The Conditions for Knowledge

7 09 2010

Ok seriously .. I know I leave for a couple of months (…years?) and I come back with all this wanna be smart ass philosophy shit… well I’m back at it. So, once again…


Alright I’ll make this one short and dirty sweet.

The following is stolen straight from Wikipedia. It has the background for my point, I’ll continue from there.

Knowledge as ‘Justified True Belief’

Many or most analytic philosophers would wish to be able to hold to what is known as the JTB account of knowledge: the claim that knowledge can be conceptually analyzed as justified true belief — which is to say that the meaning of sentences such as “Smith knows that it rained today” can be given with the following set of necessary and jointly sufficient conditions:

A subject S knows that a proposition P is true if, and only if:

  1. P is true
  2. S believes that P is true, and
  3. S is justified in believing that P is true

Gettier’s counterexamples

Gettier’s paper used counterexamples (see also Thought Experiment) to argue that there are cases of beliefs that are both true and justified—therefore satisfying all three conditions for knowledge on the JTB account—but that do not appear to be genuine cases of knowledge. Gettier, therefore, argued that his counterexamples show that the JTB account of knowledge is false—and thus, that a different conceptual analysis is needed to correctly track what we mean by “knowledge”.

Gettier’s case is based on two counterexamples to the JTB analysis. Both of them rely on the established claim (under JTB) that justification is preserved by entailment, and the further claim that such applies significantly, or can be applied there coherently to the “stipulation” attributed to Smith’s putative “belief” in the case of this particular counter-example: that is, that if Smith is justified in believing P, and Smith realizes that the truth of P

Case I

Smith has applied for a job, but, it is claimed, has a justified belief that “Jones will get the job”. He also has a justified belief that “Jones has 10 coins in his pocket”. Smith therefore (justifiably) concludes (by the rule of the transitivity of identity) that “the man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket”.
In fact, Jones does not get the job. Instead, Smith does. However, as it happens, Smith (unknowingly and by sheer chance) also had 10 coins in his pocket. So his belief that “the man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket” was justified and true. But it does not appear to be knowledge.

Case II

Smith, it is claimed by the hidden interlocutor, has a justified belief that “Jones owns a Ford”. Smith therefore (justifiably) concludes (by the rule of disjunction introduction) that “Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Barcelona”, even though Smith has no knowledge whatsoever about the location of Brown.
In fact, Jones does not own a Ford, but by sheer coincidence, Brown really is in Barcelona. Again, Smith had a belief that was true and justified, but not knowledge.”

Ok so where do I come in? One point noted against these scenarios is that, in reality, the “true premises” are false, the characters were misled. But let’s ignore that one (I noticed that one on my own, but that one has been pointed out clearly on the internets already… no biggie).

What Gettier is presenting (intended or not), is that there is a set of conditions that we have for what we would claim to be knowledge, in that there is a loop hole that he is exploiting. Now I am not the first to look for the fourth condition to knowledge, but (from my limited and brief Google and Wikipedia search) I may just be the first to make this point. Of the necessary conditions, RELEVANCE is not mentioned. Yet, would it be OK to say the truth to a situation can be assessed by an associated fact that is irrelevant to the action taking place, as in the coins or Brown making guesses? No way.  This is Gettier’s loophole, but it is so obvious that  it is overlooked! It seems that relevance would go without saying, but it doesn’t. What Gettier finds as truth is ASSOCIATED but not RELEVANT to the situation. They are arbitrary facts.

Furthermore, Gettier’s scenario at the end of the job interview is that the man with 10 coins in his pocket received the job. But wait! There is another man with 10 coins in his pocket! Though the question is about who won the job, if two men have 10 coins in their pockets isn’t it odd to say the man with 10 coins? More appropriately it should be stated One of the men with 10 coins in his pocket recieved the job. Clarifying that the amount of coins is not a defining condition, it is  IRRELEVANT.

So what is knowledge… what does it mean when you say that you know something?
1 It is Justified! you have sufficient reasons for believing something.
2 It is True! what you are speaking of corresponds to reality.
3 Belief! You agree with it.
4 IT IS RELEVANT!!!! the condition(s) that you consider weighs meaningfully towards the scenario at hand!

BOOYAH Philosophy!

Tradition: 0  Whiptastic: 2

p.s here are some links that show attempts (that miss the mark or are way too complicated) at what I explained.
also the Wikipedia page with more complicated attempts.




One response

17 07 2013
Smart Arse

Thanks for the best writeup. It actually was the amusement bill them. Glimpse intricate to be able to way launched reasonable from you! However, exactly how should we be in contact?

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