Reliabilism is the view that knowledge can be defined in terms of the reliable process giving rise to a true belief. There are various criticisms of reliabilism focusing on lack of clarity and precision of central concepts. Reliabilism is often advanced in connection with a proposal analogy between technological artifacts and systems of belief formation. The belief resulting from a belief forming process is taken to be analogous to the temperature indication of a thermometer (Armstrong), to an espresso produced by an espresso machine (Zagzebski), or to a car starting after the keys have been turned (Heller). In this talk, I explore the possibility of explicating reliabilist knowledge within the framework of reliability engineering with the goal of conferring greater precision and scientific respectability on reliabilist epistemology. Reliability engineering is an independently developed body of theory and engineering techniques relating to the reliability of technological artifacts.
Erik J. Olsson is Professor in Theoretical Philosophy at Lund University, Sweden. His areas of research include epistemology, philosophical logic, pragmatism, and, more recently, the epistemology of the internet, and academic freedom. His books include Against Coherence: Truth, Probability, and Justification (Oxford University Press, 2005, paperback 2008), Knowledge and Inquiry: Essays on the Pragmatism of Isaac Levi (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and Belief Revision Meets Philosophy of Science (Springer, 2011). He has published over 100 scientific articles in journals like Mind, The Journal of Philosophy, and Philosophical Studies.