Epistemic logic without closure

Stephan Leuenberger, Martin Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

All standard epistemic logics legitimate something akin to the principle of closure, according to which knowledge is closed under competent deductive inference. And yet the principle of closure, particularly in its multiple premise guise, has a somewhat ambivalent status within epistemology. One might think that serious concerns about closure point us away from epistemic logic altogether—away from the very idea that the knowledge relation could be fruitfully treated as a kind of modal operator. This, however, need not be so. The abandonment of closure may yet leave in place plenty of formal structure amenable to systematic logical treatment. In this paper we describe a family of weak epistemic logics in which closure fails, and describe two alternative semantic frameworks in which these logics can be modelled. One of these—which we term plurality semantics—is relatively unfamiliar. We explore under what conditions plurality frames validate certain much-discussed principles of epistemic logic. It turns out that plurality frames can be interpreted in a very natural way in light of one motivation for rejecting closure, adding to the significance of our technical work. The second framework that we employ—neighbourhood semantics—is much better known. But we show that it too can be interpreted in a way that comports with a certain motivation for rejecting closure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSynthese
Early online date27 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • epistemic logic
  • closure
  • compartmentalisation
  • fragmentation
  • risk minimisation
  • neighbourhood semantics
  • plurality semantics

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