forum 6: week of 13 Feb - K & practical interests
The bank example doesn’t work for me. In the paper Knowlege by Indifference, authors Russell and Doris begin with the question: Is it harder to acquire knowledge about things that really matter to us than it is to acquire knowledge about things we don’t much care about? They also claim Stanley’s thesis conflicts with several traditional, and quite plausible, epistemic principles. Under heading 2. Indifference Cases, subheading, Richboy, they include the propositions: Money may buy the instruments of knowledge. Money buying knowledge may not offend as much as money buying love. I think they lack examples of knowledge, or epistemic circumstances, that relate to what’s feasible in love making, and entrepreneurship.
I don't really know if I agree with Stanley,I'm still digesting.(I feel like a boa constrictor that's just been fed a very large and indigestible goat.Takes a while.) If anything seems fishy to me it's the argument against him. Maybe I'm missing a beat here, but in the banking story it is not, as far as I can see, the money that is knowledge-making but rather what the subject concerned knows about his or her relationship to the money. Money buys power, and one can know this. The argument starts with the premise that access to money is either necessary or not.(high or low stakes) That is to say, whether one needs access to money, in this case via the bank, or through some other fallback (Richie's other source or the couple's winning ticket) or through denial of necessity.(Ded's getting out of Dodge.) It seems to me that two things are being confused in the banking story. One is the epistemic consideration regarding privilege or indifference, and the other is an ethical consideration of them. It looks to me like the authors are conflating these two philosophic approaches into one. Richie's decision to use his knowledge that his privilege may be called upon to save him may be morally reprehensible if acted upon, but it is outside the epistemic test. It is an ethical question. If I have insider knowledge that buying certain stocks on the market will enrich me, that is knowledge. Whether it is an unfair practice to act upon that knowledge is an ethical question. Surely this is outside the categorical box within which the epistemic equation is held. In the case of Ded, the slacker, his indifference does not necessarily demonstrate a lack of knowledge or judgement except perhaps in an (rather snotty I might add) judgement on the part of the narrator. On the contrary,his indifference might be seen as a willingness to pay a known price in terms of his status and identity by means of a quite conscious defiant refusal of the claim that money makes to direct his life. Just as apartheid may serve as an advantage to an affluent Afrikaaner in a racist society, the Stanley argument doesn't ethically justify Richie (money) or Ded (indifference) by saying that their advantage exists, it simply says they know that they have it according by degree to the stake that they hold, that their advantage exists. Whether they should exercise their advantage involves an ethical decision on their part. As for the lottery win variation, I hate to have to bring it up but doesn't this bring in tracking in some way, as in the change over time from high to low stakes as they go from no dough to winning ticket? (I have, admittedly, very limited grasp of the theory.)