Is knowledge justified true belief?

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Charlie!
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Charlie! » Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:32 am UTC

Meh, the thread was kinda over from the beginning. But then, if we needed a point to talk about things, we'd never get anywhere :D
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Feddlefew » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:35 am UTC

I'm not certain I understand the problem.

Does JTB take into account the difference between "I observe X, therefore Y" and "Whenever I do X, always Y"? Is there a difference?

(Ex: "I see the stove is red, therefore it is hot." vs. "Whenever I burn myself when touching the stove, it is hot.")

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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:51 pm UTC

Umm, yes, of course philosophers distinguish between induction and random spurious inference when talking about justification.
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby TrlstanC » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:56 am UTC

Bringing this thread back because I was recently discussing this topic, and there were a couple points that I think are worth clarifying:

1. The only significant change I proposed to the old JTB definition was to replace "justified" with the definition of justified. Apparently though there's some disagreement about what that definition should be, and the definition of common terms in that definition, like "logically." This should be a big red flag, if we're discussing JTB, but are using different definitions of "justified" than it's worth addressing that first. Once people can agree on a definition, then this gives us the option of making sure the subjects in all three parts of the test are the same, or if they aren't, at least being easily able to see that.

2. One of the purposes of a definition is to be able to say that some of the usages of the word (hopefully most) are correct, and some are wrong. It seems like a worthless argument against a definition to bring up a case where the definition comes to a conclusion that's at odds with a particular usage of the term and say therefore the definition must be wrong. It's entirely possible that in common usage we're using a term like "knowledge" in contradictory ways, or using the same term to apply to two separate ideas. If a definition points out this problem it doesn't necessarily mean the definition is wrong, that may just be a useful result of having a correct definition.

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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:28 pm UTC

TrlstanC wrote:This should be a big red flag, if we're discussing JTB, but are using different definitions of "justified" than it's worth addressing that first.

OK. If your analysis of justification is your LTB modulo the TB part, I think people are going to object to that, too.

TrlstanC wrote:It's entirely possible that in common usage we're using a term like "knowledge" in contradictory ways, or using the same term to apply to two separate ideas.

It's entirely possible, yes. But conflicting with ordinary usage is still evidence against your analysis, and if you want to show that the ordinary usage is incoherent or captures different ideas that's something you have to argue for.
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Max™ » Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:37 pm UTC

I have a strange experience which occurs now and then, particularly around 3:30 PM if I catch Jeopardy.

The strangeness is reading a clue and having a question pop up which I am not confident is accurate. I can not identify the source of this information, and can not truthfully call it anything but a guess... yet it is right far more than I would expect if I were just blindly guessing.

Would that not be something true which I apparently knew but did not believe?


It stands out the most during Jeopardy due to the time constraint, lacking an opportunity to reflect further I'm forced to go with the first thing that comes to mind in many cases.

This tends to lead to a few outcomes:

1. I am confident and correct.
2. I am confident and incorrect.
3. I am not confident and correct.
4. I am not confident and incorrect.

1 and 2 could be classified as beliefs, 3 and 4 could not.

1 could clearly be classified as knowledge, could 3 as well?

I do far better than I would expect based only on how confident I am with each response.

I have a similar experience with spelling. If I've seen a word somewhere at some point in the past, even though I don't recall exactly where or when I saw it, if I begin reciting letters they will probably be correct. Still, the only reason I have any confidence in this type of recall is because the urge to rattle off letters doesn't bubble up if I've never seen the word before, and I can clearly distinguish when I'm just guessing based off of how the word sounds.


Would this not be a different case from the Gettier examples? Justified true beliefs which are not knowledge, or ones which happen to be true, but would normally not be justified, neither cover something which is justified and true but not believed.


Could knowledge be defined simply as possessing correct/accurate information about something?
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Technical Ben » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:42 pm UTC

Yes. ?
Is knowledge knowing what to do with the data over having it available?
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Alric » Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:43 pm UTC

Look back at the history of the "justified true belief" definition of knowledge and you will see it goes back to Neo-Platonism and the synthesis of Greek philosophy and religion. Probably to justify the existence of religious belief without any evidence.

The problem is the use of the word "belief" in the definition. Human brains are capable of believing anything in the presence or absence of evidence. A modern definition of knowledge, taking into account more recent developments (and I'm talking 18th century here) would remove the word belief.

Something like "Knowledge are the mental states that correspond to an accurate representation of the natural world"

You could make the case that that word belief should simply be avoided as much as possible and replaced with more accurate statements like unsure, hunch, hypothesis, certain, etc. It really is a dreadful word since a statement of belief doesn't include a degree of certainty or if there is any evidence.

