Combating Anti Anti-Luck Epistemology


One thing that nearly all epistemologists agree upon is that Gettier cases are decisive counterexamples to the tripartite analysis of knowledge; whatever else is true of knowledge, it is not merely belief which is both justified and true. They now agree that knowledge is not justified true belief because this is consistent with there being too much luck present in the cases, and that knowledge excludes such luck. This is to endorse what has become known as the ‘anti-luck platitude’. But what if generations of philosophers have been mistaken about this, blinded at least partially by a deeply entrenched professional bias? There has been another, albeit minority, response to Gettier: to deny that the cases are counterexamples at all. Stephen Hetherington, a principal proponent of this view, advances what he calls the ‘Knowing Luckily Proposal’. If correct, this radical and unorthodox position does not solve the Gettier problem; rather, it dissolves it. If Hetherington is correct, the Gettier problem is a pseudo-problem, and therefore not a problem after all. If correct, this would call for a major re-evaluation and re-orientation of post-Gettier analytic epistemology, since much of it assumes the anti-luck platitude both in elucidating the concept of knowledge, and in the application of such accounts to central philosophical problems. It is therefore imperative that the Knowing Luckily Proposal be considered and evaluated in detail. In this paper I critically assess the Knowing Luckily Proposal. I argue that while it draws our attention to certain important features of knowledge, ultimately it fails, and the anti-luck platitude emerges unscathed. Whatever else is true of knowledge, therefore, it is unlucky true belief. For a proposition to count as knowledge, we cannot arrive at its truth accidentally or for the wrong reason.


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