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Publication Date



UM campus only

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Philosophy (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Risto Hilpinen

Second Committee Member

Harvey Siegel

Third Committee Member

Simon Evnine

Fourth Committee Member

Keith Lehrer

Fifth Committee Member

Marian David


This dissertation provides an account of the aims of rational inquiry with the purpose of explaining the value of truth, information, justification, understanding, and knowledge. I argue that inquirers ought to have two chief and competing goals: to pursue information, and to avoid error. Inquirers ought to want answers that fully satisfy their demands for information, but they should also want those answers to be true. These goals come into conflict, since an agent aiming solely to avoid error could reject any putative information, while an agent aiming solely at pursuing information could accept any putative information regardless of the evidence. Rational inquirers must, then, have some way of balancing their competing aims. I argue that rational inquirers must strike this balance by appealing to the practical reasons for which they are inquiring, which entails that the theory of inquiry has an essential pragmatic element. In pursuing her primary aims an inquirer will need to pursue justification—an account of which is provided—and also ought to be concerned to avoid the luck that is present in Gettier cases. These reflections explain why knowledge has played such a central role in epistemology, since I argue that successful inquiry will result in a form of internalist knowledge.


Epistemology; Inquiry; Truth; Information; Justification; Knowledge