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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:26 pm UTC

Alric wrote:Look back at the history of the "justified true belief" definition of knowledge and you will see it goes back to Neo-Platonism and the synthesis of Greek philosophy and religion. Probably to justify the existence of religious belief without any evidence.

What is your evidence for this? As Gettier's paper says, the roots of the definition appear to be in Plato himself. At any rate, I don't see what the JTB definition has to do with justifying belief without evidence - it is justified true belief, after all.

Alric wrote:The problem is the use of the word "belief" in the definition. Human brains are capable of believing anything in the presence or absence of evidence.

Why is this a problem, given that the definition adds the constraints that the belief must be true and justified?

Alric wrote:Something like "Knowledge are the mental states that correspond to an accurate representation of the natural world"

Isn't this just "true belief," but with the tendentious constraint that we can only have knowledge of the natural world?
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Alric » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:41 pm UTC

Bertrand Russell discusses how christianity incorporates a lot of Plato as a patina of rationality.

The words "justified" and "true" are not any better. Justified how? True according to whom? You could claim a belief is true and justified due to personal revelation.

It's time in the 21st century to admit knowledge about the natural world can only come from empirical observation.

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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:16 pm UTC

Alric wrote:Bertrand Russell discusses how christianity incorporates a lot of Plato as a patina of rationality.

Sure, Plato influenced Christianity. I don't know what this has to do with what you said about neo-Platonism and the origins of the JTB account.

Alric wrote:The words "justified" and "true" are not any better. Justified how? True according to whom? You could claim a belief is true and justified due to personal revelation.

Why are you trying to insert subjectivity into the account? The JTB analysis says that a belief is knowledge if it's in fact true and in fact justified. It doesn't say that a belief is knowledge whenever someone claims that it's true and justified.

Alric wrote:It's time in the 21st century to admit knowledge about the natural world can only come from empirical observation.

I don't know why you're telling me this.
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby mathmannix » Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:48 pm UTC

Alric wrote:True according to whom? You could claim a belief is true and justified due to personal revelation.

Truth is not subjective, it is objective. There is one Truth, there can only be one. Knowledge is an attempt to seek that truth, by whatever means you have at your disposal, such as science or logic or philosophy or religion or personal revelation. It is ultimately an impossible goal, because one mind can neither grasp all Truth, nor completely discern whether even one thing is True without at least some assumptions being made. However, it is still a good goal. The seeking, the journey, the process - that is the goodness.
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Forest Goose » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:42 am UTC

Alric wrote:It's time in the 21st century to admit knowledge about the natural world can only come from empirical observation.


How do you know this, exactly? It does not appear to be self-justifying and it doesn't appear to be an empirical observation - would you claim you don't know it?

That aside, you seem to be saying that empirical observation is the only sound justification that exists; in other words, you seem to be commenting on the nature of justification, rather than the nature of knowledge - they're intimately related, though, obviously. However, you don't seem to be offering up any actual reason to accept it, other than your indignation at some perception of other philosophical perspectives, which isn't exactly compelling.
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Autolykos » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:54 am UTC

Forest Goose wrote:How do you know this, exactly? It does not appear to be self-justifying and it doesn't appear to be an empirical observation - would you claim you don't know it?
You do not need empirical observation for this one because it is not knowledge about the natural world. It is knowledge about knowledge, aka philosophy. Philosophy, logic and mathematics are completely detached from the physical world, they are equally true or false in any universe that can exist (and even if no universe exists at all). In these areas, you have to cut everything down to basic premises which you can never, technically, prove. The best you can do is identify a set of premises that is free of contradictions and maximally useful. And if you doubt the usefulness of the scientific method, I'd like you to name a method that works better for discovering knowledge about the natural world.
So, if you will, the empirical observation is only that applying this method to our world has, so far, yielded exceptionally good results in predicting further observations.

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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Forest Goose » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:31 pm UTC

^
And that will teach me to read twice...

I recently got in a debate over the principle I was responding to, that + late night = unintentional strawmanning of that statement. Apologies
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby ahammel » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:26 am UTC

Forest Goose wrote:^I recently got in a debate over the principle I was responding to
You found some logical positivists, did you?
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Re: Is knowledge justified true belief?

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:59 am UTC

Scientific skeptics operating under a very naive and ultrafundamentalist version of positivism. The discussion got very weird after a point and I was told that I'm free to accept "woo if I want" and, apparently, I was as bad as people believing in Bigfoot - it was weird since I never put forward any belief...something creeps me out about that more than other forms of hardline positions, it's troublesome when your battle cry is "rationality" but that asking for justification of a statement is attacked on the grounds that it is questioning. (Obviously, I'm not asserting all scientific skeptics are this way, just that there are some unusually fiery folk in every movement).
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