Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 25

International Phenomenological Society

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Curiosity was Framed


Author(s): DENNIS WHITCOMB
Source: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 81, No. 3 (NOVEMBER, 2010), pp. 664-
687
Published by: International Phenomenological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41057498
Accessed: 25-02-2016 04:18 UTC

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/
info/about/policies/terms.jsp

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content
in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship.
For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Wiley, International Phenomenological Society and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research are collaborating with
JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Philosophyand Phenomenological
Research
Vol. LXXXI No. 3, November
2010
© 2010Philosophyand Phenomenological LLC
Research,

Curiositywas Framed*
DENNIS WHITCOMB
WesternWashingtonUniversity

This paper exploresthe natureof curiosityfroman epistemologicalpoint of view.


Firstit motivatesthisexplorationby explainingwhyepistemologists do and should
care about what curiosityis. Then it surveysthe relevantliteratureand develops a
particularapproach.

0. Preamble
This paper explores the nature of curiosityfrom an epistemological
point of view. First let me explain why epistemologistsdo and
shouldcare about whatcuriosityis. Thereis a literature,quicklygrowing
today but traceable throughChisholm to James and further,on "the
epistemicgoal".1 In a standard passage from this literature,Bonjour
writesthat

The distinguishing ofepistemic


characteristic is...itsessen-
justification
tialor internal
relation goal oftruth...2
to thecognitive

This focuson truthis widespread.3Yet theepistemicgoal cannotbe truth


or knowledgeor certainty
or rationality
alone, or evenjustification alone.
For, as DePaul putsit,

*
Ignorancekilledthe cat.
1 Talk of epistemicgoals is widespread;see especiallyFoley (1987, 1993) and, though
theyuse slightlydifferentterminology,Chisholm(1977) and James(1911).
2
Bonjour (1985: 7-8).
3 David (2001: 152) locates thisfocusin writingsby Moser, Foley, Lehrer,Goldman,
Sosa, and Plantinga; and the list can easily be multiplied.Epistemologicalwork
that does not focus on truthincludesthe "responsibilist"virtue-theoretic
approach
of Code (1987), Zagzebski (1996), and Robertsand Wood (2007); the "pragmatist"
approach of Stich(1991, 1993); and the "knowledgefirst"approach of Williamson
(2000).

664 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Take...a well-establish
empirical
theory,a theoryyou believethatwe
know.Throwin all theevidenceon thebasisof whichwe acceptthat
comparethisset of beliefswithan equal numberof beliefs
theory...
aboutrelativelysimplearithmeticsumsand about assortedelements
of one's currentstreamof consciousness...
the firstset of beliefsis
better, thanthesecond.4
better,
epistemically

Whatevermakes forthe epistemicdifference (or if you prefer,the intel-


lectual difference)
betweenthese beliefs,call it "significance".Several
philosophersthinkbeliefscan be significant in virtueof satisfying curi-
osity.5One way to deepen thesethoughtsis to inquireinto what curios-
ityis. Such an inquirywould also deepen anotherset of thoughts,this
one on, not the relativevalues of some items of knowledgeand true
beliefover others,but the values of knowledgeand true beliefper se.6
Thereare cottageindustrieson thelatterissue,and in thoseindustriesit
is sometimesclaimedthatknowledgeand truebeliefper se are valuable
because theysatisfycuriosity.7
None of theseappeals to curiosityare obviouslymisguided,and they
have all been made by writersof justly broad influence.Hence they
may well be rightand, if theyare wrong,we stand to learn something
by deepeningthemenough to see why.That is whyepistemologists do
and should care about what curiosityis. Yet thereis littleextantwork
on the matter.This paper surveysthat work and develops a particular
approach.

1. ExtantWork
Philosopherswho appealto curiositytypicallyonlymakesideremarks
about its nature.Rarelydo theygive substantive arguments on the
matter. Beforediscussing
thosearguments let'ssurveysomeof theside
remarks. Zagzebskisaysin passingthatcuriosity
is a desire,and thatit
is a blendof thoughtand feeling,and thatit is neitherpleasantnor

4 DePaul (2001:173).
For some competingapproaches to significancesee Zagzebski (2003), Robertsand
Wood (2007), Levi (1984), Kitcher(1992, 1993), and Bishop and Trout (2004). For
variationson the themethat significance arises fromcuriosity,see Goldman (1986,
1999), Harman (1986), Sosa (2001, 2003), and Kitcher(2001).
6 The literatureshere are vast. On true beliefsee e.g. Levi (1984), Skyrms(1990),
Stich (1991), Loewer (1993), Haack (1993), Goldman (1999), Sosa (2001, 2003,
2007), Lynch (2005), and Alston (2005). On knowledgesee e.g. Zagzebski (2000),
Sosa (2001, 2003, 2007), Greco (2003, 2010), Riggs (2002), Jones(1997), Kvanvig
(2003), Goldman and Olsson (2009), Baehr (2009), and Pritchard(2010).
On the truebeliefheresee Goldman (1986, 1999) and Alston(2005). On knowledge
here see Williamson(2000). For criticaldiscussion see Grimm (2008) and Brady
(2009).

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 665

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
painful.But she does not say whatit is a desirefor,or whatsortsof
thoughts and feelingsit is a blendof.8Foleygivesa bitmoredetail.He
claimsthat"thevastmajority curiousaboutthe
of us are intrinsically
world;we intrinsicallywantto havetruebeliefs".9 Goldmanmakesthe
similarclaimthat"we seemto valuetruebeliefintrinsically insofaras
we are spontaneously curious for
creatures, curiosity is an interestin
finding(and believing)truths."10 Williamson claimssomething different:
thatcuriosityis a desireto know.11 So Foleyand Goldmanviewcurios-
ityas a desirefortruebelief,but Williamson viewsit as a desirefor
knowledge.They don't argue for theseviews.The only arguments
I knowofaboutthenatureofcuriosity are Kvanvig's,whichstartwith
this:

... we need to describethe goal of inquiryso thatit is applicable


acrosstheentirerangeof cognitive beings.My concernhereis with
complexintentional
attributing statesto smallchildrenand nonhu-
man animalsthat lack the conceptualresourcesto be accurately
characterizedby thosestatesand yetdisplaycuriosity and engagein
inquiry.Given this the
concern, concept of truthhas advantages over
thoseof knowledge, forknowledge is a morecomplexconceptthan
truth.... curiositycan be displayedand...one can engage in
Still,...
inquiryevenabsenttheconceptof truth.... The aim of suchinquiry,
fromwithintheintentional statesof thecognizer, is not to findthe
claimsthatare true,forsucha characterization requirespossession
of theconceptof truthbythecognizer.12

Thispassagehas manypointsworthengaging. Butitscentralargument


seemsbe: youcan be curious whilelacking conceptsknowand truly
the
therefore
believe, is neither
curiosity a desireforknowledgenora desire
for truebelief.Call this the "conceptualdeficiency argument".I'll
critiqueit laterin thepaper.In itswakeKvanvigoffers up a newview
ofcuriosity. He writes:

Fromtheperspective ofthecognizer to a particular


withrespect prop-
whether
ositionp, thegoal in questionis to ascertain p or not-p,not
whether
to ascertain or notp is true.13

8
Zagzebski (1996: 134-135,144, 148).
9
Foley (1987: 11).
10 Goldman (1991a: 190). For theoreticaldevelopmentsof that sentiment,see Gold-
man (1986: 122-128 and 1999: 88-96). For criticismsof those developmentssee
Feldman (2001), Fallis (2006), and Grimm(2008).
11 Williamson(2000: 31).
12
Kvanvig(2003: 145-146).
13
Kvanvig (2003: 146). Also see Kvanvig (2003: 171), which is perhaps intendedto
add some detail to the view.

