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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The vocabulary of agency in epistemology

Davidson's insistence in the complementary powers of the world and one's community; one cannot be under the power of the world without being simultaneously under the power of one's community - knowing it and knowing its norms. It is as if two simultaneous agencements are to take place, two simultaneous sovereign powers that cannot be effective without each other. The fine structure of correlation spelt out by Davidson shows how one cannot be simply under the command of the world - spontaneity of one's community gets on the way. The discussion concerning the Given is therefore about powers - how to be under the command of the world through our senses as opposed to be under the spontaneous command of our own senses that introduce, say, a conceptual modulation that interfere in the orders we get from the world. The vocabulary of spontaneity and command (of arché) is really inconspicuous but present in epistemology: it is always about looking for an authority and making sure first that it is cogent and second that it genuinely commands one's beliefs.

Then, if we consider the central issue of epistemic luck, some lights can be shed. Think of the Kantian distinction between acting in accordance with moral duty and acting from moral duty. In the latter but not in the former, one is under the command and power of moral duty. In cases of epistemic luck, one is not in the command and power of truth that could be present but only in the sense of us being in accordance with it (and not in the sense of us believing from it). Truth could be present but not in command of my beliefs. I fail to genuinely know when I don't genuinely obey truth. My beliefs, in this case, are not from truth, but only in accordance to it. There is no authority of truth exercising its power over my thought but just truth being present in my thoughts by (epistemic) luck. What is at stake when one claims knowledge differs from true opinion is about command, about the danger of only being in accordance with the command of the authority of truth, as opposed to thinking from it - which is feeling the power of its authority.


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