Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? A Look At Gettier Cases

Gettier Cases Gettier Cases are scenarios that were presented by Edmund Gettier where he demonstrated justified beliefs that failed the test of genuine knowledge. So for example prior to Gettier philosophers would reason that you only had knowledge of P iff (1) P is true (2) you believe P (3) you poses justifiable evidence for P. One of the common Gettier cases is,

You have a justified belief that someone in your office owns a Ford. And as it happens it’s true that someone in your office owns a Ford. However, your evidence for your belief all concerns Nogot, who as it turns out owns no Ford. Your belief that someone in the office owns a Ford is true because someone else in the office owns a Ford. Call this guy Haveit. Since all your evidence concerns Nogot and not Haveit, it seems, intuitively, that you don’t know that someone in your office owns a Ford. So you don’t know, even though you have a justified belief that someone owns a Ford, and, as it turns out, this belief happens to be true.

The problem in this case comes up because in order to know that someone in your office owns a Ford you must have absolute certainty or it ceases to be true knowledge. Do you see the problem here? If true knowledge required absolute certainty there would be precious little that we can claim to know.  Some who have taken on these Gettier Cases have tended to argue from the position of either fallible or defensible evidence. As you can probably imagine there is much more to say about attacking Gettier Cases and if I come across a good approach I’ll be sure to post it. In the mean time you can hone up on Gettier by clicking the link below.

Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? By Edmund Gettier

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3 thoughts on “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? A Look At Gettier Cases

  1. Haven’t heard of Gettier before. Definitely works up the brain’s gears. The offered solutions to the case are definitely interesting.

    Me, I’m a skeptic and find the whole thing much more easier to “solve” by just saying knowledge cannot be obtained with any certainty. 😉 But I do suppose to say such a thing and have it be understood, “knowledge” needs to be defined, and as such its meaning isn’t so clear.

    Very interesting all around.

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