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Barry Stroud

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199608591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608591.001.0001

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The ‘Unity of Cognition’ and the Explanation of Mathematical Knowledge

The ‘Unity of Cognition’ and the Explanation of Mathematical Knowledge

(p.290) 15 The ‘Unity of Cognition’ and the Explanation of Mathematical Knowledge
Philosophers Past and Present

Barry Stroud

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes some of the main ingredients in the development of Alvin Goldman's important work in epistemology, focusing especially on the requirement that the reliable procedures essential for gaining knowledge must include facts about the psychology of the believer; relations simply among the propositions believed are never alone enough. ‘Unity of cognition’ is the idea that this requirement holds for explaining knowledge of all kinds: of mathematical and other necessary truths as well as of contingent facts. This conception of reliable procedures is promising for explaining mathematical knowledge without familiar but ultimately fruitless appeals to ‘concepts’, ‘meanings’, or ‘analyticity’. But Goldman is apparently committed to the eventual success of what he calls a ‘primary epistemology’ in which what it is for someone to have followed reliable procedures, and to have done so reliably, will be described in purely ‘non-epistemic’ or ‘non-normative’ terms. Doubts are expressed about that enterprise while encouraging the explanation of mathematical knowledge along the lines Goldman has so ably defended before taking that last reductionist step.

Keywords:   Alvin Goldman, epistemology, unity of cognition, knowledge, concepts, meanings, analyticity

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