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The Gettier Problem

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Phil 203 Group 1

on 9 December 2013

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Transcript of The Gettier Problem

The Gettier Problem
The Gettier Problem
There is an inherent problems with the JTB form of knowledge:
Your belief can be true, even if your reasons for believing said belief is false.
Knowledge Defined
Knowledge as defined by Plato in his book,
, is justified true belief.
Other Attempted Solutions
Libby Chernouski, Tyler Ladzinski, Juan Munoz, Sam Schmidt, Rhianna O'Shea, and Jason Canada
Problems with Justification
Social Justification
Discussion Questions
Example of the Gettier Problem
John Pollock responds to Gettier and others with his social condition for knowledge:
The justification for one's justified, true belief must be:
Ultimately undefeated relative to the set of all truths socially sensitive for [the person]"
- You must have a reason through evidence for holding your belief.

- Information must be true.
- You must believe in the information to have knowledge.
Do you agree with the proposed fourth condition of causality as a solution to the Gettier Problem? Why or why not?

Do you think social truth defeaters really prevent us from having knowledge (e.g. Does Tom have knowledge when he believes the truth of the assassination even though his social group has additional information that would cause him to doubt his justification for this knowledge)?

Is justified true belief a good definition of knowledge? Does this definition presuppose something about the world and our relationship to it? If so, what?
Tom and the Newspaper
There is an assassination.

The assassination is reported in the newspaper.

Tom believes the assassination occurred.

Assassination has been denied by credible sources.

This denial is common knowledge.
Socially Sensitive:
If Tom knew of the denial, he would no longer be justified in believing that the assassination happened. He currently lacks this "common knowledge." Therefore, he does not have knowledge.

"If we fail to know all these things and that makes a difference to whether we are justified in believing some true proposition P, then our ... justified belief does not constitute knowledge"
(Pollock 317)
Smith is up for a new job, but gets bad news!
Jones reveals his secret weapon to Smith!
Smith Forms a Belief
Surprisingly, Smith gets the Job!
Smith forgot that he also has change in his pocket
Feldman's Example
Smith Adjusts for the Fourth Condition
No False Core Evidence
Lehrer modified JTB by eliminating only significant and ineliminable false beliefs from the evidence for a claim to be true.

If the false beliefs found in evidence for a true claim are insubstantial, and could be discarded, then justified to be called knowledge

No Defeat Proposal
a defeasibility analysis of knowledge:
what facts have been overlooked by subject as evidence for a claim that, if those facts were added, would weaken justification for claim?

Smith's Job:
Smith knows he will get the job and that he has ten coins in his pocket. -conflicting evidence.
discard Jones: no conflicting evidence.
-no defeaters: the overlooked facts that could weaken justification for claim.

Issue: vagueness

Appropriate Causality Proposal
Goldman proposed that only those facts which play a causal role in birth of a belief are justified.

Smith's Job:
Smith was right that the man with ten coins would get the job. However, the causes of his belief were his conversation with the boss and his knowing of the contents of Jones' pockets.
Issue: only applies to empirical knowledge, not all.

As justification is based upon the use of evidence. Issues present themselves when there is misinterpreted or false evidence.

Along with this, new evidence that overrides the previous (called a defeater), removes the justification of knowledge.

Edmund Gettier
Born in 1927 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Former professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Famous for his writing, “Is justified true belief knowledge?” Which is considered as one of the most important American philosophical writings.
Philosophy of language, metaphysics, modal logic, formal semantics

Richard Feldman
Currently Dean at University of Rochester
Focuses on Epistemology and Metaphysics
Argued against philosophers who wanted to add "No False Premises" condition to JTB.
Defeater: proposition, that, if it had been known, subject would no longer be justified in believing P.
Knowledge is undefeated
The Fourth Condition
Initial Solution: No False Premises
Philosophers argued that the Gettier problems were flawed because they relied on false premises.

No-False Premises: You have knowledge when you have a Justified True Belief and No False Premises!

Requires causal connection between belief and what makes it true
Eliminates luck
"Appropriate" Connection
Perception, memory, inferentially reconstructed causal chain
Possibly replaces "justification"

"Suppose that Tom enters a room in which many people are talking excitedly although he cannot understand what they are saying. He sees a copy of the morning paper on a table. The headlines and the main story reveal that a famous civil-rights leader has been assassinated...

Suppose that the assignation has been denied, even by eyewitnesses, the point of the denial being to avoid a racial explosion...

The denials occurred to late to prevent the original and true story from appearing in the paper that Tom has seen; but everyone else in the room has heard about the denials. None of them know what to believe. They all have information that Tom lacks. Would we judge Tom to be the only one who knows that the assassination has actually occurred? I do not think so."
Gilbert Harman qtd. by Pollock
Full transcript