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Epistemology Epistemology is the philosophical field in which one studies knowledge, understanding, wisdom, justification, the ethics of belief, and various.

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Presentation on theme: "Epistemology Epistemology is the philosophical field in which one studies knowledge, understanding, wisdom, justification, the ethics of belief, and various."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Epistemology Epistemology is the philosophical field in which one studies knowledge, understanding, wisdom, justification, the ethics of belief, and various domains of knowledge, such as moral, modal, mathematical, self, and external world knowledge. At least one central point of departure in epistemology is the the general human condition question: what is the extent of human knowledge? What is it that we can know? The human condition question is related to the issues of what we do know and whether we can know at all.

3 Two Kinds of KnowledgeTwo Kinds of Knowledge  Knowing How : ability-knowledge  John knows how to ride a bike.  John knows how to bake a cake.  Knowing That : propositional knowledge  John knows that = 4.  John knows that fire engines are red. Question: Can all knowledge of one kind be reduced to knowledge of the other kind?

4 Skepticism Epistemological skepticism in it’s classical form is the position that humans in fact know nothing, and cannot know anything. Skepticism is grounded at least partly on the view that one can argue against a putative claim to know by showing that no one ever satisfies the conditions on knowledge. Where S is a knower, p a proposition, and F a condition on knowing, the skeptic argues, generally that: 1.S knows that p, only if S satisfies F. 2.S does not satisfy F. 3.So, S does not know that p.

5 Conditions on Propositional KnowledgeConditions on Propositional Knowledge  Analysis of propositional knowledge : what conditions are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for propositional knowledge.  Assumption of decomposition : propositional knowledge is a complex relation that admits of an informative decomposition.  Where S is a knower, and p is a proposition : S knows that p if and only if ______________

6 Knowledge and TruthKnowledge and Truth  Question: Does knowledge of a proposition imply that the proposition is true?  Infalibilism : If S knows that p, then p is true.  Falibilism: S knows that p, but it is possible that p is false.

7 Why be an infalibilist?Why be an infalibilist?  Semantic / Pragmatic Data: 1 st person: I know that = 4, but I could be wrong. 3 rd person: Jane knows that Mark loves her, but she could be wrong.  Other mental states do the work: 1 st person: I believe that = 4, but I could be wrong. 3 rd person: Jane believes that Mark loves her, but she could be wrong.

8 Why be a fallabilist?Why be a fallabilist?  Knowledge is about one’s epistemic position relative to evidence, not relative to truth alone.  To believe that p on the basis of evidence e is to be in a weaker position with respect to p, then to know that p on the basis of e.  John’s believing that p on the basis of e is in general less epistemically important than John’s knowing that p on the basis of e.  Both knowledge and belief are compatible with error

9 Knowledge and BeliefKnowledge and Belief  Question: Does knowledge of a proposition p by S imply that S believes p?  Doxastic : If S knows that p, then S believes that p.  Non-Doxastic: S knows that p, but it is possible that S does not believe that p.

10 Why be Doxastic?Why be Doxastic?  Semantic / Pragmatic Data:  John knows that 2 +2 = 4, but John does not believe that = 4.  Knowledge is a complex mind to world relation. Thus it requires an internal component, some mental state, and an external world component. Belief appears to be the appropriate internal state. Truth the appropriate external condition.

11 Why be Non-doxastic?Why be Non-doxastic?  Your colleagues at work tell you that the bridge on the way to work is closed. So, it is plausible that you know that the bridge on the way to work is closed. But out of habit the next day you simply drive your car on your normal route to work. As you approach the bridge you, say, “oh no, I forgot that the bridge is closed.”  From your behavior it looks like you believe that the bridge is open, but from what your colleagues told you it appears that you know that the bridge is closed.  So, knowledge does not imply belief.

12 Knowledge and JustificationKnowledge and Justification  Question: Does S’s knowledge that p imply that S is justified in believing that p?  Justification : If S knows that p, then S is justified in believing that p.  Non-Justification: S knows that p, but it is possible that S is not justified in believing that p.

