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Unreliable Knowledge

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Abstract

There is a virtual consensus in contemporary epistemology that knowledge must be reliably produced. Everyone, it seems, is a reliabilist about knowledge in that sense. I present and defend two arguments that unreliable knowledge is possible. My first argument proceeds from an observation about the nature of achievements, namely, that achievements can proceed from unreliable abilities. My second argument proceeds from an observation about the epistemic efficacy of explanatory inference, namely, that inference to the best explanation seems to produce knowledge, even if it isn't reliable. I also propose a successor to standard versions of reliabilism, which I call ‘ecumenical reliabilism’. Ecumenical reliabilism is consistent with unreliably produced knowledge and helps explain why unreliably produced knowledge is possible.

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