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A User's Guide to the Surprise Exam Paradoxes

Earman, John (2021) A User's Guide to the Surprise Exam Paradoxes. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The surprise exam paradox and its variants have achieved zombie-like status in the philosophical literature: despite many attempts to kill them they live on. Some of the most prominent readings of the surprise exam announcement are surveyed. The versions pushed by the logicians are chosen to highlight features of the concept of provability. In this they succeed but at the price of providing contorted self-referential readings of the announcement. The versions pushed by the epistemologists are chosen to provide a stress test for the concepts of knowledge and justified belief. In this they succeed but at the price of entangling the resolution of the paradox with controversies surrounding these concepts. A reading that is free of such controversies and that allows a resolution of the paradox to stand out is offered. This resolution does not provide any deep lessons that could not be learned from other sources. Nevertheless the paradox and its variants deserve to live on as a superb teaching instrument.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Earman, Johnjearman@pitt.edu
Subjects: General Issues > Decision Theory
General Issues > Evidence
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: John Earman
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2021 02:27
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 02:27
Item ID: 19303
DOI or Unique Handle: Paradox, knowledge, justified belief
Subjects: General Issues > Decision Theory
General Issues > Evidence
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: 10 July 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19303

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