The Gettier problem in epistemology

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posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 01:03 PM
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reply to post by Toromos
 





Gettier proposed there are certain conditions where my means of justification are working just fine, but I still can't claim that I've justified my knowledge of the fact, because there is some sort of disconnect or gap between the act of justification and the fact. The question becomes, what is this fourth condition of knowledge that must be ascertained in order to establish claims of knowledge.


I've got this thing going on now in my head - since yesterday afternoon - like ping pong balls inside a dryer

or a song I can't shake

so, thanks a lot :-)

while I'm waiting for the dryer to stop and all the balls to settle, I was wondering if I could ask a couple of questions?

why is it necessary for the "false" or misleading information be followed by the "real" or true information - isn't it the same question/problem without it?

in other words, would his "knowing for certain" that the rabbit is in the field still not be as accurate (as it was for him) without finding the real rabbit behind the statue?

that moment of knowing doesn't change - UNTIL he realizes it's a statue - then he must for a fraction of an instant realize he was mistaken

the 2nd real rabbit only changes the truth of the situation for us - the observers of the situation - but for the guy and his rabbit sighting - the 2nd viewing - of the real rabbit - is separate

he knows/doesn't know/knows again

we're the only ones in on the "yes you're right - but not for the right reason" scene in front of us - and then only after it's all been played out - even if it's only being recounted

I can tell I'm missing something about this that sums up why the one/two punch is important to solving the problem

unless the answer (if it's possible to have one) is the fourth condition necessary is an observer




posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 04:27 PM
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I guess I'm confused about what constitutes "justification". In a world which includes bunny statues, I think part of the requirements of being justified in one's belief that an object is a bunny would be being close enough to ascertain that it's not a bunny statue.

I realize this is quibbling with the example rather than the problem, but I'm trying to get a handle on what exactly the problem is. I guess I should go read that wikipedia article but I was afraid if I did so before posting I would fall down a rabbit hole myself and never find this thread again



posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 07:23 PM
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reply to post by americandingbat
 


Yeah, justification or warrant in epistemology is the whole kit and kaboodle. It's the main emphasis in the theory of knowledge, just how we justify our knowledge claims. I fear the wiki article on Gettier is a little dense, but less than than a lot of the academic journals I had to read about it.

I am actually a Wittgensteinian when it comes to philosophical problems. I usually aim to dissolve what is problematic before it reaches the level of perplexity. The Gettier problem is just one of those issues that keeps banging around in your head as the previous poster said.



posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 07:26 PM
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Originally posted by Spiramirabilis
reply to post by Toromos
 





why is it necessary for the "false" or misleading information be followed by the "real" or true information - isn't it the same question/problem without it?


Your question is more perceptive than you may realize, and is one of the ways that has been used to dissolve the Gettier problem. Some argue the problem is not an epistemic one, how we know things, but a cognitive one for psychology.



posted on Aug, 24 2008 @ 12:03 PM
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Originally posted by americandingbat
I guess I'm confused about what constitutes "justification". In a world which includes bunny statues, I think part of the requirements of being justified in one's belief that an object is a bunny would be being close enough to ascertain that it's not a bunny statue.


Ah, but the people who inhabit what we call the field of philosophy wont let you stop there.

Even if you walked up to the bunny, petted the bunny and then watched it hop away, how do you KNOW will all certainty, it was a bunny?

How do you know that you are not a brain in a vat, (another lovely epistemological problem) and that there is neither a bunny nor a statue, but merely a scientist who is running impulses into your floaty little brain and making it perceive "bunny" when really there is no physical thing there at all to be a bunny?

Or for a MORE modern spin on this, how do you "know" you are not a computer generated character in a high level simulation?

Simulation argument;

www.simulation-argument.com...


This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.


What is justified belief? Are you justified in your belief of seeing a rabbit if you remember seeing a rabbit? How about all the times you have said, "I know I put my keys right here, I remember setting them down," only you were wrong? Memory is a shaky thing.

Are you justified in your belief if someone "credible" has told you? Is hearsay ever "justified true belief?" If you havent seen it yourself, are you certain? Or do you just have a probability of a justified true belief, a high one in the case of someone you have had reliable experience with in the past, but one that contains the possibility of "wrongness?"

Is history a good argument for justified true belief? Just because every morning for all of your life a specific thing has happened (you wake up in the morning) are you justified to believe you will wake up in the morning in 3000 CE?

Since this is ATS, if you see Jesus in the sky and hear a booming voice telling you "I am returned to you" are you justified to believe it is indeed Jesus? Or could it be the Project Blue Beam speculation come to pass?

Can we trust our, memories, our senses, or others? Or can a shred of doubt be found if we look past our knee jerk reaction that something can be known?

I know, philosophers have too much time on their hands, but the argument is not "Can I think I know and have that supposition work for me in the world in a practical way," but "What can we ever really know with absolute certainty?"



posted on Aug, 24 2008 @ 03:23 PM
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reply to post by Toromos
 


thank you -

that helped me put it aside for a little while

but, I just know it's going to come back to get me...



posted on Aug, 24 2008 @ 05:37 PM
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Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
Can we trust our, memories, our senses, or others? Or can a shred of doubt be found if we look past our knee jerk reaction that something can be known?

