Stable acceptance for mighty knowledge

Peter HAWKE*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Drawing on the puzzling behavior of ordinary knowledge ascriptions that embed an epistemic (im)possibility claim, we tentatively conclude that it is untenable to jointly endorse (i) an unfettered classical logic for epistemic language, (ii) the general veridicality of knowledge ascription, and (iii) an intuitive ‘negative transparency’ thesis that reduces knowledge of a simple negated ‘might’ claim to an epistemic claim without modal content. We motivate a strategic trade-off: preserve veridicality and (generalized) negative transparency, while abandoning the general validity of contraposition. We criticize various approaches to incorporating veridicality into domain semantics, a paradigmatic ‘information-sensitive’ framework for capturing negative transparency and, more generally, the non-classical behavior of sentences with epistemic modals. We then present a novel information-sensitive semantics that successfully executes our favored strategy: stable acceptance semantics, extending a vanilla bilateral state-based semantics for epistemic modals with a knowledge operator loosely inspired by the defeasibility theory of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Early online date7 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Thanks to my reviewers for suggestions that improved the paper. Variants of (parts of) this paper were presented at the 2023 Pacific Division APA Meeting at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, CA (April 5–8, 2023) and at the 19th conference on Theoretical Aspects of Rationality & Knowledge conference (TARK XIX) at Worcester College, University of Oxford, UK (June 28–30, 2023). Thanks to members of these audiences for helpful comments, especially David Boylan, Simon Goldstein, Jeremy Goodman, Harvey Lederman, Bernhard Salow, Lesley Walker, and Francesca Zaffora Blando.


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