Epistemic Luck

Duncan Pritchard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

660 Citations (Scopus)


One of the key supposed 'platitudes' of contemporary epistemology is the claim that knowledge excludes luck. One can see the attraction of such a claim, in that knowledge is something that one can take credit for; it is an achievement of sorts, and yet luck undermines genuine achievements. The problem, however, is that luck seems to be an all-pervasive feature of our epistemic enterprises that tempts us to think that either scepticism is true, and we don't know very much after all, or else knowledge is compatible with knowledge after all. My claim is that we do not need to choose between these two austere alternatives, since a closer inspection of what is involved in the notion of epistemic luck reveals varieties of luck that are compatible with knowledge possession and varieties that aren't. We can thus do justice to the intuition that knowledge is compatible with (some forms of) luck without acceding to the sceptical claim that we do not know as much as we think we do. Nevertheless, I also claim that there is a sceptical problem lurking in the background that is related to the problem of epistemic luck, though it is not best thought of in terms of the possession of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages304
ISBN (Electronic)9780191602290
ISBN (Print)019928038X, 9780199280384
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Assertion
  • Content externalism/internalism
  • Contextualism
  • Epistemic externalism/internalism
  • Epistemic luck
  • Epistemology
  • Luck
  • Mooreanism
  • Moral luck
  • Neo-mooreanism
  • Pyrrhonism
  • Relevant alternatives
  • Reliabilism
  • Scepticism
  • Virtue epistemology


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