666 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
The viewhereis thatcuriosity is a desire"to ascertainwhether p or
not-p".14But what is it to ascertain whether or
p not-p? Is to come to
knowp, ifp, and to knownot-p,if notp? Or is it to cometo believe
p, ifp, and to believenot-p,if not-p?Or is it something else?Evenif
we leavethesequestionsaside,a criticalworryremains:theconceptual
deficiency argumentthat is supposedto motivatethe view actually
worksagainstit. If youcan be curiouswhilelackingtheconceptsknow
and trulybelieve,thenyou can be curiouswhilelackingthe concept
ascertain.And if thesepossibilities show thatcuriosity failsto be a
desireforknowledge or truebelief,theyalso showthatit failsto be a
desireto ascertain.
But in any case, it is only"fromthe perspective of the cognizer"
thatKvanvigviewscuriosity as a desireto ascertain:

...evenif a first-person does not favortheviewthatthe


perspective
of is it
goal inquiry knowledge, maybe thata third-person perspective
is morefavorableto thatview....If we approachthe questionthis
way,it is difficultto see how theconceptof knowledge is goingto
play a role...A moreplausibleaccount... appeals to the conceptof
perceivedtruth.On thisaccount... curiosity and the goal of inquiry
are characterized in termsof finding thatwhichis perceivedto be
notin termsofcomingto know...For thesatingoftheappetite
true,...
in questionoccurswhena perception or convictionof trutharises,
and suchconviction sometimes willconstituteknowledge and some-
timeswillnot.One wayto thinkaboutthis...is to ask...whatconcep-
tual resources a maturesciencewouldneed to describeinquiryand
curiosityin as nearlya lawlikewayas thephenomena permit. Is there
anyreasonto supposethatsucha maturesciencewouldappealto the
conceptofknowledge? I thinknot.15

So Kvanvig'sfullviewis something likethefollowing. can be


Curiosity
characterized eitherfromthe insideor fromthe outside.From the
insidewe shouldcharacterize it as desireto ascertain
whetherp or not
p, because thissteersus clear of the conceptualdeficiency
argument.
From the outsidewe shouldcharacterize it as a desireforperceived
truth,becausethatis whatmaturesciencesof inquirywoulddo, and
becausecuriosity is in factsatedwhenand onlywhenperceivedtruth
arises.As I justargued,thereasonson offerfortheinside-characteriza-
tionsare notpersuasive; theyactuallyworkagainsttheview.Now I'll
arguethatthereasonson offerfortheoutside-characterizations aren't
persuasive either.

14 Sometimes"ascertain" gets replaced by "determine"and "findout"; see Kvanvig


(2003: 9 and 2005: 293). These replacementsdo not affectmy arguments.
15
Kvanvig(2003: 145-146).

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 667

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
For one thing,thereis recentworkin cognitive psychology and cog-
nitiveanthropology in
that, fact, describes inquiry in terms of whether
it reachesthe truth.16 This workmay developinto maturesciences;
henceit is notobviousthatmaturescienceswouldcharacterize curios-
ity as a desireforperceived truth. Nor is it obvious that curiosityis in
factsated when and only when perceived truth arises. For consider
hunger.Is yourhungersatedwhenever youhavea perception of being
nourished? No, it is not. If you take a pill thatmanipulatesyour
nervoussystem so as to giveyou a perception of beingnourished, you
merely seemto sateyourhunger. To sate hungeris to getwhathunger
is a desirefor,not to seemto get whathungeris a desirefor.The
pill maybringabout thelatterstate,but it does not bringabout the
former.17
Perhapscuriosity is likehunger.Hungeris not alwaysstatedwhen
you perceivebeingnourished;perhapscuriosity is not alwayssated
whenyouperceivebelieving thetruth.Perhapsperceived truth(or even
perceivedknowledge) stands to curiosity perceivednourishment
as
standsto hunger.I thinksomesuchviewis true,and laterI willargue
as much.Here I just pointout thatwe'veseenno arguments against
sucha view,and thatthisfactundercuts Kvanvig's reasons forviewing
curiosity "fromtheoutside"as a desireforperceived truth.
In sum, we should not be persuadedto adopt Kvanvig'sview.
Beforemovingon I shouldaddressa further argument he makes.This
one triesto diffuse one of theattractions of knowledge theories.It is
infelicitousto say "I knowp but I'm curiousabout whether /?".The
viewthatknowledge satisfies is attractive
curiosity on thegroundsthat
it explainswhythisis so. Kvanvigtriesto diffuse thisattraction bysay-
ing that "subjective which
justification"- he takes to be some sortof
reflectivelyaccessiblenonfactivepositiveepistemic -
status also satisfies
curiosity.18
16 See Hutchins(1996) and Gigerenzeret. al. (1999). On the philosophicalimportof
this work see Clark (1997), Goldman (1999), and Bishop and Trout (2004).
I assume Kvanvig intendsfor this discussion to apply to all mature sciences of
inquiry.If the intendedquantifieris instead existentialor generic,the issues still
seem up in the air.
17 An anonymousrefereesuggestedthatmaybethe pill does bringhungersatisfaction.
But firstly,the pill has no positiveinfluenceon hunger'sbroader role in keeping
you alive and healthy.Withoutany such influence, it is hard to see how something
could bringhungersatisfaction.Secondly,as noted above, to satisfyhungeris to
getwhat hungeris a desirefor.But thensince the pilljust bringsperceivednourish-
ment,the view thatthe pill bringshungersatisfactionentailsthathungeris a desire
forperceivednourishment. And it is more plausible that hungeris insteada desire
for nourishment. For both of these reasons, then, it is implausiblethat the pill
bringshungersatisfaction.
See Kvanvig(2003: 103-110).

668 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
But whyshouldwe thinksubjective justification
satisfies
curiosity?
On an alternativeview,subjectively beliefsare likewhathun-
justified
grypeoplegetafterpoppingthepill.On thisview,subjective justifica-
tiondoes not satisfycuriosityany morethansubjective nourishment
satisfieshunger.Reasons to hold such a view,then,are reasonsto
rejectKvanvig'sexplanationof theforegoing infelicities.
In thelatter
halfof the paper I'll offerup some of thosereasons.But first,we
shouldgetstraighton theconceptual deficiencyargument.

2. Semantics
That argument assumes(correctly I think)thatyou can be curious
whilelackingthe conceptsknowand trulybelieve.From thisit con-
cludescuriosity failsto be a desireforknowledge or truebelief.But
thatconclusion comesin severalsenses,and theargument establishes
it
in onlyone ofthem.Let meexplain.
WhenAristotle was thirstyhe desiredH20 whilelackingtheconcept
H20. This mightseempuzzling.But the puzzledissolves(or at least
beginsto) on somestandardviewsaboutdesires, namelythattheyhave
content and thattheircontents are propositions.
On theseviewswe can
takeAristotle's thirstto amountto a desirethecontentofwhichwas a
proposition involving,not the conceptH20, but some othercoexten-
sional concept.His thirstmight,for example,have amountedto a
desirethathe drinkwaterand notthathe drinkH20.19So eventhough
thirstis a desireforH20,youcan stillbe thirsty whilelackingthecon-
cept H20. Perhaps,in the same way,curiosity desireforknowledge
is a
or truebelief,and you can stillbe curiouswhilelackingtheconcepts
knowledge and truebelief.Some machinery shouldhelp clarifythis
point.
Let's say "you desireO de dicto"iffyou desireO underthecon-
cept<D,thereby havinga desirethecontentof whichis a proposition
involving the conceptO. And let's say "you desireO de re" iffyou
desireO undersome conceptor other,therebyhavinga desirethe
contentof whichis a proposition involvingsomeconceptor otherof
O. Withthesedefinitions of "you desireO de dicto"and "you desire
O de re", we can say whatit is fora typeof desireto be de dictoor
de re.
Let "X" rangeovertypesof desire- curiosity, thirst,
hunger,lust,
and so on. We'll say "X is a de dictodesireforO" iff:you haveX iff

19 I assumethatpropositions are individuatedFregeanlynot Millianly;otherwise


thesewouldbe thesameproposition. It wouldbe interesting
to examinetheissues
in thissectionfroma Millianpointofview,butI leavethatprojectaside.

