Epistemic Value

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Value of Knowledge Chapters

Here is the latest version of my contribution to the Value of Knowledge book that I'm writing with Alan Millar and Adrian Haddock:

Analytical Table of Contents (pdf)
Chapter One: The Value Problem for Knowledge (pdf)
Chapter Two: Knowledge and Final Value (pdf)
Chapter Three: Anti-Luck Virtue Epistemology (pdf)
Chapter Four: Understanding (pdf)
Bibliography (pdf)



  • At 2:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Congratulations on your outstanding work!

  • At 12:52 PM, Blogger Duncan Pritchard said…

    Thanks 'Anonymous'!

  • At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    An adequate account of the nature of knowledge must include at least one condition with a truth-independent value. Regardless of whether or not you know my name, the work is truthfully outstanding.

  • At 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It has been a positive implication of the value-of-knowledge debate that we “shift the focus on contemporary epistemological theorizing away from the merely minimal conditions for knowledge—a focus that has arisen largely in response to the Gettier problem—and move it towards higher epistemic standings” (Pritchard 2007, 23).

    I think this pretty much sums things up!

    Cheers, David Simms

  • At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Duncan- Please don't take this personally but you're no Ernest Sosa!

    Jon Son Volt

  • At 1:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I had the opportunity to read your chapters, and was very impressed. I also had the privilege of meeting Aaron Millar in the states, and enjoyed the time we spent together. Keep them coming.


  • At 3:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Little Susie Speller is obsessed with winning first place in the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee. Her overbearing parents provide her with the latest OED dictionary and hire the finest spelling tutors to assist her in her quest. Susie immerses herself in Latin and Greek word roots, linguistic etiology and after a year and a half, has learned to spell almost every word in the dictionary. A week before the spelling bee, Susie Speller is hit by a drunk driver (or, to avoid a sentimentalist response, suppose she is so stressed that she gets drunk and causes a wreck). In any event, her memory is badly affected, and seems to come in spurts. During the week before the Bee, she finds herself going through intervals where she spells words (even the toughest ones) perfectly for about a half an hour, and then lapses into a subsequent thirty minutes in which she has trouble spelling any of the words. Nonetheless, Susie shows up to the Spelling Bee, and luckily for her, the rotations are such that everytime she is called to spell a word, she is operating in one of her lucid intervals. (And, of course, when she sits down between turns, she goes blank). Susie ends up winning the Spelling Bee. Clearly, she would not have won had it not been for her spelling ability. Had she not studied, then car wreck or not, she would have no chance. However, had she drawn a different rotation number, she would have been given a word during her blank periods and would have lost."

    (1) Did Susie know the words she spelled?
    (2) Was Susie’s success at the Bee an achievement?

    The moral(s) to the story are:

    A. Don't drink and drive

    B. Just because one has developed enhanced literary skills, they could still be left grasping to find a fit in common society.

    C. Some people are just "chokers"

    D. Knowledge is only useful, if used in a timely manner. Therefore both time and space must work in concert for true knowledge to accur.

    L. Maas

  • At 3:54 PM, Blogger krhodes said…

    Hi, sorry to sort of crash the party, but having read some of the stuff from this blog and skimmed a few papers, I have a question. In asking the question I'll refer to some of the stuff from the first chapter listed in this blog post--that's why I'm putting the question in a comment to this particular blog post.

    The question is, does no one deny that knowledge has more practical value than true belief? I'd be tempted to deny it myself, if I weren't afraid of exposing my complete ignorance or idiocy by doing so. :)

    In one chapter of the book mentioned in this blog post, Pritchard says knowledge has more practical value than true belief because, for example, someone who knows the road is the right way is going to keep following it even when it takes an unexpected turn, but someone who merely believes (truthfully) that it's the right road is more likely to leave the road when it takes that unexpected turn. But I don't see why this should be. It seems like things would only work out this way if knowledge comes necessarily with a concomitant sensation of certainty or something approaching it, while true belief that is not knowledge does not. But isn't that pretty controversial? I know I don't find it very plausible in any case.

    I think knowledge has no more practical value than true belief. I also think that there's no way to attempt to get true beliefs without at the same time, in the very act, attempting to get those true beliefs _as knowledge_. For that reason, I haven't been able to understand why people think knowledge is more valuable than true belief. They appear to me to be equally valuable, because the pursuit of either amounts to the same thing as the pursuit of the other.

    While I can't see a way to value them differently for myself, I can see a way to value them differently in others. What I mean is this. I would rather hear from a knowledgable person than from a merely true-believing person. If I think he knows what he's talking about, then I have good reasons to think that as he elaborates on his ideas, and as I bring new questions to him about the topic, he's likely to continue uttering true sentences on the topic. But if I think he merely true-believes what he's talking about, then as he elaborates and as I ask questions, it's more likely that he'll start going wrong.

    So for example if I ask a sage a question Q, and the sage says "I will not tell you the answer young grasshopper, but I will give you a choice. My friend Bob knows the answer. My friend Joe has a true belief about the answer, but believes it for all the wrong reasons. Which would you like to hear from?" I'll answer Bob. They'll both give me the same answer to the question, but Bob will do better for me in subsequent situations having to do with the topic of the question.

    So in that sense, I value knowledge over true belief. But I don't value _my own_ knowledge over _my own_ true belief. Rather, I simply value my own true belief, and pursue it. And I can't pursue the acquisition of true beliefs for myself without at the same time, in the very act, pursuing those true beliefs for myself _as knowledge_. They have the same value for me because they are, for me, the same object of pursuit. They only become potentially different objects of pursuit, I guess, when I'm thinking about _others'_ knowledge and true beliefs.

    Everything I've said is predicated on the idea that it's impossible to pursue true belief without pursuing knowledge--indeed, that to pursue true belief about X just is to pursue knowledge about X. Is it clear to everyone that this is so? If not, tell me how it could be possible for a person to pursue true belief concerning something without at the same time, in that very act, pursuing knowledge about that thing. Maybe that's the false assumption that's leading me astray here.

  • At 9:13 PM, Blogger Jack said…

    Just download it and will read it latter,, will be back soon to give my honest review

    Knowledge Management


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