Is Knowledge Relative Because Epistemic Intuitions Vary?

1399 WordsJul 10, 20186 Pages
Is knowledge relative because epistemic intuitions vary? In a paper entitled Normativity and Epistemic Intuitions, Weinberg, Nichols and Stich (who I will hereafter refer to as WNS) have proposed a challenge for the “normative project” (WNS 2001: 2) of epistemology, a project which involves taking an analytic perspective on epistemology and thereby setting norms for how to pursue knowledge. One knowledge-forming processes that the this project is based on, as WNS point out, our “epistemic intuitions” (WNS 2001: 5), and it is from these intuitions that we may work out a normative account of epistemology. The problem, as WNS state, is that if groups of people other than those that generally write about epistemology have different…show more content…
Unless the relativist could somehow distinguish communitarian factors affecting the status of something as knowledge, and the endorsement of a village elder as a factor affecting the status of something as knowledge, the relativist would have to admit that the sorts of things that could be considered within the same sense of “knowledge” can possibly be applied to anything merely depending on the epistemological education that people have been exposed to. Indeed, the “universal core to “folk epistemology”” that WNS believe their results show in response to the “special feeling” case is limited to the environment where WNS have conducted their studies and cannot be suggested to be universal. It seems that it would be more reasonable to conclude in such a case that knowledge is being used in different senses, as Sosa does. He proposes that the sort of status that the East Asians believe to be more valuable for a belief is one concerned with communitarian factors, whereas Westerners do not really consider these factors. (Sosa 2005: 14) Thus he argues that when asked in the experiments whether the subjects of these questions really know, he argues that the answers are in response to different propositions, as some people may answer the question with one sense of knowledge in mind (one that takes communitarian factors into account), whereas another would not. To conflate the two and assert that there was only one sense of knowledge would be to exploit an

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