13 Why Accept Justification?Why Accept Justification?  Anti-Luck Intuition: Knowledge is inconsistent with luck.  What does a guess have in common with a piece of knowledge? The fact that both involve true beliefs. What distinguishes knowledge from a guess, is the fact that the knower is not lucky with respect to the true- belief.  Justification could be the added element that turns true belief into knowledge.

14 Why Reject Justification?Why Reject Justification?  Knowledge is inconsistent with luck.  But, distinguishing knowledge from true-belief does not require that one use justification as the distinguishing feature.  Justification is a loaded notion that is tied to other epistemic ideas. It might be easier to eliminate the anti- luck component of knowledge by avoiding appeal to justification.

15 Two Kinds of JustificationTwo Kinds of Justification  Internalism about justification is the view if S is justified in believing that p, then S has access to the basis of S’s justification.  Externalism about justification is the view that it is possible for S to be justified in believing that p, even though S does not have access to the basis of S’s justification.

16 Two Kinds of InternalismTwo Kinds of Internalism  Actual Internalism: S is justified in believing that p, then S actually has present the basis of S’s justification.  Access Internalism: S is justified in believing that p, then S has access by reflection to the basis of S’s justification. Internalism requires of justification that one be able to provide a justification for their belief.

17 Knowledge and Self-IlluminationKnowledge and Self-Illumination  Question: Does knowledge of a proposition p, by S imply that S knows that S’ knows that p?  Self-Illumination : If S knows that p, then S knows that S knows that p.  Non-Self-Illuminating: S knows that p, but it is possible that S does not know that S knows that p.

18 Why Accept Self-Illumination?Why Accept Self-Illumination?  S knows that p = S has a true belief that p with justification that is content wise accessible to the agent.  Since S knows that p, and the content of S’s justification for believing that p is content wise accessible, then S’s has access to the elements that jointly provide him with justification strong enough for having knowledge.  So, S can deduce that S knows that S knows that P, from the elements of S’s knowledge that p that provide him with justification for believing that p, strong enough for knowledge.

19 Why Reject Self-Illumination?Why Reject Self-Illumination?  Reliability considerations. It is possible for an instrument to be reliable in measuring a feature of its environment in virtue of its design without knowing how it does measure the environmental feature. Consider a thermometer.  By analogy if knowing the world for us is like a thermometer measuring its environment, then it is possible that we know things about the world without knowing we know them. That is because we satisfy the conditions for reliably measuring the environment without knowing we satisfy these conditions.

20 Connecting Justification with Self- Illumination  Access internalism maintains, where externalism denies, that a necessary condition on being justified is that S have access to the basis of their justification.  Question: Can one deduce from access internalism the thesis of self-illumination?  Does a commitment to externalism require a rejection of self-illumination?

21 Knowledge as Justified True BeliefKnowledge as Justified True Belief  Assumption: Knowledge is a complex kind.  Tripartite Analysis: S knows that P if and only if p is true Infallibilism S believes that p Doxasticism S is justified in believing that p. Justification

22 Against SufficiencyAgainst Sufficiency Gettier Cases (aim) to show that S can have a justified true belief that p, even though S does not know that p. Gettier cases are investigated against two assumptions about the nature of justification: Fallibilism about Justification : S can be justified in believing that p even though p is false. Closure of Justification : If S is justified in believing that p, and q follows from p deductively, and S is justified in believing that q follows from p deductively, then S is justified in believing that q.

23 Gettier’s Deduction CaseGettier’s Deduction Case Jones believes that: (p) Smith owns a Ford. Jones deduces from (p) that (q) Either Smith owns a Ford or Brown is in Barcelona. However, Smith does not own a Ford, but Brown is in Barcelona. q follows from p by the rule of addition, p is a justified false belief for Jones, but q is a justified true belief for Jones, since one disjunct of q is true. Question: Does Jones know that q?

24 Solving GettierSolving Gettier  Fix justification to rule out Gettier cases.  Add fourth condition to rule out Gettier cases.  Drop assumption that knowledge is decomposable.  Maintain that Gettier does not refute JTB analysis.

