University of Oulu

Bricker, A.M. Neural phase: a new problem for the modal account of epistemic luck. Synthese 198, 7231–7248 (2021).

Neural phase : a new problem for the modal account of epistemic luck

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Author: Bricker, Adam Michael1
Organizations: 1History of Sciences and Ideas, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-01-19


One of the most widely recognised intuitions about knowledge is that knowing precludes believing truly as a matter of luck. On Pritchard’s highly influential modal account of epistemic luck, luckily true beliefs are, roughly, those for which there are many close possible worlds in which the same belief formed in the same way is false. My aim is to introduce a new challenge to this account. Starting from the observation—as documented by a number of recent EEG studies—that our capacity to detect visual stimuli fluctuates with the phase of our neural oscillations, I argue that there can be very close possible worlds in which an actual-world detectable stimulus is undetectable. However, this doesn’t diminish our willingness to attribute knowledge in the case that the stimulus is detectable, even when undetectability would result in the same belief formed in the same way being false. As I will argue at length, the modal account appears unable to accommodate this result.

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Series: Synthese
ISSN: 0039-7857
ISSN-E: 1573-0964
ISSN-L: 0039-7857
Volume: 198
Pages: 7231 - 7248
DOI: 10.1007/s11229-019-02517-x
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital.
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