I know, philosophers have too much time on their hands, but the argument is not "Can I think I know and have that supposition work for me in the world in a practical way," but "What can we ever really know with absolute certainty?"


First, thank you all for the philosophy lessons. I've always been fascinated by the various facets of epistemology, but every time I've tried looking into it on my own I become bogged down and give up. I'll start reading one thing, and come across a footnote referring to something else I haven't read, and so on, until eventually I decide that until I learn all ancient languages and begin with the earliest available texts and work my way from there up through to yesterday's journals, the project is hopeless. It's much easier to ask people who have already done some fraction of that work


Now, my question: What do we lose by saying there is nothing we can know with absolute certainty?



posted on Aug, 24 2008 @ 07:57 PM
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I agree with a couple of the posters in the topic about how philosophy of this nature does a reach a point at which it becomes useless in a real world everyday sense. It is interesting non the less though. I also agree with the idea that there might not be any absolute truth and that truth could be dealt with using degrees of truth instead.

When studying the Gettier problems one thing constantly dawned on me, its hard to find one that is not rather contrived a situtaion. This links back to its usefulness in a real world everyday sense.


Originally posted by americandingbat
Now, my question: What do we lose by saying there is nothing we can know with absolute certainty?

I wouldn't think we loose anything really, not too sound clichéd but it could make one more open minded, which I suppose could be good or bad. These musings aren't very philosophical though.

[edit on 24/8/2008 by CuriosityStrikes]



posted on Aug, 25 2008 @ 12:19 PM
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Originally posted by americandingbat

Now, my question: What do we lose by saying there is nothing we can know with absolute certainty?


In my opinion, we lose nothing and gain everything.

Unfortunately, the field of modern "philosophy" is driven by professional scholars, who must publish and show they "know" things in order to establish their credibility. Whole careers are built arguing over semantics, and disagreeing with philosophers that came before you. If you can make a compelling argument, it doesnt really matter if it is a "straw man" argument, and you are arguing against a misconception of what an earlier philosopher said or not. Odds are, at least some of your readers did not understand what that earlier philosopher was saying either, and if YOUR description of what he said is understandable to them, they will run with it.

In fact, it often becomes a chain of straw men, with one philosopher saying, "he said this" and the next running with that and then elaborating. In my opinion, this is what has happened to Plato. Plato gives you little exposition. He does not tell you "I believe this." But Aristotle did. So many philosophers base their understanding of Plato on Aristotle's expositions. They never consider a few facts.

1) Aristotle was not chosen to run the Academy after Plato's death. After 20 odd years there, he was still not the successor.

2) Aristotle has been found to be pretty darn wrong about many of the things he gave expositions about.

3) Plato himself said; (he is speaking about Dionysios here, not Aristotle)

classics.mit.edu...


I hear also that he has since written about what he heard from me, composing what professes to be his own handbook, very different, so he says, from the doctrines which he heard from me; but of its contents I know nothing; I know indeed that others have written on the same subjects; but who they are, is more than they know themselves. Thus much at least, I can say about all writers, past or future, who say they know the things to which I devote myself, whether by hearing the teaching of me or of others, or by their own discoveries-that according to my view it is not possible for them to have any real skill in the matter. There neither is nor ever will be a treatise of mine on the subject. For it does not admit of exposition like other branches of knowledge; but after much converse about the matter itself and a life lived together, suddenly a light, as it were, is kindled in one soul by a flame that leaps to it from another, and thereafter sustains itself.


Plato, the consummate wordsmith and great thinker, analyzes why this is so briefly in this same letter. It is a very worthy letter to read, although much of it is devoted to political events of his time, and only a small portion to philosophy itself. So here, he is basically saying that anyone who understands his core philosophy would NOT give a written exposition of it. I would conclude from all of those bits of information that while Aristotle was a very intelligent man, he did not really understand Plato's philosophy, and so any modern assumption about Plato's work based on Aristotle should be considered highly suspect.

However, much of what we "know" about Plato IS derived from Aristotle's expositions. Plato himself was incredibly careful not to tell us what he "knew." Instead, he leads us with question, after question, poking and prodding at the idea of knowledge. He constructs dialogs that show you the art of continual questioning, but do not satisfy us with an "answer." His main protagonist, Socrates, repeatedly says that what makes him wisest among all men, ( as the Oracle at Delphi had prophesied) was that he alone knew he did not know.

In modern terms, think about science. In any field of endeavor, the idea of "knowing" is held loosely by the best scientists, the innovators. They are working assumptions until someone comes along and finds out more. And look at the fruits of science. How much of what we "knew" in the past is now considered "false?" There are "rigid" believers in the sciences, and they do sometimes achieve academic success in their lifetimes, (as other rigid thinkers like rigid knowing and Academia is full of rigid thinking) but they will not be the minds that history remembers. They will not be the minds that progress us in our search for greater wisdom.

