Fallibilism, Contextualism and Second-Order Skepticism
Article first published online: 8 SEP 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Volume 33, Issue 4, pages 339–359, October 2010
How to Cite
Harper, A. S. (2010), Fallibilism, Contextualism and Second-Order Skepticism. Philosophical Investigations, 33: 339–359. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9205.2010.01417.x
- Issue published online: 8 SEP 2010
- Article first published online: 8 SEP 2010
Fallibilism is ubiquitous in contemporary epistemology. I argue that a paradox about knowledge, generated by considerations of truth, shows that fallibilism can only deliver knowledge in lucky circumstances. Specifically, since it is possible that we are brains-in-vats (BIVs), it is possible that all our beliefs are wrong. Thus, the fallibilist can know neither whether or not we have much knowledge about the world nor whether or not we know any specific proposition, and so the warrant of our knowledge-claims is much reduced and second-order skepticism is generated. Since this is the case in both skeptical and everyday contexts, contextualism cannot resolve the paradox.