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The Metaphysics of Knowledge$
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Keith Hossack

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199206728

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206728.001.0001

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The Constitutive Thesis and the Causal Thesis

The Constitutive Thesis and the Causal Thesis

(p.258) 8 The Constitutive Thesis and the Causal Thesis
The Metaphysics of Knowledge

Keith Hossack (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter returns to the question of whether knowledge really is a simple and fundamental relation. An alternative hypothesis is the following Constitutive Thesis: To know that A is nothing over and above believing that A in the right circumstances. Arguments for and against the Constitutive Thesis are examined. The arguments in its favour are mostly causal: beliefs and other psychological states, or the physical states that realize them, are the complete causes of our actions, so if knowledge is not to be epiphenomenal, it must be identical with belief. It is suggested that these arguments fail: the causal efficacy of knowledge is fully compatible with the completeness of physics, even if knowledge is not identical to any physical state. Constitutive Thesis has difficulty coping with the problem of consciousness, and is by no means compulsory. Therefore, we should prefer the Causal Thesis in view of the explanatory power in metaphysics of the concept of knowledge.

Keywords:   Faculty Theory, Constitutive Thesis, Causal Thesis, functionalism, knowledge

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