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Res Philosophica

Volume 97, Issue 4, October 2020

Adam Bjorndahl
Pages 471-487

Knowledge Second

Classical philosophical analyses seek to explain knowledge as deriving from more basic notions. The influential “knowledge first” program in epistemology reverses this tradition, taking knowledge as its starting point. From the perspective of epistemic logic, however, this is not so much a reversal as it is the default—the field arguably begins with the specialization of “necessity” to “epistemic necessity”—that is, it begins with knowledge. In this context, putting knowledge second would be the reversal. This article motivates, develops, and explores such a “knowledge second” approach in epistemic logic, founded on distinguishing what a body of evidence actually entails from what it is (merely) believed to entail. We import a logical framework that captures exactly this distinction, use it to define formal notions of (internal and external) justification and knowledge, and investigate applications to the KK principle, the “strong belief” postulate, and the regress problem.

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