Epistemic Intuitions in Fake-Barn Thought Experiments

20 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 29 Jul 2013

David Colaço

University of Pittsburgh

Wesley Buckwalter

University of Waterloo - Department of Philosophy

Stephen Stich

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Edouard Machery

University of Pittsburgh - Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Date Written: April 5, 2013

Abstract

In epistemology, fake-barn thought experiments are often taken to be intuitively clear cases in which a justified true belief does not qualify as knowledge. We report a study designed to determine whether non-philosophers share this intuition. The data suggest that while participants are less inclined to attribute knowledge in fake-barn cases than in unproblematic cases of knowledge, they nonetheless do attribute knowledge to protagonists in fake-barn cases. Moreover, the intuition that fake-barn cases do count as knowledge is negatively correlated with age; older participants are less likely than younger participants to attribute knowledge in fake-barn cases. We also found that increasing the number of defeaters (fakes) does not decrease the inclination to attribute knowledge.

Keywords: experimental philosophy, intuitions, epistemology, fake barn cases, age differences

Suggested Citation

Colaço, David and Buckwalter, Wesley and Stich, Stephen and Machery, Edouard, Epistemic Intuitions in Fake-Barn Thought Experiments (April 5, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1973351 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1973351

David Colaço (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh

1017 Cathedral of Learning
4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

HOME PAGE: http://hps.pitt.edu

Wesley Buckwalter

University of Waterloo - Department of Philosophy ( email )

200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Canada

Stephen Stich

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey ( email )

New Brunswick, NJ 08901
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~stich/

Edouard Machery

University of Pittsburgh - Department of History and Philosophy of Science ( email )

1017 Cathedral of Learning
4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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