Justification in Knowledge

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Justification in Knowledge

By | October 2008
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I. Kinds of Knowledge

1. Knowing individual things: He knows President Seligman.
2. Knowing how to do things: George knows how to read.
3. Knowing who: No one knows who the Academy Award winner will be.

4. Knowing whether, when, why, what, etc.

5. Knowing that: Jones knows that ducks quack.

The last is propositional (factual) knowledge. Maybe the others can be defined in terms of it. Eg., possibly (3) can be defined in terms of propositional knowledge: No one knows any proposition of the form “X wins the Academy Award”.

Propositional knowledge is the kind of interest here. Science is supposed to yield factual knowledge of the world.

II. Propositional Knowledge

A. Knowledge and True Belief

Consider the proposal that knowledge = true belief. [Write out as analysis.]

1) True belief is necessary for knowledge.

Possible objection: I knew all along that the butler did it, and then it turned out that he didn’t. You might have felt sure, but you didn’t know.

2) True belief is not sufficient for knowledge. Lucky guesses. Even informed guesses are not knowledge. Suppose I believe that the guy from “Capote” will win the Academy Award. I might even feel confident of this. But I don’t know that he will win. Note: that this is about the future is not crucial. Suppose the awards were already given out but I didn’t watch or hear reports. I now believe that he won (past tense) and I’m right. But still no knowledge.

B. The Traditional Analysis of Knowledge

1) What’s needed in addition to true belief is traditionally said to be “good reasons” or “evidence” or “justification”.

2) So, the traditional analysis of knowledge holds that knowledge is justified true belief. That is:

S knows that p iff i) S believes that p; ii) it is true that p; iii) S is justified in believing that p.

3) These three conditions are independent: any two can be satisfied while the third is not. Explain.


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