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Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VII$
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Daniel Garber and Donald Rutherford

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198748717

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748717.001.0001

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Locke’s ‘Sensitive Knowledge’

Locke’s ‘Sensitive Knowledge’

Knowledge or Assurance?

Chapter:
(p.187) 6 Locke’s ‘Sensitive Knowledge’
Source:
Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VII
Author(s):

Samuel C. Rickless

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748717.003.0006

In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke distinguishes between knowledge (which he defines as the perception of agreement or disagreement between two ideas) and assurance (a kind of judgment grounded on the highest degree of probability, where judgment is the presumption, rather than the perception, of ideational agreement or disagreement). There is controversy regarding whether Locke takes our epistemic relation to the external world (what he calls ‘sensitive knowledge’) to be one of assurance or knowledge. This chapter defends the assurance interpretation of sensitive knowledge, originally proposed in his article ‘Is Locke’s Theory of Knowledge Inconsistent?’ (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 2008), against criticisms of it offered by David Owen, Jennifer Nagel, and Keith Allen.

Keywords:   John Locke, knowledge, assurance, sensitive knowledge, external world

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