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Metaphysics of knowledge

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P066-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved April 12, 2024, from

Article Summary

Epistemology has traditionally been concerned with the scope, sources and structure of knowledge and other epistemic statuses such as justified belief. Metaphysics of knowledge seeks to answer metaphysical questions about knowledge and its place in the world as they arise in such epistemological pursuits. More generally, metaphysics of epistemology can be understood to include metaphysical questions about a broader range of epistemic statuses. In either case, answers to such questions may help solve distinctive problems in epistemology or neighbouring fields, or they may be of independent theoretical importance. Since modal logic, possible worlds semantics and related formal frameworks are frequently brought to bear in traditional metaphysics, for example Williamson 2013, metaphysical inquiries about knowledge may also utilize such modal tools. But metaphysics of knowledge is distinct from both modal epistemology, which concerns the necessary links between belief and truth that supposedly constitute knowledge, and epistemology of modality, which concerns knowledge of modalities – that is, of what is necessary, possible, contingent and so on. Metaphysics of knowledge sits at the intersection of epistemology and metaphysics, whereas modal epistemology is an externalist branch of epistemology, and epistemology of modality is a sub-discipline within philosophy of modality. Both modal epistemology and epistemology of modality may of course shed light on metaphysical aspects of knowledge, for example, if it turns out knowledge is essentially a modally sensitive or safe belief. However, the intended scope of metaphysics of knowledge is much broader, encompassing not just the essential nature of knowledge, but also its metaphysical ground and its physical realization.

Citing this article:
Kallestrup, Jesper. Metaphysics of knowledge, 2017, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P066-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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