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Theory of Knowledge

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Connie Helder

on 20 April 2016

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Transcript of Theory of Knowledge

Foundationalism--Knowledge from the Ground Up
Scepticicism
What is foundationalism?
The idea that there is a foundation to all knowledge and if we can build knowledge confidently.
This foundation consists of basic beliefs that are self-evident (they do not have to be justified).
Rationalism
Descartes, Leibniz & Spinoza . . . .and many thinkers before and after them!
Empiricism
Locke, Berkley and Hume . . . and many more before and after them!
Pragmatism
20th Century American Philosophers
C. S. Pierce, William James and John Dewey
Coherence theory--Something is true when it fits into a system of beliefs that fit together and correspond to experience
Instrumentalism--Beliefs are true if they allow us to do things in the world that we wouldn't be able to do unless we took them to be true.
The Tripartite Account of Knowledge
A classical definition of knowledge
An agent (A) can be said to know a proposition (P) if:
1. P is true (the truth condition)
2. A believes P (the belief condition)
3. A has sufficient evidence for P (the evidence condition)
This definition of knowledge is called “Justified true belief”
Having two of these conditions is not enough to count as knowledge.

All of these examples demonstrate that one can have knowledge without all of the three conditions being the case.
Perhaps the exact conditions of knowledge are impossible to define
Wittgenstien claimed that to know what a word means is simply to know how to use it properly.
example: game--What are the different definitions?
There is a family resemblance between these.
When we understand this, we can use 'game' correctly.

If Wittgenstien is correct, if we know how to use the word 'know' we know what knowledge is without knowing how to define it precisely.
Scepticism regarding intuitive truths
Truths like 2 + 2 = 4
or 'All bachelors are unmarried'.
Epistemology
A study of the nature and conditions of knowledge

Alternate Frameworks for Knowledge
Basic truths at the foundation of knowledge are not
grounded in experience
The mind contains innate ideas
Reason is the source of all knowledge
Maths is the model for knowledge
Knowledge is gained a priori
The senses are easily fooled.
uses deductive reasoning
Knowledge can be certain
It is not true that contemporary rationalists do not believe in knowledge by sense experience--they do believe that the fundamental building blocks of knowledge are rational.
Basic truths at the foundation of knowledge are
grounded in experience
Mind is a ‘tabula rasa’
The senses are the source of all knowledge
Biology (perception) is a model for knowledge
Knowledge is gained a posteriori
The senses are the source of all knowledge
Uses inductive Reasoning
Knowledge can only ever be probable
Reason only gives us access to uninformative tautologies
Contemporary empiricism doesn't ignore rational building blocks and connections--but argues that experience is the foundation of knowledge
Rooted in a rejection of the correspondence theory of truth
'The bug is on the rug' is true if the bug is on the rug. What??
Pragmatism--Something is true if it helps us to get along in the world
Branches of Pragmatism
Can knowledge claims be justified?

Section 1

Descartes refers to arguments from Meditation 1
Objects at a distance
Phantom limbs
Demonstrate the fact that senses don’t always report the truth
Dreaming argument
I don’t believe the objects in dreams are located outside of me so why make this assumption when awake?
But must we resort to scepticism?

Rejection of Naïve Realism

The simplistic view that unreflective people have
External objects present themselves to the senses unbidden
They are more distinct than those presented by memory or imagination
They can’t come from within so must come from without
It seems that the sense come first and the intellect later
So nothing is present to the mind that was not first present to the senses

Naïve Realism

Meditations
on First Philosophy

Section 2: Option 1

Classic Texts in Epistemology

The Gettier Problem
Smith has applied for a job, but has a justified belief that "Jones will get the job". He also knows that "Jones has 10 coins in his pocket". Smith therefore concludes that "the man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket".
In fact, Smith gets the job but, as it happens, also has 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 isn’t knowledge.
Infinite regress argument
Every justification in turn requires justification and arguably this demand for justification is never stated.
Some justifications are unreliable
Sense experience is prone to deception
Innate ideas are controversial
Analytic truths are trivially true

Many children believe in Santa Claus. They leave cookies out for him that are eaten the next morning and as promised the presents arrive every Christmas day. Parents, shopkeepers and teachers all reinforce this belief.
In this case the children believe P (they think Santa is real) and have evidence for believing P (teachers and parents confirm it) but P isn’t true
Is this knowledge?

