Philosophy Colloquium, Lucas Thorpe

perception-thinkLucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi University

“Knowledge Doesn’t Entail Belief: Avoiding the Seductive Charm of Indo-European Grammar and Remembering Unbelievable Kisses”

Date: Thursday 22 December, 2016

Time: 1040-1230

Place: G160

Abstract: In this paper I will sketch a model of the relationship between perceptual knowledge and belief. My position is influenced by the work of the 18th century Scottish common sense philosopher Thomas Reid. I will argue that knowledge is a much simpler mental state than belief and that the capacity to know is developmentally prior to the capacity to believe. I will argue that perceptual knowledge is objectual whereas beliefs are propositional attitudes; perceptual knowledge involves grasping the world conceptually, whereas belief involves taking an attitude towards our concepts, namely marking them as instantiated. Belief require some capacity for meta-cognition, whereas perceptual knowledge does not. It is possible to deploy a concept in an act of perception without also taking an attitude towards this concept. If this is right then we need to drop what I call the entailment thesis: namely the claim that knowing entails believing. I will suggest that philosophers such as Tim Williamson who support a “knowledge first” epistemology have no good reason to accept the entailment thesis. I will also provide a number of thought experiments and appeal to some recent empirical research to support my position.


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