The minds that drive progress, and wisdom, are those who do NOT know. For whom the "love of wisdom" keeps them questioning, looking, and discovering the whole of their lives. Do these minds use "knowing" in a utilitarian way? Of course. What they do not do is forget that they only know that until they find out more. They are happy to have their "knowledge" uncovered as a mistake, for only there does their wisdom grow. The minds that deal with the known take us no where, only the minds that traverse the unknown lead us to greater wisdom.

Some minds are uncomfortable on ground that is fluid and ever changing. They feel a psychological need to "lock it down" and "tie it up" they need the security of an "absolute known" so that they can rest in the comfort of "understanding."

The world we live in is not like that, it is observably not so. We as beings are in constant motion, our thoughts change, our bodies change, there is no solid "self" to identify with, though we try to create one. Even a mountain is in a state of constant change, though it is slow and invisible to our eye most of the time. Our experience of life is constant change and insecurity, but the mind wants security and constancy. The "truth" of what we can "know" in the world is evolution, change, but we want to "know" it in a concrete unchanging way. Ironic.



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 01:13 AM
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I think that I'll have to side with the existentialists here and say that every person has their own set of rules for what is true and what is justified belief. While you can encode actions and processes based on someone's Personal Justified True Belief, there is no such thing as a Universal Justified True Belief.

Been thinking about this in concert with studies I'm doing on Shannon & Weaver's papers on communciation.



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 05:41 AM
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reply to post by Byrd
 


Is that Claude Shannon, and his theory of information transfer? I had to read a lot of that too in grad school. That's when the phenomenologist in me comes out, shaking my head about how simplified a model of communication that is.



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 05:47 AM
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reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
 



Unfortunately, the field of modern "philosophy" is driven by professional scholars, who must publish and show they "know" things in order to establish their credibility. Whole careers are built arguing over semantics, and disagreeing with philosophers that came before you. If you can make a compelling argument, it doesnt really matter if it is a "straw man" argument, and you are arguing against a misconception of what an earlier philosopher said or not. Odds are, at least some of your readers did not understand what that earlier philosopher was saying either, and if YOUR description of what he said is understandable to them, they will run with it.


Wow, that's an uncannily accurate report on why I left academic philosophy. That, and an encounter with a police officer who also happened to be a profound zen buddhist. (And possibly the undergrads who would have rathered watched the Price is Right rather than engage with Nietzsche in my class.


[edit on 8/26/2008 by Toromos]



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 11:44 AM
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reply to post by Toromos
 


I majored in philosophy myself, so I am not surprised that you may have seen the same thing. I may or may not go on, and pursue more "justification" in the field of philosophy and accumulate more letters to go after my name, but for the moment I need a break from all the silliness that is academia. I cannot envision ever not enjoying philosophy itself.

Those letters do not make one a philosopher, in my opinion, nor does the lack of them make one not. I am only trying to decide if they are necessary for me to do what it is I want to do.

The philosopher I most admire, Plato, was incredibly critical of the type of philosopher that we are describing. I myself do not think that any number of degrees would ever make me fit in the "philosophy club." Like you seem to be saying, with your comment on Zen Buddhism, I see something at the core of western philosophy that is unacceptable to the field of modern philosophy.

I see a root of mysticism in the ancient Greek philosophy that should not be abandoned or denied. This root is incredibly easy to see in eastern philosophy, but in the "western" brand, it has been forgotten and overlooked by all but a very few. Modern western philosophers feel that they have improved upon the ancient version, but I feel that they have not. I feel you cannot cut the beating heart out of a thing and expect it to be better than ever before, but in my mind, that is precisely what has happened in the field.



posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 06:54 PM
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Originally posted by Toromos
Wow, that's an uncannily accurate report on why I left academic philosophy. That, and an encounter with a police officer who also happened to be a profound zen buddhist. (And possibly the undergrads who would have rathered watched the Price is Right rather than engage with Nietzsche in my class.



And sadly not limited to philosophy departments. I left a PhD program in history when I realized that as much as I enjoyed history, it was not worth spending the rest of my life underpaid, forced to teach "Intro World History" to freshman business management students and scratch and claw to get stuff published at whatever university offered me a position. (In my field, there were 3-6 openings per year in the U.S. You either prayed for high mortality rates among senior professors or faced unemployment.)

I looked at the Plato letter last night, but need to read through it again before I post on it.



posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 02:42 AM
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Originally posted by Toromos
reply to post by Byrd
 


Is that Claude Shannon, and his theory of information transfer? I had to read a lot of that too in grad school. That's when the phenomenologist in me comes out, shaking my head about how simplified a model of communication that is.


Yup.

That's just the spearhead paper of communications and information theory, though. I'm currently reading up on other papers that use Shannon as a foundation, and am going through Dabrowska's LANGUAGE, MIND AND BRAIN. Interesting book, though not relevant to the discussion except perhaps in tangling it a bit more in how people construe meaning of the term "justified true belief."






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