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Volume 51 • Number 1

January 2014



Objectual Understanding and the Value Problem

by J. Adam Carter and Emma C. Gordon

A key thread of thought in the recent literature on epistemic value recognizes three. distinct value problems for knowledge— problems generated by the widely held insight that knowledge has a special or distinctive epistemic value¹ not shared by epistemic states that fall (even marginally) short. Following Pritchard (2010) here, the primary value problem is the problem of accounting for how knowledge is more epistemically valuable² than mere true belief. The secondary value problem is the problem of accounting for how knowledge is more epistemically valuable than any proper subset of its parts (e.g., justified true belief that falls short of knowledge), and what he calls the tertiary value problem is the somewhat less discussed problem of accounting for why we prefer (from an epistemic point of view) knowledge to whatever would fall just incrementally short of knowledge (for example, on a continuum of epistemic value). Though the primary and secondary value problems have received a great deal more attention than the tertiary—thanks in no small part to Kvanvig’s Swamping Problem (2003)³—the tertiary value problem is in a sense the most important to resolve.

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ISSN: 2152-1123