Summary of Knowledge Is Crude

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The concept of knowledge, philosopher David Papineau provocatively argues, is a relic of the Stone Age that no longer serves modern humans in a complex world. In no way does Papineau discount the importance of truth. Instead, he insists that the concept of knowledge limits people’s ability to find it. For the philosophically inclined, Papineau’s essay offers a thought-provoking take on human intuition and decision making.

About the Author

David Papineau is professor of philosophy at King’s College London and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. 



People tend to believe someone has knowledge if they can detect a direct causal connection between a fact and a thought. Yet this is no longer a useful concept in the modern world. If anything, the concept compels humans to discount the important role that true belief plays in informing human action and decision making. For example, say your friend buys you a lottery ticket. You predict that it won’t be a winner considering the one-in-a-million odds. Your friend will look at your statement as a guess, not as knowledge. Once you find out that the ticket, indeed, is worthless, you won’t be able to claim that...

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