The Traditional Analysis of Knowledge What is knowledge? To provide such an analysis would be to lay out and explain each of the components of that concept. The thought is that the individual conceptual components will be individually necessary each one of them required and jointly sufficient all of them together enough for the concept under analysis. First, the thought is that a person must believe something to in order to know it.
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References and Further Reading 1. Introduction Gettier problems or cases arose as a challenge to our understanding of the nature of knowledge. Initially, that challenge appeared in an article by Edmund Gettier, published in Note that sometimes this general challenge is called the Gettier problem. What, then, is the nature of knowledge? And can we rigorously define what it is to know?
The questions are still being debated — more or less fervently at different times — within post-Gettier epistemology. The Justified-True-Belief Analysis of Knowledge Gettier cases are meant to challenge our understanding of propositional knowledge. Usually, when epistemologists talk simply of knowledge they are referring to propositional knowledge. It is a kind of knowledge which we attribute to ourselves routinely and fundamentally. Hence, it is philosophically important to ask what, more fully, such knowledge is.
If we do not fully understand what it is, will we not fully understand ourselves either? That is a possibility, as philosophers have long realized. Those questions are ancient ones; in his own way, Plato asked them. The person believes that p. This belief might be more or less confident. All that is needed, strictly speaking, is for her belief to exist while possessing at least the two further properties that are about to be listed.
If it is incorrect instead, then — no matter what else is good or useful about it — it is not knowledge. It would only be something else, something lesser. Admittedly, even when a belief is mistaken it can feel to the believer as if it is true. But in that circumstance the feeling would be mistaken; and so the belief would not be knowledge, no matter how much it might feel to the believer like knowledge. Otherwise, the belief, even if it is true, may as well be a lucky guess.
It would be correct without being knowledge. Supposedly on standard pre-Gettier epistemology , each of those three conditions needs to be satisfied, if there is to be knowledge; and, equally, if all are satisfied together, the result is an instance of knowledge. In other words, the analysis presents what it regards as being three individually necessary, and jointly sufficient, kinds of condition for having an instance of knowledge that p.
The analysis is generally called the justified-true-belief form of analysis of knowledge or, for short, JTB. That evidence will probably include such matters as your having been told that you are a person, your having reflected upon what it is to be a person, your seeing relevant similarities between yourself and other persons, and so on. It is important to bear in mind that JTB, as presented here, is a generic analysis. It is intended to describe a general structuring which can absorb or generate comparatively specific analyses that might be suggested, either of all knowledge at once or of particular kinds of knowledge.
It provides a basic outline — a form — of a theory. In practice, epistemologists would suggest further details, while respecting that general form. So, even when particular analyses suggested by particular philosophers at first glance seem different to JTB, these analyses can simply be more specific instances or versions of that more general form of theory.
Probably the most common way for this to occur involves the specific analyses incorporating, in turn, further analyses of some or all of belief, truth, and justification. For example, some of the later sections in this article may be interpreted as discussing attempts to understand justification more precisely, along with how it functions as part of knowledge.
Ayer famously exemplified the pre approach. This section presents his Case I. It is perhaps the more widely discussed of the two. The second will be mentioned in the next section. He and Jones have applied for a particular job.
But Smith has been told by the company president that Jones will win the job. He had counted them himself — an odd but imaginable circumstance. And he proceeds to infer that whoever will get the job has ten coins in their pocket. As the present article proceeds, we will refer to this belief several times more.
For convenience, therefore, let us call it belief b. Notice that Smith is not thereby guessing. On the contrary; his belief b enjoys a reasonable amount of justificatory support.
Belief b is thereby at least fairly well justified — supported by evidence which is good in a reasonably normal way.
As it happens, too, belief b is true — although not in the way in which Smith was expecting it to be true. For it is Smith who will get the job, and Smith himself has ten coins in his pocket. These two facts combine to make his belief b true. Nevertheless, neither of those facts is something that, on its own, was known by Smith. Is his belief b therefore not knowledge? In other words, does Smith fail to know that the person who will get the job has ten coins in his pocket?
Surely so thought Gettier. The immediately pertinent aspects of it are standardly claimed to be as follows. It contains a belief which is true and justified — but which is not knowledge. And if that is an accurate reading of the case, then JTB is false. Case I would show that it is possible for a belief to be true and justified without being knowledge.
Case I would have established that the combination of truth, belief, and justification does not entail the presence of knowledge. But if JTB is false as it stands, with what should it be replaced? Gettier himself made no suggestions about this. Its failing to describe a jointly sufficient condition of knowing does not entail that the three conditions it does describe are not individually necessary to knowing. And if each of truth, belief, and justification is needed, then what aspect of knowledge is still missing?
What is the smallest imaginable alteration to the case that would allow belief b to become knowledge? Would we need to add some wholly new kind of element to the situation? Or is JTB false only because it is too general — too unspecific? For instance, are only some kinds of justification both needed and enough, if a true belief is to become knowledge?
Must we describe more specifically how justification ever makes a true belief knowledge? Some other Gettier Cases Having posed those questions, though, we should realize that they are merely representative of a more general epistemological line of inquiry.
And this is our goal when responding to Gettier cases. Sections 7 through 11 will present some attempted diagnoses of such cases. In order to evaluate them, therefore, it would be advantageous to have some sense of the apparent potential range of the concept of a Gettier case. I will mention four notable cases. Again, Smith is the protagonist.
This time, he possesses good evidence in favor of the proposition that Jones owns a Ford. Smith also has a friend, Brown. Where is Brown to be found at the moment? Smith does not know. Nonetheless, on the basis of his accepting that Jones owns a Ford, he infers — and accepts — each of these three disjunctive propositions: Either Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Boston. Either Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Barcelona. He realizes that he has good evidence for the first disjunct regarding Jones in each of those three disjunctions, and he sees this evidence as thereby supporting each disjunction as a whole.
Seemingly, he is right about that. These are inclusive disjunctions, not exclusive. That is, each can, if need be, accommodate the truth of both of its disjuncts. Each is true if even one — let alone both — of its disjuncts is true. Moreover, in fact one of the three disjunctions is true albeit in a way that would surprise Smith if he were to be told of how it is true.
The second disjunction is true because, as good luck would have it, Brown is in Barcelona — even though, as bad luck would have it, Jones does not own a Ford. As it happened, the evidence for his doing so, although good, was misleading. And there is good evidence supporting — justifying — it.
But is it knowledge? Imagine that you are standing outside a field. You see, within it, what looks exactly like a sheep. What belief instantly occurs to you? Among the many that could have done so, it happens to be the belief that there is a sheep in the field. And in fact you are right, because there is a sheep behind the hill in the middle of the field. You cannot see that sheep, though, and you have no direct evidence of its existence.
Moreover, what you are seeing is a dog, disguised as a sheep. Hence, you have a well justified true belief that there is a sheep in the field. But is that belief knowledge?
References and Further Reading 1. Introduction Gettier problems or cases arose as a challenge to our understanding of the nature of knowledge. Initially, that challenge appeared in an article by Edmund Gettier, published in Note that sometimes this general challenge is called the Gettier problem. What, then, is the nature of knowledge?
Epistemic closure and skeptical arguments[ edit ] The epistemic closure principle typically takes the form of a modus ponens argument: S knows p. S knows that p entails q. Therefore, S knows q. This epistemic closure principle is central to many versions of skeptical arguments. A skeptical argument of this type will involve knowledge of some piece of widely accepted information to be knowledge, which will then be pointed out to entail knowledge of some skeptical scenario, such as the brain in a vat scenario or the Cartesian evil demon scenario.
The Gettier Problem & the Definition of Knowledge