No Infelicity for the Infallibilist

Research output: Journal PublicationsComment / Debate Research

1 Citation (Scopus)


According to probability 1 infallibilism (henceforth, infallibilism), if one knows that p, then the probability of p given one's evidence is 1. Jessica Brown (2013, Analysis, 73, 626–635; Fallibilism: Evidence and Knowledge, 2018) has recently argued that infallibilism leads to scepticism unless the infallibilist also endorses the claim that if one knows that p, then p is part of one's evidence for p. By doing that, however, the infalliblist has to explain why it is infelicitous to cite p as evidence for itself. And yet, the infallibilist does not seem to have a satisfying explanation available. Call this the infelicity challenge for probability 1 infallibilism. By exploiting the distinction between the justifying and the motivating role of evidence, in this paper I argue that contrary to first appearances, the infelicity challenge does not arise for probability 1 infallibilism. However, after anticipating and resisting two objections to my argument, I show that we can identify a different version of infallibilism which seems to face a problem that is even more serious than the infelicity challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1307-1321
Number of pages15
JournalTheoria (Sweden)
Issue number5
Early online date7 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

I presented parts of this paper at the Book Symposium on Jessica Brown's, at the University of Glasgow, organised by the Cogito Epistemology Research Group, and at the Online Workshop on Recent Work on Scepticism (New Mexico State University/Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). I would like to thank the attendants to those events and, in particular, Jessica Brown for giving a response to my talk at the Symposium. I am also grateful to Jaakko Hirvelä, Maria Lasonen‐Aarnio, Aidan McGlynn, Niall Paterson, Martin Smith, and Silvan Wittwer for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Finally, I would like to thank two anonymous referees for providing me with useful feedback on this paper. The work for this paper was supported by the European Research Council (European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, 758539) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (“Varieties of Risk,” AH/T002638/1).


  • evidential externalism
  • Jessica Brown
  • knowledge
  • probability 1 infallibilism
  • scepticism


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