Knowledge from fiction and the challenge from luck

Stock, Kathleen (2019) Knowledge from fiction and the challenge from luck. Grazer Philosophische Studien. ISSN 0165-9227 (Accepted)

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Abstract

In order for true beliefs acquired from reading fiction to count as knowledge proper, they must survive ‘the challenge from luck’. That is, it must be established that such beliefs are neither luckily true, nor luckily believed by readers. I consider three kinds of true belief a reader may, I assume, get from reading fiction: a) those based on testimony about empirical facts; b) those based on ‘true in passing’ sentences; and c) those beliefs about counterfactuals one may get from reading a ‘didactic’ fiction. The first group escape the challenge from luck relatively easily, I argue. However, things turn out to be more complicated with the second group. I examine Mitchell Green’s suggestion, effectively, that knowledge of fictional genre may see off the challenge from luck here, but reject this in the form presented by Green, adapting it substantially to offer beliefs of this kind a more promising escape route. I finish by following Green’s lead once again, and discussing the category of ‘didactic’ fiction, as he calls it. I argue that any true beliefs about counterfactuals gained from such fictions are likely to be lucky. I conclude however that things are much more promising for any true beliefs gained about oneself as a result of engaging with what Green calls an ‘interrogative’ fiction.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Fiction; Knowledge; Luck; Aesthetics; Epistemology
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
Depositing User: Kathleen Stock
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2019 11:02
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2019 12:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/84952

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