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STUDENT ID: 1807822What is an analysis of knowledge? Does Gettier succeed in showing that knowledge cannot be analysed as justified true belief?This essay will tackle the problem of analysing knowledge and whether such a concept can be analysed. The focus will be directed towards Gettier’s critique of the justified-true-belief (“JTB”) model for knowledge. By assessing responses from Harman and Pritchard, I will argue that – althoughGettier does not succeed in demonstrating the model as false – the paper is influential in identifying the need to revise the definitions of the conditions stated in the JTB model.“All men by nature desire to know”i. Aristotle’s quote underpins the human quest for knowledge but this in turn requires a definition for such a concept. Within epistemology, this analysis of knowledge concerns the identification of “conditions that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for propositional knowledge”ii. This can be expressed as,S knows that P iff x1, x2, ... , xnWhereby each individual condition is required – with its removal leading to the collapse of the model – but cannot hold on its lonesome. The project of this analysis is to produce a model that includes all cases which account for “knowledge” while excluding those that do not.In 1963, Edmund Gettier published a paperiii to argue the alleged incoherency of one of the most widely known theories on what constitutes knowledge: the JTB model, which states that,S knows that P iff(1)P is true[“Truth” condition](2)S believes that P, and[“Belief” condition](3)S is justified in believing that P[“Justification” condition]Gettier’s argument hinges on his two cases that demonstrate the three conditions “are true for some proposition, though it is at the same time false that the person in question knows that proposition” (Gettier, 1963). In other words, S’s “knowledge” is inferred from a justified false belief.Gettier’s case is as follows: suppose Smith and Jones are at a job interview and Smith holds with strong evidence that,(a)Jones is the man who will get the job, and Jones has 10 coins in his pocket.Such a proposition entails that,(b)The man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket.Given Smith has strong evidence for (b), acknowledges its entailment from (a), believes the proposition is true and it is in fact true, naturally, it follows that as Jones has 10 coins in his pocket Jones will get the job. Yet, ponder that, in fact,(c)Smith is the man who will get the job, and is unaware that he also has 10 coins in his pocketAs such (b) remains true although (a) is now false. As demonstrated, Smith knows (b) – under the JTB model since it satisfies all three conditions. However, equally, Smith does not know (b) is true since the belief is based on inference from (a) without recognising the number of coins in his own pocket; falsely believing Jones to be the man who will get the job.These ‘Gettier cases’ can be replicated with a similar structure to highlight the possibility for S to be justified in believing a falsehood since, by luck, something that is true may be correctly deduced from
STUDENT ID: 1807822What is an analysis of knowledge? Does Gettier succeed in showing that knowledge cannot be analysed as justified true belief?a false belief. As a consequence, Gettier concludes that the JTB model is inadequate and does not “state a sufficient condition for someone’s knowing a given proposition” (Gettier, 1963).In order to respond to Gettier, one may seek to simply defend the JTB tri-partite analysis by arguing Sis not justified or that S has knowledge. Yet, in Gettier’s example this response appears rather weak since it does not rectify the issue Gettier raises with the JTB model concerning justified false beliefs. Thus, it is more appropriate to amend the analysis by adding another necessary condition or revising one of the three original conditions. Gilbert Harman in Thought (1973)iv alludes to the addition of the following condition,(4)S’s belief that P is not inferred from any falsehood.This can be also seen to state that there is no wrong move in S’s logical reasoning as the justification rests on “no-false-lemmas”. With the addition of (4), Gettier’s example ceases to be a problem as it no longer sufficiently constitutes knowledge. However, Harman’s notion of an intact chain of reasoning rests upon the involvement of inference. Yet, there are arguably Gettier cases – take Alvin Goldman’s Barn Facades– providing no knowledgeeven when JTB and (4) are met. Suppose Henry has “no doubt about the identity of” a barn and is driving through an area “full of papier-mâchéfacsimiles of barns”. Postulate now that Henry sees and identifies a barn. Yet, by luck, the object is a genuine barn. Regardless if it were a façade, Henry would form the same belief and “we would be strongly inclined to withdraw the claim that Henry knows this object is a barn” (Goldman, 1976)v.Goldman’s example meets condition (4) since Henry’s belief that it is barn is not falsely justified and thus an example of a Gettier case resistant to Harman’s modification. Alas, more worryingly, it is an example that jeopardises the ability for Harman’s modification to act as a general solution as Gettier cases can be merely adapted. This point was developed further, in 1994, by Linda Zagzebski who suggested – after decades of failed attempts1 in resolving the Gettier problem – that JTB+X models of knowledge2 would always fall prey to a Gettier case. The “general rule” requires, first, for a case where S holds a belief meets JTB-X but then, secondly, have the belief true by luck. Even though the “belief is true ... it is not knowledge” (Zagzabeski, 1994)vi. More damningly though, the Gettier problem is left unresolved and appears to have succeeded in showing that knowledge cannot be analysed as JTB or even at all. Nevertheless, there is an important aspect that Zagzbeski touches on which may assist in refuting Gettier: epistemic luck. Duncan Pritchard argues that, on further reading, the “Gettier problem is concerned with determining what the anti-luck condition on knowledge is” (Pritchard, 2018)vii. Pritchard’s primary focus is on how a belief is formed and whether certain formations, based upon a distinctive type of luck, undermine knowledge. This can be seen as a revision of the conditions within the JTB model, particularly the “truth condition”.Thus, for Pritchard, this anti-luck condition is an amalgamation of an account of luck and sense of when “knowledge is incompatible with luck” (Pritchard, 2018). Pritchard views luck as a “modal notion” whereby any event, E, “could very easily have not occurred” keeping relevant initial conditions. He then combines this account with his concept of vertic epistemic luck where it is a 1 Ironically, Goldman admits his own earlier “casual analysis cannot handle the [Barn-Façade] problem either” (Goldman, 1976)2 Where X is a set of conditions independent from JTB
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