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Philosophy of Knowledge.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
William Seager

Philosophy of Knowledge What is Knowledge Epistemology  Epistemology: Tries to evaluate commonsense idea that we have knowledge and that we are rationally justified in believing them  Philosophical skepticism: We don’t have knowledge or that our beliefs are not rationally justified Three kinds of knowledge o Propositional knowledge – either true or false; no direct acquaintance o Object knowledge – statement relates to object, person, thing; direct acquaintance o Know-how knowledge – have certain abilities  “if and only if” means conditions are necessary and sufficient  If S has characteristics 1, 2, 3, they are sufficient for him to be B  1, 2, 3 are necessary for S to be B Two requirements for knowledge: Belief and Truth  Knowledge can be subjective and objective  For S to know p, p must be true and S must believe that p Plato: True belief isn’t sufficient for knowledge  Can have true belief but no knowledge Justification  Noninferential justification: Some propositions we believe not inferred from other propositions  Justified if process by which belief was formed does not violate any duties of the person The JTB Theory  Knowledge is same as justified true belief  For any individual S and any proposition p, S knows that p if and only 1. S believes that p 2. p is true 3. S is justified in believing that p Three counterexamples to the JTB Theory  Gettier cases: Subject validly deduces true proposition from proposition that is well- supported but false  Non-deductively: Clock that stopped working 24 hours ago, but you see the time and believe it is right  Don’t believe that your lottery ticket will win and it doesn’t, but you did not know that What the counterexamples have in common  Highly reliable but not infallible evidence An argument for skepticism  Senses are fallible  If S knows that p, then it isn’t possible that S is mistaken in believing that p It is possible that S is mistaken in believing that p S doesn’t know that p  Illusions, dreaming, brain-in-vat Descartes’ Foundationalism Foundationalism  Foundational knowledge which are solid  Structural knowledge rest on foundational knowledge Descartes’ method of doubt  Whether possible to doubt proposition, if it is, belief is not foundational  If it cannot be doubted, it is indubitable  Can be used for a posteriori and a priori beliefs (evil demon/genius making you believe things) I am thinking, therefore I exist  I think therefore I am  First person, cannot doubt that you are thinking  Passes doubt test  There is a page in front of me vs. I seem to see a page in front of me Thesis of the incorrigibility of the mental  Infallible access to beliefs and desires How to prove that God exists  1. My idea of God is objectively perfect 2. If an idea is objectively perfect, then the cause of that idea must be a perfect being Hence, the cause of my idea is a perfect being – namely, God himself  However, could be looking at imperfect things and constructing an imperfect idea  God is not a deceiver  Objective and formal reality  Picture of horse o Formal reality: what the picture is made out of o Objective reality: horse o Must be as much formal reality as in cause of picture The clarity and distinction criterion  Clear and distinct beliefs must be true  Clarity: what is present and apparent to the mind  Distinctness: every feature of that idea is clear The Cartesian Circle  Descartes uses method of doubt to assemble foundation for knowledge  God is not a deceiver  Apply clarity and distinction criterion  I need to know that the rule of truth is valid  I can know this if I know that a non-deceiver God exists  I can prove that God exists  But the proof that God exists rests on an argument  The parts of the argument have to be known true  They are known to be true because they are clear and distinct  But clearness and distinctness only guarantee truth if God is not a deceiver The Reliability Theory of Knowledge Descartes: Knowledge is internally certifiable  Subjective premise: describes what is going on in subject’s mind  Objective conclusion: makes claim about world outside subject’s mind  Linking premise: shows how subjective premises necessitates objective conclusion  If subject knows that objective conclusion is true, then subject must know that linking premise is true and know it independently of sense experience What makes a thermometer reliable  Analogy between knowledge and reliable measuring device  Reading on thermometer represents temperature of room, like how you represent your beliefs of the world  Readings can be true or false, like how your beliefs can be true or false  Reliable thermometer requires a reliable connection between reading and environment  A thermometer will not be reliable when it is correct accidentally  To be reliable, thermometer must be utilized in the correct environment  To be reliable, internal structure of the thermometer must be correct  You are related to your belief the way the thermometer is related to its reading  Reliable thermometer is a necessary connection between readings and temperature  If reliable then must be correct  Whether thermometer is reliable here and now has nothing to do with what might be Relevance to the problem of knowledge  RTK says that individual knows proposition f individual is related to proposition in the way a reliable thermometer is related to the temperature it measures  Causality – S knows there is a page in front of her in a given circumstance if only thing causing S to believe is that there really is a page  RTK: 1. S believes that p 2. p is true 3. In the circumstances that S occupies, if S believes that p, then p must be true Three concepts of impossibility  Logically necessary – virtue of logic and definitions; necessary truth is a priori  Nomologically necessary – necessary because of law of naturel a posteriori  Circumstantial necessity – true only because of facts about circumstances described; ambiguous The KK-Principle  If S knows p then S knows p  Descartes’ foundationalist theory accepts it – if you know then you know the grounds  RTK denies – can have knowledge even if you do not know that you know To have knowledge you don’t have to be able to construct a philosophical argument refuting the skeptic  S believes that there is a page in front of her In th
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