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 669

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
you desireO de dicto.Similarly, we'llsay "X is a de re desireforO"
iff:youhaveX iffyoudesireO de re. The basicidea hereis thatde re
desiressubsumetheirobjectssometimes underone conceptand some-
timesunderanother,whereasde dictodesiressubsumetheirobjects
alwaysunderthesameconcept.
Now, to showthatcuriosity failsto be a de dictodesireforknowl-
edgeor truebelief,it is sufficient to showthatyoucan be curiouswhile
the
lacking conceptsknowledge and truebelief.The conceptualdefi-
ciencyargument does this.And repeatedapplications ofit withfurther
concepts, e.g. theconceptjustified belief,do more.Theyshowthatfor
everyconceptO thatyou can be curiouswithout,curiosity is not a
de dictodesireforO. Dependingon whatconceptsyoucan be curious
without, theseapplications mayshowquitea lot.
Theydo notshowthatcuriosity failsto be a de re desireforknowl-
edge, true belief,or anything else.For all theyshow,curiosity mightbe
likethirst. Justas thirst is a de re desireforH20,a desireAristotle had
whilelackingtheconceptH20,curiosity mightbe a de re desirefore.g.
knowledge, a desireyou mighthave whilelackingtheconceptknowl-
edge.This sortof viewwouldmake it irrelevant howcuriouspeople
conceiveof curiosity's so as
satisfier, long they conceiveof it. It would
thusshiftourtheories awayfromconceptsof thatsatisfier, and to that
satisfieritself.
ButI don'tthinkthissortof viewwillwork.For it is plausiblethat
youcan be curiouswithouthavinganyconceptsof curiosity's satisfier.
Thisis plausible,notbecauseof Kvanvig'sconceptualdeficiency argu-
ment,but ratherbecauseit just seemstrueof each putativecuriosity
satisfierwe haveconsidered so far.Theseputativesatisfiers are knowl-
edge,truebelief,ascertaining, and justifiedbelief.For each of these
states,you can be curiouswithouthavingany conceptsof it. Small
childrenand animalsprobablydo foreach of thesestatesgetcurious
without havinganyconceptsof it. And eveniftheydon't,it is hardto
see howtheycouldn't.
Inductively generalizing fromtheseso-far-considered putativecurios-
ity we
satisfiers, can conclude that for every putativecuriosity satisfier,
you can be curious without havingany concepts of it. And among
theseputativesatisfiers is curiosity's Thus you can be
actualsatisfier.
curiouswithout havinganyconceptsof curiosity's Butifcuri-
satisfier.
osity is a de re desire,then curiosity requires having some conceptor
otherof its satisfier. Hencecuriosity is not a de re desire.And forthe
samereasons,it is nota de dictodesireeither.
Whatis it then?We'reat a dead end. I thinkwe can findour way
backto an openpathbyreconsidering Kvanvig'stheory. Whatis right

670 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
aboutthattheoryis its focuson questions.20 I wantto developa ver-
sionof thatfocuson which,just as thecontents of beliefare proposi-
tions,the contents of are
curiosity questions. Let me explain.
On standardviews,thecontentsof desiresare propositions involv-
ing conceptsof theirsatisfiers. For example,the desirethirstalways
has as its contenta propositionof the formthatyou drinkwater.
Coextensional conceptscould replacewater,but some such concept
wouldremainin any case of thirst.If thesestandardviewsapplyto
curiositytoo, thenit too has as its contentpropositions involving
conceptsof its satisfier.For instance,if knowledge is thesatisfier, the
proposition mightin somecases be thatyou knowwhether it is rain-
ing. Coextensionalconceptscould replaceknow,but - here is the
important point- some such conceptwould remainin any case of
curiosity, thestandardviewsaboutdesiresapplyto curiosity
if as well
as thirst.
So the views (a) that the contentsof desiresare propositions
involving conceptsof theirsatisfiers,
and (b) thatcuriosity is a desire,
jointlyentailthatyou can be curiousonlyif you conceiveof curios-
ity'ssatisfier.But in factyou can be curiouswithout conceivingof
curiosity's satisfier.
Thus we should reject(a) or (b) or both. Now,
is
curiosity motivational; sometimes we read or listen because we are
curious.It is also satisfiable;
it gets satisfied in the same way thirst
getssatisfied, namelyby yourgettingwhatit is a desirefor.Hence
we shouldkeep the viewthatcuriosity is a desire.Hence we should
drop the view thatthe contents of desires are propositions involving
conceptsof theirsatisfiers. That viewis not generally true.It maybe
trueof some desires,but it is not trueof curiosity. The contentsof
are
curiosity questions.
Thisviewdoes notsuggestthatcuriosity requiresyouto conceiveof
its satisfier.
A betterposition,on thisview,is thatcuriosity requires
you to conceiveonlyof everything yourquestions are about.21 And
your questions need not be about curiosity's satisfier. if
Thus, the
contents of curiosityare questions,thenlackingconceptsof curiosity's

20 Goldman'swritings aboutcuriosity
also focuson questions;see thereferencesin
footnote 10.
21 You mightask whythisis so. Well,here'stheanswer.Believing requiresyou to
conceiveonly of everything the propositions
(whichare the contentsof your
beliefs)are about.On theviewthatthecontents of curiosity
are questions,
parity
pushesus to say something similaraboutwhatcuriosity requires.In particular,
paritypushesus to say thatbeingcuriousrequires
youto conceiveonlyof every-
thingthequestions(whichare thecontents of yourcuriosity)are about.In other
words:ifthecontents ofcuriosity
arequestions,
thencuriosityrequiresyouto con-
ceiveonlyofeverything yourquestionsareabout.

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 671

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
does notrenderyouincapableofbeingcurious.It onlyrenders
satisfier
youincapableofbeingcuriousaboutthatsatisfier.
I submitthat this is an independently plausibleclaim about the
extentto whichthosewho lack conceptsof curiosity's satisfierare
restrictedfrombeingcurious.By havingthisindependently plausible
claimas an upshot,theviewthatthecontents ofcuriosityare questions
getsconceptualdeficiency right.The factthatit does as muchis an
argument in itsfavor.
Here'sanotherargument in its favor.Justas we manifest beliefby
asserting,we manifest curiosity by asking.Whenwe manifest beliefby
asserting,we assert thecontent of the belief.Paritythus suggests that
whenwe manifest curiosity byasking, we ask the contentof the curios-
ity.Andweask questions: justas propositions arewhatis said,questions
arewhatis asked.Butthen,thecontents ofcuriosityarequestions.
So we've seen two arguments for the view that the contentsof
curiosityare questions.First,theviewgetsconceptualdeficiency right.
Second,theviewis suggested byparallelsbetweenbelieving and assert-
ingon theone hand,and beingcuriousand askingon theother.
You mightobjectthatquestionsare propositions. But in factthey
aren't.Questionshave answersnot truthvaluesbut propositions have
truthvaluesnotanswers.And questionscan be askedbutnotbelieved
or asserted,whereaspropositions can be believedand assertedbutnot
asked.
Anotherobjectionpointsout thingsthatare closelyrelatedto curi-
ositybutnot obviouslycloselyrelatedto questions.For example,you
can be curiousabout objectslikechairsand domainslikethemental.
Also,youcan be a curious person,a personhavingcuriosity as a char-
acter trait,a traitof the sort oftenidentified withthe "epistemic
virtues".22How does all thisrelateto questions?
Well,firstof all, noticethatyou can havebeliefsaboutobjectsand
domains,butthecontents of thosebeliefsare propositions nonetheless.
Similarlywithcuriosity: and
youcan be curiousaboutobjects domains,
but thecontentsof thosecuriosities are questionsnonetheless. To be
curiousaboutan objector domainX is to havequestionsaboutit,for
instance"Whatcoloris X" or "Whatis thenatureofX?". So theview
that the contentsof curiosityare questionssits well withcuriosity
aboutobjectsand domains.It also sitswellwithcuriouspeople.These
arejust peoplewhoare in somecharacter-constitutive waydisposedto
be curious.And to be curiousis to have a certainsortof desirethe
22 So identifiedmore oftenin the "responsibilist"than the "reliabilist"traditionof
virtueepistemology.For work in the lattertraditionsee Goldman (2001) and Sosa
(2007); forworkin the formertraditionsee the references in footnote3. For discus-
see Axtell(1997) and Baehr (2006).
sions of the two traditionsthemselves,

