On The Anti-Luck Intuition or Epistemic Luck

On the Anti-luck Intuition

The anti-luck intuition, or as it’s often called, epistemic luck is a principle that explains how one can have a belief that is true due to mere luck. This notion holds that it is possible to “know” something without true knowledge – that happening upon a factual occurrence can be a result of luck or coincidence.

clockA real-life example is that of the broken clock. Imagine that you look at a clock on the wall and it is at 9:00 pm, and when you see the clock it actually happens to be that same time – you know what the time is. Imagine furthermore, that unbeknownst to you, the clock actually stopped working, for whatever reason, at 9:00 am, and it is only by luck that you looked at it at the instance when its display match the right time of the day. The question here is: did you really know that it was 9:00 pm?

And if knowledge or knowing something implies certainty not only of the fact/proposition itself but of the processes surround its status as true or false, then epistemic knowledge presents several challenges or problems. The first problem is that it makes a descriptive analysis of knowledge seemingly impossible: what conditions must be exists before a person can claim that they truly know something? And are these conditions fair to be demanded on every instance of declarative knowledge? The second challenge is the skeptical paradox of the ubiquitous nature of the anti-luck intuition; it happens to all of us, all the time, and as we can see by the example above this pervasive phenomenon is beyond conscious control; a condition that seems to imply that we (as conscious beings) have little to no true propositional knowledge. And the third challenge is the added problems that epistemic luck poses for metacognitive declarations such as knowing that we know.

The question that most (albeit superficially) epistemologists spend their time working on is of whether or not we can have real knowledge of anything that is separated from our direct experience by any degree. For example: can we really know that the result of certain experiment is true without conducting the experiment ourselves?

And that is the work of philosophy, to tackle the more abstract questions related to our experience of reality.


Below are links to more complete explanations of the Anti-Luck intuition.





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