Knowledge And Reality Essay

Topics: Epistemology, Belief, Gettier problem Pages: 5 (1694 words) Published: November 8, 2014
 Can Knowledge be defined? Explain and defend your answer.

Knowledge is Functional

Defining knowledge has been an ongoing debate for philosophers in the field of epistemology. To come to a conclusion about if knowledge can be defined or not we need to look at theories of knowledge and the different views philosophers who have studied epistemology have. To define knowledge one must find a definition that states, what is necessary for knowledge as well as sufficient and cannot be challenged by counter examples. So what can one say knowledge is? The classic definition for knowledge is that a statement must be justified, true and believed at this point knowledge was defined as having a justified true belief, this is the is known as the tripartite definition for knowledge (Prosser, 2007). Therefore the classic definition of knowledge states that to have knowledge it is necessary that we have a justified true belief (Y only if X). Some philosophers claim that these three conditions however are not sufficient (Whenever X obtains, you are guaranteed Y) to define knowledge. Edmund Gettier, an American philosopher was the first philosopher to challenge the classic, tripartite definition of knowledge. He claimed that even if you had a justified true belief, this did not mean you had knowledge (Prosser, 2007). Consider the sheep in the field example of a Gettier problem, someone saw a sheep in the field, they know it was a sheep because it looked like a sheep, white woolly and made a “baaaaaing” sound like sheep do. In this example of the Gettier problem we have a belief the person saw the sheep and believe she saw the sheep and is justified in believing that it was a sheep as it looked like a sheep and made sounds like sheep does, and the person that saw the sheep feels that it is true therefore the classical definition of knowledge says that this person has knowledge that there is a sheep in the field, however consider this the sheep in the field is actually a wolf disguised as a sheep so he can hunt them, he has a recording of sheep sounds and is playing it through a speaker, so the sheep that the person saw is not a sheep and is actually a wolf, however there was a sheep in the field hiding behind a tree out of sight, so even though there was a sheep in the field, the sheep the person saw was a wolf. So how can the person that seen the sheep that was actually a wolf, have knowledge that there was a sheep in the field? Here we see the Gettier problem, the person who saw the sheep in the field that was actually a wolf, had a justified true belief that he or she saw the sheep, however because it was a wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing, even though there was a sheep in the field out of sight, this person did not have knowledge of that sheep. Gettier’s challenge sparked philosophers in the field of epistemology to seek a new functioning definition for knowledge. This saw a number of responses to Gettier’s challenged and created a variety of different definitions for knowledge. (Bundy, 2005) One of the philosopher’s that came up with a response to the Gettier problem was Alvin Goldman. Goldman came up with a response to the Gettier problem, this response was called ‘the casual knowing theory. The casual knowing theory says that if someone has a justified true belief about a proposition, that justified true belief has to be reliable, and go through a reliable process called a causal link. (One has a JTB of P, iff the belief is the result of a reliable process.) (Goldman, 2008) Consider this example of Goldman’s causal link theory, Christchurch city was left in ruins. If somebody went to Christchurch post-earthquake someone can trace back from the fact that there was an earthquake and someone’s belief that that there was an earthquake. What if Christchurch City was relocated, and they clean up the site where Christchurch city was and now Peter Jackson is using props of a ruined city for the new Hobbit movie where Christchurch...
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