Where’s the Bridge: Epistemology and Epistemic Logic (with Vincent Hendricks) in “Philosophical Studies” Vol. 128, No. 1 2006 pp. 137-167

 

Epistemic logic begins with the recognition that our everyday talk about knowing and believing has some systematic features that we can track and reflect upon. Epistemic logicians have studied and extended these glints of systematic structure in fascinating and important ways since the early 1960s. However, for one reason or another,mainstream epistemologists have shown little interest. It is striking to contrast the marginal role of epistemic logic in contemporary epistemology with the centrality of modal logic for metaphysicians. This article is intended to help in correcting this oversight by presenting some important developments in epistemic logic and suggesting ways to understand their applicability to traditional epistemological problems. Obviously, by itself, tweaking the formal apparatus of epistemic logic does not solve traditional epistemological problems. Epistemic logic can help us to navigate through problems in a systematic fashion by unpacking the logic of the problematic concepts, it can also lead us to recognize problems that we had not anticipated. This is basically analogous to the role that modal logic has played in contemporary metaphysics.

In the pages that follow, three prominent sets of connections between epistemic logic and traditional epistemology will be sketched. Epistemic logic permits formal consideration of the kind of strategies that are available to us in responding to skepticism. It permits a detailed grasp of the social and temporal character of inquiry and of course it allows us insight into the problem of defining the class of scenarios compatible with what someone knows…

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