Sarah Moss F'13
Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships 2013
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Epistemology Formalized: A Theory of Degreed Knowledge
Traditional epistemology assumes that anything you know must be something that you fully believe. Against this long-standing tradition, this project argues that degreed beliefs can constitute knowledge, as can other probabilistic mental states. The project begins with a semantics according to which speakers directly communicate degreed beliefs in conversation. This semantics paves the way for novel theories of communication and knowledge in which truth plays a notably insignificant role. The resulting theory of knowledge builds a bridge between the estranged subfields of traditional and formal epistemology. And in broader applications, this theory allows us to recognize that hedged assertions can have just the same strong epistemic standing as assertions that convey full beliefs.