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Nagel, Jennifer. Knowledge Ascription and the Psychological Consequences of Thinking about Errors
2010, Philosophical Quarterly 60 (239): 286-306.
Added by: Jie Gao
Abstract: Epistemologists generally agree that the stringency of intuitive ascriptions of knowledge is increased when unrealized possibilities of error are mentioned. Non-sceptical invanantists (Williamson, Hawthorne) think it a mistake to yield in such cases to the temptation to be more stringent, but they do not deny that we feel it. They contend that the temptation is best explained as the product of a psychological bias known as the availability heuristic. I argue against the availability explanation, and sketch a rival account of what happens to us psychologically when possibilities of error are raised.

Comment: Nagel is one of the prominent epistemologists who bring relevant psychological researches to philosophical debates. In this paper, Nagel proposes a psychological account of intuitive judgments that motivate epistemic contextualism for defending invariantism. The paper is very useful for courses of methodology of philosophy and teachings on contextualism in courses on epistemology.

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