Knowledge in and out of contrast

Mikkel Gerken, James Bebee

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    We report and discuss the results of a series of experiments that address a contrast effect exhibited by folk judgments about knowledge ascriptions. The contrast effect, which was first reported by Schaffer and Knobe (2012), is an important aspect of our folk epistemology. However, there are competing theoretical accounts of it. We shed light on the various accounts by providing novel empirical data and theoretical considerations. Our key findings are, firstly, that belief ascriptions exhibit a similar contrast effect and, secondly, that the contrast effect is systematically sensitive to the content of what is in contrast. We argue that these data pose significant challenges to contrastivist accounts of the contrast effect. Furthermore, some of the data set provides, in conjunction with some non-empirical epistemological arguments, some limited evidence for what we call a focal bias account of the data (Gerken 2012, 2013). According to the focal bias account, the contrast effects arise at least in part because epistemically relevant facts are not always adequately processed when they are presented in certain ways.

    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)133–164
    Publication statusPublished - 1. Mar 2016

    Bibliographical note

    March 2016


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