Lotteries, Possible Worlds, and Probability

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A necessary criterion of Duncan Pritchard’s Anti-luck Virtue Epistemology is his safety condition. A believer cannot know p unless her belief is safe. Her belief is safe only if p could not have easily been false. But “easily” is not to be understood probabilistically. The chance that p is false might be extremely low and yet p remains unsafe. This is what happens, Pritchard argues, in lottery examples and explains why knowledge is not a function of the probabilistic strength of one’s evidence. This paper argues that, contra Pritchard, modality holds no epistemic advantage over this type of “probabilistic evidentialism” that he criticizes. I begin with a review of Pritchard’s argument supporting modality over probability; second, I explain the problems with this argument, and third, I offer an alternative explanation of the lottery example (which purportedly shows modality is superior to probability). At the completion of the paper, modality and probability are on equal epistemic footing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2097-2118
Number of pages22
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Logic


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