Knowledge and the State of Nature: An Essay in Conceptual Synthesis


The standard philosophical project of analysing the concept of knowledge has radical defects in its arbitrary restriction of the subject matter, and in its risky theoretical presuppositions. Edward Craig suggests a more illuminating approach, akin to the 'state of nature' method found inpolitical theory, which builds up the concept from a hypothesis about the social function of knowledge and the needs that it fulfils. Light is thrown on much that philosophers have written about knowledge, about its analysis and the obstacles to its analysis (such as the counter-examples of EdmundGettier), and on the debate over scepticism. It becomes apparent why many languages not only have such constructions as 'knows whether' and 'knows that', but also have equivalaents of 'knows how to' and 'know' followed by a direct object. Thus the inquiry is both broadened in scope and madetheoretically less fragile. 'In a study full of lively, subtle, clever ideas Edward Craig gives fresh impetus to a debate which until lately had seemed stalled.' A. C. Grayling, Times Literary Supplement 'I greatly enjoyed this elegant little book. It is written with a light touch, unfailingly intelligent, fair, and lively. It also has something interesting to say. Would that all epistemology could be like this!' Jonathan Dancy, Philosophical Quarterly 'far-ranging and strikingly original... I regard his approach as extremely promising. Craig has written one of the most inspired works of epistemology in several decades, a compact masterpiece sketching a new way to do epistemology and brimming with illuminating concrete proposals. The book ispowerfully, densely argued, and it is exquisitely written. Any future work in epistemology must reckon with this unique book.' Frederick F. Schmitt, Mind

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Edward Craig
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Oxford
Publication year:
  • 1999


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