Book Chapter

Explaining Knowledge



Millar A (2020) Explaining Knowledge. In: Kelp C & Greco J (eds.) Virtue Theoretic Epistemology: New Methods and Approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 181-202.

It is suggested that we should aim to shed light on knowledge in general by providing substantive accounts of the diverse ways in which subjects can be in cognitive contact with facts. Two cases are laid out: (i) a case of acquiring perceptual knowledge by exercising an ability to recognize things to be of a certain kind from the way they look; (ii) a case of acquiring knowledge from a perceived indicator (sign). It is claimed that the latter is a hybrid of perceptual and evidence-based knowledge. It is evidence-based because the knowledge is based on evidence provided by the indicator. It is perceptual because perceptual recognition is in play both in recognizing the indictor to be of a certain sort and in recognizing its indicative significance. Aspects of the metaphysics of recognitional abilities are outlined. It is argued that how a subject’s knowledge is acquired can be relevant to explaining why the knowledge counts as knowledge. The relation between knowledge and justified belief is addressed within a knowledge-first perspective.

epistemology, evidence-based knowledge, indicators, justified belief, knowledge-first, perceptual knowledge, recognitional abilities

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online31/07/2020
PublisherCambridge University Press
Place of publicationCambridge

People (1)


Professor Alan Millar

Professor Alan Millar

Emeritus Professor, Philosophy