672 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
contentsof whichare questions.23 So neithercuriouspeople, nor
about
curiosity objectsand domains,are objectionably unrelatedto
questions.
I concludethatcuriosityis a desirethecontents of whichare ques-
tions.But what satisfiesthis desire?I'll now argue for an answer:
knowledge.

3. Satisfaction
Curiosityis a desireforknowledge, not in thatits contentsalways
involvesomeconceptof knowledge, butinsteadin thatit comesto be
satisfied iffyou come to knowthe answerto the questionthatis its
content.Curiosityis thussatisfied by knowledgealone, in the same
way hunger is satisfied
by nourishment alone. In each case thereis a
stateand a desire,such thatthe desirecomesto be satisfied iffyou
cometo be in thestate.Whenstatesare in thiswayrelatedto desires,
I'll call thosestatesthe "uniquesatisfiers" of thosedesires.Nourish-
mentis the uniquesatisfier of hunger,and knowledgeis the unique
satisfier ofcuriosity.
If we takethearguments I've made so far,and combinethemwith
theclaimthatknowledge is theuniquesatisfier of curiosity,we geta
three-part theory:

1. Curiosity
is a desire.

2. The contentsof curiosityare questions.(In thissense,curiosity


standsto questionsas beliefstandsto propositions.)

3. The unique satisfier


of curiosity
is knowledge.(In this sense,
stands
curiosity to knowledgeas hungerstandsto nourishment.)

In sloganform:curiosityis a desireat questionsforknowledge.This


is myview.So farI have onlyarguedforthe firsttwo clauses.We
shouldbelievethe thirdclause becauseit explainswhycertainsorts
of utterances
are bad, whycertainsortsof inquiryare bad, and why
some factsabout scientificpracticeobtain.Let's take thesedata in
turn.24

23 Sometimes"curious" means "strange",as in "...a grinwithouta cat! It's the most


curious thingI ever saw in all my life!" (Carroll 1865: 77). On thismeaning,curi-
ous people are strangepeople. I leave thismeaningaside.
24 In section4 we'll see how the thirdclause explainsotherdata too, theseconcerning
lotteriesand Gettiercases.

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 673

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Utterances like"I knowthatp, but I'm curious:is p thecase?" go
awry.Why that?Here'swhy:it is illegitimate
is to be curiousabouta
questionwhenyouknowitsanswer.25 Andwhyis thatillegitimate? For
thesamereason,whatever it is, thatit is illegitimate
to be hungry when
you are nourished. In each case thereis a proprietary desireand its
uniquesatisfier, and it is illegitimate to havebothof themat once.The
proprietary gustatory desireis hungerand its uniquesatisfier is nour-
ishment; the
similarly, proprietary epistemic desireis curiosityand its
unique satisfier is knowledge. The view that knowledge is the unique
satisfier
of curiosity thusexplainswhyutterances like"I knowthatp,
butI'm curious:is p thecase?"go awry.26
Now to our secondexplanandum, thatcertainsortsof inquiryare
bad. The view that knowledgeis the unique satisfierof curiosity
explainswhythefollowing weirdly actualsortsofinquirygo awry.
I sometimes checkmyalarmclockfiveor moretimesbeforegoing
to sleep.I knowfarbeforethefifth checkthatit is working, but still
I continueto inquire.This continued inquirygoes awry.Whyis that?
Here'swhy:continuing thisinquiryis likecontinuing to eat afterbeing
nourished.In both cases thereis a desire(hunger,curiosity);an
attemptto sate thatdesire(eating,inquiry);a satingof thatdesire
(by nourishment, by knowledge); and a continuedattemptto sate the
desireafterit has alreadybeen sated (more eating,more inquiry).
Whatever is awryin theeatingand inquirycases,it is thesamething
in bothof them.And thisis becauseknowledge standsto curiosity as
nourishment standsto hunger.The viewthatknowledge is theunique
satisfier
of curiosity thusexplainswhysomething goes awrywhenI
continueto checkmy alarmclock afterknowingthatit works:it is

25 I'm assuming thateveryquestionhas a uniqueanswer.It wouldbe niceto eventu-


allyremovethisidealization. Manyquestions, forinstance"Is grassgreen?"do
haveuniqueanswers. Butsomequestions, "Whatis yourfather's
forinstance name
or yourmother's name?"havemultiple answers. of thisphenome-
For discussions
non and manyothersthatI am idealizing awayfrom,see Van Fraassen(1980),
Groenendijk and Stokhof(1997),Harrah(2002),Fiengo(2007),and Bach (2007).
It wouldbe niceto bringthisworkintothediscussion. It wouldalso be niceto
bringin "higher"epistemic andwisdom;hereseeZagzeb-
stateslikeunderstanding
ski(1996),Ryan(1999),Riggs(2003),Kvanvig(2003),andWhitcomb (2010).
26 An anonymous referee ifknowledge
thisobjection: satisfies
curiositybut
suggested
subjective does not, thenwe shouldexpecta difference
justification in felicity
between "I knowthatp butI'm curiousaboutwhether p" and "I havereallygood
reasonto believethatp, butI'm curiousaboutwhether p"; and theremaynotbe
anysuchdifference. I don'tfindthisobjection Considerutterances
convincing. like
"I havereallygoodreasonto believethatp butI don'tknowwhether p, and I'm
curiousaboutwhether p". Theseseemjust fine,as predictedby theknowledge
view.

674 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
becausesomething generallygoesawrywhenwe continueto tryto sate
desiresaftertheygetsated.27
You mightobjectthatit is a desireforreassurance or certainty,and
notcuriosity, thatdrivesmyalarm-checking.28 Butin thesecasesI have
thephenomenology of wonderthatoftencomeswithcuriosity. And if
you asked if I knew the alarm was set, I'd respond with a sheepish
"yeah I'm neurotic",not a "yeah I knowbut I wantcertainty". So
I thinkI reallyam curiousin thesecases.
Here's anothersortof case. I prettymuchalwaysbelievein late
hoursof thenightthatthegrocery storeis open,without checking any
sortof schedule.Sometimes thesebeliefsare trueand sometimes they
are false.Theyneveramountto knowledge; I hold themnonetheless.
Something goesawry withthese beliefs.
The view thatknowledge is the
unique satisfierof curiosity explainswhy this is so. The explanation
usessomeauxiliary claimsaboutinquirythatI implicitly usedwiththe
alarmclockcase as well.To makethoseclaimsexplicit:inquirystands
to curiosity as eatingstandsto hunger.Justas hungerdriveseating,
curiosity drives inquiry. Andjustas eatingproperly endswhenitsdriv-
ing desireis sated,inquiryproperlyends whenits drivingdesireis
sated.Withhungerand eating,thesatisfier and properend is nourish-
ment; with and
curiosity inquiry, the satisfierand properendis knowl-
In
edge. sum,curiosity drivesinquirytowardsknowledge likehunger
driveseatingtowardsnourishment.
Of course,nourishment need not come fromhunger-driven eating.
It mightcome fromhavingnutrients pumpedinto yourveinswhen
youaren'thungry. Similarly,knowledge neednotcomefromcuriosity-
driveninquiry.It mightcome fromlistening to the radio whenyou
aren'tcurious.Butstill,thereis an important relationshipinbothcases-
thecasesof hunger, and
eating, nourishment, and ofcuriosity, inquiry,
and knowledge. Whenyou are hungry, thathungerdrivesyou to eat
fornourishment; and whenyou are curious,thatcuriosity drivesyou
to inquireforknowledge. It's thesamerelationship in bothcases;or so
I'd liketo claim.
Puttingthisclaimto work,we can use it explainwhymygrocery
storebeliefsgo awry.Thosebeliefsend inquirywithoutknowledge; so
sinceinquiry is drivenbycuriosity whichis uniquelysatisfied by knowl-
edge, theyend inquiryprematurely. They are premature (and thus
awry)just like it is premature (and thusawry)to stop eatingbefore

