Unpublished Papers

How You Know You Are Not a Brain In a Vat (Aug 2014)

Alexander Jackson, Boise State University


A sensible epistemologist may not see how she could know that she is not a Brain In a Vat (BIV); but she doesn’t panic. She sticks with her empirical beliefs, and as that requires, believes that she is not a BIV. (She does not inferentially base her belief that she is not a BIV on her empirical knowledge—she rejects that ‘Moorean’ response to skepticism.) Drawing on the psychological literature on metacognition, I describe the mechanism that’s responsible for a sensible epistemologist coming to believe she is not a BIV. I propose she thereby knows that she is not a BIV. The particular belief-forming mechanism employed explains why she overlooks this account of how she knows she is not a BIV, making it seem that there is no way for her to know it. I argue this proposal satisfactorily resolves the skeptical puzzle.

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