Pragmatic encroachment on scientific knowledge?

Mikkel Gerken*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


    Pragmatic encroachment theories of knowledge may be characterized as views according to which practical factors may partly determine the truthvalue of ascriptions that S knows that p—even though these factors do not partly determine S’s belief that p or p itself. The pros and cons of variations of pragmatic encroachment are widely discussed in epistemology. But despite a long pragmatist tradition in the philosophy of science, few efforts have been devoted to relate this particular view to issues in philosophy of science. 1 Consequently, a central aim of the present chapter is to consider how the contemporary debates over pragmatic encroachment connect to philosophy of science. Here is the plot: In Section 2, I provide a general characterization of pragmatic encroachment theories and restrict the discussion to one branch of it. In Section 3, I compare and contrast scientific and non-scientific knowledge and note some trademark features of scientific knowledge that will be relevant for the subsequent discussion. In Section 4, I move from exposition to argument by presenting some cases that challenge pragmatic encroachment on scientific knowledge. In Section 5, I argue that a general argument contra pragmatic encroachment theories extends to compromise pragmatic encroachment accounts of scientific knowledge. In Section 6, I consider whether my arguments against pragmatic encroachment may be rebutted by embedding pragmatic encroachment in the anti-realist framework of constructive empiricism. In Section 7, I conclude by arguing that the challenges for pragmatic encroachment on scientific knowledge are grave and that they cast doubt on pragmatic encroachment generally.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology
    EditorsBrian Kim, Matthew McGrath
    Place of PublicationNew York
    Publication date2019
    ISBN (Print)9781138051829
    ISBN (Electronic)9781351685252
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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