27 This alarm clock case is similarto Cohen's (1999) case about travelerswho check
theirflightplans despite knowing(or at least claimingto know) theiritineraries.
See Feldman (2007) forhelpfuldiscussionof thatcase.
28 Thanks to an anonymousrefereeforraisingthisobjection.

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 675

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
beingnourished. So theviewthatknowledge is theuniquesatisfier of
curiosity,alongwithsomeclaimsaboutinquiry, explainswhymygro-
cerystorebeliefsgo awry.
Now to our thirdexplanandum, somefactsaboutscientific practice.
Considerthefactthatscientists sometimes say thingslike"we believe
thatp but we do not know, so more researchis needed". Why
shouldn'twe takethemat theirword,whichimpliesthatinquiryprop-
erlyendsin knowledge? If knowledge is theproperendofinquiry, then
knowledge is the unique satisfierof curiosity. So ifwe take thesescien-
tistsat theirword,theyprovideus some reasonfor thinking that
knowledge is the unique satisfierof curiosity.
Many philosophers would resistthe suggestion thatwe take these
at theirword.It is widelyheld,and explicitly
scientists statedby e.g.
Kaplan and Earman,thatthe onlyepistemic endsrelevantto science
are justification and truth.29 These philosophers would probablysay
thattheutterances we are considering are reallyaboutjustified belief
orjustifiedtruebelief.
What thenis the rightresponseto theseutterances: to take them
at face value,or to interpret themas beingaboutjustifiedbeliefor
truebelief?In favorof thelatterresponseit mightbe pointed
justified
out that no decentscientistwould re-opena closed inquiryupon
beingtold thather beliefsare justifiedand truebut not knowledge.
Whatifwe askeda scientist to do a newexperiment becausethedata
reportsshe read werecorrectyettakenfromstacksof reportsmany
of whichwere mistaken?Or because her belief,thoughtrue,was
formed whilemistaken lab assistants gavecontradictory testimony just
out of earshot?
No decentscientist wouldre-openan inquiryon suchgrounds.Why
not?One answeris thatdecentscientists do notcareaboutknowledge,
at least not insofaras it outstrips justifiedtruebelief.A different
answeris thatthegroundswe are considering - namely,evidencethat
-
a beliefis Gettiered cannotrenderthat belief non-knowledge. More
carefully:if,whileknowing /?,youobtainevidencethatyourbeliefthat
p is Gettiered, you cannot, in virtueof obtainingthisevidence,stop
knowing that p. And here is whythatcannothappen:evidencethat
yourbeliefis Gettiered is evidencethatyourbeliefis true,and you
can'tstopknowing something bygetting evidenceforitstruth.On this
second answer,then,the reason no decentscientistwould re-open
inquiriesby beingtoldshe is Gettiered is thatshe could not by being
so toldlose her knowledge.

29
Kaplan (1985), Earman (1993).

676 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
The knowledge-centered answeris betterthan the justified-true-
belief-centeredanswer,fortworeasons.First,it does notrequireus to
reinterpretplausibleutterances like"we believethatp butdon'tknow,
so moreresearch is needed"in orderto makethemtrue,butthejusti-
answerdoes.This firstreasondependson the
fied-true-belief-centered
assumption propermethodsof inquiryare reflected
that in the ways
scientists If
talk. you dislike
that assumption, considera second reason
in favorof theknowledge-centered answer:it fitswitha plausibleview
about when closed inquiriesshouldbe re-opened.They should be
re-opened just if thebeliefsin virtueof whichtheyare closedare not
knowledge. Thisviewexplainswhyit is wrongforknowersto re-open
inquiryupon obtainingevidencethattheyare Gettiered: it is wrong
becausethatevidencecannotdestroy theirknowledge.
Certainsortsof "internalists" mightobject that the factsabout
what we know are not accessibleby reflection alone. How could
somethingreflectively inaccessiblebe the conditionfor properly
re-opening inquiry? Well,we can see how by examining similarphe-
in
nomena otherdomains.Supposethatyou are driving55 milesper
hour.If 55 is above thespeedlimit,thenyou shouldslowdown.But
thefactsabout thespeedlimitare reflectively inaccessible.Thus there
are somefacts(aboutwhatthespeedlimitis), thatcan makeit right
to slow down,but thatare reflectively inaccessible.Similarly in the
epistemiccase. There are some facts(about what you know),that
can makeit rightto re-openinquiry, but thatare reflectivelyinacces-
sible.
Importantly, you can excusably breakthespeedlimit.For example,
an opticalillusionmaymakeyousee thespeedlimitsignas reading55
whileit actuallyreads45, thereby renderingyoujustified in believing
thatthespeedlimitis 55. You maythengo 55, and do so excusably.
But you'restillgoingthewrongspeed,eventhoughexcusably;and so
you shouldstillslowdown,eventhoughreflection alone cannotteach
youwhy.
The epistemic case is similar.Sometimes you shouldreopeninquiry
becauseyoudo notknow,whileyouare nonetheless justifiedin believ-
ing thatyou know.Gettiercases are like this.Theyare cases where
you do not know,but you are justified in believingthatyou know.
Thus theyare cases whereyourfailingto reopeninquiryis excusably
wrong,in thesamewayfailingto slowdownis excusably wrongin the
case oftheopticalillusion.
We shouldnot,then,be persuadedby theinternalist objection.On
thecontrary, we shouldretaintheviewthatobjectiontargets, namely
the viewthatclosedinquiriesshouldbe reopenediffthe beliefsthat
closethemaren'tknowledge. Andso, too,we shouldholdtheassociated

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 677

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
viewaboutwhyknowersshouldn'tre-openclosedinquiriesupon get-
tingevidencethattheyare Gettiered: it is becausethatevidencecannot
destroy theirknowledge.30
We can now returnto the less theoretical, moreempiricalpoint
that led us to discussGettiercases and inquiryre-openings. That
point was that scientists say things like "we believe that p but do not
know,so moreresearchis needed".I lightof our discussion, I see no
reasonsagainsttakingthemat theirword- takingthemto be talking
about,notjustified beliefor justified truebelief,butknowledge. When
theysay that more research is needed because we don't know,they
meanit.
Now,whydo theysaythesesortsofthings? At leastin part,because
they are true.And are
why they true? At leastin part,becauseinquiry
properlyends in knowledge.And whydoes inquiryproperlyend in
knowledge? Because it is drivenby curiosity, whichis satisfiedby
knowledge alone. This last view, then, explainswhy,whenscientists say
thingslike "we believe that p but we don't knowit,so moreresearch is
needed",whattheysayis true.31
Otherfactsabout scientific practiceare also explainedby theclaim
thatknowledge is theuniquesatisfier of curiosity. Considertheprac-
ticesofdemanding multiple repeated outcomes of the sameexperiments
conductedin different places by different people,and of attributing
highconfirmatory power to multiple and variedkinds of evidence
that supportthe same theory.The cross-context evidentialsupport
demandedby thesepracticescrowdsout accidentality fromthe truth
andjustification of scientists'beliefs.But thisaccidentality is just what
keepsjustified true belief from beingknowledge. Hence these practices
tendto renderscientific theories known.
The pointcan be illustrated by the factthatmultipleindependent
evidentialtestsin Gettiercases would revealto the victimsof those
casesthattheyshouldunsettle theirbeliefs.For instance, multiple inde-
pendent examinations of fake barn country would reveal to fake barn
touriststhatthereare facadesaround.On thesegrounds the tourists
wouldproperly stop believingthatthereare barnsin frontof them.
And eventually, further examination would showthatthe thingsthe

