Knowledge and the State of Nature

Knowledge and the State of Nature : An Essay in Conceptual Synthesis

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The standard philosophical project of analysing the concept of knowledge has radical defects in its arbitrary restriction of the subject matter, and its risky theoretical presuppositions. Edward Craig suggests a more illuminating approach, akin to the `state of nature' method found in political theory, which builds up the concept from a hypothesis about the social function of knowledge and the needs it fulfils. Light is thrown on much that philosophers have written
about knowledge, about its analysis and the obstacles to its analysis (such as the counter-examples of Edmund Gettier), and on the debate over scepticism. It becomes apparent why many languages not only have such constructions as `knows whether' and `knows that', but also have equivalents of `knows
how to' and `know' followed by a direct object. Thus the inquiry is both broadened in scope and made theoretically less fragile.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 182 pages
  • 138 x 217 x 11mm | 223g
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0198238797
  • 9780198238799
  • 1,930,007

Table of contents

Nature and motivation of project. Doubts answered. Plato, Pears, Hobbes, comparison with state-of-nature theory in political philosophy. Evolutionary epistemology; Derivation of first condition; the problem whether belief necessary. Necessary and sufficient conditions an unsuitable format. The prototypical case; Need for third condition. Discussion of the Nozick - Dretske analysis; Why causal theory, tracking, reliabilism all good approximations. Why justified true
belief a good approximation. Comparison with Grice; Distinction between informant and source of information; its nature and point. Application to putative 'knowledge without belief' cases; and to comparitivism: Goldman; Being right by accident. All analyses insufficient. Blackburn: the Mirv/Pirv
principle; Local v. global reliabilism. Discussion of McGinn; Externalist and internalist analyses. The first-person case. Knowing that one knows; Insufficiency of the various analyses. The 'No false lemma' principle. Its rationale - and its effect; Objectivisation. The 'cart before the horse' objection - and the response; Lotteries and multiple premises: the pull towards certainty. Knowledge and natural laws; Objectivisation and scepticism. Unger's first account; Two explanations of
scepticism: the first-person approach, and the absolute perspective; Knowledge and involvement. What makes truth valuable?; Testimony and the transmission of knowledge. Welbourne: believing the speaker; Other locutions: Knowing Fred. Information v. acquaintance. Interacting with Fred. Knowing London - and
German; Other locutions: Knowing how to. The inquirier and the apprentice. 'Knows how to' compared with 'can' and with 'knows that'; Appendix Unger's semantic relativism; References; Index
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Review quote

`In a study full of lively, subtle, clever ideas Edward Craig gives fresh impetus to a debate which until lately had seemed stalled'
A.C. Grayling, Times Literary Supplement 'I greatly enjoyed this elegant little book. It is written with a light touch, unfailingly intelligent, fair and lively. It also has something interesting to say. Would that all epistemology could be like this!'
Jonathan Dancy, Keele University, The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 168 `far-ranging and strikingly original book ... I regard his approach as extremely promising. Craig has written one of the most inspired works of epistemology in several decades, a compact masterpiece sketching a new way to do epistemology and brimming with illuminating concrete proposals. The book is powerfully, densely argued, and it is exquisitely written. Any future work in epistemology must reckon with this unique book.'
MIND 'much of what he has to say about familiar themes of analytic epistemology ... is interesting and frequently offers a new perspective on old problems'
Matthias Steup, St. Cloud State University, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 101, No. 4, (October 1992)
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