A Pluralist Account of Knowledge as a Natural Kind

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In an attempt to address some long-standing issues of epistemology, Hilary Kornblith proposes that knowledge is a natural kind the identification of which is the unique responsibility of one particular science: cognitive ethology. As Kornblith sees it, the natural kind thus picked out is knowledge as construed by reliabilism. Yet the claim that cognitive ethology has this special role has not convinced all critics. The present article argues that knowledge plays a causal and explanatory role within many of our more fruitful current theories, diverging from the reliabilist conception even in disciplines that are closely related to cognitive ethology, and thus still dealing with knowledge as a natural as opposed to a social phenomenon, where special attention will be given to cognitive neuroscience. However, rather than discarding the natural kind approach altogether, it is argued that many of Kornblith’s insights can in fact be preserved within a framework that is both naturalist and pluralist.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy


  • Cognitive ethology, Cognitive neuroscience, Hilary Kornblith, Knowledge, Natural kind, Naturalistic epistemology, Pluralism
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-903
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sep 1
Publication categoryResearch

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