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Lecture 2

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Daniel Kofman

Sept. 10, 2013 General Intro: Descartes’ Epistemology  How do we determine knowledge? (reliability, can be taken seriously) 1. Descartes’ epistemological project moves to the center of philosophy 1.1 – Plato’s Meno (p. 32)  Having a correct opinion about knowledge makes a good guide  Socrates: Right opinion is no less useful than knowledge?  Meno: A man of knowledge will always be successful, whereas a man of opinion, only sometimes.  Socrates: ….  The beliefs don’t run away, they’re tied down.  Someone with knowledge is able to give an account for the beliefs that they have.  In posing questions about beliefs, one can determine whether these beliefs are substantiated, or whether they “run away.” 2. Why does Descartes insist on indubitability as a condition for knowledge? 2.1 – The influence of mathematics  Descartes will not accept the formal logic of mathematics as indubitable  Does 2+2=4?  There must be some premise we hold to be true off of which we can build further truths  Establish knowledge claims which are stable, lasting, and off of which to build the sciences  Requires a high standard of truth  The evolution of scientific knowledge  scientific beliefs being overturned ex: Einstein theory of relativity overturned Newton’s theory ex: Quantum physics overturned assumptions made in the classical mechanical sciences  Are the sciences really indubitable?  What makes a scientific theory credible – the scientific method (experiment or phenomena can be reproduced under similar conditions with similar observations).  Descartes will insist on indubitability as a requirement for knowledge 2.2 – The search for truth  What makes a true belief knowledge?  What conditions are required to determine true belief? 2.3 – Possible further conditions: 2.3.1 – Higher order (Kap  KaKap) 2.3.2 – Nozickean subjectivism: Knowledge ‘tracks’ truth. If I know that I know that p If I know that I know that Bap Were it the case that p [ ]  A would believe p Were it the case that not p [ ]  A would not believe p  Descartes wants to track his beliefs, indubitability will ensure that it tracks in truth. 2.4 – Found vs. Coherence, Fallibility of belief combined with foundational premise threaten all knowledge.  The relationship between beliefs  How our beliefs hang together  Foundationalism: the belief that we have some basic beliefs that have some special epistemic status in our belief system, and from them, we
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