30 Contrast thesearguments aboutcuriosity,knowledge,and testimonythatyouare


Gettiered,withKvanvig's(2003:177-78)arguments aboutthesamethings.
31 You mightobjectto thiswholelineofthought byclaimingthat"believe",as used
like"We believeP butwe don'tknow,so moreresearch
in utterances is needed",
doesn'treferto beliefbutinsteadexpresses Evenifthatclaim
a lackofconfidence.
is true,though,thelineof thought stillsupportstheviewthatknowledge is the
uniquesatisfier For eventhen,theutterances
of curiosity. are true- moreinquiry
is needed- becausetheinquirersdon'tyetknow.

678 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
touristsare lookingat are barnsas opposedto facades.At thispoint
theinquirywouldproperly re-closewiththeoriginalbeliefs,sincethey
wouldcometo be knowledge.32
So somegood scientificpracticestendto yieldnotonlyjustified true
beliefbut knowledge. Why is that? Here's why: because knowledge
properly endsinquiry.And whydoes inquiryproperly end in knowl-
edge?Becauseit is drivenby curiosity,whichis satisfiedby knowledge
alone.
Obviously, thepracticeswe are consideringdo not necessarily tend
to yieldknowledge, or forthatmatteranything else.Theywouldnot,
forinstance, squelchevildemonsbenton Gettierization. But thisis no
problem,becausethereare no evildemons.In fact,cross-context evi-
dentialsupporttendsto yieldknowledge; thecontingency of thisfactis
irrelevant.33

4. Alternatives,
Lotteries,and Excuses34
I've arguedthatwe shouldbelievethatcuriosity is uniquelysatisfiedby
knowledge, because that view a
explains variety of data. You might
thinkthesedata are explainedat leastas wellby someotherview,for
instancethatcuriosityis uniquelysatisfiedbybelief,truebelief, justified
belief,or justified
truebelief.But in factnoneof thesealternatives are
as explanatory as theknowledge view; or so I'll now argue.
To some extent,thesealternative viewscan co-optthe knowledge
view'sexplanations. The beliefand truebeliefviewscannotdo thiswith
the grocerystorecases. For accordingto the knowledgeview,what
goes awryin thosecases is thatI close a satiationattemptwithsaid
satiationunobtained; but accordingto thebeliefand truebeliefviews,
said satiationis obtained.The justified beliefand justified truebelief
views,on theotherhand,can co-opttheknowledge view'stakeon the
grocery storecases- and thealarmclockcasestoo. And theycan even
explainwhyutterances like"I knowthatP, but I'm curious:is P the

32 This paragraphleans on Foley (1996, 2004). Also, my talk of inquiryclosureis sort


of Peircean.See Peirce(1877) and Levi (1991).
33 There are noteworthyalliances between my treatmentof knowledgeas akin to
nourishment, Neta's (2008) "teleologicalnaturalism",and the view that beliefaims
at knowledge,whichview is advocated by e.g. Williamson(2000: 208) and Sutton
(2007). Also noteworthy are the connectionsbetweenmy last pointsin thissection,
and the well-worndiscussionsof the "new evil demon problem"forreliabilism.See
Cohen (1984), Goldman (1991b), and Sosa (1993).
34 In this sectionespecially,my argumentsconnectto the "norm of assertion"litera-
ture.See Williams(2002), Weiner(2005), Lackey (2007), Kvanvig (2009), and espe-
cially Williamson (2000). For related work on action see Stanley (2005) and
Hawthorneand Stanley(2008). On lotteriessee Kyburg(1961), Christensen(2004),
and Hawthorne(2004).

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 679

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
case?"go awry.For knowledge entailsjustification and truth;and so if
justification (or its combinationwithtruth)satisfiescuriosity, these
utterances evincethatone holdsan already-sated desire.
On anotherversionof thetruebeliefview,truebeliefis theunique
satisfierof curiositybut severalof our data are explainedvia the
notionof justification. What goes awryin the alarmclock cases is,
notthatI holdan already-sated desire,butthatI failto believesome-
I'm in
thing justified believing. What goes awryin the grocerystore
cases is, not thatI end inquirybeforesatisfying curiosity, but thatI
hold unjustified beliefs.Whatgoes awrywith"I knowthatP, but I'm
curious:is P thecase?" is, not anything aboutknowledge, butinstead
whatever goes awry with"I truly believe that P, but I'm curious: is P
thecase?"
Thereis muchto be said in fillingout thesevariousalternative
explanationsand comparingthemto our knowledge-based explana-
tions.I'll leavethisprojectaside,becausesomefurther data aboutsci-
entificpractices,lotteries,and Gettiercases are explainedby the
knowledge viewalone.
Some good scientific practicestendto yieldnot merejustified true
beliefbutknowledge. Why would this be so, ifthe curiosity driving sci-
ence weresatisfied by truebelief,and any extranormativity at work
wereexplainedvia justification? Thereis no obviousanswer.Lotteries
suggestthatthereis no answer.Supposethatyoubuya ticketin a lot-
terywithan enormousnumberof tickets,thatyourticketwill lose,
and thatyouare curiousaboutwhether it willlose.It wouldbe impro-
per for you replaceyourcuriosity beliefon thegroundsthatthe
with
numberof tickets is enormous. Yet ifyoudid so, yourbeliefwouldbe
bothjustified and true.Therefore, neither justified beliefnorjustified
truebeliefproperly endinquiry. Onlyknowledge properly endsinquiry.
This is thelessonof thelottery. The justified and justified truebelief
viewsof curiosity run agroundon it, but the knowledge
satisfaction
viewnavigates it withease.
Of course,it wouldbe foolishto keep inquiring intowhether you
willwin the lottery, afteryou have been informed of the odds. But
whenI say thatin suchcasesyou shouldnotcloseinquirywithbelief,
I do not meanthatyou shouldkeep inquiring. I just mean thatyou
shouldnot close inquirywithbelief.Consistently withthisit may be
to
right suspendinquiry, to table it,to put it on hold, withoutbeliev-
So
ing. you should sometimes suspendinquiry when you don'tknow,
forinstance in the lotterycase. But still,you should close inquiry with
beliefonlyifyoudo know.In thelottery case youdon'tknow,and this
is whatexplainswhy,in thatcase, you shouldnot close inquirywith
belief.So, again,youshouldcloseinquiry withbeliefiffyouknow.

