Philosophical Papers

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Slim Epistemology with a Thick Skin

P Väyrynen


The distinction between ‘thick' and ‘thin' value concepts, and its importance to
ethical theory, has been an active topic in recent meta-ethics. This paper defends three
claims regarding the parallel issue about thick and thin epistemic concepts. (1) Analogy
with ethics offers no straightforward way to establish a good, clear distinction between thick
and thin epistemic concepts. (2) Assuming there is such a distinction, there are no semantic
grounds for assigning thick epistemic concepts priority over the thin. (3) Nor does the
structure of substantive epistemological theory establish that thick epistemic concepts enjoy
systematic theoretical priority over the thin. In sum, a good case has yet to be made for any
radical theoretical turn to thicker epistemology.

Philosophical Papers Vol. 37 (3) 2008: pp. 389-412

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