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THE VALUE OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE PURSUIT OF SURVIVAL

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Abstract

Abstract: Knowledge requires more than mere true belief, and we also tend to think it is more valuable. I explain the added value that knowledge contributes if its extra ingredient beyond true belief is tracking. I show that the tracking conditions are the unique conditions on knowledge that achieve for those who fulfill them a strict Nash Equilibrium and an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy in what I call the True Belief Game. The added value of these properties, intuitively, includes preparedness and an expectation of survival advantage. On this view knowledge is valuable not because knowledge persists but because it makes the bearer more likely to maintain an appropriate belief state—possibly nonbelief—through time and changing circumstances. When Socrates concluded that knowledge of the road to Larissa was no more valuable than true belief for the purpose of getting to Larissa, he did not take into account that one might want to be prepared for a possible meeting with a misleading sophist along the way, or for the possibility of road work.

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