680 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
ThisviewentailsthatGettiered beliefsare improper inquiryclosers,
thatitis wrongtocloseinquiry withthem.You mayfindthispilltoobit-
terto swallow.If that'sso, thenmaybeit is so becauseyouthinktheir
justification makesGettieredbeliefsproperinquiryclosers.But that
thought can'tbe right,
becauselottery beliefs areimproper inquiry closers
despitebeingjustified.Perhapsyou'll nonetheless insistthat it is proper
to closeinquiry withGettiered beliefs.In thatcase one morethingmay
stillhelpyou swallowGettiered impropriety: some sugarforthepill.
Gettiered beliefsdo havesomething goingforthem:theyare excusably
improperinquiryclosers.To see whytheyare excusable,we should
return to thecomparison ofbelieving to driving. Letmemakethecentral
principle in thatcomparison explicit:if it is properto O iffx obtains,
thenitis excusableto O ifyouarejustified inbelieving thatx obtains.35
Let's applythisprinciple to driving. It is properto drive55 iff55 is
withinthe speedlimit.Givenour principlethen,it followsthatit is
excusableto drive55 if you arejustified in believing that55 is within
thespeedlimit.
Now let'sapplythisprinciple to inquiry closure.It is properto close
inquirywithbeliefiffyou know.Givenour principlethen,it follows
thatit is excusableto close inquirywithbeliefif you are justified in
that
believing you know.And in Gettier cases are
you justified in believ-
ingthatyou know.Thatis whyGettiered beliefsare excusableinquiry
closers.Theirexcusability followsfromourgeneralprinciple, combined
withtheclaimthatitis properto closeinquiry withbeliefiffyouknow.
We thushave not just a claimthat Gettieredbeliefsare excusable
despitetheirimpropriety, butan explanation ofwhythisis so.
How does thisexplanationapply to lotterybeliefs?Well, impor-
tantly,you are notjustified in believing thatyou knowyourticketwill
lose. You are justifiedin believingthatyourticketwilllose, because
(a) yourevidencethatyourticketwill lose is as strongas anyone's
evidenceforany scientific theory,(b) some peoplehave evidencefor
scientifictheoriesthatis strongenoughto justifybeliefin thosetheo-
ries,and (c) if evidenceof a givenstrength beliefin anycase,
justifies
thenevidenceof thatstrength beliefin everycase. Yet youare
justifies
notjustified in believing
thatyou knowyourticketwilllose.36For you

35
By "justifiedin believing/?" I mean "propositionallyjustifiedin believing/?"- a
status you can have when you don't believep, but are justifiedto believe it. By
"justifiedbeliefthat/?"I mean "doxasticallyjustifiedbeliefthat/>",a stateyou can
be in onlywhenyou believep. So in my terminology, "justifiedin believing"talk is
about propositionaljustification, and "justifiedbelief talk is about doxasticjustifi-
cation. Thanks to Declan Smithiesforhelpingme make thisexplicit.
36 For an alternativeview see Chisholm(1982), who claims thatif you are justifiedin
believingp, you are justifiedin believingthatyou knowp.

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 681

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
knowit is falsethatyouknowit willlose,and youcan'tbe justified in
believing what you know is false. As a result,you aren'tjustifiedin
believing youknowyourticketwilllose,butyouarejustified in believ-
ingit willlose.37
Given thisresult,our claimsabout properand excusableinquiry
closuredo notmakelottery beliefsexcusableinquiry closers,whilethey
do make Gettieredbeliefsexcusableinquiryclosers.They give some
sugarto Gettiered beliefsbut none to lottery beliefs.This is to their
credit- forGettiered beliefsin facthave something goingforthemas
inquirycloserswhereaslotterybeliefsdo not, even thoughboth of
thesesortsofbeliefsarejustified and truebutnotknowledge. And it is
to theircreditalone- forno otherviewso farhas accountedforthis
asymmetry.
To recapitulate.Some alternative views of curiositysatisfaction
co-optsomeof theknowledge view'sexplanations. Anotheralternative
takestruebeliefto uniquelysatisfy curiosity appealstojustification
and
in itsexplanations. None of these alternatives are as explanatory as the
knowledge view.For thesealternatives don't explain,but the knowl-
edge view does explain,(a) why some good scientific practicestendto
yieldknowledge, (b) why it is improper to close inquirieswithlottery
beliefs,and (c) whyGettiered beliefshavesomething goingforthemas
inquiry closerswhereaslottery beliefsdo not.
You mightretreatto a finalalternative: thattheuniquesatisfier of
is
curiosity justified belief that one knows.38 This view explainswhyit
is improper to closeinquiry withlottery beliefs,becausein lottery cases
you cannothave a justified beliefthatyou know.It also accountsfor
theasymmetry betweenlottery beliefsand Gettiered beliefs,becausein
Gettier casesyoucanhavea justified belief that you know. So thisfinal
alternative is at leasttwo stepsahead of the knowledge view'sother
competitors. But it's at least two steps behind the knowledge viewitself.
It is morecomplicated thantheknowledge view,and it entailsthatyou
can satisfyyourcuriosity onlyifyouhavetheconceptknows.Like the
otheralternatives then,it shouldbe rejected.39

37 Thatyouknowit is falsethatyouknowyourticketwillloseis surelytrueofyou,


myreader.It isn'ttrueoffolkswho'veneverthought aboutknowledge and lotter-
toknowit is falsethattheyknowtheirtickets
ies.Still,thesefolksare ina position
forthemto not be justified
willlose. And thisis sufficient in believing
thatthey
knowtheirticketswilllose. Thanksto ClaytonLittlejohn forhelpingme think
through thesepoints.
38 Thanksto an anonymous a viewalongtheselines.
forsuggesting
referee
39 Thanksto JasonBaehr,ChrisBryant, PavelDavydov,Don Fallis,AlvinGoldman,
Dan Howard-Snyder, FrancesHoward-Snyder, Hud Hudson,PeterKlein,Shieva
Kleinschmidt, ErnestSosa, AaronWashington and RyanWasserman forhelpful
comments on ancestorsofthispaper.

682 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
References
Alston, William. 2005. Beyond "justification":dimensionsof epistemic
evaluation.CornellUniversityPress.
Axtell, Guy. 1997. "Recent work in virtueepistemology,"American
PhilosophicalQuarterly(34): 1-27.
. (ed), 2000. Knowledge,belief,and character.Rowman and Little-
field.
Bach, Kent. 2007. "Review of Robert Fiengo, Asking questions:using
meaningfulstructures to implyignorance."Notre dame philosophi-
cal reviews:11/09/2007.
Baehr, Jason. 2006. "Character in epistemology."Phil Studies (128):
479-514.
Baehr, Jason. 2009. "Is there a value problem?" In Haddock et. al.
2009.
Bernecker,Sven and D. Pritchard(eds). 2010. The routledge companion
to epistemology. Routledge.
Bishop, Michael and J.D. Trout. 2004. Epistemology and thepsychology
of human judgment.Oxford University Press.
Bonjour, Laurence. 1985. The structureof empiricalknowledge.Har-
vard UniversityPress.
Brady,Michael. 2009. "Curiosityand the value of truth."In Haddock
et. al. 2009.
Carroll,Lewis. 1865/2002.Alice in wonderland. ScholasticPaperbacks.
Christensen,David. 2004. Puttinglogic in its place: formal constraints
on rationalbelief OxfordUniversityPress.
Chisholm, Roderick. 1977. Theory of knowledge, second edition.
Prentice-Hall.
. 1982. Thefoundationsof knowing.Universityof MinnesotaPress.
Clark, Andy. 1997. Being there:puttingbrain,body,and worldtogether
again. MIT Press.
Code, Lorraine. 1987. Epistemicresponsibility.Brown UniversityPress.
Cohen, Stewart.1984. "Justification and truth."Phil Studies(46): 279-
295.
Cohen, Stewart.1999. "Contextualism,skepticism,and the structureof
reasons." Phil Perspectives(13): 57-89.
uavid, Marian, zuui. irum as me epistemicgoal. In Steup ZUUI.
ueraui, Micnaei. zuui. value monism in epistemology, in ¡Steup
2001.
DePaul, Michael and Linda Zagzebski (eds). 2003. Intellectualvirtue.
OxfordUniversityPress.
Earman, John. 1993. "Underdetermination, realism,and reason," Mid-
westStudiesin Philosophy(18): 19-38.

