Where tracking loses traction

Journal article

Barrington, Mitchell. (2020). Where tracking loses traction. Episteme. pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1017/epi.2020.41
AuthorsBarrington, Mitchell

Tracking theories see knowledge as a relation between a subject's belief and the truth, where the former is responsive to the latter. This relationship involves causation in virtue of a sensitivity condition, which is constrained by an adherence condition. The result is what I call a stable causal relationship between a fact and a subject's belief in that fact. I argue that when we apprehend the precise role of causation in the theory, previously obscured problems pour out. This paper presents 13 distinct and original counterexamples to Nozick's tracking theory – many of which also constitute problems for more recent tracking theories. I begin by discussing how tracking relates to causation: Nozick invokes causation through conditions similar to those of Lewisian causal dependence. As a result, when causal dependence is not necessary for causation, Nozick fails to identify knowledge. I then address the inability of causation to capture epistemically important concepts, such as justification and truth. I conclude by discussing the underlying asymmetries between causation and knowledge that undermine any attempt to reduce knowledge to a purely metaphysical relation.

Keywordstracking theory; causation; truth-tracking; Robert Nozick; epistemology
Journal citationpp. 1-14
PublisherCambridge University Press
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/epi.2020.41
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85092256564
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-14
Publisher's version
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Output statusIn press
Publication dates
Online28 Sep 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Aug 2021
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