25 No False LemmasNo False Lemmas Gettier maintains that (i)Justification is fallible (ii)Justification is closed under justified deduction. To eliminate the problem case we can add: (i)Knowledge cannot be produced from a justified false belief. One must have no false justified beliefs in their pathway to knowledge. The chain must involve only true beliefs.

26 Barn Façade CountyBarn Façade County  A Barn Façade is the front portion of a barn, with no back. From a certain angle it looks just like a barn, from another angle it is revealed to be a fake barn.  Barn county, is a fictional county in which there is a road leading through the county, by the side of the road there are numerous barn-facades. From the angle at which one is driving through the county, one cannot see that the fake barns are fake.  There is only one real barn in barn façade county, but from the front it is indistinguishable from all the fake barns.  In general, while driving through the county one would form many false beliefs that there are barns in front of them.

27 Barn Façade County and ReliabilityBarn Façade County and Reliability  Suppose you are driving through Barn façade county, and you look at the one and only real barn, B, in the area that is an actual barn.  Assume that you know what a barn is, and that you generally can identify barns from other objects, which are not similar. You are reliable with respect to basic discrimination.  Are you justified in believing that B is a barn based on your perception of the barn?

28 No False Lemmas and Barn Façade CountyNo False Lemmas and Barn Façade County  Suppose: S has a justified true belief in believing that B is a barn. Does S know that B is a barn?  If one thinks that S has a justified true belief that B is a barn, but S does not know that B is a barn, one can argue that adding the no false lemma condition to the JTB analysis is not sufficient to solve the problem.  By analyzing the Gettier deduction case and the perceptual Barn Façade case one can see that there are at least two kinds of luck.

29 Anti-Luck  Pathway luck : the process by which you form your belief is reliable, but you start in the wrong place, and end up in a place that gives you a true justified belief.  Environmental luck : the process by which you form your belief is reliable, and the place where you start is good, however, something about the environment undermines the reliability of your belief forming process.  Compare: your eye sight is good at judging shape in normal conditions, but not so good when you are in a room with mirrors that stretch objects. You don’t know because something about the environment is off.

30 Knowledge and Relevant AlternativesKnowledge and Relevant Alternatives On the Relevant Alternatives Approach to Knowledge: S knows that p, then S can rule out all relevant alternatives to p. For every proposition p there is a set R of relevant alternatives to p, which are such that were any member of R true, S would not know that p. The relevant alternatives approach is a modification of the view that S knows that p only if s can rule out all alternatives to p.

31 Why Accept Relevant Alternatives (RA)?Why Accept Relevant Alternatives (RA)? One supposed key advantage of RA is that it provides a mechanism for answering skeptical challenges based on the idea that knowledge requires the elimination of doubt. The RA theorist is in effect arguing that knowledge only requires elimination of relevant doubts, not all doubts. Some doubts are not relevant for making a knowledge attribution. Knowledge is contextually relative to certain doubts. Knowledge is the ability to select the relevant competing hypotheses to a scenario, and rule them out from being actual.

32 Why Reject Relevant Alternatives (RA)?Why Reject Relevant Alternatives (RA)?  Is there a mechanism for identifying what the relevant alternatives are for any given proposition?  Does (RA) really present a valid response to skeptical threats?  Is (RA) coherent with the semantic and pragmatic data?  How does one motivate relevant alternatives for knowledge?

33 Knowledge and ReliabilityKnowledge and Reliability On the simple Reliabilist Account of Knowledge: S knows that p if and only if p is true S believes that p S’s belief that p is the product of a reliable cognitive process.

34 Why Accept Reliability?Why Accept Reliability? Reliability appears to matter. Having your belief be the output of a reliable process appears to be important. We don’t trust unreliable sources when making knowledge claims, such as faulty thermometers. We don’t trust unreliable sources of testimony, such as known liars. We look to reliability when making decisions. We care about reliable processes.

