Consider the following sincere assertion in English:
“I don’t know whether Bush is the worst President of the last hundred years, but the evidence shows that he is.”
I’m trying to avoid using the language of epistemic justification here for the second conjunct and put the claim in more ordinary terminology. My question is whether such a remark is paradoxical. It strikes me that way, but I wonder if it strikes others the same way.
One might try to explain why it’s only unusual, though not paradoxical. It’s unusual because one ordinarily can’t distinguish between what one knows and what one is justified in believing. But not always. The usual kind of case in which one can recognize one’s own lack of knowledge even while also recognizing one’s justification is a lottery case: one can recognize that one doesn’t know that one’s ticket will lose, while at the same time recognizing that one is justified in believing that one’s ticket will lose.
But in such a case, we wouldn’t report that the evidence shows that our ticket will lose; we’d say something a bit more hedging than this. One might be tempted to think that the problem here is that “what the evidence shows” is easy to read as “what the evidence guarantees”. That makes the above assertion even more paradoxical, though, rather than merely unusual, for if the evidence guarantees p, then even the skeptic will agree that you know p.
Given all the above, perhaps what we should say is this. The assertion is paradoxical because the language of what the evidence shows indicates quality of evidence sufficient for knowledge (in the presence of true, ungettiered belief). That means that in lottery cases, the quality of evidence for concluding that one’s ticket will lose is below that needed for knowledge. If we reserve the term “epistemic justification” for that kind sufficient for knowledge (in the presence of true and ungettiered belief), then we can say that the justification one has for thinking one’s ticket will lose is not epistemic justification.
I’ll try to assuage one worry here before seeing what others think. The worry is that quality of evidence needs to be measured in terms of increasing probability, and that means epistemic justification can never obtain for any claim the probability of which is less than one. That’s a mistake, I think. Quality of evidence can also be measured in other ways. One way is if the evidence itself shows that further inquiry would only undermine present opinion by revealing misleading pockets of evidence. In the lottery case, this further condition is not met, so the quality of evidence in that case can be lower than other cases, even if the probability in the lottery case is higher.
So here’s why the assertion is paradoxical. The second conjunct reports the kind of justification necessary for knowledge, and sufficient in the presence of ungettiered true belief. But if one has that sort of justification, one has justification for thinking that the belief is true and that any further inquiry would reveal only misleading evidence, i.e., one has justification for thinking that one’s belief is ungettiered. Since the assertion is sincere, we can assume that the person is aware of what he or she believes, so everything is in place to expect the person to claim to know as well.