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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 38, 2013

Mark McBride
Pages 177-188
DOI: 10.5840/jpr2013389

Zalabardo on Easy Knowledge

Stewart Cohen (2002; 2005) considers a case where his son wants a red table for his room. Cohen and his son go to the furniture store. Cohen’s son is concerned that the table his father is considering purchasing, which appears red, may in fact be white with red lights shining on it. Cohen responds with the following reasoning: (WARRANT FOR 1) The table looks red. (EK) (1) The table is red. (2) If the table is red, then it is not white with red lights shining on it. (3) The table is not white with red lights shining on it. If one reasons thus, say one’s engaged in EK-reasoning. Cohen finds such a response unsatisfactory. It is not a way of coming to know (3)—it is too easy. And structurally similar reasoning delivers (knowledge of) the falsity of sceptical hypotheses concerning the external world, testimony, other minds etc. So the unsatisfactoriness threatens to generalise. I sketch (one strand of) José Zalabardo’s (2005) original and heterodox attempt to diagnose this unsatisfactoriness, and explore its upshots.

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