (e.g. philosophical texts, naive participants’ intuitions). This research has significant implications for epistemology: The syntactic structure of the linguistic examples offered as evidence for epistemological claims may influence the extent to which these examples provide intuitive support for the relevant claim.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 2
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages7-37
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780198815259
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

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Keywords

  • Epistemology
  • Intuition
  • Knowledge
  • Psychology
  • Syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this

Subtle syntactic cues affect intuitions about knowledge : Methodological and theoretical implications for epistemology. / Horne, Zachary; Cimpian, Andrei.

Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 2. Oxford University Press, 2018. p. 7-37.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter