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Chapter 14

PHLA10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 14: Reliability Engineering, Thermometer, Subjunctive Possibility

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William Seager

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The Reliability Theory of Knowledge
Descartes: Knowledge is Internally Certifiable
according to Descartes knowledge is internally certifiable
if I know some proposition p, then there exists an argument that shows
that p must be true, whose premises are either a priori true or
knowable by introspection
e.g. I believe that there is a page in front of me
my belief that there is a page in front of me is clear and distinct
clear and distinct ideas are true
there is a page in front of me
first two premises I know by introspection→ Gazing within my own
mind and examining its contents.
elements of this argument:
subjective premise
describes that is going on in the subject’s mind
e.g. I believe there is a page in front of me
objective conclusion
makes a claim about the world outside the subject’s mind.
e.g. there is a page in front of me
linking premise
shows how the subjective premise necessitates the objective
e.g. if i have a particular belief and it is clear and distinct, then it
is true
therefore Descartes idea come to this: if the subject knows that the objective
conclusion is true then the subject must know that the linking premise is true
and must know this independently of sense experience
Yet, the Reliability Theory of Knowledge doesn’t require the linking premise to
be knowable by introspection and a priori reasoning
in fact, the subject doesn’t have to know that the linking premise is true
at all -.-
What Makes a Thermometer Reliable ?
thermometers are devices that can measure the outside world just as your
beliefs represent the world outside your mind.
they can be either accurate or inaccurate, just as beliefs can be true or false.
there are two things that help make a thermometer reliable.
first it has to be used in the right environment
second the internal makeup of the device has to be right (the mercury
has to be wrapped around by glass)
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