Dear Closure Principle, don’t hit the door on your way out.

Dear Closure Principle, don’t hit the door on your way out.

An Open and Shut Case: Epistemic Closure in the Manifest Image

Turri, J. (2015). An open and shut case: epistemic closure in the manifest image. Philosophers' Imprint, 15(2), 1–18.



The epistemic closure principle says that knowledge is closed under known entailment. The closure principle is deeply implicated in numerous core debates in contemporary epistemology. Closure’s opponents claim that there are good theoretical reasons to abandon it. Closure’s proponents claim that it is a defining feature of ordinary thought and talk and, thus, abandoning it is radically revisionary. But evidence for these claims about ordinary practice has thus far been anecdotal. In this paper, I report five studies on the status of epistemic closure in ordinary practice. Despite decades of widespread assumptions to the contrary in philosophy, ordinary practice is ambivalent about closure. Ordinary practice does not endorse an unqualified version of the epistemic closure principle, although it might endorse a source-relative version of the principle. In particular, whereas inferential knowledge is not viewed as closed under known entailment, perceptual knowledge might be.


John Turri