35 Why Reject Reliability?Why Reject Reliability? Reliability could plausibly be a necessary condition on knowledge, but it does not seem to be sufficient. Consider a broken thermometer. Consider Barn Façade County. Consider a person who can tell the time with 100% accuracy, without knowing why he can tell the time with 100% accuracy. What about the generality problem: how do we define the appropriate level for capturing reliability?

36 Knowledge and CausationKnowledge and Causation On the simple Causal Account of Knowledge: S knows that p if and only if p is true S believes that p The fact that p causes S belief that p.

37 Why Accept Causation?Why Accept Causation? Causation makes sense because we want our justification to trace back to the truth-maker of our belief. What goes wrong in a Gettier deduction case is that the truth-maker, that Brown is in Barcelona, makes true the belief that either Smith owns a Ford or Brown is in Barcelona, while the justification comes from Jones’ interactions with Smith. Causation can block this, by requiring that justification for Jones’s belief come from the truth-maker.

38 Why Reject Causation?Why Reject Causation? Causation appears to be a plausible necessary condition on certain kinds of knowledge, but it appears to fail in the direction of sufficiency. Suppose you are sleeping and someone hits you over the head with a baseball bat, and you wake up and the first thing you think is: someone just hit me over the head with a baseball bat. Do you know that you were hit over the head with a baseball bat? Or do you just have good evidence from your beliefs about what it would feel like to be hit over the head by a baseball bat. The problem of abstract objects: if there are abstract objects then we would know of them without causation, since they are not spatially and temporally related to us.

39 Knowledge as Apt BeliefKnowledge as Apt Belief The AAA evaluation of goal directed action: Consider an Archer’s, A’s Shot at a Target T. Was A’s shot successful? If it is successful, then A’s shot is accurate. Did A’s shot manifest A’s skill? If it manifests A’s skill, then A’s shot is adroit. Putting the two together we get aptness A’s shot is accurate because adroit.

40 Knowledge as Apt BeliefKnowledge as Apt Belief On the AAA account of Knowledge S knows that P if and only if S belief that P is accurate – true S belief that P is adroit – produced skillfully S belief that P is apt – S’s belief that P manifests S skill. Knowledge as apt belief requires that there is a connection between the truth of the belief and the skill of the believer in forming the belief. Knowledge requires skill on the part of the believer.

41 Why Accept Apt Belief?Why Accept Apt Belief? The Apt belief account solves the Gettier deduction case, and cases that are due to pathway luck. Jones’s doesn’t know that either Smith owns a Ford or Brown is in Barcelona Because: (a) Jones’s belief is accurate (true), but (b) Jones’s belief is not adroit (not due to Jones’s skill). Thus, Jones’s belief is not apt.

42 Why Reject Apt Belief?Why Reject Apt Belief? The Apt belief account does not appear to be able to solve problems due to environmental luck. In Barn façade county, Jones appears to have an accurate, and adroit belief that there is a barn in front of him. He has a competence for picking out barns, and correctly forms a belief that the barn in front of him is real. The belief is a function of his skill. However, if one maintains that Jones does not know in the Barn case, then the Apt belief view appears to give the wrong result.

43 Pragmatic EncroachmentPragmatic Encroachment Pragmatic Encroachment is not an analysis of knowledge, but it is a claim about what factors may be relevant to analyzing knowledge. The central claim is that: a difference in pragmatic circumstances can constitute a difference in knowledge. Historically, it was thought that S knows that p was immune to factors pertaining to what was at stake practically. For example, it would seem that my knowledge of what time it is cannot change depending on whether something for me that is important depends on me being at a certain location at a certain time.

