Epistemic luck

Broncano-Berrocal, F. and Carter, J. A. (2017) Epistemic luck. In: Crane, T. (ed.) Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Taylor and Francis.

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Abstract

In almost any domain of endeavour, successes can be attained through skill, but also by dumb luck. An archer’s wildest shots occasionally hit the target. Against enormous odds, some fair lottery tickets happen to win. The same goes in the case of purely cognitive or intellectual endeavours. As inquirers, we characteristically aim to believe truly rather than falsely, and to attain such standings as knowledge and understanding. Sometimes such aims are attained with commendable competence, but of course, not always. Epistemic luck is a species of luck which features in circumstances where a given cognitive success—in the broadest sense, some form of cognitive contact with reality—is attained in a manner that is (in some to-be-specified sense) interestingly lucky—viz., chancy, accidental or beyond our control. In the paradigmatic case, this involves the formation of a belief that is luckily true, and where the subject plausibly deserves little credit for having gotten things right. Although the literature on epistemic luck has focused predominantly on the relationship between luck and propositional knowledge—which is widely taken to (in some sense) exclude luck—epistemologists are increasingly exploring the compatibility of epistemic luck with other kinds of epistemic standings, such as knowledge-how and understanding.

Item Type:Book Sections (Encyclopaedia entry)
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Carter, Dr Joseph
Authors: Broncano-Berrocal, F., and Carter, J. A.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Taylor and Francis
First Published:First published in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2017
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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