A gambler finds a four leaf clover so bets on a horse that day believing that his horse will win now that he has this lucky charm. The horse does win.
In this case p is true (the horse did win) and the punter believed p (he sincerely thought the horse would win) but his evidence for this belief seems inadequate.
Is this a case of knowledge?

Why are knowledge claims a problem in philosophy?

Meditation 1
The Sceptical Method

Problems with the tripartite account of knowledge

According to the tripartite account of knowledge, something only counts as knowledge if it satisfies all three criteria of justified true belief.
The Hesitant Student
Teacher: Billy, what is 3x7?
Billy: Er…(guesses) is it 21?
In this case p is true (3x7 is 21) and Billy has evidence for p (he has been to the classes) but he doesn’t believe P.

Is this a case of knowledge?

The Lucky Punter
A gambler finds a four leaf clover so bets on a horse that day believing that his horse will win now that he has this lucky charm. The horse does win.
In this case p is true (the horse did win) and the punter believed p (he sincerely thought the horse would win) but his evidence for this belief seems inadequate.
Is this a case of knowledge?

Santa’s Visit
Many children believe in Father Christmas. They leave cookies out for him that are eaten the next morning and as promised the presents arrive every Christmas day. Parents, shopkeepers and teachers all reinforce this belief.
In this case the children believe P (they think Santa is real) and have evidence for believing P (teachers and parents confirm it) but P isn’t true
Is this knowledge?


Smith has applied for a job, but has a justified belief that "Jones will get the job". He also knows that "Jones has 10 coins in his pocket". Smith therefore concludes that "the man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket".
In fact, Smith gets the job but, as it happens, also has 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 isn’t knowledge.

Other Problems with the tripartite account of knowledge
Infinite regress argument
Every justification in turn requires justification and arguably this demand for justification is never stated.

The Gettier Problem
Some justifications are unreliable
Sense experience is prone to deception
Innate ideas are controversial
Analytic truths are trivially true


Problems with the Tripartite Account
The Gettier problem demonstrates the opposite. It shows us a situation where all three conditions of the tripartite account can be filled, but we can still lack knowledge.
However
The Problem: Philosophical Scepticism looks for certainty and Confuses:
I can know something and not be certain of it.
I can be certain of something and not know it (I can be wrong).
I can be right about something and still doubt it.
Another Criticism of Scepticism
Sceptics undermine the foundations of our knowledge; but if we reject foundationalism for another theory of knowledge, we avoid the sceptic's challenge.
Scepticism Concerning Knowlegde
Ordinary scepticism looks at sources of knowledge that are reliable or not.
Philsophical scepticism calls in to questions the reliability of our knowledge full stop.

Philosophical scepticism wonders can we know anything at all?
Problem: While these statements seem self-evident, how can I know?
Mad people think that certain statements are self-evident. Couldn't I be mad and convinced of my sanity?
When we dream, we are convinced of falsehood.
Criticism of Scepticism
Gilbert Ryle--The sceptic robs us of the idea of that certain knowledge of any thing exists.
We only know false coins because there are real ones that we can compare them to. The sceptic calls all knowledge false knowledge; but he can only make that claim is there is genuine knowledge--Argument by analogy.
Knowledge which is about the relation
of the knower to information or facts
Certainty which is about a state of mind
Doubt which is also a psychological state.
Knowledge, certainty and doubt are distinct
Scepticism Concerning Perception--Is Seeing Believing?
Naive Realism--What you see is what you get
Naive realism states that the world is more or less as we perceive it.
a simplistic view that unreflective people have
External objects present themselves to the senses unbidden
They are more distinct than those presented by memory or imagination
They can’t come from within so must come from without
It seems that the sense come first and the intellect later
So nothing is present to the mind that was not first present to the senses
Many scientists and philosophers do not believe that we perceive the world directly. Instead, we perceive perceptions and from these we infer the existence of the world.
see Baggini, p.p. 32-35
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