Some of My Papers


Suboptimal Knowledge; or, Groundwork for a Theory of Epistemic Hygiene
I argue for the possibility of suboptimal knowledge: knowledge that p that’s normatively defective given that you ought to inquire into whether p. I do this by appeal to two claims from the literature on inquiry. There’s the Ignorance Norm (IGN) according to which you ought not: know that p and inquire into whether p. And there’s the claim that, even if you know that p, you may still be obligated to inquire into whether p (Inquiry Beyond Knowledge (IBK)). Since the IGN and IBK are consistent (as I’ll explain), we do well to respect them both on account of their plausibility. Notably, though, they entail the possibility of suboptimal knowledge. The following question then arises: what must zetetic normativity be like if suboptimal knowledge is possible? To answer, I suggest that they have epistemic health as their anchoring value, where this is a measure of how well agents function with respect to a range of epistemic goods. The IGN exists for the sake of epistemic health maintenance (to maintain knowledge); meanwhile, IBK is true because there are reasons to acquire states of epistemic health that are stronger than mere knowledge (like certainty). Suboptimal knowledge is possible because concerns for epistemic health maintenance and acquisition have a complex interaction. Suboptimal knowledge, I submit, is the epistemic face of a phenomenon that we observe in hygienic normativity more generally.
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A Defense of Knowledge Norm Parity
This paper defends Knowledge Norm Parity: the thesis that knowledge is the norm of both assertion and belief. More specifically, it details some commitments a proponent of Knowledge Norm Parity could reasonably adopt to meet a challenge from van Elswyk and Willard-Kyle (forthcoming) regarding how ‘I believe’ functions as a hedge. Crucial to success in meeting the challenge is a model I develop for Knowledge Norm Parity. It has three noteworthy features: it affirms that knowledge is an important necessary, but nevertheless insufficient, condition on (epistemically) proper assertion, it upholds a distinct type of Fallibilism about knowledge, and it accepts the univocality of ‘I believe.’

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A Party for Infallibilism

In a situation I call the "party case,'' a subject initially believes that 100 distinct individuals are coming to her party. She also initially knows of all but one out of the 100 that they are coming (she has misleading testimony from only one of the invitees). The situation is preface-paradoxical because the subject comes to know via testimony that one of the invitees isn't coming. This paper is primarily about a view of the case according to which the subject loses all of her initial knowledge (the "uniform defeat perspective,'' as I call it). More specifically, I argue that non-skeptical infallibilists will have a hard time accommodating the uniform defeat perspective without taking on an intolerably skeptical consequence. Then, to close out, I briefly discuss the prospects of a non-uniform defeat perspective for the infallibilist. While it might seem more congenial at first, as I'll argue, it comes with its own challenge.

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Pitting Rational Inconsistency Against Infallibilism

Recent epistemological literature—specifically: Littlejohn and Dutant (2020), Litlejohn and Dutant (2021), Littlejohn and Dutant (2024), Littlejohn (Forthcoming) and Littlejohn and Dutant (Forthcoming)—feature compelling and novel arguments for thinking that an agent can rationally believe each member of a set of propositions while knowing that one of the members is false. Perhaps more provocatively, these proponents of “rational inconsistency,” as it were, claim that it’s also possible to know each member of the set while knowing that one of the members is false. In this article, I explain why, if that’s true, then, on pain of an absurd implication regarding the confirmation of a proposition by evidence, proponents of rational inconsistency should reject Infallibilism about knowledge.

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Reconsidering Normative Defeat
According to the Doctrine of Normative Defeat (DND), you may lose justification to believe that p if you fail to possess negatively relevant evidence that you ought to possess. This paper presents an objection to the DND as it's standardly developed: it carries with it an absurd implication regarding how one's knowledge can be restored once one's associated epistemic justification is presumed to be normatively defeated. I defend the force of this objection before closing with a note about what my argument means for the motivation of the DND.

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