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Knowledge and Lotteries

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ISBN-13: 978-0199287130
ISBN-10: 0199287139
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Editorial Reviews

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"This monograph adds significantly to the growing literature on the skeptical threat posed by lotteries. But it is also an important contribution to epistemology in general, and especially the intersection between epistemology and the philosophy of language. The book is also a good read. It is filled with engaging arguments, for and against various positions, many of which spill over into the footnotes, where they undergo promising developments."--Matthew McGrath, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


About the Author

John Hawthorne is at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press (January 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199287139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199287130
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.4 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Customer on October 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a first rate piece of philosophy, that is interesting, instructive, and engaging. The book is rich with subtle, intriguing, and difficult arguments. Hawthorne's writing style is clear and precise. He includes extensive footnotes and a length bibliography. He treats some many different areas in contemporary epistemology that those looking for an introduction to Contextualism, Closure, Assertion, etc. can do no wrong in reading this book. Even those who are veterans in epistemology will find, I believe, useful discussions. If anything is faulted about the book, it would be that the book is too short--the physical size is small, and the book is not even 200 pages.

The book focuses on Lottery Puzzles. Lottery Puzzles originate because the following three claims all seems equally plausible: I know that I cannot afford to go to on an African safari this year, I also do not know that I will lose the lottery (for which I just bought a ticket), but if I know that I cannot afford to go on an African safari this year, then I know that I will lose the lottery. The paradox is, of course, that these three claims are mutually incompatible, but each is equally plausible. Enter Hawthorne's book.

The book has four parts. The first part introduces the puzzle. It explains the puzzle in some great detail, and examines--and ultimately rejects--one putative solution: the rejection of Epistemic Closure. The second part explains Contextualism, sketches an application of Contextualism to Lottery Puzzles, and concludes with an evaluation of Contextualism and a Contextualist style-solution to Lottery Puzzles. The third part treats Skeptical and Moderate Invariantism.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on January 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Hawthorne is one of those philosophers who has the gift of making himself understood. This book concerns how and what it is that we can consider knowledge. This book centers around one story concerning our odd beliefs concerning the probabilities of what we typically think is possible. Generally, we believe we can win the lottery, but we do not believe we will go on a Safari. Hawthorne points out the oddity in such beliefs and disbeliefs and does it in such as way as to make it interesting.
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