The Problems of Justified True Belief

Topics: Truth, Epistemology, Medicine Pages: 2 (662 words) Published: September 22, 2008
The Problems of Justified True Belief

What is knowledge, and is anyone in a position to give an account of it? Certainly people do have knowledge, given the vast amounts that fill up our libraries; or what people refer to as common knowledge- what a person believes and understands based on their experiences; or what a professional learns through the ongoing practices within their field. These are personal accounts of types of knowledge that people may be in a position to put forth; however, these examples fail to answer the question of what knowledge in fact is. The most common answer is that knowledge is justified true belief. However, there is a problem with this idea. The problem being that it is fallacious to say that in order for all beliefs to be knowledge that they must always accommodate all three variables of the JTB theory: belief, truth, and justification. Knowledge is not so black and white, for there are some instances where the JTB theory applies without unjust discrimination, and other instances where when applied, the theory is too discriminatory. People have all kinds of beliefs in what they perceive to be true. Examples of belief can range anywhere from simple beliefs, such as a child having beliefs about the Tooth Fairy; to more complex beliefs such as a doctor’s beliefs about the practice of medicine. It doesn’t take long for children to find out the truth about where the money under their pillow actually came from. Although the child believed in the Tooth Fairy and was justified in their belief based on them trusting their parents, according to the JTB theory, their belief fails to be knowledge due to the absolute falsehood of the existence of a Tooth Fairy. The JTB theory works in this case because once the child grows older; the parents will tell the child that the money actually came from them. Therefore the child’s old justified belief is false, making their previous perception devoid of any knowledge. What about the medical experts...
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