44 Pragmatic EncroachmentPragmatic Encroachment Low Stakes: Hannah and her wife Sarah are driving home on Friday afternoon. They plan to stop at the bank on the way home to deposit their paychecks. It is not important that they do so, as they have no impending bills. But as they drive past the bank, they notice that the lines inside are very long, as they often are on Friday afternoons. Realizing that it wasn’t very important that their paychecks are deposited right away, Hannah says, “ I know the bank will be open tomorrow, since I was there just two weeks ago on Saturday morning. So we can deposit our paychecks tomorrow morning. ”

45 Pragmatic EncroachmentPragmatic Encroachment High Stakes: Hannah and her wife Sarah are driving home on Friday afternoon. They plan to stop at the bank on the way home to deposit their paychecks. Since they have an impending bill coming due, and very little in their account, it is very important that they deposit their paychecks by Saturday. Hannah notes that she was at the bank two weeks before on a Saturday morning, when it was open. But, as Sarah points out, banks do change their hours. Hannah says, “I guess you’re right. I don’t know that the bank will be open tomorrow.”

46 Pragmatic EncroachmentPragmatic Encroachment Those in favor of Pragmatic Encroachment will argue that in the low stakes case Hannah does know, but in the high stakes case it is true that Hannah does not know. That is the utterances in both cases are correct. Those against Pragmatic Encroachment will argue either that Hannah does not know in both cases, or Hannah does know in both cases.

47 Virtue Theoretic ApproachesVirtue Theoretic Approaches Traditional theories of knowledge and justification typically analyze: S knows that p and S is justified in believing that p by looking on at the nature of knowledge and justification. Virtue theoretic approaches by contrast say that the primary object of epistemic evaluation is the knower, and not the abstract state of knowing or being justified. Primary justification attaches to dispositions of knowers, specific acts of knowing inherit positive status through the dispositions.

48 Modal Conditions on KnowledgeModal Conditions on Knowledge Modal conditions on knowledge, unlike non-modal conditions on knowledge, attempt to characterize knowledge in terms of counterfactual conditions. Counterfactual conditions are specified as follows: If it were the case that A, it would be the case that B. If it were not the case that B, it would not be the case that A. It is crucial to modal theories that some account of the semantics of counterfactual is provided.

49 Knowledge and SensitivityKnowledge and Sensitivity Sensitivity is a modal condition on knowledge expressed through a counterfactual relation. The sensitivity is about truth. (S’s belief that p is sensitive ) if and only if (were p false, S would not believe that p). John belief that the truck is red is sensitive if and only if were the truck any color other than red, John would not believe that the truck is red. Sensitivity is about tracking the truth.

50 Why Accept SensitivityWhy Accept Sensitivity Sensitivity can eliminate some cases of luck. Jones believes that (p): Smith owns a Ford. Jones believes that (q): either Smith owns a Ford or Brown is in Barcelona. Assume that both p and q are false, given the nature of Jones’s evidence he would still believe q, since his belief that q is based on evidence which is insensitive to the falsity of q. Sensitivity or tracking is good because it can eliminate luck due to non-tracking of the relevant facts.

51 Why Reject Sensitivity?Why Reject Sensitivity? Although sensitivity is good for getting rid of some luck, such as pathway luck, it is not good at getting rid of all luck, such as environmental luck. Consider Barn County. It is plausible that one’s belief that there is a barn in front of them while looking at the one true barn, is a justified true belief, without knowledge. Is the belief in question sensitive. Would one still have believed that B is at location L, were there no actual barn? If so, then it is possible for there to be sensitive belief without knowledge.

52 Knowledge and SafetyKnowledge and Safety Safety is a modal condition on knowledge: S’s belief that p is safe if and only if were S to believe that p, p would not be false. Another way to state it is: S’s belief that p is safe if and only if in all possible worlds near the actual world where S believes that p, p is not false. Safety is about how easily a belief could have been false. How we measure distance between possible worlds is crucial to the issue of how safety as a modal condition works out.

53 Why Accept Safety?Why Accept Safety? Safety is good because knowledge is not lucky. A belief that is lucky is one that could have been false easily. So requiring that knowledge be safe, can rule out some cases of luck, cases where were things just a little different, one would not have a true belief.

54 Why Reject Safety?Why Reject Safety? Safety appears to be a good necessary condition on knowledge, but it appears to be a bad sufficient condition on knowledge. If S belief that p is safe, then S knows that p. S belief that p is safe if and only if were S to believe that p, then p would not be false. So, if were S to believe that p, p would not be false, then S knows that p.


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