Here’s a view that I think some people are attracted to, a tripartite view of how positive epistemic standing is attained:
Tripartite View: For a belief to constitute knowledge, three elements have to be in place:
(a) There’s the belief about such and such;
(b) Independent representational state of mind that represents some such and such;
(c) The matter that the belief mentioned in (a) concerns that’s made rational by some state of mind mentioned in (b).
When it comes to rationality or justification, only the first two terms are supposed to matter. This seems harmless enough, but it looks like this view might be in tension with a view I know you all love:
E=K: Your evidence includes all and only what you know.
1. To know p, you have to have a reason to believe p where this reason is your reason for believing p, a reason that’s provided by a representational state of mind that’s independent from the belief that p.
2. This representational state either has p as its content or something distinct from p.
3. If the former, the state would (under suitable conditions) enable the subject to believe things for the reason that p.
4. The subject’s reason for believing p cannot be p.
5. Thus, if there is a representational state that provides you with a reason that enables you to know p perceptually, it must have a content that’s distinct from p.
6. Suppose that the representational state’s content is some distinct content, p’ and that (under suitable conditions), this representational state would enable the subject to believe things for the reason that p’.
7. To know p perceptually as a result of believing p for the reason that p’, you have to know p’.
8. To know p’, you have to have a reason to believe p’ where this reason is your reason for believing p’, a reason that’s provided by a representational state of mind that’s independent from the belief that p’.
Now, once you get to (8), it looks like we have the start of a vicious regress. The argument makes knowing p conditional on knowing p’ on the basis of p” and I think it’s clear that p” has to be distinct from both p and p’. If you think of your reasons for believing something as what convinced you that something was so, it’s hard to see how p could convince you that p’ and p convince you that p’.
What’s the best solution? (I have a favorite, but I’m not going to share it for a while.)