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 683

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Fairweather,Abrol and Linda Zagzebski (eds). 2001. Virtueepistemol-
ogy.OxfordUniversityPress.
Fallis, Don. 2006. "Epistemic value theoryand social epistemology."
Episteme(2): 177-188.
Feldman, Richard. 2001. "Review of Knowledgein a social world."
BJPS (52): 163-68.
. 2007. "Knowledge and lotteries."PPR 75/1: 211-226
Fiengo, Robert. 2007. Askingquestions:usingmeaningful structuresto
implyignorance. Oxford University Press.
Foley, Richard. 1987. The theoryof epistemicrationality.Harvard
UniversityPress.
. 1993. Workingwithouta net.OxfordUniversityPress.
. 1996. "Knowledge is accurateand comprehensiveenough belief."
In Kvanvig 1996.
. 2004. "A trial separationbetweenthe theoryof knowledgeand
the theoryofjustifiedbelief."In Greco 2004.
Gabbay, Dov M. and F. Guenthner(eds). 2002. The handbookofphilo-
sophicallogic,2ndedition,volume8. Springer.
Gigerenzer,Gerd, Peter Todd, and the ABC Research Group. 1999.
Simpleheuristicsthatmake us smart.OxfordUniversityPress.
Goldman, Alvin I. 1986. Epistemologyand cognition.Harvard Univer-
sityPress.
. 1991a. "Stephen P. Stich: The fragmentationof reason" PPR
51/1: 189-193.
. 1991b. "Epistemic folkwaysand scientificepistemology."In his
Liaisons: philosophymeets the cognitiveand social sciences. MIT
Press.
. 1999. Knowledgein a social world.OxfordUniversityPress.
. 2001. "The unity of epistemic virtues." In Fairweather and
Zagzebski 2001.
Goldman, Alvin I. and Erik J. Olsson. 2009. "Reliabilism and the
value of knowledge."In Haddock et. al. 2009.
Greco, John.(ed). 2004. ErnestSosa and his critics.Blackwell.
Greco, John (ed). 2003. "Knowledge as credit for true belief." In
DePaul and Zagzebski 2003.
Greco, John. (ed). 2010. Achievingknowledge.Cambridge University
Press.
Grimm,Stephen. 2008. "Epistemic goals and epistemicvalues." PPR
11 (3):725-744.
Greenough,Patrickand D. Pritchard(eds) 2009. Williamsonon knowl-
edge. OxfordUniversityPress.
Groenendijk,Jeroenand Martin Stokhof. 1997. "Questions." In van
Benthamand Ter Meulen 1997.

684 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Haack, Susan. 1993. Evidenceand inquiry.Blackwell.
Haddock, A., A. Millar and D.H. Pritchard(eds.) 2009. Epistemic
value.OxfordUniversityPress.
Harman, Gilbert.1986. Changein view.MIT Press
Harrah, David. 2002. "The logic of questions. In Gabbay and
Guenthner2002.
Hawthorne,John. 2004. Knowledgeand lotteries.Oxford University
Press.
Hawthorne,Johnand Jason Stanley.2008. "Knowledge and Action."
//>*//105 (10):571-90.
Hendricks,Vincentand D. Pritchard(eds). 2008. New waves in episte-
mology.PlagraveMacmillan
Hutchins,Edwin. 1996. Cognitionin thewild.MIT Press.
James,William. 1911. The will to believeand otheressays in popular
philosophy.McKay.
Jones,Ward. 1997. "Why do we value knowledge?".APQ (34): 423-
39.
Kaplan, Mark. 1985. "It's not what you know that counts." J Phil
(82): 350-363.
Kitcher,Philip. 1992. "The naturalistsreturn."Phil Review (101/1):
53-114.
. 1993. The advancement of science.OxfordUniversityPress.
. 2001. Science,truth,and democracy.OxfordUniversityPress.
Kvanvig, Jonathan,(ed). 1996. Warrantin contemporary .
epistemology
Rowman and Littlefield.
Kvanvig,Jonathan,(ed). 2003. The value of knowledgeand thepursuit
of understanding. CambridgeUniversityPress.
. (ed). 2005. "Truth is not the primaryepistemicgoal." In Steup
and Sosa (2005).
. (ed). 2009. "Assertion,knowledge,and lotteries."In Greenough
and Pritchard(2009).
Kyburg, Henry. 1961. Probabilityand the logic of rational belief
WesleyanUniversityPress.
Lackey,Jennifer. 2007. "Norms of assertion."Nous 41/4: 594-626.
Levi, Isaac. 1984. Decisionsand revisions:philosophicalessays on knowl-
edge and value.CambridgeUniversityPress.
Levi, Isaac. 1991. The fixation of belief and its undoing.Cambridge
UniversityPress.
Loewer, Barry. 1993. "The value of truth." In E. Villanueva (ed).,
PhilosophicalIssues (4).
Lynch,Michael. 2005. True to life: whytruthmatters.MIT Press.
Moore, Edward (ed.) 1972. Charles S. Peirce: the essential writings.
Harper and Row.

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 685

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Neta, Ram. 2008. "How to naturalizeepistemology."In Hendricksand
Pritchard2008.
Peirce, Charles. 1877. "The fixationof belief." Reprintedin Moore
1972.
Pritchard,Duncan. 2010. "Knowledge and understanding."In The
Nature and Value of Knowledge: Three Investigations.Co-written
withAlan Millerand AdrianHaddock. OxfordUniversityPress.
Riggs, Wayne. 2002. "Reliabilityand the value of knowledge." PPR
(64): 79-96.
. 2003. "Understanding'virtue'and the virtueof understanding."
In Depaul and Zagzebski 2003.
Roberts,Robert and Jay Wood. 2007. Intellectualvirtues:an essay in
regulativeepistemology. OxfordUniversityPress.
Ryan, Sharon. 1999. "What is wisdom?" PhilosophicalStudies (93):
119-139.
Steup, Matthias and Ernest Sosa (eds). 2005. Contemporary debates in
epistemology. Blackwell.
Skyrms,Brian. 1990. The dynamicsof rational deliberation.Harvard
UniversityPress.
¡Sosa, brnest. 1993. Troper iunctionalismand virtueepistemology.
Nous (27/1): 51-65.
. 2001. "For the love of truth?"In Fairweatherand Zagzebski
2001, pp. 49-62.
. 2003. "The place of truthin epistemology."In Depaul and Zag-
zebski 2003, pp. 155-180.
knowledge.OxfordUniversityPress.
. 2007. Apt beliefand reflective
Stanley, Jason. 2005. Knowledge and practicalinterests.OxfordUniver-
sityPress.
Steup, Matthias (ed). 2001. Knowledge,truth,and duty.OxfordUniver-
sityPress.
Stich,Steve. 1991. Thefragmentation of reason.MIT Press.
. 1993. "Naturalizingepistemology:Quine, Simon, and the pros-
pects for pragmatism."In Philosophyand cognitivescience,Cam-
bridgeUniversityPress.
Sutton,Jonathan.2007. Without MIT Press.
justification.
van Bentham,Johan and Alice Ter Meulen (eds). 1997. Handbook of
logicand language,MIT Press.
Van Fraassen, Bas. 1980. The scientific image.OxfordUniversityPress.
Weiner, Matt. 2005. "Must we know what we say?." Phil Review
114/2:227-251.
Whitcomb,Dennis. 2010. "Wisdom." In Berneckerand Pritchard2010.
Williams,Bernard. 2002. Truthand truthfulness. PrincetonUniversity
Press.

686 DENNIS WHITCOMB

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Williamson, Timothy.2000. Knowledge and its limits.OxfordUniver-
sity Press.
Zagzebski,Linda. 1996. Virtuesof the mind.CambridgeUniversity
Press.
. 2000."Fromreliabilism
to virtueepistemology."In Axtell2000.
. 2003."The searchforthesourceof epistemic good." Metaphilos-
ophy(34): 12-28.

CURIOSITY WAS FRAMED 687

This content downloaded from 129.96.252.188 on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 04:18:05 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions