Volume 45, 1998
Theory of Knowledge
Belief Worlds and Epistemic Possibilities
This paper develops an individualistic, belief-based account for a limited class of epistemic possibility statements. Section I establishes the need for such an account by reviewing a recent version of the majority view (the "Relevant Community Account") and contesting two key assumptions. I argue that some epistemic possibilities are belief-based-contra the assumption that all are knowledge-based. Against the assumption that all epistemic possibility statements are analyzable in terms of the speaker's "relevant community," I contend that the truth value of some statements is a function of the speaker's epistemic states alone. Section II develops an alternative account designed to capture those internal, individual statements. Modeling belief sets as "belief worlds," I explain our epistemic processes in terms of an ability to shift attention among our various belief worlds.